New Park City auto shop courts Hispanic drivers
November 6, 2009
Richard Mercer, owner of Park City’s Mercer Automotive, recently opened a new shop at Quinn’s Junction. It isn’t a second Mercer; it operates with a different mission: to court Hispanic clients.
"Living here as long as I have, I knew Hispanics would be a good market to take care of," he said.
He appears to be right. Even though the grand opening isn’t until Monday, Ricardo’s Repair Center has had a steady stream of vehicles in since Tuesday.
Even though the idea has been floating in his head for a while, what prompted Mercer to take action and open Ricardo’s was the arrival of Pedro Meneses.
Meneses was an assistant manager for Mercer and someone he said could be trusted completely.
"Pedro is the best guy on the planet," Mercer said. "This guy is part of Park City from day one he’s been thinking about it. It just seemed like it was meant to be."
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Meneses is originally from Mexico City where his father ran a repair shop. He grew up around automobiles and has a passion for them and understands how they work. Meneses attended a university in Mexico and majored in auto engineering. He’s got a mechanic’s certification from that country and is close to receiving one from a trade association in the States.
Being bilingual makes it possible for him to run a shop where anyone in Park City can be comfortable taking their car, Mercer said. But instead of creating competition for his own shop, Mercer predicts it will become more like Anaya’s Market off Bonanza Drive fulfilling a need in the community.
When hundreds sometimes thousands of dollars are on the line, no one wants to risk a miscommunication in which a single word might completely change the meaning of a explanation.
There are other places in the area with bilingual mechanics, but Meneses said it’s about more than language. For starters, just because someone speaks Spanish doesn’t mean they can provide the kind of service Hispanic car owners are used to.
Can the Spanish speaker give the estimate or negotiate the price? Are they able to make decisions? Can their expertise be trusted? These are things people wonder, Meneses said.
Another example is time. American mechanic shops emphasize speed. Clients want to get in and out with simplicity. But Hispanics want to talk about what’s wrong and what the different options are for repairing it, he said.
Because of the language barrier, that usually prompts local people to be shy and stand in the back of the room or at the end of a line until they feel like the service person can be patient with them.
Even without a language barrier, many Hispanics want to be shown what the mechanic says is wrong. They don’t want to take anyone’s word for it, and even after they’ve established a relationship with the mechanic, the owner wants to be fully informed.
"I want people to feel comfortable and know they’ll be attended to in the right way," Meneses said. "If they can wait here while we diagnose, we want to help them see what we’re going to do to fix it."
One of his mechanics, Pancho Hernandez, has repaired vehicles in Park City for several years and has a following of loyal clientele, he said.
Meneses said he’s also patient with people who want a major repair done in installments. Before the recession, people were OK with putting down a lot of money to get a big problem fixed all at once. But now, if the car still runs, they ask if the fix can be done one part at a time. Meneses said he understands and wants to please the customer.
Another evidence of that is Ricardo’s Repair Center will pick up and drop off automobiles for anyone living or working in Park City.
Ricardo’s Repair Center
3844 North Old Highway 40 (green building near Geneva Rock and Park City Towing)