Shop of the Year: ‘We all have to be role models’

Josie Candito, proprietor of Learn Mechanic Large Park (middle), is flanked by small business companions and shop specialists Mike Tavares (remaining) and Rui Silvestre (correct).

Learn Mechanic Higher Park has been given a long record of accolades.

Just this slide, it was acknowledged by Now Magazine’s Readers’ Option as Most effective Motor vehicle Provider in Toronto. It received all five automotive types in the Toronto Star’s Readers’ Preference Awards.

And now MMHP has been identified as the Automobiles journal 2021 Store of the Yr.

The store, nestled in a chaotic west-conclusion Toronto neighbourhood just off Dundas Road West, east of well known Large Park, is owned by Josie Candito, an accountant by trade who fell in appreciate with the automotive aftermarket.

Soon after joining Grasp Mechanic’s head office environment in 1992, an prospect arrived up for her to very own her own shop in the franchise. In 1999, the doors opened and she has not seemed back again.

“I guess I experienced the entrepreneurial spirit in me to be on my individual,” Candito said. “When you are talking to consumers and you are constructing a little something, I guess there was a thing in me that I just cherished it. And when this spot arrived up, I just cherished the area.”

She thinks her accounting background set her up to be a prosperous shop operator, even with not obtaining any formal education as an automotive technician.

“Having individuals skills is absolutely a need to,” Candito mentioned. “I guess one particular detail I recognized was the numbers.”

And once she was in the business enterprise, she realized the rigours of getting a company advisor and technician. “I have absolutely nothing but deep regard [for those jobs].”

Candito has two company companions, Mike Tavares and Rui Silvestre. Equally are also experts in the shop. Silvestre was regarded in 2017 as the Cars Technician of the 12 months.

“Rui is just 1 in a million. I have never ever noticed just about anything he simply cannot do. He is a huge part of the company,” Candito praised. “And the assistance Mike gives — he’s just so supportive, so quiet. We just simply click as a trio. The major of the leadership board is sturdy together, so it trickles down.”

Indeed, Candito mentioned she does every thing she can to ensure her team enjoys coming to get the job done.

“At our store, everybody’s critical. We’re all equivalent. Nobody’s better than any person else. We all work hard, and there’s no sensation of ‘I’m remarkable to anybody,’” she stated. “Obviously, there are leaders. But nobody’s just sitting down in the back again home. We have to lead by case in point. And not only in our group, but for our staff members. We all have to be role types. So all those are all points and I’m pretty individual about.”

Moreover, Candito makes certain they’re appropriately educated to provide any customer who walks via their doors.

“You have to be equipped to mend the car to keep the purchaser satisfied. So you if your mechanics cannot maintenance [or] your specialists are not fixing [vehicles] appropriately, very well, you’re likely to have comebacks. So if you’re not instruction then you are not advancing,” she claimed.

Candito will work with Mark Lemay, operator of Auto Aide in Barrie, Ontario, to make certain her techs are up to day.

“Technology is likely [forward] and you are just standing nonetheless, if you’re not investing in them, you’re not likely to go forward, you are not likely to be equipped to diagnose, you are not heading to be in a position to [repair] people cars and trucks,” she explained. “So you usually have to keep forward. Not just 1 12 months — it is usually a regular.”

Learn Mechanic Higher Park, at the corner of Howard Park and Dundas Street West in Toronto.

Community involvement

But just as she seems just after her employees, Candito prioritizes wanting soon after the local community all-around her.

“My personalized intention is to be part of the neighborhood. I occur from quite humble family. My dad and mom are immigrants and looking at how they struggled, I normally required to make guaranteed that I could assistance them and the local community,” she stated.

Candito performs with The Redwood, a women’s shelter to assistance empower women of all ages to commence in excess of again. Lots of of them are in systems to get them concerned in the trades.

She also will work with community non-revenue like the Parkdale Foodstuff Financial institution and Stone Soup Community, which shares solutions and services with all those in want. She operates with community schools and supports local community teams like Black Lives Matter and Indigenous results in. She’s even sponsored a baby who essential speech therapy.

“Any team that will come forward to us, we help. Any one, I can assist, I will,” she stated.

When COVID-19 strike, she did what she could to inspire people to shop nearby and assist regional businesses that were being battling because of to limits and lockdowns.

“It’s so critical to try to remember to support community. We assist each and every other as business enterprise leaders. Keep in mind, we will need to assist each other,” she explained.

1 important factor to Candito was to make sure her shop stayed open up through the top of the pandemic so they could carry on to serve the local community.

She doesn’t do it for the recognition or to acquire awards like Shop of the Year. She does it since, as she tells her organization companions Tavares and Silvestre, she feels it’s the suitable point to do.

“This is who I am and they know I’m distinctive, and this is me,” Candito explained. “They supported me 100 per cent. It was vital to me. And if you want the neighborhood to spend in you, then you require to give again. You need to be there for them.”

From left, Darko Jakovljevic, Brandon Leal, Michael Tavares, Tenzin Wangdu,
Josie Candito, Dima Zhovnovach, Rui Silvestre, Pablo Olivera, Ian Ahunin,
Nathalie Vega, Daniel Da Costa, Helen Shumilin and Charlie, main pet officer (front)

Market involvement

She is also deeply included in the sector. Candito functions on committees to mentor persons in the business, surveying members and growing membership with the Automotive Industries Affiliation of Canada.

The way she sees it, it is important to be a member mainly because the aftermarket is at a critical juncture.

“They are looking right after us,” Candito said. “They have been important to keep us an critical assistance when [COVID-19] was all heading down. They’re the ones advocating to maintain our data to ‘Your Vehicle. Your Data.’ to make certain that, in a couple of several years, we really don’t shed all the 500,000 folks [who work in this industry] if we just cannot get details any more. So this is massive.”

