Automotive Services: Erick McHenry, Viking Automotive

Erick McHenry

Automotive Services

Summary: Automotive mechanic Erick McHenry is the owner of Viking Automotive. Erick started his business from the back of his truck ten years ago… As he grew his business, he was introduced to and joined a BNI chapter in BNI Utah North region. Very quickly he grew his business from one bay he rented at a location to today owning a location with 11 bays, five mechanics, and two services advisors. Erick has generated over 1 million dollars from BNI referrals over the past ten years and now has service advisors in two other chapters generating over $100,000 in referrals from each chapter…

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Laura Viskovich: Hello and welcome to the Professional Business Connections. I’m Laura Viskovich and I have a really interesting interview here today. Erick McHenry has an amazing story and his business is Viking Automotive. Welcome.

Erick McHenry: Thank you.

Laura Viskovich: I’m so excited because I heard big things about your journey. So let’s start right at the beginning.

Erick McHenry: Okay.

Laura Viskovich: How did you become the mechanic?

Erick McHenry: So, for me, the beginning of mechanic started actually in high school and a little bit before that. But I took automotive classes in high school and I went a full ride scholarship to the Ford Dealership training for a contest that we did in high school. After that, I went to college for two years and worked at the dealership and became Ford Master Certified, and just started being a mechanic and growing and learning the business from there. And that’s kind of where my whole like seed of wanting to start my own shop, started with from the dealership.

And then I went to a couple of different independent locations and then realized like, “Okay, I’m going to do this on my own.” So I threw the tools in the back of my pickup truck, and I put an ad on the internet, and then I would just show up at your house, like if you needed your breaks done, I’d pull up in your driveway and I’d replace the breaks in your driveway. And then I just started providing good service and honest for everybody around the valley to where I was working from sun up to sun down all the time. I was just completely swamped by myself.

So the next – I joined BNI at that point actually and that was part of my major marketing strategy was the referral marketing, because I’ve done – do everything through referrals basically. I’m very, very low on the internet. It still is at this point ten years later. I still don’t do a ton of internet marketing. It’s a lot of referral-based marketing. So, I would show up to your house and do it. And then, I’d just ask for the referral then go door-to-door.

At that point, I got so busy that I rented a bay. I found a shop that was really slow and I rented one bay from them. So the pay for rent, I would work on his cars during the day and then he would let me work on my own customers’ cars at night. So I – as soon as he was done with whatever cars he had, then I would start bringing my own in. And I’m just slowly going up from there.

I’ve been – I went from that one and he finally like was, “Okay, you’re making more money than I am. I’m paying all the bills and you stay here until midnight, 1 o’clock, and making just a bunch of money.” So I left there, went to a couple of small shops just in the – like a back alley down in a business complex. I can get four cars in there, and I just cranked away, and just growing and growing. Now, we have 11 bays, I’ve got five mechanics, and two guys up front, we’re just cranking away.

Laura Viskovich: Wow. That just really excites me, so thank you for sharing that. How long have you been in BNI for?

Erick McHenry: So I joined BNI in 2008, so it’s been ten years.

Laura Viskovich: Okay. And do you do other forms of generating business or is it 100% referral based?

Erick McHenry: So I do other stuff as well, but most of it comes from the referral-based marketing, that’s BNI. And we’re actually in three different chapters. So I’m in one personally, I’m the president of my midday master’s chapter, and then my two service advisers, soon to be general managers, we’re looking to split in to a second location even. But my two general managers, they are in other chapters as well.

Laura Viskovich: Amazing. So over the course of the ten years that you’ve been in business and at BNI, is there a dollar figure you’d like to share?

Erick McHenry: I would say we’re definitely over a million. I don’t exactly. But over the course of ten years, we’ve made more than a million dollars out. I mean, every year, it’s over a $100,000 out of each chapter, pretty easy.

Laura Viskovich: So let’s go back to the beginning, again, of the journey that you’ve had – successful journey you’ve had through BNI. So you, obviously, visited a couple of chapters before you joined a chapter. Walks us through that.

Erick McHenry: I was actually one of the – it was just a mastermind or a core group. There was only like six of us, so I was one of the founding members and I’m the only one left. They’ve all kind of moved on and done different things now.

