Born in southern Maryland, Paul Reilly, co-owner of Reilly Auto Repair, moved with his family to Daytona Beach in 2001. His parents were in search of warmer weather and a better place to raise their kids. Reilly's father, Paul Reilly Sr., worked at independent auto shops and as a Master Technician at a Chevrolet dealership before relocating to Florida. According to Reilly, the move was a fresh start for the entire family.
"All along, my dad's plan was to start his own shop when we moved to Florida," Reilly said. "He started with one (car) lift and one office. It was a really small space, but it worked. I was in middle school at the time, so I wasn't too involved in the early days. Towards the end of high school, I would clean and help out with various things. I was basically the shop boy. After high school, I attended Daytona State College, where I earned a degree in Business Administration. Leading up to graduation, I started to formulate a plan for my dad and I to partner up. I wrote a business analysis paper and showed him how we could improve the business. He was onboard and, in 2015, we became partners."
As a full-service, family-owned automotive company, Reilly Auto Repair prides itself on its ability to fix almost all makes and models of vehicles. Whether it's mounting and balancing tires, performing alignments, replacing engines or replacing transmissions, they have trained and certified mechanics to do it all. They also pride themselves on their honesty, communication and transparency. Nevertheless, when Reilly joined his father in 2015, there were a handful of changes made to jump start and streamline the business.
"I immediately worked on updating our policies and procedures," Reilly said. "Rather than just addressing the issue with the vehicle, we implemented an inspection policy that looked at oil level and five different safety points. We started to collect more information about our customers and asked how they heard about us. We now track all that information. I also created a Google account, which allows us to get reviews and give feedback. We even expanded our physical space. When I came on, we had five lifts, but that wasn't enough. We had a big backlog. We decided to lease the space next to us, which allowed us to add two more lifts and hire an additional technician."
Reilly continued, "Overall, the business responded very well. We've seen revenue up 10-20% year over year. Our customers know and trust us to provide them with honest and reliable service and we're honored to do that."
For any entrepreneur, owning and running your own business is extremely rewarding. For those that own a family business, especially one that so many people rely on for honest service, the rewards often outweigh the challenges.
"The business will always have something arise, causing us to analyze the situation and make a prompt decision," Reilly said. "Being able to work through these daily challenges with my family is what I enjoy most. We also get to know our customers. In some cases, they grow up with us. We have one young man that first brought his car to us when he was a freshman at Embry-Riddle. He's now working on his Masters Degree. It's amazing to be part of people's development and success over the years."
Looking ahead, Reilly envisions more growth and making a larger impact within the community. He also looks to continue to innovate within the auto industry, including, converting the 'customer to business' interaction to be more digital.
What advice does Reilly have for aspiring entrepreneurs? "Consistency is key," he said. "Through your highs and lows, always be consistent with your effort. Also, if you haven't, study and read up on psychology. We are as great as our network. Sometimes it's not what you know, it's who you know. Practice networking and make it your second job. Lastly, understand that you can't make everyone happy and don't underestimate the importance of researching and knowing your vendors before you do business with them."