Ian of I.S. Motorsports (formally I.S. Garage) has steadily grown his auto customizing service from a one-man-shop to a full-service team. A team he credits for his stellar word-of-mouth reputation.
I.S. Motorsports started back in 2009, right after the economic crash. Ian had his own mortgage company up till that point and when the crash happened, he followed a passion. He was always into cars and he found himself part of the street race culture that emerged in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Ian made a name for himself in the car show circuit as an “import guy.” He specialized in outfitting imported cars to make them bigger, cooler, and of course, faster. Today the scene has changed and Ian admits it’s been a while since he met up with some friends to watch a street race.
The business has outgrown its location twice and Ian would welcome any future growth. Although, he admits that each time he has moved his shop, it gets harder to move such a big operation. A problem that any business owner would love to have. There is another hiccup that the move has caused, long-term clients find it difficult to get to Ian’s shop now that he’s moved so far from them. He is trying to win those customers back and adjust to the new challenges this new location gives him. Ian’s shop is in a major business area, he’s not the only shop there that does what he does, but his customers come to hang out at his place on Fridays. That’s a testament to I.S. Motorsports’ good customer/business relations.
It’s really impressive that Ian’s business has grown as much as it has just by word-of-mouth promotion. However, Ian admits that his oldest friend and team member Roy has brought the shop into the 21st century with Instagram and other social media platforms. It has put Ian and his talent in a new spotlight for a new and younger audience. Instagram is a huge meeting place for car enthusiasts, the digital answer to a car show.
One of the cool developments he has noticed at his new location is that he gets walk-ins now! That’s something he and his team have had to adjust to after all walk-ins are a different type of clientele. In a culture where a guy can walk into a major automotive store and have his car checked for free, Ian’s team deals with the attitude that diagnosing the problem should be free. Time is money though and diagnosing a problem takes time and expertise. It is a problem Ian addresses head-on, and it has led him to focus more on customization and performance upgrading services. Having such a loyal customer base has allowed the shop to be selective about their projects.
As with all businesses, Ian does have a regret, he wishes he hired the right people from the beginning. He says the right team is super important in his business and if you don’t have the right team, it isn’t going to work well. Especially now since he is shifting I.S. Motorsports in another direction. The direction Ian has in mind is vinyl wrapping, car detailing, ceramic coating, and other services that send car enthusiasts clamoring to his door.
Ian loves car shows and remembers his early days driving the circuit and making a name for himself with his team called Team Menace. He became known for souping up imports, but his specialty is BMWs. Ian is a graduate of the BMW STEP (Service Technician Education Program) program. He made a huge impression on the Bimmer community after he did some work for the moderator of Bimmerpost. He unknowingly found a brand-new avenue for customers. Even with all this good word of mouth and publicity, Ian still makes time to attend the SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) Show every year. He says the hardest part of doing business in 2019 is keeping up with trends and forums. Following the trends and community buzz is important to stay in touch with Ian’s customer base.
So that leads to the question, why choose I.S. Motorsports over its competitors? In today’s market, it is nearly impossible to have a decent, let alone a great word-of-mouth reputation. Ian is customer-focused, he doesn’t push unnecessary work, and he’s part of a tight-knit community that recognizes quality when they see it.
I.S. Motorsports hasn’t had an official grand opening yet. Ian hopes to rectify that come this summer. He hopes to begin a Sunday tradition of setting up an impromptu car show for his friends and other local car fans. He says he really doesn’t have any big plans for the next six months or even in the upcoming year. He just hopes that business will stay steady and he can focus more on auto customization. He loves turning wrenches and he just wants to keep doing what he loves.
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