Q – Kindly give readers an introduction to your business. Please include what your business is all about, in which city you are located and if you have offices in multiple locations/ cities.
Champs Family Automotive is a family-owned automotive, diesel, and RV repair shop with locations in Surprise and Goodyear, AZ.
Q – Give us a brief description of yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
My name is Josh “Champ” Champion, and the primary owner of Champs Family Automotive alongside my wife Heather and business partner Josh Vetter. Ever since I was little all I ever wanted to do was work on vehicles and have my own shop. When I graduated from High School I received a scholarship to Arizona Automotive Institute where I graduated out of their 18-month program in just 12months. By the time I was in my early 20’s I was the number 1 sought-after Technician in the state of Arizona. Before I started Champs Family Automotive I successfully operated 3 businesses for a business owner in Phoenix. To date, our business has won numerous community impact awards along with the Better Business Bauru Torch Award for Ethics in 2017.
Q – What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)?
I have always had the passion and desire to work on cars ever since I was young. Over the years my knowledge and expertise in the field have continued to grow along with my passion to do what is right by the customer. So many shops encourage customers to spend their hard-earned money on unnecessary repairs which tend to give our industry a bad reputation. My goal is to continue to instill faith, integrity, and trust back into the automotive and diesel repair industry. Over the years we have continued to build our business on trust, integrity, honesty, and open communication between our Technicians and customers. Our customers are part of our family and we always aim to treat them like family. You’re not just another number at Champs Family Automotive you’re part of the family.
Q – How did the idea for your business come about?
I found auto mechanics very early in life and it has just always been my goal and dream to have my own free-standing automotive and diesel repair shop. I can’t really say what gave me the idea, I have just always had a love and passion for working on vehicles.
Q – Who has been your greatest inspiration?
My greatest inspiration, I’ve learned a lot over the years in the automotive and diesel repair industry from many people, family, and friends. I’ve learned a lot about who I wanted to be and yes who I didn’t want to be as well. I would say one book that has continued to inspire is “Six Tires No Plan” which is the story of how Discount Tire was founded and created.
Q – What makes you different from other businesses in your industry?
Champs Family Automotive is a family-owned business and we always do our best to recommend only necessary repairs, help customers prioritize repairs, and even prepare for repairs they might need in the coming months. We encourage our customers to get the full life out of their parts and only change them when it’s necessary. We have continued to build our business on trust, honesty, integrity, and open communication between our Technicians and customers.
Q – To what do you most attribute to your success?
I’ve been blessed to work with amazing people over the years and in some great communities. Without our hard-working staff, loyal customers, and the support of my wife, friends, and family all this would not have been possible. We are all beyond grateful for the opportunities and business we’ve worked hard to build together.
Q – What do you think is the best way to achieve long-term success in business?
Believe it or not, this is not the first business venture I actually had a few others before Champs Family Automotive was born. I learned a lot though, from the businesses that did not succeed, they were not failures stepping stones and lessons learned. My advice would be never to get too comfortable with where you are in business, life happens and you always have to be one step ahead if things take a turn for the worse. Yes live for today but live for tomorrow and 5-10 years from now as well. Nothing will ever go as planned, there will be bumps and turns along the road, you have to be as prepared as you can for these bumps and turns in business and life.
Q – Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
My goal was always to have my own free-standing shop where we owned the land and building. At the end of 2019, this dream became reality when we built our free-standing building in Surprise, AZ. This paved the way for us to continue and do the same thing for our Goodyear location. In the next 5 years, we plan to continue to grow and be a leader in our industry, buy and build land for our Goodyear location to move into, and then build an RV service center in Surprise next-door to our current Automotive and Diesel repair shop.
Q – Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
A have several friends and family members that have their own businesses. I know how hard it is to build a business and maintain it as well, I admire people’s drive to do what they know is right and have the grit and determination to build a business.
Q – Who is your target demographic?
Our target demographic is people who are passionate about keeping their vehicles in good condition. People who understand repairs and maintenance take time, a repair isn’t always something that can be done in an hour. We always work as efficiently as possible and we’re here to work together for the great good of you and your vehicles.
Q – Please list 3-5 talking points about your business that you feel are most relevant to your target audience.
- Champs Family Automotive is a family-owned business and is not corporate or franchised.
- We work on all makes and models, gas, diesel, and RV’s.
- We have built our business on trust, honesty, integrity, and open communication between our customers and technicians.
- We are beyond proud to of won the Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethics.
- Our customers are not just a number to us, they are family and are treated like family.
Q – What are your overall thoughts on your industry? Any advice you could give people about your industry?
