Thursday, December 20, 2012

Rebrand - Golden Rule Auto Care

I am excited to announce the re-branding of our Auto Repair shop from Lonestar Auto Repair to Golden Rule Auto Care! Check out for the latest pictures. I am finishing up the website, and if all goes as planned it should be up by the end of the year (That is of course if the world doesn't end tomorrow).

For those wanting to know why we changed the name now I will tell you. When Patrick and I first took over ownership I didn't want to rock the boat. I wanted to make a smooth transition between owners to let the current customers know we were going to deliver the same quality of work and set their expectations high. We have been slowly growing over the last 1 1/2 years in a positive direction. It was always our intention to change the name to something that means something to us. At the beginning of this year we started the process, new name, new logo, new colors, new signs, new paint, new EVERYTHING! It has been a long, but satisfying journey. 
I want to thank the following people who helped:
- All the guy at the shop! We went through a LOT of disagreements, but came together in the end. Thanks Pat, Colin, Jorge, Scott, Clifford, Trevor, Kyle!
- James Patton with Qabria Designs ( for all the design work! Excellent work! The logo and color schemes are magic!
- Mark Ulrich and everyone at ALLTEX signs ( for the new signs!
- Jorg and his crew at Spires Roofing and Remodeling ( for the painting
- Seth from All Things New for the parking lot re-paint (817-964-1418)
And of course all the customers!
I probably left someone out, and if I did I will make up for it in later blogs!

Monday, December 17, 2012

Guidance is a gift I like to give!

I recently had a friend ask me a couple of questions in regards to a new position he is going to be taking. I was truly honored that he asked. It led me to type up a mini email book response. I am one not to waste content, so I am re-posting parts of the response in my blog for the world to see (or the 3 people who read my blog).


Question) How would you go about evaluating a development manager? New developers?

Answer) You are a great judge of character, this you must rely on. Attitude is everything. BUT experience is a necessity... With that said, test and measure. Then test and measure, then test and measure. If you are looking for a manager test him with technical and people problems. Make sure you give him enough problems to make sure he knows what he knows. Same thing with developers, make them struggle. I had one interview where I had to answer the same question with multiple right answers, and after answering the question right 3 or 4 times the hiring manager told me one more way I could have answered... Tough but he knew what he was getting (of course I got the job, and respected him for what he did). At my auto repair shop we take our time with meeting them and getting to know them. The interviews are typically longer than an hour. We want to make sure they play well with the others in the shop. But tech is a different world of course, in a typical short interview it is hard to get to know how someone really is. I am a big believer in empowering others. At SWA I built several engineers by giving them tasks leaving them alone and then seeing how quickly they either did or didn't provide a solution. Those that did I built, those that didn't I got rid of. Bottom line test and measure.

Question) How would I go about instilling great development culture? How would I go about facilitating great development collaboration and discipline?
Answer) The culture starts with you. William Wallace (from the movie Braveheart) bled with his men, he took time to understand his men, and he died for his passion... He was easy to follow because he made you believe, but he believed. Don't ask something of your men you aren't willing to do yourself. Also get to know them. Take them to lunch on one on ones. Yes they are going to tell you all the negative things you don't want to hear but the will tell you everything you need to hear. Something I learned from one of the previous CTO's I worked for was he wasn't afraid to get down and dirty with everyone. What CTO does that... Very few. Don't force fun and don't make them salute the company flag, they will tell you how the want to be treated, you just have to listen.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Staffing - The most important aspect of any business

I have heard this over and over again, and how this rings so true at the core of what it means. Herb Kelleher, the ex CEO/President of Southwest Airlines, said "We will hire someone with less experience, less education, and less expertise, than someone who has more of those things and has a rotten attitude." An employee is the core of your business, your customer service, and  your product. They are the face of what you do, and the brains behind how you do it. But you must hire people with the right attitude, and not just for the experience they may or may not have. We all need those who are willing to reach for the stars, and smile when things don't work out their way. Those who don't know everything, and are OK to admit it. Those who allow themselves to become silly putty. Those who value perseverance. Those who know change is the only constant, and embrace it.

One of the practices we have adopted when hiring people at Lonestar Auto Repair is putting our new hires through a trail run. Not like a 90 day trial, but a 1 day trail. We allow them to come into the shop for an hour or two and work with everyone. We don't pay them during this trail period either (I am sure my lawyers are going to read this and tell me about all the liability and laws I am pushing and/or breaking). This allows us to get to know the personality of this person, and their work ethic, and of course their attitude. You can really get to know a lot about someone in 1 hour. Then if we decide to hire them then they go on the 90 probation period.

I have not always been the ideal employee when working for others because I get caught up in pride, and that pride turns my silly putty into a dried, crumbly mess. Even as an owner I sometime become the ambivalent leader just for the power trip. What I am saying is I am flawed, but at my core my attitude is positive.

