After doing some research I've learned that I should be looking for ASE (Automotive Service Excellence) certified mechanics. I've been looking for a corporate auto mechanic. People who know me might find that strange, but I've had a favorable view of corporations for a long time. As a gluten-intolerant person, the businesses which have are organized in their response to gluten are usually corporations (PF Changs and Red Robin come to mind). I used to have my oil changed by Jiffy Lube. Corporations have professional managers who are looking at the global scale. The services they provide are fairly predictable from location to location (eg McDonalds food). They often allow the customer to have an account with past history (my Jiffy Lube account) which can be pulled up anywhere.
I found an excellent analysis by Fulcrum Inquiry of the auto repair industry which confirmed my suspicions: the industry is highly fragmented with few to zero corporate giants; The Pep Boys (NSYE:PBY) and Monro Muffler Brake (NASDAQ:MNRO) are the only ones worth mentioning, and they're both basically small caps. I find this surprising. Corporate auto repair shops would have the following advantages:
- More oversight to keep the mechanics "honest".
- Organized customer account records showing the parts repaired, overview of issues, ect. This would be one of the biggest draws for me. The data could later be sold if the ownership changes.
- Market power in buying equipment, which could be passed on to customers.
- Systematic tracking of the reliability of parts, to locate the best deals.
- Prioritization of the training on common auto issues.