Katie Thompson, 28, and her husband Gus, 30, decided to stop dreaming about going into business for themselves. They got serious, made some detailed plans and went for it.
The business is a full-service auto repair and maintenance shop offering service for all makes and models, with the exception of tires and alignments.
“It has been our dream for several years to start our own business,” Katie Thompson says. “We both come from entrepreneurial families. Our backgrounds, Gus’ level of ability and experience, and my education made it seem like a natural next step. Our daughter grew from baby to toddler about the time I graduated school last December, so it seemed like a good time to get started.”
Q: What did you do previously?
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A: After Gus had worked at Edmark [auto dealership in Nampa] for a couple of years as a runner, they offered to help him pay to go to CSI [the College of Southern Idaho] to get his degree in applied science. He returned as an apprentice and then spent almost 10 years as one of their technicians.
I worked at a couple of different restaurants while working on my associate’s [degree] in business management from CWI [the College of Western Idaho] and a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Western Governors University. I was also a stay-at-home mom.
Q: How did you prepare to launch the business?
A: My graduation capstone project from WGU just happened to be a business plan, which is what we needed to get our loan. It really forced us to take the time to analyze and put together every aspect of our business, from the projected financials to our marketing plan. We were taking a big risk, losing our income when Gus quit his job and we signed our shop lease, but we knew we had a pretty detailed plan to fall back on.
Q: What drives you in your work?
A: We have a mission statement that we will continue to use in making our decisions: “Our mission is to give our customers a place they know they can return to with the complete confidence that their needs will be met by providing efficient and honest vehicle service, combined with friendly and genuine customer care.”
We care about people, so we’re not just in it for the money. We want to help change the sometimes negative image that auto repair shops have, and we know we can do that by providing outstanding, consistent and affordable service.
Q: What challenges have you faced? What’s working so far?
A: Just getting customers in the door. It seems like no matter the effort we put into marketing, friends and family word-of-mouth has definitely been what is bringing the most people to us.
Q: What do you hope to achieve in the next three to five years?
A: We want to have built a really good reputation in Nampa. We also hope to have built our customer base to the point of needing to hire another mechanic — hopefully sooner than later. We’d also like to have our business loan and my student loans paid off.