Providing Big Green Savings with Honest-1 Auto Care’s Erik Rhyne

July 17, 2013

JOHN SHEGERIAN: Welcome back to Green is Good, and we’re going down to Greensboro, North Carolina, now and we’ve got on the line with us Erik Rhyne, the owner of Honest-1. Honest-1 is a eco-car fixing service. Welcome to Green is Good. ERIK RHYNE: I appreciate it. Thank you very much. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Hey, Erik, this is such a great topic because everyone out there owns cars and everyone’s trying to figure out how to be greener, how to be more eco. You’re a young guy, and how did you even get here? How did you get to be a franchisee of this great concept? ERIK RHYNE: Well, I think it’s kind of a long story, but it’s also short at the same time. I live an eco-friendly lifestyle. My parents were eco-conscious and my wife’s the same way. We have a little sustainable farm that we live at here in Greensboro, North Carolina, and we try to live as eco-friendly and sustainable as we can in general as far as reducing eco-waste and making sure we’re conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies, being aware and not just kind of floating through, but actually being conscious of what we’re doing, what we’re eating, and what we’re using in our household. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Cool, and did you dream this up, or are you a franchisee of this eco-friendly auto care shop? ERIK RHYNE: Yeah, I’m a franchisee. I grew up kind of in the auto care world. I was trained by BMW to be a BMW master technician, did that for a few years and at that point, I was a technician there. Actually, my mother was flying on a plane next to Richie Sutherland, who is the owner of the company as a whole and at that point, I was in my mid-20s. I was like, “Mom, that sounds fantastic. There’s just no way I could comprehend opening up a business now with a new family.” It was just after I had my first kid, and a few years later down the road, I decided this was the time to do it because I had the auto background. I had the eco-friendly background. In addition to that, it had a business model that really prided itself on treating customers like people, no gimmicks, no smoke and mirrors, no big names for parts that potentially don’t exist and trying to pull things over on customers and it had a cumulative effect on those minds with my background so to be able to go in there and give a new option for people for car care that was eco-friendly but also put them first and let them in a comfortable environment. We have a big kids play area and coffee area in that café and leather seats and tiled floors and we normally give people an experience that should go hand in hand with automotive repair and doesn’t need to be running out of little greasy shops anymore. So, it kind of fell right into place and I said this is exactly what automotive care should be and I went and interviewed with the company, Honest-1 Auto Care, as a franchisee or a franchiser and I said to the senior executive and I said you guys are really just doing this because you guys believe in and you stand behind it and being the fact that we are the nation’s only full-service 100% certified eco-friendly auto care company, which are the steps to get that way, letting me know that they were serious as well. JOHN SHEGERIAN: Erik, you know, I’m on your website and for our listeners out there, please go to Erik’s great website because this is really, really great. The colors are green and blue. They’re beautiful, which is, of course, the colors of our wonderful earth, and the website, for our listeners out there is www.honest1greensboro.com. It’s a wonderful website. I want to get to some important questions, Erik, because this is such a great topic and I’m so glad you came on today because you’re the next generation and you inspire all of us to go for it because we can make everything greener, including our auto care. Talk a little bit about what you do differently. What is an eco-friendly auto care shop? If I come to your shop versus the other shops, what am I gonna get different in terms of the services and what do you do greener than the other shops down the street? ERIK RHYNE: Sure. You know, the automotive world inherently is kind of a dirty world. Cars run on oil, they run on gas, there are greasy parts everywhere, things are breaking down. There’s pollutants coming out of the tailpipe. This is part of the automotive world in a lot of ways, which has become part of people’s mind frame, that this is just sort of how it is, but that doesn’t mean that just because we’re doing this work that we can’t be as conscious as possible about what we’re doing. For instance, we have here at the shop a little garden that’s just outside the shop. When you come in, you come into a clean shop. Some of the things that we do to try and stay eco-friendly is we are essentially a 100% paperless shop, so normally, you might go to a car shop and there might be 10 or 12 pieces of paper that they use just for you and your list. Well, that’s extremely wasteful and there’s really no use for it. We do it electronically. We have an electronic signature pad to capture customers’ signatures. We email all of our customers their invoices so they don’t have to take a paper copy, and then in the shop itself, we try to be as conscious about the tools we use as possible. We recycle all the parts; metal, paper, plastic. When we took over the shop, a shop had lived there for a long time and wasn’t an eco-friendly shop by any means. It had a huge dumpster and that was it for trash. We’ve repurposed that dumpster as recycling only and we got two small ones from the city and now essentially 90% of the paper and the boxes and the parts boxes that come in, everything is recycled. As far as Greensboro as a whole, they have a very good recycling program now. We can pretty much recycle most anything we use at the shop. We use a high-quality full-synthetic transmission fluid. We also use 100% recycled antifreeze, so you really can make sure no fluids are dripping out. I would say the one major difference that anybody could do, not just an environmentally friendly shop, for our motor oil or our basic oil change, we use a 100% recycled, biodegradable, made in the USA motor oil called G Oil and that is made by a company called Green Earth Technologies. You can actually buy the product, the oil itself, in Walmart if you’re not near an auto care center and it has even the base for the oil change is made with 100% recycled and made in the USA and if you go for a synthetic oil change, it is a 100% bio-based, 100% biodegradable motor oil that you can essentially dump on the ground and it biodegrades in one day yet it is a full-performance synthetic oil. JOHN SHEGERIAN: So, wait a second now. You’re telling me I come to your shop. You’re using less paper because you’re trying to do things electronically. You’re recycling more. You’re using greener products. You’re creating pollution prevention techniques in your shop. Give me the money shot, Erik. Where is the downside here? Is this thing gonna cost me double or 50% more than it does down the street, or is there a cost differential if I come to Honest-1 in Greensboro as opposed to another nationally owned brand? ERIK RHYNE: Yeah, well you know, it’s easy to think in a lot of ways that eco-friendly costs more money, but you know, as well as all the listeners know that’s not always the case and it very rarely is the case. You get something cheaper doesn’t mean it’s something that you should put in your car or your body. