We recently had the opportunity to sit down with Josh Fuller, a 4th-generation owner/operator of Fuller Automotive in Auburn, MA. Like so many businesses, Fuller is relying on technology more and more to make their operations efficient, keep all key stakeholders informed, and exceed their customers’ expectations.
AKUITY has been proud to serve Fuller’s IT needs since 2016, and to help them drive their own business upward. As the case study reveals, AKUITY Complete IT Management has not only helped Josh regain his focus on the business – it has aided Fuller in driving quantifiable growth.
Like many business leaders, Josh Fuller recognizes that Fuller Automotive uses technology at, “a rapidly increased level” in recent years. “There was a lot of time and resources spent worrying and trying to solve these things. At the end of the day, it’s the responsibility of an owner to provide the tools and atmosphere in which customers can be best serviced,” he said.”
For Josh to focus on running the business, Fuller hired a full-time stakeholder to address its IT needs. They quickly found this solution impractical however, as the employee needed to spend half his time researching an issue before developing a resolution. Next, they looked to professional firms for service, as their regular exposure to various technology advances seemed more efficient. This didn’t work for Fuller either, as Josh recalls, “we went through 4-5 different tech companies to meet our needs in the past, to the point we were reactive,” he says, pointing out the difficulty of budgeting for unexpected services and upgrades. Recognizing Fuller deserved the proactivity they provide their own customers, Josh requested proposals from three managed IT service providers. He felt skeptical during this process: “the collision repair industry is very similar to how I see the IT industry. The average consumer has no idea how things happen in the background. There’s an automatic sense of distrust in what you don’t understand.” Josh’s critical eye saw one company aiming for an upsell, presenting a much larger investment than needed. Another presented a “low cost” solution, which fell short of meeting Fuller’s demands. The third provider proposed everything Fuller needed, prioritized based on Fuller’s goals and limitations, and planned to work on less urgent upgrades only as Fuller’s bandwidth allowed.
In this third response, Josh saw a partner and his choice was clear: in 2016, he signed with AKUITY Technologies.
As Fuller went through the onboarding process, Josh said AKUITY’s Virtual Chief Information Officer (vCIO) built the Fuller partnership through communication and trust, with service that was ”effective without being aggressive.” This was important to Josh, who acknowledged that as a business owner, he doesn’t have time to waste on things that aren’t relevant to improving the business.
Now two years into the AKUITY Managed IT service, Josh says he’s seen big improvements in the Fuller business, including sales growth, improved workflow, and a new level of technology confidence for the entire organization.
When it comes to other companies looking to make technology improvements of their own, Josh has a piece of advice: “do your research. Calculate the cost of downtime, and look at other areas in your business where you failed to be proactive, and relied on being reactive, and how has that faired for you?”
For over 100 years, Fuller Automotive in Auburn, MA has been focused on providing its customers with “a complete auto repair solution, both on a mechanical level and with regular maintenance,” according to Josh Fuller. Josh and his brother Christopher are the 4th-generation owners and operators of the five business entities which make up the Fuller brand.
Running five businesses and serving more than 28,000 customers a year takes dedication and demands excellence from all 60 members of the Fuller team. Josh believes this excellence comes in part from investing in the staff and finding ways to be proactive. “The future isn’t going to be that bright if you operate from a standpoint of not knowing what’s coming down the pike, then having to stop operations and change gears to try and solve the problem. That happens enough in life, so when you do have the opportunity and the ability to be proactive […] it’s important to do so,” he said.
Technology empowers the Fuller team to get their jobs done quickly and accurately, and changes to the auto and insurance industries require Fuller to continually increase their reliance on technology. “It’s not like fixing a car was 10 years ago,” Josh laughed. “It’s not just a hammer and a dolly anymore.” Technicians use tablets, scanners, smart phones and laptops to access web-based applications and communicate among their teams, to the insurance company, and with customers. “Nobody likes the inconvenience of getting their car fixed,” Josh notes, “so we focus on every single area in which we touch the customer, and we say ‘how can we make this touch-point excellent, how can we make an exceptional experience from the customer?’”