When you walk into a car repair shop, you expect to see a mechanic behind the counter. But you probably don’t expect to be greeted by a woman – or a laid-back beagle.
Both could explain why keeps gaining female customers.
Tim and Noelle Stefina started their business in 2003. Then two years later, Noelle quit her job at a cosmetics company and that same week, started helping her husband in the shop. Since that time, their female customer based has increased by 70 percent, Noelle said.
“A lot of women have their guard up when it comes to getting their cars fixed,” Noelle said. “I think bringing me on has helped bring a comfort to women. When they walk in, I think they have an ease with me – when they see a female behind the counter immediately.”
She is also quick to point out that they are a full-service car care center – offering more than just brakes and mufflers. They also recently expanded to offer U-Haul truck and trailer rentals.
How and why did you start your business?
Tim: I had experience with cars. I came out of manufacturing and have always worked on cars. It was just natural to move into this.
What do you find rewarding about running Meineke?
Tim: We get to work together and we get to bring our dog, Louie. I think he’s helped people’s comfort levels, too. He’s the mascot, he’s the greeter.
Noelle: I think one of the reasons why we got into this business, too, is that there’s always been a stigma attached to auto repair – always. And what we always wanted to do was make sure that when you brought your vehicle in here, you could feel a sense of integrity and know that you’re being treated right. And you could walk out feeling good about the repair that was done.
What do you find challenging about running Meineke?
Tim: She just mentioned it – the stigma of auto repair. I think that people don’t really understand their cars, and it’s hard to give them a crash course on what makes them work.
Noelle: The frustration for us, too, is that our integrity is very important to us. So when it’s questioned, it takes us back a little bit. We have to just rethink and put ourselves in the customer’s place, but we always want to do what’s best for the car and the customer. Trust has been a very big issue, and like I said, integrity. It’s been a challenge.
What do you like about being located in Norcross?
Tim: It’s a nice neighborhood, a lot of business around here.
Noelle: It’s centrally located, too. We’re on one of the busier highways, which is Peachtree Industrial. We have everything from business parks to apartments to subdivisions. So we have a lot of diversity when it comes to the type of customers that come to our shop. I think it was a good move on our part to be here. At this point, we really can’t think of any other place to have our business than in Norcross.
Tim: Yeah, because we’ve had the opportunity to move and we said no, this is where we want to be.
Meineke Car Care Center is located at 5250 Peachtree Industrial Blvd. (north of Medlock Bridge Road) in Peachtree Corners, and can be reached at 770-446-1192.