Many years ago the Automotive and Diesel repair Industry had a very negative reputation because people were taken advantage of, lied to, etc… Today one of our main goals has been to change this perception of our industry. We are here to help educate and inform our customers about their vehicles and why repairs are recommended. We always want our customers to know not only what repairs we recommend but why we recommend them. We are happy to walk our customers through repairs, and show them why the repair is necessary or for that matter why a repair is not necessary. We want all our customers to be well informed about their vehicles so they can make the best-educated decisions about repairs. If you’re visiting an automotive repair shop never be afraid to ask questions.
Q – Is your business involved with any charitable organizations, social causes, or non-profit work?
Over the years we’ve done back-to-school drives, toy drives for toys for tots, OCJ kids, and others. We’ve adopted families from shelters during the holidays, sponsored football games that we’re done in honor of Brest Cancer Awareness, ‘ve been involved with helping to donate vehicles to Vets through Up By Their Boot Straps, done clothing drives where proceeds were given to Veteran organizations and so much more. Giving back to our communities is a very big part of who we are and our morals and values that guide us.
Q – How do you give back and support your community?
Over the many years we’ve been in business we’ve done transportation days at schools, toy drives, donated school supplies, participated in community fairs, sponsored sports teams and PTA’s, been involved with Rotary, participated in career days and so much more. Our communities have given so much to us we know how important it is to give back to our communities and we give back when and wherever we can.
Q – How important have good employees been to your success?
Having good employees is just as important as have customers in your business. Without our great staff, we wouldn’t have our great customers.
Q – What motivates you?
Before we started Champs Family Automotive I saw people being taken advantage of and just not treated right by shops. People deserve better and should be treated better. There’s no reason why people should be charged for unnecessary repairs. Every day I wake up with the goal in mind to help people today and make the best of the day ahead. I want better for people, my staff, and my family. I look at my wife and kids, my crew members and their families, my customers and their families, and I want better for them. I want the best this world has to offer for everyone and I want people to know if you need help with your vehicle we are here for you. You’re not going to get some corporate office when you call Champs Family Automotive, you’re going to get a valued crew member or even myself “Champ” and we will work through your problems together.
Q – How do you generate new ideas?
I do a lot of research on what is coming in our industry and do my best to prepare for what is coming from manufacturers. Our crew members are always coming up with ideas or things they would like to try to make things run smoother etc… My door is always open and we work through new ideas together and sometimes they work great other times it was a learning process and maybe it just wasn’t for us. Either way, it takes a village to run a business and continue to be on top of the new technologies.
Q – How do you define success?
Success is really left up to the person. Myself, success is having fun in life and earning a modest living for myself and those who work with us.
Q – How do you build a successful customer base?
Customers should never be made to feel like they are just another number in your roll-a-dex. We always do our best to take time and care with each of our customers we are blessed to have. We want to build strong relationships, learn about your family why because when you walk in the doors at Champs Family Automotive you become part of our family. We also follow up with our customers after they’ve been in for repairs just to see how they’re doing and make sure they’re happy with their repairs. No, we’re not selling anything, we call as a courtesy because we care and we want to make sure you are happy with your repairs and that the repairs took care of the problem you were having.
Q – What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
My favorite part of being an entrepreneur is I’ve started over the past few years have people reach out to me because they are looking to start a business. I’m always happy to help guide new entrepreneurs down the right path, let them know what I’ve done and the mistakes I’ve done as well so hopefully they can avoid the potholes I stepped in along the way.
Q – What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
My most satisfying moment in business, it’s honestly hard to choose just one. We’ve had so many amazing moments over the past 10 years. One of the most satisfying moments for me though was when we won the BBB Torch Award for Ethics, it honestly just reinforced we’re doing things right, we’re living up to our core values and they shine through in our business practices. The close second was my dream fulfilled when I was handed the keys to the new Surprise shop we built-in 2019. This was a dream come true and it is still just a surreal feeling of a dream achieved.
Q – What kind of culture exists in your organization? How did you establish this tone and why did you institute this particular type of culture?
Since the creation of Champs Family Automotive, we’ve always maintained the feeling of family. Our customers and crew are all part of our family. We understand sometimes people have a bad day and yes, life happens. We have always worked hard to build strong relationships with our crew members, we know when something is wrong and we work hard to keep open communication so we can work together to resolve problems. I’ve worked in shops where the crew members are not valued and are not cared about and I don’t want that for our crew. When my wife and I had our 2 children I worked for someone else and I asked for time off to be with my firstborn and wife when we first became parents. They did give it to me yes but when it came time for my son to be born I was called into work that day. This shop couldn’t even give me 24 hrs with my son and wife. Jumping forward 3 years I still worked for that same shop and my wife was pregnant with our daughter. I again requested the time off was assured I would not be bothered and I again was called into work the day my daughter was born. I didn’t have the pleasure of taking either of my kids home from the hospital because my work didn’t believe my family was more important than work. To this day we are all about family. You will see our kids at the shop during school breaks, if a crew member is having a kid they are given at least a week off fully paid to spend with their family. Family is incredibly important and we will make sure our crew members have the time they need to spend with their families. “There’s no amount of money that can ever buy a second of time” Tony Stark.
