Few people so perfectly manage their career as Mark Tiede of Pocatello, Idaho. A retired veteran of the United States Naval Reserve, Tiede worked in business management for years with Heinz and Simplot until March 2015 when he decided to combine his skills in business with his passion for cars. He bought a Meineke Car Care Center franchise, and, now just a little over two years later, his shop has become one of the best performing Meineke franchises owned by first-time franchisees.
In just 22 months in business, his shop has serviced upward of 12,000 vehicles — and it should be noted Pocatello isn’t exactly a major metropolis. The county seat of Bannock County has a population of 54,255 people — making it just the fifth largest city in the state. Considering the size of the market Tiede has carved out, he is clearly doing something very right.
This begins with fast but quality service at the No. 2554 Meineke location, which is managed by his son Kris and employs six mechanics.
“We like to turn over the cars the same day,” Tiede said. “Even the 95 percent of vehicles that have a heavier job, I want out the same day.”
This isn’t just to further the bottom line for the shop. Tiede said he understands people need a car in Idaho. There isn’t much in the way of public transportation, and for those who live outside of town, there is no other means but walking!
“You could be walking a long way without a car,” he added. “But we don’t want that to ever happen. We will provide rides for customers, and I can even loan the company car if they need it.”
To Tiede, it all comes back to the shop’s motto: “It is not about the transaction, it is about the experience.”
With shop owners like Tiede, it is easy to see how Pocatello was ranked 12 on Forbes list of Best Small Places for Business and Careers, and if Tiede and his crew continue to provide such service, it isn’t unlikely to see the city on that list yet again.
In any given week, more than 80 vehicles roll into his shop near the Westwood Mall, and Tiede told National Oil & Lube News he really wants to support the community. As noted, people need a car in this town, and some drive 50 miles for service — there have even been a few who came up from Salt Lake City, Utah, 130 miles away.
This small city may be known as a good place for business, but the great recession of 2008-2011 is still being felt by many locals. Money can be tight for a lot of folks, and Tiede does his best to help out however he can.
“If I know someone is really tight with money and they need the car to pick up the kids from school or get to their job, I’m going to do everything in my power to help them out,” he explained. “We also try to educate our customers and tell them about preventive maintenance that can save them money down the line. We know people are keeping cars longer and that many can’t afford an expensive repair bill.”
As with many automotive service centers today, image matters. The days of greasy floors and pinups on the wall simply don’t fly in most shops, but Tiede takes it even further.
“Anything less would be unacceptable,” he explained. “We have incense burning in the front to make it a friendly atmosphere, and we painted all the floors so if it gets dirty, we can mop it up. The number one compliment we’ve had from customers is that our shop is clean and inviting.”
Just as customers depend on their cars, Tiede further understands he needs to accommodate different schedules. As such, his location is open six days a week, so customers can come in on Saturday.
“Saturdays can be busy for us as they are really a great day to get service,” Tiede said. “We understand a lot of our customers simply can’t make it during the week, so we need to be here all day on Saturday.”
The employees at this Meineke Car Care Center are also true professionals and have been ASE certified, and each has a desire to strive to be the best.
“I can’t say enough good things about the team, and the team really is like a family,” Tiede added. “If you think of a Walmart mentality as being fast paced just to get through the day, we’re here about meeting expectations of the customer and my guys go the extra mile to take care of it. The techs are really a huge part of the success of this facility.”
A True Car Guy
While Tiede has proven himself to be a business leader after his career with Heinz and Simplot, he has also been passionate about cars. It would be hard to work in an auto service shop day after day if he wasn’t into cars, but his lifelong hobby has been to work on older vehicles.
“I would say I’m a ‘car guy,’ and my hobby has been restoring vehicles from the 1970s,” he explained. “Buying the franchise really fit my personality and background.”
Currently, Tiede has three classic cars including a 1968 Chevy pickup and a 1968 Mustang, and his pet project is working on a 1973 Monte Carlo Landau Special he has built from the ground up. In the past, he also rebuilt and painted 1974 and 1978 Volkswagens.
This passion for cars runs in the family, as son Kris is also a car guy. Buying the franchise has also secured both a legacy for Mark Tiede and a solid foundation for his son and grandchildren.
“Kris was given the opportunity to join me at Meineke, and honestly, he has outpaced me in the learning and love of cars,” Tiede said. “Kris has two young children, so I don’t know if they’ll want to follow in his footsteps, but I’m making sure the possibility is there.”
Tiede said he is looking to expand to a second location in Chubbuck, Idaho, about 20 miles away. This will allow the business to grow, and when the time comes, it will be there for his son.
“When I get ready to retire I will turn it over to Kris,” Tiede said. “He’ll continue the good work we’ve started.”