Pit Stop by the Sea

Pit Crew Lube 2 is part of a chain of five family-owned shops in southern New Jersey. Now in its third year, this is a full-service gas station/repair shop, owned and managed by Joe and Terri Ocello in the vacation town of Avalon.

Situated on Seven Mile Island on the south Jersey shore, Avalon has about 2,000 full-time residents. During the summer vacation season, that population swells to about 10,000, sometimes more on the weekends. We asked Joe how this impacts his business. “Our local people support us during the winter months (and) it’s gotten better and better every winter.” Being the only shop on the island doesn’t hurt either.

Summer Customers

Joe specializes in European imports because that’s what most of the summer visitors drive. Because he’s the only tech there, Joe says he won’t do any major R&R work, but “otherwise we do just about everything.”

That includes diagnostics and repairs as well as normal maintenance. We asked why people would wait until they arrive at their vacation destination to have their vehicle serviced, especially customers who drive expensive European vehicles. Joe noted that most of the visitors are there for the whole season, and he obviously took advantage of the opportunity. “I’ve developed relationships with people that come for the summer. They came in for little things at first, and when they saw that I was there for them, now they come to me for service too,” says Joe. “That’s the most successful way to run a business. You have to have relationships with the customers.”

Tools for Euro Cars

We noted that diagnostic equipment for servicing high-end European vehicles can amount to quite an investment. Joe’s response was “Well, you have to spend money to make money. That’s a big thing with me. You have to be on top of everything. If you’re not, you’re losing money.”

That’s why Joe is planning to trade his Snap-on Modis for a new Verdict later this year, noting that “they’ve come a long way with their European coverage.” His other scan tool is a Launch X41, also noted for European coverage.

Joe likes the latest generation of cordless impact tools too, because they solve a problem. Being almost within sight of the ocean, salty humidity causes air tools to rust from the inside out. Strangely, salt air has not caused any problems with the compressor, but Joe says air tools will rust even just sitting in the box. “It’s a big problem and I’ve been slowly switching over to electric tools. They’ve come a long way with the (battery) power and technology. They work well.”

Our visit was an unplanned pit stop, and even though the shop obviously gets used, we commented on how clean and fresh it looked. Joe proudly explained that he makes sure it stays that way. We suspect that’s required by the Avalon town council, but there’s no doubt Joe views it as important tool for attracting customers. Either way, considering our needs that day and the needs of his regular part-time clientele, Pit Crew Lube 2 is a welcome sight.

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