Your people who are a part of your business should be your business. It should not be just a "job" to them. It is up to you to find those with the right attitude, and mold them with your business!

One last thing I would like to say:

Treat your employees like diamonds, and they will treat your customers like gold!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Customer Service Online Update

We have implemented a new system at our place of business Lonestar Auto Repair. We are now sending text message updates to our customers as part of our customer experience. This is a tool we developed in house because the market didn't have what we were looking for. At first we were just going  to keep the tool exclusive to our business, but I was convinced that we should put it out on the market and see if other shops would be interested in using it. We decided it would be worth it in the long run. We are convinced that eventually every business and auto shop will offer something similar so why not be the ones who deliver it. Now that is customer service! One of my other brothers, Mark, and I have now created a company called Software Status Solutions LLC to sell the software to other auto shops. So far we have a couple of early adopters that we have partnered with in a trial phase, and we are anxiously awaiting the results of that.

The one thing that I do know is our customers at Lonestar Auto Repair have been very appreciative of this new way of notification. The like to know what is happening to their car and when it is happening. They can now plan their day better, and not feel like they dropped their vehicle into the big dark vortex that is auto repair. We had one customer text us back on the system we developed and said "Nice, love the customer service, hardly exist in ur industry", now that is what I am talking about (or texting about)!

I know we are not always perfect, but we will continue to try and improve not only our customer service, but the quality of work that we present. As with any service industry you can only do your best, continue to do your best and pray for the best.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Mark Cubans Book... I read a lot...

I just recently read Mark Cubans winning at business book, and although short it had some good things in it. I read a lot, or at least try to. I typically am trying to read about 4 books at any given time. Some I start and don't finish, most I finish within a month or so, and every once in a while I read one in a few days. His was short enough and intersting enough that it only took a few days. One of the things I really liked was he stated how books have the answers people are looking for, but people choose not to read books and would rather just not find the answer. PROFOUND and so true. We do it all the time, we accept what is because that is the way it always is, instead of searching out why it is that way... I drive the boys at the shop crazy with my constant list of ideas. Some they like some they don't, and usually all these ideas are driven from some book I read.

Another thing he said was that it only takes one succesful idea in business to make it. Sure that is obvious, but you may have to fail at 101 before finding the right one. If you would have asked me about owning an auto repair shop 3 years ago I would have laughed, but I believe now it is one of the best things I have ever done to this date. I have been in software my whole life (and music), but maybe this is the out of the box experience I needed. You never know what that one idea is, only that you have to pursue them all (or most) to find it. I am glad I am on this idea... it feels good.

Books are great! If you look to read I highly recommend his book. You can't buy a print version of it, but you can download it on most of your tablet devices. Enjoy, and if  you happen to see me in the shop, tell me what you thought of it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


This April will makr our 1 year anniversary! Wow 1 year has already passed us by, and did it ever go quick. This time last year we were still in negotations, and we were coming down to the wire about whether or not we would even be able to take over the shop. All I can say is I am glad it was in the Lord's plan, because I couldn't be more proud of my brother Patrick and the guys who run the shop, Colin, Scott, Jorge, Cliff and Trevor.

Our goal was give our employees the chance to be great, and then do honest work, and then hope that people would recognize what that meant. And how they should be treated like a valued individual. And our formula, if you even want to call it that is working. I guess you could call it the Golden Rule... funny it seems to work...

Thanks to everyone for helping make this a great year!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Potty Training

What does potty training have to do with running a auto shop, nothing. I am just proud of my oldest daughter and wanted to brag on her and my wife. My wife said she was going to potty train our 2 1/2 year old and here we are on the verge of a major break through! My daughter, Kylie, has now gone for several days in her big girl pants without any accidents, and I couldn't be more proud. The things we take for granted... I get about one phone call a day from my wife and daughter telling me of her adventures on the toilet. Kylie BEAMS with excitement through the phone, and after I tell her how proud I am of her she says "Mommy and Daddy are proud of me, thank you very much!"

The lord blessed me with 2 daughters that I know eventually will break my heart, but for now I will enjoy every minute of the love they give me! They say parenting changes you, and I say no it doesn't, it just changes the way you look at things.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Well things didn't work out with Phillip, and that's ok. None of us know what the future holds, so it is best in my opinion to find out, and we found out it wasn't a match between us.

Now we have hired Cliff! And all I can say is we are EXTREMELY happy with him. Not only does he have a great personality he is a nice guy, and he works well with others. And that is important to us. Cliff comes to us from a long career in mortgages, and he was looking for a change and a place where he can make an impact... well he decided we were it!

