A happy coincidence years ago led to a long career for Beth Burns, owner of the Cottman Transmission and Total Auto Care center at 1816 N. Olden Avenue in Trenton.
Beth’s husband Robert brought his car in for service at the Cottman center more than 24 years ago. When he saw how busy the place was, he struck up a conversation with the manager, who told him the owner was looking to sell so he could move south. The owner had enough of the cold Jersey winters.
Robert mentioned this to his wife, who had been thinking of going into business for herself after a ten year career in accounting. Beth was growing tired of the 50 – 60-hour work-weeks during tax season. “I’m not afraid to work hard” she said, “but if I’m going to work long hours, it would be nice to do it for myself so I can reap the financial rewards.”
She met with the owner, did her due diligence and found Cottman had a good reputation for doing reliable work with good customer service and fair and honest prices. With some backing from her husband and a family friend, she took the plunge and bought the franchise.
At the time, Beth was one of only a few women franchisees in the Cottman system.
Now, she notes, she is one of many. “A lot of our customers are women,” said Beth. “They enjoy dealing with a woman, even in a traditionally male-dominated field like car repairs.”
Business has grown steadily over the years as the Cottman center’s reputation for quality work and integrity backed by good customer service spread. The center receives a lot of repeat business and referrals from satisfied customers. Business also comes from auto repair shops throughout the area, who turn to the Cottman center for specialized transmission work. The front office was recently upgraded, adding TV and free WiFi in the waiting area.
Beth credits her manager and her team of technicians for her successful long run. Her husband Robert, an emergency management coordinator for the State of New Jersey, often comes in on Saturdays to help at the counter and give Beth a break.
“Word of mouth has been our best advertising,” Beth said. “When a customer returns or recommends us to a friend, it means we’ve done our job well. It’s a great feeling and it’s good business.”
Cottman of Trenton can be reached at www.cottmanoftrenton.com.