Q – If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
If I could start my career over again I can honestly say the only thing I might have changed is I would have made more time to spend with my wife and kids. In the early years as we were building the business I spent so much of my time working and building the business, I really missed a lot of the very young years of my children’s life. In fact, my wife and I remain today and we both agreed for many years she was a single mom. I worked so much that I wasn’t around as much as I should have been for my wife and kids. Yes, they understand where I was and what I was doing but I have to live with the memories I lost during those building years. I cannot change the past but I do keep this in mind when I look at today and into the future.
Q – What is your greatest fear in business, and how do you manage fear?
I think it’s healthy to have some fear in business, if you don’t have any fear then that’s usually when things begin to fall apart. I do agree with success is just on the other side of fear and terror. I do my best to prepare for the fears I have and I have to hope I have prepared enough. My greatest fears would be our businesses would fail or I wouldn’t be able to take care of my crew and family.
Q – How did you decide on the location for your business?
I knew I wanted to be around rooftops, family homes. When we first started our business we started it out of our 1.5 car garage in Phoenix. We eventually moved into a larger home in Peoria, AZ. After running our business out of our Peoria home we started looking to lease a space to work out of. We built our business debt-free and we aimed to stay that way. When it came to our first Surprise location on Foxfire Drive that honestly was the only space we could afford in the West Valley so that was it! When we added our Goodyear location we knew we wanted to stay in the West Valley but we had several customers coming up to us from the Goodyear/Litchfield area so it made sense to add a location South of our Surprise location. We then found our Goodyear location and coincidently we had the same landlords at both the first Surprise shop and current Goodyear location.
Q – If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Henry Ford or Nicola Tesla because they were pioneers in our industry. They were both visionaries in their own right.
Q – What book has inspired you the most (or what is your favorite book)?
6 Tires, No plan
Q – What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
We all make sacrifices for what we believe in and to fulfill our dreams. For me, I’ve sacrificed valuable time with my family. I missed a lot of quality time with my kids in their younger years because I was busy building the business. My wife was a single mom for many years while I was out working. I have also sacrificed my health in some respects as well. At a very young age, I had pins and rods put in my lower back. I spent years lifting heavy parts and working on my back because I couldn’t necessarily afford to buy racks or equipment to help me lift engines, transmissions, etc. I have done a lot of damage to my back and my hands as well. I had pins and rods put in my lower back when I was about 32 years old.
Q – What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
No matter what industry you go into you should always know the industry very well before you start a business in that industry. You should always be able to adjust to the times, especially in the automotive and diesel repair industry things are constantly changing. You have to adapt to the changes and be willing to learn new technologies and how to work on new vehicles. To be a great entrepreneur you have to be able to yes live for today but live for the future as well. This industry changes so much and you have to be as prepared as possible for changes, and the ups and downs that come with owning your own shop.
Q – What three pieces of advice would you give to entrepreneurs looking to get started in your industry?
You will hear time and time again “you can’t do it”, “you’ll never succeed” or “it’s hard to own a business, are you sure that’s what you want to do”. You have to be headstrong and take comments like these as something that fuels you to fulfill your dreams and pushes you forward. We’ve had so many people tell us you won’t make it or you can’t make it. We’ve had close family members tell us this but to this day we’ve pushed through and told these people, oh ya watch me! Being an entrepreneur you’ll hear so many no’s all the way through your business and that’s ok, you won’t work with everyone but this will make the yes’s so much sweeter to hear. My last piece of advice would be to own up to your mistakes, never blame someone else for your shortcoming or mistakes. Admit fault when the fault is yours but also learn something from your mistake and have a plan in action on how to fix the problem. We’re all only human and yes throughout life you’ll make plenty of mistakes but it’s how you handle these mistakes, what you learn from them, and how you fix them that will truly define who you as a person and how your business is seen by the community.
Q – Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
I do not believe there is any formula or pattern to becoming a successful entrepreneur. Just always stay humble, be kind, be willing to learn new things, understand just because you may be a business owner doesn’t make you better or above anyone else. We are all human and remember as you grow your business people do not necessarily work for you, they work WITH you.
Q – What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
I believe entrepreneurs for the most part are self-driven and are able to put fear and terror aside and make the leap less taken. It’s hard to leave a steady paycheck working for someone else but it can be well worth it in the end. Fear should always be there though, never get comfortable because it’s at that moment failure will creep in.