In order for your interview to be posted on Magazine/News Placement Sites, kindly answer the mandatory questions listed below. We would also suggest answering the “Recommended” ones though. Please understand the more questions you answer, the better your interview will look. If you want your business to be successful, you will have to be prepared to be interviewed by serious newspapers and magazines. So, consider this as a Media training exercise. The list of questions we are asking are the ones most Public Relations company uses to prepare you before scheduling an interview.
Please try and be honest and avoid “clichéd” answers. Interview questions and answers will be posted directly without any editing from the writer. To make the interview look better, I would appreciate if you could answer them in 2 to 3 lines instead of few words.
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Please note we reserve the final right on selecting which answers to publish as well as story angles to use. If you want to preview the interview before we post it, kindly let us know.
Mandatory Questions –
• Kindly give our 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 and Diesel Repair shop with 2 valley locations, Surprise and Goodyear, AZ. Over the years we have built our business on Trust, Integrity and Fair Pricing. We strive to treat all our customers like family and we are here to build lasting relationships between our staff and customers.
• Kindly give us a brief description about yourself (it should include your brief educational or entrepreneurial background and list some of your major achievements).
Josh “Champ” Champion is the primary owner and founder of Champs Family Automotive along-side his wife Heather Champion and General Manager Josh Vetter. Champ has always had a heart and passion for auto mechanics and was buying and repairs vehicles before he even had his Driver’s License. Champ and his wife Heather met in high school and have been together since Champs Senior year. In high school Champ received a full scholarship to attend Arizona Automotive Institute (AAI) where he tested out of his 18 month program and graduated from AAI early in only 12 short months. Champ’s passion for working on vehicles has grown immensely over the years and he was the number 1 sought after mechanic by the age of 21. Champ has had a great deal of experience working for other shops before he started Champs Family Automotive. Through his past employers he learned about how customers and employees should be treated. When Champ was about 24 years old he met his now business partner and GM Josh Vetter. Vetter and Champ worked for the same shop for a few years and have remained best friends since they met. During Champs growth in business and as a mechanic he, Heather and Vetter have always believed in treating customers and staff fairly, helping educate them about their vehicles and above all be honest and build a strong relationship. If you treat people with respect and are honest with them the rest will come.
• What inspired you to (start a new business venture) or (to make significant changes in an existing business)? How did the idea for your business come about?
Champs dream since he was a kid was to someday have his own shop. He’s seen how other shops treated their employees and customers and he knew in his heart he could do better and treat people better than these other shops. He knew people deserved better which pushed him even more to build his dream.
• What three pieces of advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?
When I was starting my business I had so many people tell me you can’t do that or you’ll never make it. People will try and bring you down but don’t let them, use it to motivate you to be better and to do better.
The hardest thing people have to accept is at some point you will fail at some part in business, I did. I actually had 2 other businesses that didn’t go anywhere before I started Champs Family Automotive. All in all yes, they may have failed but I learned something from each experience which in the long run has made me stronger and our business stronger.
Being a business owner is not easy, you will for a long time be the first one into work and the last one to leave. There has been many nights where I fell asleep in the shop working on vehicles and my wife and kids would wake me the next morning with coffee and breakfast before I jumped right back into working again. You will work a lot but know it is worth it, you will eventually work with some amazing people who will work along-side you to continue to build your dream. Keep pushing through.
• What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Be willing to take risks
• How many hours do you work a day on average?
I never really turn work off. Yes we have the hours of operation that our shops are open but I am an owner which means my work is part of my life and my life is part of my work. I don’t get the luxuries of turning my phone off when I’m not at the shop, I am always working. I’m answering phone calls, checking on my crew, working to continue to build a better future for the shops and our crew.
• To what do you most attribute your success?
I attribute our success to my team members, my wife Heather and GM Josh Vetter. Without them, my family, team and loyal customers we certainly would not be where we are today.
• How do you go about marketing your business? What has been your most successful form of marketing?
When we first started our business we grew our clientele by word of mouth only. We still today have continued to build our brand and reputation by words of mouth and showing our support in our communities who have continued to support us over the years. It really just goes back to if you treat people right with honesty and respect the rest will come. Over the years with continued growth we have expanded into many other marketing and advertising platforms but word of mouth is always the best marketing for your business.
• Where did your organizations funding/capital come from and how did you go about getting it? How did you obtain investors for your venture?
Our goal over the years has been to build our business debt free which we have done for the most part. We started Champs Family Automotive out of my little 1.5 car garage on just jack stands and working on my back and when we saved up enough cash to buy tools we bought them. As we’ve continue to grow we’ve practiced this same philosophy, we pay cash for what we need and we will not finance equipment or take out loans for equipment. This has been pivotal to our growth over the years. We only have to pay rent and our mortgage for our 2 locations which are our only loans for our 2 shops.
• What is the best way to achieve long-term success?
Every business will go through down times or unexpected rough financial times, all you can do is try your best to put money away for the slower times and not accrue to much unnecessary debt along the way. Always treat your customers and staff with the upmost respect and be honest, the rest, the rest will come.