So my chapter was the one and only one I went to, and I just jumped in two feet, and I’ve helped growing it from there. We were – BNI had some flaws, we’ve been upwards of 50 members and then it kind of fluctuates, so we just keep pushing along, and I’m not going anywhere because it works so well for me.

Laura Viskovich: Fantastic. You’ve gone through all the training, you’re obviously in the leadership role now in the BNI. So do you think that that’s been very beneficial for the success that you’ve had?

Erick McHenry: Yeah, I think just following the system, I mean, it’s set up that it’s a franchise. So following a system and just like in my business, it’s very systematized. So if you go to the trainings and you do what they say, if we meet one-on-one, that’s how you’re going to be able to find referrals for me. So I mean, just following the system is the biggest way of doing it.

Laura Viskovich: So when you do the one-on-ones, is there a system that you can follow in order to have a better one-on-one?

Erick McHenry: Oh yeah, absolutely. So I mean, they’ve got the training that specifically spells out how me and you come together. So the point is that we can actually be productive instead of just hanging out. We can go hang out wherever later, you know. But at the one-on-one, it’s like, let’s get something done, “How can I find your business?” So.

Laura Viskovich: That’s fantastic. So really important point to have is, yeah, you can hang out and build a relationship. But do you really understand who the other person is? So I guess the formula that you have in a one-on-one helps you both refer to each other.

Erick McHenry: Yeah.

Laura Viskovich: Do you think I’m correct in saying that?

Erick McHenry: Yeah, exactly.

Laura Viskovich: Fantastic. So if there’s anyone out there who is a mechanic, who is a hairdresser or whatever the industry is and then looking to visit a chapter. What would your tip and trick be?

Erick McHenry: So if you’re coming to visit a chapter, one of the biggest things is don’t be shy, nobody’s going to bite you or slap you or call you stupid, you know, like, we’re all here to grow our business. So that’s kind of the – the culture of BNI is givers gain. So they’re actually there to help you.

Laura Viskovich: Yeah.

Erick McHenry: So come in and be specific, that’s a really big thing. Like if you’re a hairdresser, looking to do Halloween dress-ups or wedding dress-ups, like say that instead of like, “I need anybody with hair.” Because that doesn’t do me any good, you know. Or as a mechanic, it’s like, “Look, I’m looking for” – right now in Utah it’s the season are changing, “I’m looking for people who want winter tires.” I mean, it’s that specific.

Laura Viskovich: Yeah.

Erick McHenry: You know, so be very specific when you come in and you’ll get the most out of it. And then afterward, don’t be a stranger. You need to go put forth effort to meet everybody.

Laura Viskovich: Yeah, do the time –

Erick McHenry: And follow-up.

Laura Viskovich: Right. Do the time, give us gain, right?

Erick McHenry: Yeah.

Laura Viskovich: Fantastic. Well your journey has just been absolutely inspiring. And I’m sure there’s people out there who would just learned a lot from it.

So in your specific chapter, would it be any industries that you would really love to join your group?

Erick McHenry: Oh yeah. I mean, always the trades are huge, like we can pass so much business to the handyman, so much business to a painter, to the cabinet guy – because that’s just happening all the time.

Laura Viskovich: Right.

Erick McHenry: Those are the easy referrals that we – and we all want them in our sphere that we can just say, “Hey, I got a guy. I got a guy” so –

Laura Viskovich: Yeah.

Erick McHenry: – the trades are huge, you know.

Laura Viskovich: Fantastic. Fantastic. Well, thank you so much for coming on to the show. Wow, I’ll see you on the next show of the Professional Business Connections.

Erick McHenry: Thank you.

2018-11-20T00:08:49+00:00By |Categories: Automotive Services, Interviews|

About the Author:

Laura Viskovich is the Communications Director of the Professional Business Connections located in Salt Lake City, UT. As a classically trained actress and dancer in Sydney, Australia, eight years ago she had a dream to create a children's entertainment company. Today Laura has expanded her business from Australia to the United States. She's a speaker, trainer, and an expert at relationship marketing. She understands the value of creating and maintaining strong long-term relationships and connecting other like-minded individuals.
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