Everyone has seen the Free Lance Motors sign on South Street. Painted boldly in yellow on top of the large, red Volkswagen Beetle, it’s just about a city landmark at this point—it’s bright, colorful and a cool homage to California classic car culture in the ‘60s, ‘70s, and ‘80s. Owner Glenn Tidwell is proud of that sign, and he should be. It’s represented his business for more than 40 years.
But there’s another sign hanging next to the counter at their shop in which Glenn and his son Dawson take even more pride. It’s a simple sign, but it means everything to Glenn and his hometown family business—“Honesty and Integrity.” It is a concept that he obsesses over, especially being in an industry where that’s not always a priority.
“We get a lot of people who come to us after going to the dealer and they can’t believe the way we go about things,” Glenn laughed. “The dealer seems to have some special glasses they put on when they look at cars and they find a whole bunch of problems with [those glasses] no one else can see.”
Glenn recounts many times he’s recommended an owner cut their losses with an old, problematic car and just sell it.
“Those are the types of cars that most mechanics love because they can make a bunch of money on them,” Glenn said. For Glenn and Dawson, that’s where the integrity part comes in. The honest answer is “yes, they can fix it.” The integrity factor tells the client that they should just sell the car and move on.
“I’m always going to recommend what I think is best for you and your car to save money in the long run. Not about what’s going to make me money. People look at me like I’m crazy when I turn down work if I think that’s what’s best for my clients.”
A third sign hangs on the other side of the counter. “Faith, Trust, and Confidence… Established by consistent, quality caring service. Time after time.”
Sometimes honestly turning down business builds the best client relationships. For Glenn, it just wouldn’t be right any other way.
“I grew up here. I’ve been here so long I’m working on customers’ grandchildren’s cars now. I work on my church friend’s cars. I work on my neighbors’ cars. Honesty and integrity is everything to me.”
So, if you want an honest answer about the “bug” in your car, pull into the lot behind the “Free Lance Motors Bug” on South Street. If they ask what brought you in, just tell them you were looking for the right sign!