Customer loyalty can be elusive for the average small business owner, and many entrepreneurs struggle to find the secret formula that makes customers want to come back to their business. Jason Kuriger is certainly not among that group. After just four years, Jason’s Mr. Transmission store has become a fixture in his community, and he has a reputation for integrity, honesty and caring that brings people back to his store. According to Jason’s most recent estimates, somewhere between 70 and 80 percent of his customers are repeat visitors, and he makes sure each one feels as though they were the most valued individual in the state of Illinois.
Jason entered the automotive industry in 1991, working at a car dealership’s parts and service office. After several years of being in that role and moving up through management, he decided he wanted to go into business for himself. He learned what customers really valued in their parts and service garages, and he felt he knew how to provide that in his own business. His business story clearly shows he was right.
Jason’s guiding principle is integrity. That’s what he says keeps customers coming back. He recognizes how tough it is to earn and maintain a customer’s trust, so he says his integrity is worth so much more than the possible money he could gain by being dishonest. It struck him when he was working in dealerships how often people would complain about other mechanics overcharging them or doing unnecessary work. This made the customers wary of trusting others who were working on their cars, which is why Jason wanted to go the extra mile to prove that he deserved their trust. He makes sure that every customer knows exactly what’s going wrong with their vehicle and exactly how he or his technicians are going to do to fix it. Jason is especially adamant about not performing service that customers don’t need, or not working on a car that is essentially unsalvageable. Those who visit his shop can feel confident that they’re getting the exact service they need, and nothing more.
One customer who has been with Jason’s Mr. Transmission since day one is Marylynn Ferone. She decided when she met Jason to never have her car serviced anywhere else. Marylynn said she experienced a different level of service with Jason and his technicians than any other location, and it really made an impression. Without prompting, she said the thing she admires most about Jason is his integrity.
“I absolutely switched from the mechanic I had been visiting before that,” said Marylynn. “I could tell Jason cared about me as a person, it wasn’t just about whether he was the one to fix my car or not.”
Jason has more than one story like this. Mike Cheek came to the shop on Jason’s first day to let him know he would never come back because of mistakes made by a technician of the former owner. Instead, Jason convinced Mike to give him a chance to earn his business, and that was all it took. Mike remains a loyal customer to this day.
Jason believes the biggest indicator that his business principles are making a difference is the amount of people who are referred to him by other customers. He has not advertised his business in four years because his customers do the work for him by recommending him to their friends and family.
“That’s how I know I’m doing right by people, and how I validate what I’m doing,” Jason said. “I always heard, ‘You can hunt your business, or you can farm your business,’ and I prefer to farm my business by cultivating those relationships with people.”
Customer loyalty can make an enormous difference in the success or failure of a business. Jason’s story just shows that the more you treat your customers like they matter, the better your business success will be. For his success in fostering loyalty in his community, we’d like to recognize Jason Kuriger.