• Where you see yourself and your business in 5 – 10 years?
In the next 5-10 years our plan is to purchase land around our Goodyear location and build our own free standing building for our current Goodyear shop to move into. After our Goodyear shop is built we will continue to expand our Surprise shop and build a new building for our RV repair side next top our current Surprise shop.
• Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
The other business I can think of that I would admire the most would be Morehart AC and Heating because they started their business the same time we did. I am very close friends with the Morehart family and it’s been great to watch them grow and prosper into what they are today. Over the years we have bounced ideas off each other, worked through difficult problems each of our respective businesses have had and celebrated good times together as well.
Recommended Questions –
• How important have good employees been to your success?
The same can be said for great Employees as for great customers, without them you wouldn’t have a business. We believe in taking care of employees and treating them how you would want to be treated. Champ worked for a different shop while he and his wife Heather had both their children. Champ worked diligently for the owner of this particular shop and he asked the owner if he could have a few days to spend with his wife and child when each was born. The owner agreed and said they wouldn’t call Champ but that is not what happened. Champ was called the first day he was off work while his wife had just given birth to their first child, Dominick. Champ didn’t even get 1 full day to just enjoy becoming a dad for the very first time. Champ ended up going into work the day after his son was born and didn’t even get to take his wife and son home from the hospital. When Champs daughter Tatum was born a few years later unfortunately Champ was treated the same way and didn’t get to take his wife and daughter home from the hospital either. To this day this has continued to have a lasting impact on Champ and how we treat our employees. We make sure our employees are there for their families and all employees are given at least a full week off with no phone calls or anything from the shop if they have a baby. We know how important family is and we want our crew to spend quality time with their loved ones because you’ll never get those moments back.
• How long do you stick with an idea before giving up?
I don’t give up, I work with my team to develop things that will work well for our business, staff and customers.
• What motivates you?
It’s not often in life you get to do what you love and love what you do for a living. I’m truly grateful for everyday I get to wake up and do what I love for a living. My children and wife will always motivate me because I want to give them the best this life has to offer. I want to give the best I can everyday to my staff and their families at home. I want them to be excited and happy to come to work every day. I want my staff to always feel like part of our extended family and know we will be there for them as they have and continue to be there for us.
• What are your ideals?
Trust, Courage, Passionate, Confidence, humble
• How do you generate new ideas?
Myself along with my entire crew all continue to refine our best practices because no one and nothing is ever perfect so perfecting our skills and business is always a continuous effort. It does take all of us to continue to move our business forward.
• How do you define success?
To me success is not monetary, success to me is being able to watch my guys buy new homes and getting married watching their kids grow, go on vacations and live life. This defines success to me because my crew is happy, healthy. We have the same passion and the same drive and all my crew knows if there’s a problem we will work through it together.
• How do you build a successful customer base?
I’ve always believed in treating customers right and being honest and fair with pricing. There’s actually been times customers have come into the shop and thought they needed a repair but after looking over their vehicle they maybe just needed a little maintenance or something much less than what they originally expected. I’ll be the first one to let them know they don’t need the unnecessary repairs they thought they needed and I would just recommend maybe doing a simple maintenance procedure. We want our customers to get the full life out of all their parts on their vehicle. This honesty and trust has helped us continue to build our business over the years. We stay in contact with our customers as well. We send monthly emails out to them and after they’ve been in the shop we will call them back after a month or 2 just to make sure everything is going well and that they are happy with their repairs. We’re not here to sell them anything, we here to make sure they are happy and educated about their vehicles and let them know we stand behind our work. Staying in touch with your customers is vital to your success because you want them to know you are there for them if and when they need you.
• What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?
• What has been your most satisfying moment in business?
In 2017 we were nominated for the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Torch Award for Ethics. This is a very prestigious award and is give out to only a few business every year. The process was very in depth, there is a slate of judges that reviews your business and each business is given a list of questions they are to answer regarding all aspects of how your business is run. We were selected as a finalist and were invited to the annual dinner along with all other contestants and community supporters. I honestly wanted to go yes but, I did not think we were going to win. In fact, I actually remember mentioning to my wife, we should bring our kids because they need to learn that even if you don’t win you should always be grateful for the opportunity and show respect for all the contestants and congratulate the winners. There’s always next year and we just have to continue to improve ourselves. Well, the night of the awards arrived and to my surprise we WON! I remember recording the interview they played when our name was announced as the winner. I was asked so what would it mean if you won? I replied, It would mean we’re doing things right. It would mean we live and breathe our core values and it has continued to come through in everything we do. Treating people right is all that matters money and growth will come later. At the end of the day we are doing things right.
• What do you feel is the major difference between entrepreneurs and those who work for someone else?
• 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 day 1 we’ve always worked hard to treat our customers and employees as part of the family. We are a family owned business and we want everything we do to follow suit with that. Champ and Heather both have worked in several other places in the past and there’s really nothing better that working in a friendly environment full of trust, honesty and respect.
• In one word, characterize your life as an entrepreneur.
