A Formula for Success: Passion for Fine Cars & Dedication to Service

Mitchell 1 Customer Profile: Sports & Collector Car Center, Tempe AZ

A Formula for Success: Passion for Fine Cars & Dedication to Service

It all started in the 1970s when the Ritz Brothers —Joe and Pat — were teenagers working summers and after school in their older brother’s import auto repair shop. A seed of technical expertise and passion for fine cars was planted that has grown into a hugely successful repair business specializing in high-end European and classic collector cars.

Joe and Pat worked in that family-run shop right up until 2007, when they left to open their own facility, Sports & Collector Car Center (SCCC) in Tempe AZ. With over 50 years of combined expertise, the brothers now focus on different areas of the business; Pat is master technician and runs the back end, while Joe oversees the front end, including financials and marketing.

Puttin’ on the Ritz

Together they’ve built a full-service specialty auto center built on a dedication to providing the “highest level of service and value to our clients.” Their formula — you might call it the “Ritz Factor” — is working. Despite opening their business just before the major economic crash of 2008, business is on the rise. “April was our best month since we opened in 2007,” says Joe. Today, about 50-60 percent of their business is late-model, high-end European luxury cars. On any given day, you might find Ferraris, Porsches, Jaguars, Land Rovers and classic American muscle cars in their bays.

In an age when new technicians may not even know what a carburetor is, how do they find technicians to work on older vehicles and gems like a multi-carburetor Ferrari? Under Pat’s leadership, their team of four mechanics has been trained on the job, starting as apprentices and moving up through the ranks. They’ve been together for a very long time — some came with Joe and Pat from the previous shop, and the most “junior” of the technicians has been with them 10 years.

The shop has not only caught the attention of  “ordinary” car lovers, but also a prestigious clientele of executive “snow birds” who have winter homes in the Tempe area, and even the national media. In January 2013, SCCC was featured in the New York Times and on MSNBC in segments showcasing the shop’s use of technology to value their business.

Technology in Action

Technology is important in other aspects of their business as well. On the shop floor, they use Mitchell 1’s repair information with its comprehensive component and procedure data, TSBs and robust database of vintage makes and models. In the office, they use Mitchell 1 Manager for service writing, financial reporting, tracking sales, and managing their marketing and customer follow-up program.

“I look at the posted sales and monthly sales reports every single day,” said Joe. “It’s one thing to read reports, but being able to see the graphs at-a-glance and get a picture of how the shop is performing from last year to this year really saves me time.”

He also uses the client follow-up features in Manager for marketing. “I use those features religiously,” he says. “We generate the client list, print labels, and send a thank-you card four days after every visit. We also generate our reminders and promotional offers, like our pre-summer and pre-winter specials, through Manager. Our customers love this follow-up – and it definitely helps to keep them coming back.”

After using a different repair information and shop management system for many years, they shopped around and chose Mitchell 1 when they opened their facility in 2007. “I love the simplicity and thoroughness of the Mitchell 1 products,” says Joe. “I don’t have time to mess around with a lot of different things. With Manager, I find the exact information I’m looking for, it’s exactly where it’s supposed to be, and I trust its accuracy. On the repair side, our mechanics have hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of tools at their disposal, but the computer with the Mitchell 1 repair information is one of the very most helpful. It’s something we provide to make their job easier and makes our end product better.”

The ‘Think Tank’

The shop has become more than an auto repair facility – it has become a genuine “hangout” where a group of exotic-car owners (the “snow birds” mentioned above) congregate every week to share a cup of coffee and conversation — and check out the cool vehicles currently in Joe and Pat’s bays. Some of them are top executives in major corporations; one was third in command at Intel before retiring.

“We call it the ‘Think Tank.’ They talk about cars, politics and the stock market,” says Joe. “They all have their own cups with their names on them and we provide coffee and pastries in the conference room. They’re here every Thursday like clockwork. In fact, if someone can’t make it for some reason, they now call in advance to let each other know. And if they forget to call, well, that’s an unexcused absence!”

What’s the most exotic/expensive car they’ve had in the shop? There have been many, but a Ferrari 250 PF valued at roughly $1 million is definitely a contender. They’ve also repaired and restored an exotic Ferrari that went on to win the Desert Classic Concours d’Elegance in Palm Springs.

As you can imagine, Joe has a lot of great car stories. One of his favorites is about an early 6-cylinder E-Type Jaguar that had been to multiple shops over many years for a persistent oil leak. It seemed that nobody could stop that leak. Then the owners brought it to SCCC and were thrilled when Pat succeeded where everybody else had failed – goodbye, leak. “The owners were so happy they could finally remove the oil-stained cardboard from their garage floor. That was a nice testimonial,” says Joe.

The SCCC website claims that their clients “enjoy a professional yet casual environment that allows them to participate at their desired level. The passion for fine cars is the commonality that makes our center successful.” That sums up their philosophy — and their success — very well.

Click the thumbnails to view the full-size images of these fine automobiles repaired at SCCC:

About the Author

Jill Schafer

Jill Schafer is the Marketing Communication Manager at Mitchell 1 and has over 20 years of marketing experience with high-technology organizations, including over 10 years in the automotive information industry.