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New Shop for an Old Company

Sept. 12, 2011
Shop profile of Diver Chevrolet dealership in Wilmington, DE.

Diver Chevrolet in Wilmington, DE has been at their current location since 1935, but the business was founded in Philadelphia by Frank Diver in 1915. Over the years the company has sold and serviced automobiles made by Franklin, Packard, Studebaker, Nash and even Mack Truck. They’ve been a Chevrolet dealer since 1952.

Building back up

Service Manager Steve Martino has been with the company for 17 years. In 2000, about three quarters of the building burned down. The fire was still burning when Steve ordered lifts from Mohawk dealer Will Potter.

“Some of these (lifts) were assembled in a different area while we were patching up what was left of the building. As the shop came closer to its final footprint we got Bill to come back and remount those, and then we bought more.”

Steve commented that when the new building was being designed, “the owners were nice enough to accept input from some key people who had been here for a while.” That’s why his office is in the center of one side of the shop, with his desk below a three-sided bay window. “With just a glance I can see everything up to the left and down to the right.”

His view takes in the alignment bay, tire machine and wheel balance bay, and 20 service bays. Each service bay has a computer terminal connected to a mainframe, which techs use to access service information from GM Global Connect, retrieve work orders, communicate directly with the service writers and to communicate with their Tech II scan tools. The shop owns six scan tools, but the computer also contains Tech II software, and a Bluetooth device connects the vehicle to the terminal. The shop also has an Alldata account for help with servicing trade-ins.

Technicians' skills

Steve says all of his techs have experience in every type of work, but the staff includes two transmission specialists. That’s because GM requires dealers to repair or overhaul a transmission in the field whenever possible, rather than just replace it.

While some techs are more proficient at certain things, everyone on staff is able to “clean the ticket” and complete any job that comes in. Techs keep their training up to date with computer videos, GM’s web-based interactive training and at training centers in Ardsley, NY or Baltimore, MD.

Steve says the shop writes about 2,500 repair orders a month on a base of about 8,500 customers. Labor rates are typical for the area, with maintenance being the lowest and repair work the highest. About 60 percent of the business is maintenance work, which Steve says is a real change from just a few years ago. “It used to be (that) customers saw dealers as too expensive for maintenance. Lots of dealers (in this area) have ‘turned that corner’ and captured more of that work.” There are some other GM-brand dealers right there on the same street, but Steve says his real competition is the big aftermarket chains.

Competition is one reason Steve cited for keeping the shop so neat and clean. “It’s not easy to keep it looking like this, but you have to. You can’t be covered in oil and brake dust and climb into a customer’s car.”

It’s that kind of professional attitude that has kept the dealership going for three generations. We’re looking forward to pictures of their 100-year anniversary.

About the Author

Jacques Gordon

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