After building a successful business under one name, Mark and Summer Guerrero didn’t take the decision to change it lightly.
But the switch last year from “After Hours Auto Repair” to “Affinity Automotive Services” — actually suggested by a customer — made sense to the couple.
Mark started the business in his garage more than a decade ago, working late into the night after his regular job with a car dealership.
Today, it operates out of a seven-bay shop on Pawnee with five full-time employees, counting the Guerreros. Affinity offers just about any type of repair and maintenance except for body work.
“The name change came about because we kind of changed,” Summer said. “We just keep up with technology and the changes in what our customer demand is.”
She said the business even had trouble attracting employees under the old name. “They were all afraid we were going to ask them to work late.”
Affinity Automotive Services is a finalist for the Wichita Regional Chamber of Commerce’s 2019 Small Business Award for Tier 1 companies, those with one to five employees. The other nominees in that tier are Keating & Associates: The Converse Team and Paint the Towne. The winners will be announced May 23.
The Guerreros are former high school sweethearts. Mark grew up working on cars, while Summer gave up a career as a firefighter to work in the family business. The Guerreros say they try to be innovators in their industry, from their approach to customer service to the way they treat their employees.
“We now have digital inspections we send and text to our customers so they can see videos and pictures,” Summer said. “We may want to help them prioritize or help them prepare for maintenance later.”
Mark still works on some vehicles himself, but spends much of his time making sure the shop’s increasingly sophisticated equipment works and its technicians are trained to handle new vehicles, which are themselves much more complex. Summer said automotive diagnostic work “is like reading an EKG.”
“There are so many makes and models of vehicle. Each make, we have to have special tools to be able to program them, read through the modules and reset anything that needs to be reset.”
Affinity started a reward and loyalty program for customers, who get a $10 gift certificate program for referring new customers and a rebate when maintenance work reaches a certain level.
“It’s kind of like Menards, for future services,” Summer said, referring to the well-known retailer’s rebate program. “That (maintenance) can kind of add up for some of these new cars.”
Affinity guarantees its repairs and labor for three year and 36,000 miles. If that’s not enough, the business maintains a “Ladies Section” on its website with recipes from Summer and others.
Affinity picks up half of its employees’ health insurance costs in addition to offering regular training to keep their skills up to date.
Both Guerreros are active in Wichita’s chapter of the Midwest Auto Care Alliance, a group of about 20 independent repair shops.
“Our mission is to raise the industry‘s standards,” Summer said. “We’re not really in competition. We all need to be on the same page so that the consumer is used to how each business is like when you go there.”
Summer said the transition to a new name has gone as smoothly as possible.
“It’s definitely a lot of work on getting the branding out there again,” she said. “We’ve sent out fliers, had a ribbon cutting. Most customers love the (new) name because affinity means ‘natural liking or caring for something.’”
Affinity Automotive Services
Address: 2606 W. Pawnee
Owners: Mark and Summer Guerrero