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I agree, by the way. I’m with you on that. So, you’re saying it’s comparatively speaking similar pricing. ERIK RHYNE: Yeah, and our pricing is not more expensive. Our oil change starts at 29.99, which is great for an oil change. With that comes a comprehensive 21-point inspection of the vehicle and it comes with free roadside assistance for a year and it comes with recycled oil. It gives us a little but more to buy that oil for quarts, but we kind of figure it’s not even a factor. There’s no reason to be pumping more oil out of the earth when we’ve got clean oil that’s being drained out of these vehicles every day. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s such a great point. So, let’s just get the highlights to our listeners because this is important. It doesn’t cost more to do the green thing at Honest-1. ERIK RHYNE: It doesn’t. Really, it doesn’t. In a lot of ways, it’s gonna save you money. It doesn’t cost us any more to use less paper. It costs us less money. It’s just a conscience thing. You just gotta make the initiative as a shop to live in that manner and once you do so, it kind of comes hand in hand. It’s not a burden or a chore on a daily basis. It’s just effortless. It’s just how the shop works. They love the fact the fact that we’re doing it. We get acknowledgement from every customer. Then their invoices, they don’t want to have one more piece of paper they have to shove in their glove box. They can pull it up on their email or their smartphone if they ever need to reference anything off of it and we have it stored in our system. JOHN SHEGERIAN: That’s great and I know that this is gonna be big. I know that one day, you’re gonna come on the show and you’re gonna have 50 of these franchises. Before you do have 50 of these franchises across America though, Erik, and if people don’t live in your area down in Greensboro, give us some solutions that our listeners, because our listeners are both coast to coast and they’re actually international also, so give us some solutions that our listeners that are vehicle owners can do to be more eco-friendly. We’re down to about three minutes, so give us a couple minutes of your wisdom on being a vehicle owner who wants to be more eco-friendly. ERIK RHYNE: Sure. I’d say the first thing is look on the Honest-1 website and see if there’s an Honest-1 location in your area. It’s something that’s fairly new from its rebranding. Everything was changed here and the stores are growing greatly per year and there’s roughly about 34, 35 stores in the country at this point in certain areas. Look and see where one is and if there’s one near you, just go and swing by and say hi and talk to the people. They’re always great people. I’d say if you’re not near an Honest-1, there’s a few things you can do. Talk to the people at the place where you get your oil changed and see if they’ll let you bring your own oil. Go get some G Oil and bring it in there. Like I said, it’s 100% recycled. These shops shouldn’t have too many problems with you wanting to do that. As far as daily operations of your vehicle, just kind of how it was in all the presidential debates about how important it is to keep your tires inflated and such, there’s no challenging the fact that 20% of motorists these days are driving around on underinflated tires. Underinflated tires can raise your fuel consumption by 3.3%, and if everybody in this country was just checking their tire pressures, it would save over $1 billion dollars in gasoline a year, so little basic things that you can do. Just make sure your car is good and operating efficiently. If it’s operating bad, it’s polluting more if it’s not running correctly. It’s probably using more gas as well. Suit it up. Maintain it properly. Keep those tires inflated and make sure that you’re doing those types of things to make sure that your vehicle is running in good operating condition and let your friends know about it as well. Let them know about these products. None of us would know anything if it wasn’t for the fact that somebody else told it to us so get out there and make it your priority in general and educate your friends on being green but when it comes to vehicles, tell them that they do have options out there, that they don’t have to just sit there and go to a shop and have oil dumped in there and fluids taken out that goes who knows where. Make sure that they go to a shop that does oil recycling and fuel recycling and all the metal parts and things just going to a landfill, just making sure that they’re being educated correctly about what’s going on with their vehicles. JOHN SHEGERIAN: I love it, Erik. Erik, what’s the dream here? You’re a young great guy and you’re totally on the right path here. What do you want to own, five of these, 10 of these? What do you think you could do here? ERIK RHYNE: I’d love to expand. I think, like you said, this is a company that we have 30 some stores at this point and I don’t see any reason that we shouldn’t have in each city just as any chain might have. This company just needs to grow and establish itself and I see myself as I love my area here in North Carolina where I’ve been my entire life. It’s an area that is eco-conscious. People are realizing the benefits of and the effortlessness of this lifestyle and I’d love to give them more. It’s always a little tricky, but you live and you learn and keep on going. JOHN SHEGERIAN: We’re gonna love to have you back on when you open more of these. For our listeners out there who live in Erik’s area, please go support him, Honest1Greensboro.com. Go over to the store and get your car fixed. Erik Rhyne, you’re a wonderful young ecopreneur and truly living proof that green is good.