Cliff will be working on Saturday's and helping out during the week. Don't worry you will still see me around the shop on Saturday's but I will be doing things like cleaning, remodeling and fixing stuff. Everyone at the shop calls it my project work, and they say I am much happier doing it.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

A new person in our midst

We have recently hired a new person, his name is Philip, and we have high hopes for him (as we have high hopes for anyone that works for us). On the positive side we didn't advertise for this job and we had 4 GREAT candidates. On the negative side we had 4 GREAT candidates, and it was VERY hard to choose. I know that hiring and firing are 2 of the hardest things you do when you own a business, so it isn't like I don't expect the anxiety that comes with it. We are blessed up here to have a chance to change the auto repair world as we know it, and we are doing that one customer at a time, but that also means that every person we hire totally understands that. Most people are usually burnt out with their crappy careers and crappy bosses... trust me I have had plenty... And one of Patrick's and my main focus is to treat everyone we hire as more of a partner then an employee. That is why we offer ownership, so the people that work with us can help steer our destiny.

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Little Buddy

Earlier this week my little buddy passed away. His name was Louie and he was my dog for 12 years. My wife and I got him right after purchasing our first house. I told her that every home needs a good protector, and although he was only 5 pounds he barked like he was at least 10 :)

It has been a tough week for the wife and I. Luckily for us our 2 little girls are 2 little to know he is gone. The older 2 1/2 year old, Kylie, did ask where he was and I tried to explain that he went to go live with Jesus now, and we won't see him anymore. But I don't think she really got what I was saying, probably better that way.

It is funny that you really don't know how much the family pet is part of the family until you loose them. I guess it is that whole "don't know what you got till its gone."

Louie you will be missed!

Saturday, January 28, 2012


When we say we are family owned and operated it means more than just a "hey look at us, we a good people because we have a family." Patrick and I are brothers, and we own the majority of the shop. Our parents also have a little ownership in the shop, and one of our other brothers is about to invest in "our dream" as he calls it. Pat and I have a total of 3 brothers and one sister, and I can say that our parents raised us all to be successful. They taught us life isn't fair, and nothing is guaranteed, but since we live in the greatest nation on Gods green earth you have the freedom to try and succeed! Amen! So here we are giving it our best try. It's funny when I think back to our younger years Pat and I and all my brothers had to keep some pretty sad cars running if we wanted to get from point a to point b. Our father would buy a car that typically would run, but barely. He would then let us drive it, if we could keep it running, put gas in it and pay for the insurance on it... It was a reasonable deal... Sometimes... We worded on several Rabbits, a station wagon, and a few other off brand hatch back type cars. Engines, transmissions, starters, plugs... You name it we replaced it. And now most of us don't work on our cars anymore we would all take our cars to Patrick no matter where he worked (once you find a mechanic you can trust you don't loose him :). I have now bet my life savings on it! I think my parents did a lot of right things, but probably the main thing they did was loved us enough to raise us to love ourselves and each other... Ok enough mushy stuff, is there a football game on right now?

I now have a little family of my own including one wife and 2 smart, funny and beautiful little girls. Patrick has a little bit bigger family with 5 boys and 1 girl. We both totally love our families they way we were loved... Darn it how did I get back to this love thing again... Who's in the superbowl again?

And now we have an extended family with our boys at the shop Colin, Scott and Jorge. Colin should really be my brother...oh but our story is a WHOLE new story.

Family owned and operated... You better believe it, and I promise you, you will see it!


Friday, January 27, 2012

Why would I start a blog?

Most people will probably wonder why I am starting this blog. And if you didn't know me that would be a fair question. I think that communication is one of the main keys to a successful and happy life. Funny thing about me is I am an introvert, I like being alone. I am ok with sitting in a room for hours by myself. I don't have to be the life of the party... And usually I am not even invited to the party! But I know that people like people by getting to know them. And you can't get to know me if I just sit in a room all day, BUT wait... Yes you can because I can blog in my room and you can read and answer me! The Internet, what a great thing!

In this blog you will read about my personal journey with our auto shop. It will be business at times, humor at times and personal at times. I know this word gets thrown around a lot but I want to be transparent with our customers. I want you to feel like you can trust us enough to ask tough questions, and feel good about how we treat you. And I want you to realize we are human and make mistakes. For Patrick and I this business is a big deal, we are proud and humbled all at the same time.

Colin, Scott and Jorge have put a lot of trust in us, and in turn we have put a lot of trust in them. We are all trying to build an experience we can all be proud of. I also don't want this to be a sales pitch blog... Boring... And if it ever starts sounding like one then email me ( or post a response telling me to turn it off and hopefully I will listen (my wife tells me I have a problem with that... Yah right, now if I could only remember what she wanted me to pick up at the store...)

I hope you will enjoy reading these posts as much as I enjoy writing them. More to come soon.