Friendly Auto Centers is a multi-award-winning, family-owned automotive service and repair business in Mesa, AZ on the Openbay marketplace. When Friendly Auto Centers opened in 2014, President and CEO Steve Rozansky had years of experience as an ASE Master Mechanic and a passion for his community. Steve’s mission was to create a family-owned business delivering honest and professional auto repair and maintenance services to the people of Mesa.
Under Steve’s leadership, Friendly Auto Centers has expanded into a highly recognized 22-bay operation. Recently, Steve took his business mission to the next level by earning the Certified Autism Center™(CAC) designation from the International Board of Credentialing and Continuing Education Standards (IBCCES). Friendly Auto Centers is proud to be the first-ever auto center in the country to earn the CAC designation, equipped to serve customers with autism or other sensory needs.
This recognition joins several other awards. In addition to its CAC designation, Friendly Auto Centers has earned the highly coveted AAA Top Shop Award from AAA for two consecutive years and was a finalist for Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethics finalist in 2019, with a second nomination in 2020.
A Passionate Commitment to the Autism Community
Erik Arriola, Director of Operations and Marketing for Friendly Auto Centers, sat down with Openbay to explain the company’s CAC initiative. “Friendly Auto Centers is deeply committed to being the destination shop for the people of Mesa. Our team works hard to earn every certification. Autism Certification has been especially important to Steve and his wife Felecia, who have personal and professional connections to this cause.”
In 2019, Visit Mesa launched a community-wide initiative to become the first-ever sensory inclusive city in the world. Through community-wide efforts, Mesa was awarded the first Autism Certified City designation from IBCCES. Autism is a developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact. The Autism Society estimates that over 3.5 million Americans live with an autism spectrum disorder. Autism is defined by a certain set of behaviors and is a “spectrum condition” that affects people differently and to varying degrees.
Visit Mesa’s ambitious project resonated with the Rozanskys whose son, Eric, has autism. Steve and Felecia knew firsthand that the automotive service experience can be challenging for a person on the autism spectrum. Erik points out that “the service area is noisy, smelly and busy. Plus, the automotive service process can be complex and difficult to understand.” Erik explains, “Steve’s goal was to create a sensory-inclusive auto service environment and create a positive experience for customers with autism.”
An Inclusive Auto Service Experience for Customers with Autism
The Friendly Auto Centers team set out to develop a positive environment for people with autism. To achieve this goal, the entire team underwent extensive training with the IBCCES. They learned the unique needs of an autistic customer and how to offer a more inclusive service experience. And, they learned ways to create a welcoming physical environment for people with autism.
The Friendly Auto Centers team put their training into action. First, they adapted their client interaction protocol to meet the needs of an autistic client. Today the team is trained to provide a thorough explanation of the ‘what, why, and how’ behind a repair. In addition, the team constructed a sensory-friendly physical environment. Clients can now find quiet spaces to be far from the noisy activity of the shop.
Certified Autism Center Pioneers in the Automotive Industry
The Friendly Auto Centers team did not set out to become industry pioneers. Instead, it was their dedication to serving the autistic community that led to a bold idea and an industry-first distinction.
“It was an honor for the Friendly Auto Centers team to participate in the certification process,” shares Erik. “Everyone at Friendly Auto Centers works hard every day to be worthy of the designation. From providing a more empathetic automotive service experience for a customer or their child to creating a culture where an employee with autism can thrive, the CAC certification has helped us forge a stronger, more inclusive Mesa.”
Finally, Erik offers his advice to businesses considering pursuing a Certified Autism Center designation, “Go for it. People with autism or other sensory needs is an underserved community. Making the effort to become educated and certified creates an even more inclusive service experience for your business. And, ultimately, it offers the opportunity to serve your community at another level.”
Friendly Auto Centers Uses Openbay
Erik and the Friendly Auto Center team wanted to create a more relevant customer experience for their clients. Erik’s research led him to Openbay. Friendly Auto Center relies on Openbay to create an easy, stress-free experience for its digital-first consumers.
“Openbay fits well with our customer-focused strategy. With Openbay marketplace we automatically connect our business with online consumers searching for service,” states Erik. He concludes, “Openbay makes the auto repair experience easy and stress-free for our clients, and contributes to our award-winning customer service and business growth.”
Learn more and get involved here.
Visit Mesa to visit the first Autism Certified City
The Autism Society to learn more about autism and ways to make a difference
IBCCES to become a Certified Autism Resource
Openbay is transforming the way automotive service businesses acquire and retain customers, and the way consumers service their vehicles.
Vehicle owners in need of stress-free auto repair can book service with Openbay. Openbay is free to use.
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