For the second year in a row AAA has recognized the “best of the best” among its 7,000 Approved Auto Repair facilities that meet and maintain the highest of standards for the industry. Three NAPA AutoCare Centers have been named a “Best in Auto Repair” winner, putting them among a select group of shops representing the top tier in the automotive repair industry in North America.
The winners are:
- Auto Repair Specialists, Freeport, Illinois, Gold Winner, Large Facility (9-12 bays)
- Bison Automotive & Detail, Buffalo, New York, Gold Winner, Small Facility (1-5 bays)
- Xpertech Auto Repair, Englewood, Florida, Silver Winner, Small Facility (1-5 bays)
These three dual-enrolled AAA/Auto Care Center owners go the extra mile every day to keep their staff trained, perform high quality service for their customers, and demonstrate a commitment to their communities.
Committed to the Highest Standards
“AAA Approved Auto Repair facilities already adhere to the strictest of standards as set forth by AAA,” said Jim Sennett, National Manager AAA Automotive Repair Program. “And now by winning the 2021 AAA Best in Repair award, these facilities have proven their unwavering commitment to being the best of the best in the industry and more importantly, for their customers.”
Shops across the country were nominated based on certain criteria, including maintaining all AAA Approved Auto Repair program standards and requirements, keeping a customer satisfaction of 95% or higher, and exhibiting a commitment to their communities and the industry.
To earn the AAA Approved Auto Repair designation, shops must undergo a series of inspections performed by a AAA service specialist. These individuals hold the Automotive Service Excellence (ASE) certification or original equipment manufacturer equivalent and have an extensive background in their field. Facilities are inspected for cleanliness, proper tools, adequate technical training, and appropriate technician certifications. AAA also vets the shop’s reputation by checking with government and consumer agencies, performing an insurance/financial background check, and surveying existing customer satisfaction.
Auto Repair Specialists
Auto Repair Specialists, located in Freeport, Illinois just 15 miles south of the Illinois-Wisconsin border, was presented with the AAA award after being named one of the top three shops in the state.
Owners Gina and Dave Timm opened the shop in 1997. Gina said, “We didn’t apply for this award, so it was a huge surprise when we got the call. It is quite an honor.”
“What we are presenting to Dave and Gina is the gold award for excellence,” AAA Auto Repair Coordinator Nate Gustafson said. “Auto Repair Specialists is a AAA member and what we look for in a business is those who engage with members, offer the quality of service, and have the right image. Auto Repair Specialists met all the criteria, and we took notice. This is not something they applied for. We noticed them. They make us proud of our network of service.”
The Timm’s shop also achieved NAPA AutoCare Gold certification in June 2018. “The NAPA Gold requirements are very similar to those AAA looks for in one of their Approved Auto Repair facilities,” said Gina. “Being associated with both national brands is a big plus.”
“Current customers have confidence in our service and some new customers have chosen our shop because of our affiliation with NAPA and AAA. The Nationwide Peace of Mind Warranty is an advantage and we’re able to offer extended coverage because of our NAPA Gold status. Of course, customers who are also AAA members get to take advantage of discounted labor.”
She went on to say, one of the benefits of being an Approved Auto Repair facility is tow-ins. In addition to the added business, there have been some notable experiences that have come along with it.
“The van that belonged to the heavy metal band, Execution Day, was towed here through AAA. The members spent the night in their van in our parking lot. There were young guys and a girl and we treated them like our own kids. One of our customers even brought them pizza and the band gave out some of their CDs.
“No matter if the customer is local or breaks down while traveling, our team at Auto Repair Specialists is dedicated to providing the best workmanship and customer experience possible with ASE-certified technicians on staff to service your vehicle.”
When Buffalo, New York’s Bison Automotive owner Bob Gugino was asked about being named a national AAA Best in Auto Repair winner, he said, “I’m pretty pumped up about that.”
While his NAPA Auto Care Center has received several local awards including being named a AAA Top Shop for a number of years as well as a Best in Buffalo Award winner in the automotive repair shops category by the Commerce Association over 10 times, Bob said he considers the national AAA Best in Auto Repair Award the most prestigious one yet.
“That’s because it’s unsolicited. You don’t apply,” he said. “Shops are nominated by their local AAA Clubs. I had no idea I was even in the running.”
Having that national AAA recognition as well as NAPA Gold certification has been good for business. “We are able to provide the benefits of an established national entity while maintaining the personal touch of a family-owned business,” Bob explained. “The signage, promotions, and marketing I’m able to take advantage of through the NAPA and AAA partnerships has helped me grow my business.
“I regularly advertise on television and have run some TV spots about our recent AAA Best in Auto Repair award. My business is booming.”
To be eligible for the AAA Best in Auto Repair award, shops must meet strict criteria including a Customer Satisfaction Index of 95% or higher, along with exhibiting a commitment to the local community and to the automotive industry.
“After the shop closes, Bob continues to work in the community at his church and gives back,” explained Steve Finch, Senior Vice President of Automotive Services at AAA Western and Central New York. “He often repairs bicycles for the Boys and Girls Club and has made significant contributions to the betterment of Western New York.”
“We’re overwhelmed and very, very honored to receive this award,” Bob said. “AAA has been a good partner for my business.”
Xpertech Auto Repair
Xpertech Auto Repair in Englewood, Florida, received its AAA affiliation in February 2020, and just over a year later was recognized as AAA’s Top Shop in Florida in the small shop category as well as the national AAA Best in Auto Repair Silver award winner as a small facility.
Xpertech owner Kathleen Callahan said, “To receive this national honor from AAA is truly humbling. AAA has been wonderful. We received an award plaque and statue. AAA gave all of my staff a gift card, shirt, hat, and YETI tumbler. There was also a bigger gift card for me to use for the shop.”
She went on to say the shop’s AAA affiliation that came in February 2020 couldn’t have happened at a better time. It was just weeks before the pandemic shut the country down and while automotive repair shops were deemed essential, business was still slow.
“The timing of our AAA designation was very beneficial,” she said. “Being located in Florida, we get a lot of travelers and the business we got from AAA in tow-ins for out-of-towners in addition to local residents was a huge help.
“I made sure to hang up signs to let our customers know of our AAA affiliation. Many of them are already AAA members and the discount they receive is another big added benefit for my existing client base. Many of them are retired with the average age of residents in Englewood being 64.
“As a AAA Approved Auto Repair facility, we also perform free inspections for AAA insurance. The inspection, that includes comprehensive DVI (digital vehicle inspection), is forwarded to a AAA agent and may result in a discount on that AAA member’s insurance. For us, those inspections bring another potential client through the door.”
Already being a NAPA Gold Certified AutoCare Center paved the way for Xpertech Auto Repair’s AAA affiliation. “AAA’s process took several months but it went smoothly and it was totally worth it,” Kathleen said. “We earned both of those designations and it was an honor to receive them.
“As a local independently-owned business I am responsible for my own marketing, so the NAPA brand recognition as well as the AAA brand recognition adds to that and it definitely gets my shop noticed.”
More than 90 years ago, the National Automotive Parts Association ("NAPA") was created to meet America’s growing need for an effective auto parts distribution system. Today, 91% of do-it-yourself customers recognize the NAPA brand name. We have over 6,000 NAPA AUTO PARTS Stores nationwide serving all 50 states with a unique inventory control system that helps you find the exact part that you need.