For this week’s #ShopFranklin Spotlight, I got to know the Weidman family of Grove Street Auto Repair!
Brothers Patrick and Bob, with their sister, Jean, have been keeping cars and trucks all over Franklin in excellent shape since 1998. “It’s kind of in our blood, I guess,” says Patrick, referring to his time driving a tow truck for his uncle’s repair business while Bob worked in the shop. Although Patrick tried his hand at the insurance business after college, it wasn’t for him. “I hated it. Hated it. I lasted three months!” Since their uncle no longer owned his own shop by that point, Patrick channeled his “entrepreneurial spirit” and invited his siblings to join him in starting their own business. Bob and Jean were game, and Grove Street Auto Repair was born. These days, Patrick mainly handles the “higher-level” administrative end of the business, while Bob and Jean share responsibilities for the day-to-day estimates, invoices, inventory, and more. Bob’s primary territory is the shop floor, and Jean presides over the office, where she gets to exercise her creative side (like the carved Michelin Man pumpkin currently decorating the front window). The team approach is obviously working well; Grove Street Auto Repair was recently named one of the top 20 shops in the country by Modern Tire Dealer magazine, and it’s placed in the regional and local Readers’ Choice awards every year since 2007.
Originally located further down Grove Street, the shop has been in its current custom-built location since 2005. With five ASE-trained mechanics, Grove Street Auto Repair can service all types of cars and light trucks, both foreign and domestic. “Anything the dealer can do, we can do 90 percent of it,” Patrick says. The entire staff can diagnose and repair your brakes, shocks, exhaust, and even your emissions system if your state inspection doesn’t go well. Tom, who has been with the shop since the beginning, is certified as an L1 Emissions level technician, and can diagnose advanced emission trouble issues and complex driveability problems. If one of your car’s computerized systems, like the anti-lock brakes, traction control, or airbag, is malfunctioning, Grove Street Auto Repair can take care of that too. Staff members are continually attending classes and earning new certifications to keep up with the latest innovations; “they really have to be technicians, not just mechanics,” says Jean. Currently, the shop is in the process of rolling out a new system to provide every technician with a tablet. They’ll be able to pull up customers’ information, send them photos and diagrams of their car’s particular issue, and more, all from the shop floor.
Grove Street Auto Repair is notable for its commitment to community education as well. They frequently hold events at the shop to teach community groups about basic car maintenance, and they work with East Coast Driving School to do similar presentations for the driver’s ed classes. Attendees at these events get to learn all about what the different dashboard lights mean, and what to do if they get a flat tire or have a breakdown. “We try to teach them stuff you can avoid, [and] ways you can save money,” Patrick says. He also tells everyone, “Don’t ignore the check engine light!,” since that can result in serious damage to the car and a much bigger repair bill in the long run. For dealing with our downtown construction zone and pothole-filled roads, Patrick’s best tip is to keep rolling “if you see a big giant pothole come up. One of the worst things you can do is slam on your brakes, because… it locks the wheel in place.” By continuing to roll over the pothole, the impact is spread over a wider area of the tire and is less likely to damage your tire and wheel. “Drive slowly, be aware,” Jean adds, and she also emphasizes the importance of sticking to the recommended maintenance schedule. “All the fluids that need to be changed are integral to how the vehicle works. It’s so much cheaper to change the transmission fluid than to buy a new transmission because the fluid was really dirty.”
More than anything else, Grove Street Auto Repair emphasizes honesty. Although Jean says it’s “the worst part of my job!,” she’s not afraid to tell her customers when a car is no longer worth repairing. She knows some of their customers are “gun-shy” from bad experiences with other mechanics, so everyone works hard to build trust and confidence. For Grove Street Auto Repair, that’s a family value; their dad just turned 80, and he’s still in the shop at least four days a week, so Jean, Patrick, and Bob work hard to live up to his example. “We always say he raised us right,” says Jean. “We’ve learned the value of hard work and honesty and that’s really what we’ve built the business on.”
As Franklin natives, the Weidmans have seen the town grow and change dramatically over the last decades. “There’s a lot going on!” Jean says, about a recent night out downtown. Despite the town’s explosive growth, the close-knit sense of community has remained, and regular customers often end up becoming friends. “It’s the personal connection,” says Jean, who loves helping her customers in the shop and then seeing them around town at community events. Grove Street Auto Repair maintains an active role in the community, sponsoring Little League teams and the Santa Foundation, among others. “We like being able to give back to the same community we grew up in,” Patrick says, and Jean agrees. “We’re definitely committed to serving the community,” she says. “Our motto is ‘Your family depends on our family.’”