Mustard-colored garage doors, trimmed in black wood, border the four garage doors where the magic happens at AA Transmission Doctors. The shop may look more like a Bert’s surf shop, but within these sliding doors is a small team of automotive specialists.
Leading this team is perhaps an unusual suspect. For starters, this person is a woman. Meet business owner Jeanne Williams.
Williams began her career selling pharmaceuticals and cigarettes. Tired of the corporate lifestyle, Williams decided to make a drastic change a couple of years ago, and she knew exactly to whom she wanted to reach out the most.
“Women feel like they are taken advantage of many times,” Williams said. “We don’t want to have that feeling here, and our business prides itself on not taking advantage of women.”
Williams said this is one of the reasons the previous owner, Lydia Keener, agreed in April 2008 to sell her business to Jeanne Williams and her husband, Hugh, who runs H and J Wholesale Inc., a car wholesale business adjacent to the repair shop. Keener knew it would be a family-operated business that had a good reputation for honesty and fairness and for putting the customer first.
In fact, Williams noted that Keener stays connected to AA Transmission Doctors in a personal way to this day.
“Mrs. Keener and her daughter get work done here still.”
Keener is just one of Williams’ many repeat customers. Perhaps it is the convenience of having a one-stop shop able to repair, rebuild and service foreign and domestic vehicles. Or maybe it’s because they work on automatic and standard transmission vehicles, as well.
Williams said that is true, but it is more about relating to her customers’ needs and responding as if each customer is family.
“They return because of our relaxing, friendly atmosphere. Our customers are not just a number. We understand it is a heck of an imposition to not have their vehicle, and we try to get it back to them just as soon as we can.”
Because timing is such a key ingredient in making her business successful, Williams hired the best team she could find. There was no manhunt or Craigslist advertisement. She simply looked to the woman who came before her for answers.
“I kept the same employees from Mrs. Keener and it has been a nice, fluid transition. It has worked out beautifully.”
They enjoy the satisfaction that comes from helping people, and they want everyone to feel at ease when they visit their shop.
“We are not out to make a fortune on everyone’s car. We want the repeat business.”
And they are getting it, too. The economy is not slowing down business, but actually, improving it, Williams said. Car owners are driving their vehicles longer, and choosing to have them repaired when needed, instead of trading their car or buying a new one.
It is no secret why Williams’ employees work hard for her. Their mechanical education is highly valued by their boss. All Williams’ mechanics are ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified and treated not only as employees, but also as friends.
Client satisfaction is Williams’ top priority and goal.
Victoria Hiles is a freelance writer who resides in Charleston.
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