Our Meet the Merchant series features Q&As with real-world Clover merchants. Today we talk to Anthony D. Drummer, owner of Drummer Imports Service & Sales Center in Decatur, Georgia. Drummer Imports is an auto maintenance and repair shop for luxury vehicles, specializing in BMW and Mercedes. The shop has been in business for 17 years and Drummer prides himself on outstanding customer service. Anthony talks about how he’s built his business and increased his profits during the pandemic.
Clover: Hi Anthony! Can you tell us about how you got into the car industry and why you focus on luxury imports?
Anthony D. Drummer: I’ve always been intrigued by cars and how they operate. As a youth in Cleveland, Ohio, my best friend and I would build go-karts and minibikes. In our minds, we were professional drivers who engineered our karts and bikes to perfection. We raced them, we tinkered with them, and when we broke them, we took them back to what we called “The Lab.” There we would fix them so they would drive even better. As we grew, my friend and I continued our quest to deepen our understanding of auto mechanics. We later attended auto mechanic school where we excelled in our craft. Now we are both owners of our own establishments. He has a shop in Ohio and I have my shop here in Georgia.
After relocating to Atlanta in 1985, I took a position with a high-end car dealership where I was able to participate in additional training programs at the manufacturing schools of luxury car organizations. Through the trainings, I received the foundational knowledge on how BMW, Mercedes, and Volvos are built. These manufacturers became my passion and they became the nucleus of my business.
Clover: We know you take great pride in the customer service you offer. Why do you make customer service a priority?
Drummer: My motto is “doing good in the ‘hood.” It doesn’t make a difference to me what neighborhood I’m in. I enjoy helping people, I enjoy resolving problems, and I appreciate seeing the satisfaction on people’s faces when you can fix their car properly, on time, and at a reasonable price. Growing up, my father was a constant force in my life. He instilled the work ethics and the veracity in me that guides my life decisions.
Automotive mechanics have had a bad reputation of taking advantage of customers—especially women—by charging excessively without merit. As a person of integrity, I wanted to change that perception. I realized that I possess a talent and with my discerning spirit, I can help others, ensure customers are treated fairly, and hopefully refute the infamous reputation that has clouded the profession.
Clover: How do you train your staff to deliver the same level of customer service that comes so naturally to you?
Drummer: Bottom line, I lead by example. I show them how it should be done and I show them why I do it the way I do. I am very hands-on with my business. I speak with every customer and am involved with every vehicle. I always tell customers that without them, there would be no me.
We thrive on excellent customer service. At a small business you can always talk to the owner directly. More than 85%t of my customers have my cell phone number, and I’ve had a few contact me well after business hours! I like to say that although the customer may not always be right, it is our job to make them feel like they are.
Clover: Let’s talk a little about the pandemic. How has it affected your business and what changes have you made?
Drummer: When the governor ordered a statewide shutdown, auto repair shops were considered essential businesses and could remain open. Our customers, however, had to stay home. So I realized Drummer Imports had to do something to adapt quickly or we were not going to survive.
I got creative…quickly. One of our newest and welcomed services is pickup and delivery. With this service, we pick up customer vehicles in the metro Atlanta area, service the vehicle, wash the exterior, disinfect the interior, and return the vehicle to its owner. I created a video of my team disinfecting the vehicles utilizing CDC recommended products. Disinfecting each vehicle was for the safety of our customers and my employees.
Local news station, Channel 2 WSB TV was informed of Drummer Imports’ cleaning program and performed a special report on me and my operations. When WSB TV inquired about how we are handling the pandemic, I stated that “we are ready for war.” We had the ammunition. I purchased personal protective equipment to include custom-made masks and disposable gloves for me and my entire team. We also have disposable masks for customers. As an added measure, for those customers who reported being sick, I bought disposable hazmat suits that I could wear when retrieving their vehicles. The coverage from WSB TV was extremely helpful. My business has increased as a result of our efforts and the station’s special report.
Clover: It’s really nice to hear about the safety precautions you’re taking. And even better that it’s been good for your business! Congratulations.
Drummer: Thank you. My business has been up significantly for the last four months, which is crazy. This is phenomenal and I greatly appreciate everyone who patronages Drummer Imports.
Clover: Do you have any advice for other small business owners?
Drummer: If you stay true to who you are, stay true to your word, and take good care of people, it will come back to you. Sometimes all people want to do is open a business to make money. But if you have a good product, the money will come. If you provide excellent customer service, the money will come.
During the good times, I put money away for the rainy days. There are always going to be rainy days. I’ve been able to pay my employees in full during slow periods, including the beginning of the shutdown.
We have a ton of challenges. But to me, running a business is almost like raising a kid. I have twin sons. When you raise kids, you take care of them, you love them, you nurture them, and you teach them. Hopefully when you need it, they’ll take care of you, too.
Read more of our Meet the Merchant stories for real-life stories of small businesses in action all over the country.