Optional Questions –
• If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
Ya know, I’ve been asked this same question many times and my answer has always been the same, I wouldn’t change anything. In my professional life I’ve had a lot of struggles but a lot of happy and successful times as well. The hard times have helped shape me and our business into what it is today.
• How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?
For the first few years of our business my wife was literally a single mom. Yes, she would agree. I worked day and night, weekends holidays whatever was necessary I worked it. I remember putting my kids to bed and spending about an hour or so with my wife then she’d go to bed and I’d go right back out to the shop to work on vehicles. We did this for many years while we were staring our business. Today while I may not be out in the shop till all hours of the night I do still work a lot but my family is involved with everything I do. You’ll see my kids at the shop learning the business when their out of school and my wife she helps our GM run our Goodyear shop. I worked so much when my kids were young my daughter Tatum, when she was learning her name, literally thought her name was Tatum Champs family Automotive lol. I do have a great relationship with my 2 kids and my wife and I am so thankful for their love and support.
• What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?
I’m a firm believe that God puts everything on the other side of fear and terror. You just have to be as prepared as possible to deal with the bad if it arises. When it comes to managing fear you can’t let fear run of rule your life. All you can do is weigh out the pros and cons and make a choice to push forward but just know things can always take a turn for the worse, you just have to prepare for the worst the best you can.
• How did you decide on the location for your business?
For our Surprise location, honestly, I just had to get out of working out of my house. At the time when we started our first Surprise location I told my real estate Agent I just need to find a place I can lease because the city has given me a few months to move the business out of my house. He just so happened to find our first Surprise location on Foxfire Drive and I was excited, hesitant and so many mixed emotions came through me when I signed that lease. Years later when we looked for our second location I knew I wanted to go somewhere in either Goodyear or around the Lake Pleasant area. The Lake Pleasant area was just way too expensive to move into and my Agent found a lease spot for us in Goodyear so we drove down, checked it out and signed our lease there. Our current Surprise location is just down the street from our previously rented space we had in Surprise. Our goal was to stay close to our previous Surprise location but with more street visibility and still easy for our customers to find us.
• Do you believe there is some sort of pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?
Dedication and don’t do it for money. If you start a business just for the money you will fail. I know a lot of people who are successful in business but success is not measure on how much money they have in their bank account.
• If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Bruce Halle who was the Founder of Discount Tire or Sam Walton who was the founder of Wal-Mart. Bruce Halle started his business with literally 6 tires and passion. he was a great business man.
Sam Walton started with just one Wal-Mart store and was successful. In fact one of his first stores was so successful that his land lord took it back from him. But this did not stop Sam he started another store and always worked diligently to better himself and his store. He wasn’t selling items to make a huge profit. Sam was in business with his heart and I admire that.
• Who has been your greatest inspiration?
• What book has inspired you the most? (OR what is your favorite book?)
6 Tires and no plan, the autobiography of Bruce Halle.
• What are some of the biggest mistakes you’ve made?
In the very beginning when we started our business we leased a credit card machine and oil tanks. The experiences we had with these two items provoked us to stay out of leases. The customer service was horrible and they literally nickel dimed you on everything they could. After these 2 leases we then started buying all our equipment out right and cash only. We have found out that if we buy our own equipment and just have a company come in an service we need done we get better customer service and product. If we have a problem with the product or services the companies we deal with are more responsive and we can choose who we want to do business with. If for instance an Oil Supply company is not doing their job and taking care of our account as they should than we can leave their company but our equipment stays with us because we own it.
• How can you prevent mistakes or do damage control?
We have all made mistakes in our life but I am a firm believer what you learn from your mistakes and how you handle the situation will define who you are and how other people see you. Over the course of the years I’ve made several mistakes but the best policy is to always be honest and admit fault but also how you plan to fix the problem. Learn something from every mistake so you don’t make that same mistake twice.
• What are your hobbies? What do you do in your non-work time?
The funny thing is I live breath and sleep cars. When I have some down time I try to spend time with my wife and kids. We go hunting, camping or we like to build projects at home.
• What makes you happy?
Knowing that my wife kids and staff are all happy and healthy and that I get to wake up every day and do what I love.
• What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
I have had to make many sacrifices over the years. While all of our friends we’re out partying I was out working day and night. I lost the first couple of years of my children’s life because I was working all the time, in fact my wife, Heather was a single mom for several years while we were working to get our business off the ground. I’ve sacrificed my body by lifting things I should of used equipment for but I didn’t have the money to purchase the equipment so I worked with what I had. I have arthritis in my hands and have pins and rods in my lower back because of the work I’ve put in to get our business where it is today. I am 38 years old with the body of a 60year old. I’ve sacrificed a lot over the years but I would do it all over again if I had to. I am not afraid of hard work, in fact I find peace and clarity when I’m able to get out in the shop with our guys and work on vehicles. Was it worth it, YES every second and every minute of every day was worth it and still is.
• If you were conducting this interview, what question would you ask?
What keeps you going through the good times and bad?
for more information visit us at champsfamilyautomotive.com