Matt Sederstrom is the first to admit he’s no car care expert, but that hasn’t slowed his business plans.
The Minnetonka resident started his first Honest-1 Auto Care location just three years ago. Thanks to a focus on perfecting customer service basics, he’ll be opening a fourth location in Maple Grove the day after Labor Day.
“Even today, I probably couldn’t change your oil, but I guarantee you’re going to get the best customer service experience,” he said.
Sederstrom learned about customer service during a 12-year career as a sales tech with an industrial contractor that built wind farms, ethanol plants and other renewable energy projects.
“I had a lot of good people that I worked with through that time,” he said.
Sederstrom saved up some money over the years through his own renewable energy investments. However, the ethanol industry slowed a few years ago, and he started to feel sorry for himself. But rather than wallow, he decided it was time to do something he’d always wanted to do—start his own business.
He sat down with a business broker and laid out his guidelines: He had a set amount of money to spend. He wanted to be in the Twin Cities so it would be easier to open additional locations down the road. And he wanted to stay away from restaurants.
Sederstrom considered coffee shops and hair care businesses, but the auto service industry soon caught his eye. He grew up as a self-described farm kid in Granite Falls and lived in Marshall. In his sales tech job, he worked with farmers. He felt that he could relate to a blue-collar work environment.
Yet Sederstrom aims for his Honest-1 stores to be “the Starbucks of auto repair.” You won’t find tires and other auto parts sitting in the lobby. Instead, you’ll find nice chairs, a kids’ play area and an Internet café-like environment.
“It’s just trying to minimize the agony of car repair,” he said. “We don’t just have the pretty lobby. We want to carry that mantra all the way through.”
To Sederstrom, it’s not about any one amenity so much as it’s about taking care of the customer. He prides himself on hiring strong people behind the counter who are “straight-up honest guys.”
“It’s dribbling the ball and shooting layups. It’s doing what I would call good, old-fashioned customer service,” he said.
That approach seems to have paid off. Soon after Sederstrom opened his first location, he decided to open another. He now owns locations in Eagan, Uptown and Anoka. When the Maple Grove location opens, he’ll employ about 30 people total.
“I thought, ‘It’s so fun, why not do it again?’” he said.
And until recently, he continued to work at his sales tech job. With the opening of Sederstrom’s Maple Grove location, he’ll be devoting himself to the business full time.
West metro residents won’t have to wait long to check out the business for themselves. Starting Sept. 3, the 6310 Vinewood Lane N. business will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday and from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday.
Sederstrom is betting he’ll have many more happy customers.
“It’s really about trying to get down the basics of customer service,” he said.