So worth it to drive across the world for a brake job

No, I didn’t drag my camera out to take a picture of the garage. I am hoping Ben doesn’t mind that I borrowed this picture from his website.I live in the west end of Ottawa. Not the farthest west you can go, but still pretty far. I have a bunch of friends who all live in the east end and they like to gang up on me, but us west-enders know what’s the best end. Yanno?

There’s a running battle between us about which end of Ottawa is preferable, but we all agree that the distance is like driving clear across the world. I regularly spend an hour going to or from the eastern part of this great city. If we were at the easternmost and westernmost parts of the city, it would take even longer!

A few months back, I met Ben Lalonde - the owner of Orleans AutoPro - when he came to a workshop that I did with Lara.

What you need to know about Ben is that he’s a very brave man. It was Ben and a roomful of women. If we intimidated him, he never showed it. It ended up being a fantastic day where Ben shared a wealth of information with us about car maintenance and we told him what he should do with that information in social media tools. The brainstorming we did and advice shared was beneficial for all of us, but Ben left that day with a longer to do list than anyone else. See? Brave man.

I, in particular, had a lot to think about from Ben’s advice. We’ve been confused about a problem with our brakes for 18 months. They’ve been grinding for that long! And yet, all four times we took them to be checked, we’ve been told that nothing is wrong. I’ve been nervous about it for a long time and we decided that when we had the money put aside, we would go get the brakes done, whether they needed it or not. Matt was afraid that he’d unwisely chosen cheap rotors. I told him he was never allowed to do that again.

When the time came, I contacted Ben to ask for a west-end recommendation. And in true Ben style, because he genuinely cares about delivering the best service possible, he told me that he would guarantee the work coming out of his garage, but he couldn’t do the same for anywhere else.

Fair enough. I decided I’d make the trip and let him be the one to fix our car. 

Fast forward a couple weeks and I made the trip (ALL THE WAY) out to Orleans to drop off the car. Ben happened to be there so we chatted for a bit and then some of the other staff took over telling me how they operate and what we could expect. It was impressive to say the least.

I’m a geeky sort and when you start telling me that you’re going to check for any recalls, keep a running record of future maintenance, allow me to sign in on your web site to maintenance records as required, then I get impressed. That’s a lot of data to keep on your customers’ vehicles. It’s also a well-honed workflow that appeals to my personal desire to not have to think about car maintenance too hard.

The other part about Orleans AutoPro that was incredibly pleasant was that everyone was so nice and helpful! I didn’t have to wait forever when I arrived early for my appointment. (Like always happens at the dealership.) The guys are a great group that fully explained their process and then showed me in detail what was going on with the car when I had to come back later that day to pick up our car seat and other things - this job ended up being an overnighter.

Thank goodness they also provided a loaner for us since we only have the one vehicle.

(Side story: The loaner was a Pontiac Montana, which ran great for having 200K on it. It reminded me of moving to Canada. Matt rented a Montana and took out the seats so we could pile all my junk into it for transport. Even so, I tried not to think too much about the fact that I swore I’d never drive a minivan. ;) I wish you could’ve seen Matt and I trying to figure out how to turn off the rear wiper when I inadvertantly turned it on. It took us five minutes, partly because we were laughing about how ridiculous it was that we couldn’t figure it out!)

It would be disingenuous of me to say that everything was pleasant. When they called with the final tab for fixing the brakes, it was twice as much as I’d expected. Ouch! But even that had a logical explanation. Up to this time, we’ve never done all four corners before. It’s always been either the front or the back breaks that needed fixing. I told the guys, quite honestly, that I didn’t realize a brake job could cost that much.

(True story: I had just finished a 60-minute massage when I got Matt’s text with the amount. I immediately booked a 90-minute massage. Heh, timing is hilarious sometimes.)

Here’s the thing: I could have gone to get another opinion at a different garage. I could have shopped around for a better price and maybe paid a couple hundred less. I could have done a lot of things in response to the sticker shock. But because I already felt like I could trust Ben and the rest of the staff, we didn’t hesitate to go ahead with the repairs. And it was worth every penny to get in my car and drive (ALL THE WAY) back to Kanata with brakes that didn’t grind. *g*

Oh yeah - they cleaned the car too! Car wash, vacuum. You really get the VIP treatment out there.

The drive was worth it. The service was excellent. The end product is just what it should be. We’re happy customers. And I like to share my good customer experiences more than I like sharing the bad. 

And, for the record, Ben didn’t ask me to write this - he doesn’t even know I’m doing it. I didn’t get anything for it. He’s not a client. This is just me wanting to let you know that there’s a really great garage (ALL THE WAY) in the east end of Ottawa where you can feel good about leaving your car for service, knowing that - even if the final bill leaves a gigantic hole in your pocket - you have not been taken for a ride. ‘Cause cars are expensive, yo.