“Success can be defined in several ways, but it’s the impression you leave on others that makes the difference,” says Michael Risich, The CEO and Founder of BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY.
The impression this 43-year old entrepreneur leaves on his team members, business partners, and most of all his family, is to set goals, work towards them, and stay the course. “I always tell my children, get comfortable in the uncomfortable,” said Risich. “It’s taking the challenges and going with the unknown that helps in making your way.” And Mike, most certainly, made it in his own way.
Born from an Idea
BOLT ON started as an idea nearly 20 years ago, but it was only in 2009 when the company came to fruition.
“I didn’t inherit a business, I didn’t buy into anything,” said Risich. “It was about seeing a need and creating the services that would make a shop’s job easier. I wanted to find a way to help them.”
When you look at BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY’s achievements, you would never guess that the company is still in its infancy. Located in the suburbs of Philadelphia, the 19,000 square-foot building has nearly 50 team members helping to lead the charge and change the automotive industry. When Risich humbly talks about ‘success,’ he refers to his family and team who helped him get there.
“It’s a team of really hard-working people who make this company what it is,” said Risich.
Ensuring Transparency At Every Step
Today, more than six thousand shops across North America use BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY in their everyday operations; increasing repair orders, making things more efficient, and improving transparency between shops and vehicle owners. The company is known mostly for developing automotive software and taking the vehicle inspection process and making it digital. It allows technicians to take photos and videos of the vehicle, which are then saved to a customer’s profile.
Since 2013, more than ten million photos have been taken by technicians who use BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY. Documenting the vehicle’s condition and then sending a text message to the vehicle owner allows them to see everything they need to know. The vehicle owner can see in real-time what repairs they need or any other recommendations that need fulfillment. They can even follow the status of their car while in the shop, as if tracking a delivery from FedEx or UPS. Everything the tech does, the service advisor can see on their computer.
Improving Every Aspect of a Shop’s Day-to-Day Process
BOLT ON literally bolts onto a shop’s management system, making everything they do easier. They can simply grab a tablet and take a photo of the license plate; pulling in all the vehicle’s information, including the VIN, and put it into the customer’s profile. The software will even remind the owner that their next oil change or other vehicle maintenance is due.
The average shop that uses BOLT ON sees their average repair order increase up to 39% and improvements in customer relationships and retention. BOLT ON works to improve every aspect of a shop’s day-to-day process; from picking up the phone, to notifying customers via text the condition of their vehicle. It is the only software that does it all. Competitors try to catch up, but BOLT ON is years ahead of the pack.
Hard Work Pays Off
BOLT ON has been recognized as one of the fastest growing companies in the Philly 100, having won two PTEN Awards, been listed in the Inc. 5000 twice, and have also been featured on ABC News. Its office lobby features an award table that is quickly running out of room. Rewind a few years, and you would see Risich, and a few others, sitting at a picnic table in the back of an automotive shop. That’s where they developed, sold, and tested the software.
“There’s a lot of pinchable moments where you stop and think, ‘Is this really happening?’ said Risich. “I’ve never forgotten the people, the moments, and the desire to keep helping others that got me here.”
Leaving Your Mark On The Business World
This Bucks County family man is modest when he talks about his achievements as an entrepreneur, even more so when being recognized as one of the 30 Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs of 2017.
“It’s an honor knowing that someone reading this could be inspired to make their own impression, their own mark in the business world; taking their idea and turning it into reality. It means a lot to me.”
Risich said that it takes time, accountability, and even some trying times to make a person realize their success.
“It wasn’t always easy,” said Risich. “There were some tough times; we wondered if we were going to be able to make rent. I even remember borrowing money from my daughter. The challenges you face and how you handle them says a lot about a person. Just don’t give up. I always had this passion, and I knew I could make it possible. There were a few times I wondered what would come next, but you keep trying.”
Success doesn’t come easy or happen overnight. It’s finding innovative business solutions that force us to stay honest and hardworking.
“We don’t use contracts for our software agreements because it keeps us accountable to our promise. We stand behind our product,” said Risich. “For my entire career, I’ve had written on a whiteboard in my office, ‘how can I help you?’ Why? Because that is what I based this company on and will continue to do no matter how big we get; that won’t change.”
The Future of BOLT ON TECHNOLOGY
Innovation and ambition are limitless for this fast-growing company. Risich hopes to add 20 to 30 team members over the next few years to keep up with the ever-growing demand and need for convenience and sleek performance.
“You can teach anyone a product, but you can’t teach personality. Working with a talented team can make or break a company. I may be the CEO, but I am a part of a family where everyone loves coming to work. I am not better than the next person; CEO is just a title. We do a lot of things together; each month, the different departments even make breakfast for each other. You will often hear them sharing stories with each other, and even with customers; it’s who we are. We like to get to know one another, even letting our customers learn more about us,” said Risich.
Education, listening, communication, and willing to swim upstream will continue to motivate Risich.
“We’re just getting started; I think I work harder now than I ever have. Never stop trying, never give up,” said Risich. “Success is in the eye of each individual on their own level; but again, being successful is more about the impressions you leave on those around you. That’s my advice. That is what can make you a successful entrepreneur.”
Risich said he still has a lot to learn; there’s always something new when running a company. But if it’s easy, then it’s not a challenge that keeps you wanting to do more.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. Learn from your mistakes and keep going,” said Risich. “There are two jobs I never want to fail at; my family and my work family.”