The Industry Switch

Friday, November 1, 2019 | November 2019

The Industry Switch | Sherri Stock | November 2019

How association involvement has aided in Sherri Stock’s transition from working in dealerships to owning her own independent repair shop

In highschool, Sherri Stock drove a 1971 Nova Super Sport. It was “really fast and really fun when it was running right,” she says, but, with speed comes breakdowns. With those breakdowns, Stock was forced to learn how to fix her Super Sport, and in the process discovered what would become a lifelong passion for cars and the industry. She graduated from SCC Milford’s automotive tech program in ’82 and their parts program in ’83.

Upon graduating, Stock was met with frustration. The automotive industry in the 1980s offered little opportunity for women and not many shops wanted to hire a woman. She persisted, and soon found herself at a dealership in a parts job.

Throughout the years, Stock has worked her way up within the dealership, from parts counter to parts manager and settled in as service, parts and body shop director. After losing their franchise during the recession, the dealership turned independent. It was during this time that Stock began looking for a network of support and information, and joined what is now MWACA. She was shocked to see the difference between the dealership industry and the world of independents.

“Dealership were being consolidated into huge dealer groups, turning the dealership world competitive and cut-throat,” Stock says. “Our dealership didn’t fit into that world and I was really grateful I didn’t see that attitude with the independents.”

After discussing her industry background to those within the association, the members stepped forward and offered their knowledge and kindness to Stock, all of which she has been able to use during her process of opening and running her own $2.5-million-per-year shop.

Inspiration from All-Around

In 2012, Stock built and opened inMOTION Auto Care, a spacious 9,500-square-foot shop in Lincoln, Neb. She was able to take her past experience working in dealerships as inspiration for what she did and didn’t want her business to look like, and how it would run.

What she did want, however, was for it to feel open, comfortable and upscale, so customers didn’t feel like they were in a repair shop. To achieve this, the inMOTION Auto Care waiting room has a large fireplace, cozy leather chairs, a coffee bar and tasteful art on the walls. She also wanted her business to be extremely customer-centric, which she has also been able to accomplish through the staff she has hired and the processes they have put into place, many of which have been inspired by what she has learned through others in the industry.

“Shared information and knowledge has been incorporated into nearly everything we do,” Stock says.

Through being involved in MWACA and attending the association’s conference, VISION, Stock says she has learned invaluable strategies for her business, from the way the shop operates to the language and techniques the team uses.

The Right People

Stock attributes the success of her business largely to those who work within it. The majority of the staff at inMOTION Auto Care are extremely talented, young individuals she says, that have the mentality of doing whatever it takes to help serve the shop’s customers and grow the culture that weaves throughout it.

She says that the employees’ young ages and creative minds aid them in developing and maintaining top processes and procedures, all of which help the company grow.

Stock’s entire staff loves to learn—and learns fast. In order to take advantage of their willingness and desire to expand their knowledge of the industry, she sends each team member to a minimum of 60 hours of paid training throughout the year.

“The guys love VISION; it’s a treat for all of us,” Stock says.

When the team gets back from the conference, review sessions are held over the course of several lunches. Each employee talks about what he or she learned from the trainings, so valuable information can be passed on to the full team. 

“They get a lot out of it, not just from the fabulous courses but also from the camaraderie with their teammates and other technicians from other shops—they come back with ideas on how we can improve the shop and our culture,” she says.

A Feeling of Community

The strong sense of community is what continues to grow Stock’s love for the independent repair industry, and is what she felt the moment she began to make her transition from the dealership world.

“We may be small business owners, but we are not alone; there is always someone to turn to,” she says.

No matter the issue she runs into, there’s an owner who’s already been through it and able to step up and provide help. That resource has been tremendous, she says.

The sense of competitiveness has faded away as she has switched industries, and was something she felt immediately as she got involved with MWACA.

“People within my area were saying, ‘Hey, I can help you with that,’ or, ‘If you want to bounce ideas off of somebody, let me know.’ They were very giving and caring,” Stock says. “The Midwest group is very sympathetic and empathetic to the other stores around them, because they know there are enough customers and cars to go around.”

Stock’s advice for other owners wanting to get involved in networking groups or associations, is, “You get out of it what you put into it, so jump in with both feet and never look back.”