Standing out

Candito cannot point to one point that helps make her store stand out in the community. It’s a mix of a quantity of very little points.

They connect with customers, email them and maintain social media accounts up to date. “It’s a combination of new technological know-how with a minor bit aged faculty,” Candito described.

She pointed to the well known Maya Angelou estimate: “People will forget about what you mentioned, folks will neglect what you did, but people today will never ever overlook how you created them come to feel.” For MMHP, it is making certain the purchaser leaves with the right sensation.

“The next you response the mobile phone, the 2nd they wander in that door, how do you make them come to feel from the first impact? Something even as simple as a cell phone call can turn a buyer the erroneous way,” Candito claimed. “For case in point, it’s tire time right now — we would never transform absent a tire repair service this time of 12 months, it doesn’t matter how chaotic or what time it is. Even if another person came in at six o’clock, I’m not likely to depart anyone stranded at that time.”

She normally takes the viewpoint of the shopper. Automotive service has long been regarded as a “grudge buy.” They are offering their cash to their area store instead of putting that funds in direction of a getaway or some thing specific they want to acquire. So the onus is on the shop to make guaranteed that the customer’s cash is properly put in and that they have the ideal encounter feasible.

Her workforce has bought into that eyesight of consumer treatment. “It’s just the sum of a million matters that make you stand out and make folks believe and trust you. You want people to know that you’re clear, trustworthy, fair, you’re attentive to them, that they can have confidence in you, that they sense safe and sound.”

A mural on the outside of Learn Mechanic Superior park

Welcoming every person

Delivering a safe space is essential to Candito. For case in point, car fix stores don’t have a great popularity for serving feminine clients, even though they account for a bulk of automotive aftermarket revenue. She’s viewed male service experts be dismissive of woman clients. Candito tends to make sure that ladies truly feel revered and protected in their store.

“You want your team to be welcoming. Company house owners want to be job models. We will need to treatment,” she explained. “50% of your consumers are woman — how are we generating women truly feel when they walk in? Do we communicate in different ways to a male than we do to a female?”

Moreover, she listened to the LGBTQ local community experienced reservations about going to a repair service shop thanks to outdated perceptions. So Candito built it obvious to her team to always be welcoming of consumers and to take care of everyone the same. Her store is a area in which absolutely everyone no subject their background can sense cozy.

And that goes for staff members. The store ecosystem hasn’t been a traditionally welcoming area for girls to function in. She can converse to that with initially-hand experience.

“I hardly ever seemed at the sound. I test hardly ever to communicate about the obstacles simply because there are tonnes,” she reported. “As a woman in 1999 opening a shop — you could envision. So I consider not to assume of that. So I ignored the noises, I shattered the ceilings and I appeared previous the opinions.”

She did all that due to the fact she loves what she is performing. And that is crucial for any business operator, permit on your own a store owner.

“You have to like what you are undertaking. Since if you really don’t love what you’re carrying out, it is likely show,” Candito claimed “And specially if you are heading to be a business operator, recognize it is even going to be additional operate [than being an employee]. If you consider you are heading in reverse and you are going to work considerably less several hours, it is not. It is a 24/7 occupation.”

The Grasp Mechanic Substantial Park staff celebrates soon after staying named the 2021 Store of the Calendar year

Running the company

Potentially it’s the accountant in her, but Candito admits to fretting around every single solitary detail. The shop sees 60-70 autos each and every working day, with 600 invoices a thirty day period. Getting rigorous processes and treatments in position, she noted, is the key to her business’ achievement.

“We have a system in put for each condition,” she stated. So in circumstance any individual has a query on how to do some thing, odds are there is now been some assumed specified to the remedy. “That assists continue to keep the store in tip-major condition.”

This also functions as a bit of a succession system. If something were to happen to Candito, the group would be capable to retain the small business managing sturdy and perfectly due to the fact of the programs she’s set in put.

In truth, it has previously been analyzed. Thanks to overall health issues, Candito has been absent from the enterprise for the entirety of the COVID-19 pandemic. Remaining a higher-chance specific signifies she can’t bodily be in the location she enjoys the most.

Becoming absent from her crew has still left a little bit of a void, but her “soul” is there each day.

“The group always helps make me really feel like I’m there. I may possibly not be there but I’m there. My soul is generally there,” she mentioned.

She did make the trip in to stop by her crew to take the Store of the Year Award, which integrated a $2,500 prize pack from Milwaukee.

Master Mechanic Large Park’s well-liked indicator which is typically stuffed with pleasurable or inspirational messages that are well-liked with passersby.

Advertising and marketing

The shop’s signal out entrance has turn into a local community chatting point as Candito on a regular basis posts inspirational or funny messages. Persons will appear into the store as they are strolling by to compliment the messages posted.

“When I started with it, I thought, ‘Oh, If I cheer one particular person up, I believe that would be terrific. And then it advanced into a little something that went viral so quite a few periods and has manufactured so lots of folks come to feel incredible,” Candito explained.

The sides of the shop have murals that just can’t be missed by drivers heading by the store. Candito is identified for her like of canines — her rescue pet dog Charlie is the shop’s main pet officer — as her social media web pages are littered with puppy photos.

She tends to make it a priority to keep up to day with how to link with persons. That is exactly where people today are these days, Candito pointed out.

Take note how there was not a point out about its social media pages getting stuffed with neat cars, techs repairing cars or what’s occurring inside of the shop.

“Our social media’s a minimal distinctive. I never ever demonstrate cars, to be trustworthy. It’s a ton about what is occurring in the local community, shout out to local organizations, a large amount of canines, some ‘Caturdays,’ a ton of canine once again,” she explained with a chuckle.