Call him the ‘car whisperer’

This Sarasota businessman knows how to make and keep very loyal customers

Harriet Cuthbert. Contributed photo
Harriet Cuthbert. Contributed photo

Everybody goes to Rick’s — or at least, the lucky people who have discovered him go to see him.

In the 18 years since I have been going to Rick’s, I have seen movie stars, rock stars, real estate mavens and just regular people hanging out at his place. Some of us go to Rick’s for an actual reason. Possibly, others just hang out there because they feel so comfortable in the environment — which is very strange, because at Rick’s place, you will NOT find the following: air-conditioning; high-end magazines; computers and smart phones; or comfortable chairs. Instead, as you sit down on one of the three very old chairs with no backs, or stand up in a very small space, you will find yourself being cooled off by large whirring fans. When it is your turn to complete your sale, he will ring you up from a very old shiny, silver cash register. Bells still ring when he pushes the “Sale” button.

The shelves in the waiting area are filled with toys, Tonka trucks, old newspapers, equipment and other unrecognizable memorabilia. I have never been to Rick’s when the place was not busy — phones always ringing; customers always waiting; mechanics running back and forth; and Rick managing all of this with a smile and a great sense of humor.

In addition to maintaining the nostalgia theme, Rick’s place is the only service station in town that still has staff helping people fill their vehicle tanks. And not every car that pulls up is a Rolls Royce, either.

There is something else I find so admirable about the business: The shop is only open from Monday through Friday. Rick is adamant about giving his staff a well-deserved weekend break to pursue other interests besides car repair.

All through this, I am talking, of course, about Rick Reese, the owner and operator of Reese’s Car Repairs, in downtown Sarasota. It has been a family business for many generations, and Rick’s father still comes to work when he is not at his cabin in North Carolina or fishing for “the big one.”

The secret to Rick’s success is very simple: He treats all of his customers the same way: with respect, honesty and a great deal of integrity. There is no reason to ever question the price of anything at Reese’s, because customer service and excellent workmanship are the top priorities.

There is one primary reason everybody who knows about Rick’s goes there: He takes great pride in his work. His customers appreciate that and admire him for it. We all keep going back for more.