What is Christian Brothers Automotive?
A Christian business and a light in the challenging auto repair industry
Christian Brothers Automotive is a Christian business that provides each customer the “love your neighbor” experience.
America is a “car culture.” People depend on their cars to help them manage their lives and careers. When people come to an auto repair shop, they are often experiencing a major and unplanned disruption. The repair cost is unbudgeted and unexpected. Most drivers don’t know the intricate details of how cars work, and they must trust auto repair shops to identify the problem, fix it, and do so fairly and cost effectively.
The auto repair industry is notorious for abusing customers’ trust and exploiting their crises. Nearly everyone can recount a bad experience with an auto repair shop — being sold parts or services they did not need; paying a large bill only to discover later that the strange noise that precipitated the service visit persists; or taking a chunk out of their schedule to visit the auto repair shop for service, only to have the car break down a week later because of a problem that should have been spotted by a mechanic.
Poor customer experiences in the auto repair industry tend to be driven by two factors:
- Incentives to drive up costs for the customer: Many auto repair shops are owned by distant corporations that put managers into shops with the main goal of maximizing profits. Now, there’s nothing wrong with profits. The problem comes from hard-to-reach quotas or personal incentives, such as commissions on sales. Those misplaced pressures or incentives foster a short-term view of the business in which every customer should be maximized — meaning every customer should be sold another “value-added part or service.” For instance, let’s say a customer comes in for the first time with a used car with 63,000 miles on the odometer. Has the radiator fluid been flushed? If the customer doesn’t know, the shop could check the condition of the fluid to see whether the service is needed. Or they could say, “well, to be safe, we should go ahead and do it” — whether the customer could put the purchase off or not.
- Incentives to lower costs for the shop: Not every auto repair business is staffed with Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certified technicians. ASE certified technicians have proven their expertise and are typically able to spot more potential problems and complete complicated repairs more quickly. Their expertise and speed not only helps customers get on their way, but also increases the amount of revenue a business can generate. Many auto repair businesses choose to lower their labor costs by hiring less experienced technicians, which makes the service experience less consistent and can leave problems undiagnosed. Unperformed maintenance can balloon into more costly repairs, and broken-down cars cost people time and can keep people from work, imperiling their livelihood.
Christian Brothers treats its customers as brothers and sisters, and acts with honesty, integrity and respect. Our franchises are locally owned by Christians who value their reputation in the community and who want to give their customers a safe haven in the auto repair industry. By focusing on our guests, we’ve been able to create a customer experience that is dramatically better than what people have come to expect from an auto repair shop.
Our buildings are attractive; our lobby is like an upscale hotel lobby; we offer a complimentary shuttle which allows people to drop their cars off for service, get a ride to work or home, then get a ride back from the shop, which minimizes disruptions to customers’ lives; we always explain vehicles repairs, and will show and explain anything a customer has questions about; we take a customer’s budget and the way they use their vehicle into account when making recommendations for the best way to keep everything safe and well-maintained.
Our faith is central to the way we run our Christian business.
“People who don’t know us and the brand and how we conduct ourselves, sometimes they come in and can be a little adversarial, and I understand that,” says Jeff Toth, who owns two locations near Houston. “But they see the respect we show, and realize we’re interested in helping and serving them, not just their money. We’re not just here to work on cars — we’re here to serve our customers and partner with them in getting their lives back in order.”
“I always try to remember who I am representing in our business. We are a business that really tries to be a light in an industry that hasn’t always had the best of reputation.”