DEARBORN — When it comes to corner auto repair shops, most places only care about one thing: their bottom line. But the problem with that philosophy is that sooner or later, customers find out, and most of the time, they don’t come back.
Luckily, Dabaja Tire Center on the corner of Greenfield and Warren in Dearborn is different. They’ve managed to stick around for 30 years on the strength of their customer service and love for the community. 2008 marks the 30th anniversary of the store’s opening, and owner Hassan Dabaja continues to stick by the values that made his store a success in the first place.
“Our goals have always been to have the best customer service, honesty, and reasonable prices,” he said. “We like to keep the image of the place as a Dearborn-first community store.”
The honesty part in particular rings true, as Wayne County sheriffs once voted the store as the most honest repair shop in the county.
Dabaja’s opened up back in 1978 across the street from where it currently stands, and then in 1981, Dabaja opened another shop which became the store that stands today. The original location was eventually phased out as the new store was built up and added on to.
Now, Dabaja’s Tire Center offers just about every tire-related service you can think of, including alignments, shocks, struts, rotations, chrome wheels and more. The shop also offers warranties through the TireStarz program that are valid nationwide at other shops as well as oil changes.
Dabaja’s Tire Center is a family-owned business, and the relationship that the employees have with each other shines through as their spirit is passed down to the customers. Hassan Dabaja’s son Maher, a graduate of University of Michigan-Dearborn in communications and public relations with a minor in psychology, is almost as involved in the business as his father. Because he’s been hanging around the store and helping out since he was a kid, he knows the ins-and-outs of it and its customers as well as anyone, maybe even his father. He helps oversee the day-to-day operations of the store and, just like his dad, is not afraid to get his hands dirty and do some work on the cars.
Maher Dabaja talked about the store’s commitment to offer quality prices without sacrificing the quality of the parts and service.
“We want to make sure the customers leave with good out-the-door pricing but we’re not going to compromise safety,” he said. “We tell it like it is, and we don’t try to hustle people.”
Maher Dabaja said his experiences at U of M-Dearborn have helped him out in his day-to-day operations at his job, and his main goal for the future of the shop is a simple one.
“My goal is to help my dad, my mom. My family is the most important thing to me.”
His love for his family comes out in his performance on the job, and he also urged members of the local community to keep their families in mind and to use them as motivation to do the best possible job, regardless of where they work. He also enjoys working with family at the shop and says it helps in the customer service department.
“When it’s a family thing, people work well and are comfortable together,” he said.
Hassan Dabaja tries to treat the customers with the same respect and compassion that he would a family member as well.
“I understand the safety issues of the automotive business,” he said. “I worry about that, especially people who don’t know much about cars, and I try to put myself in their position when they come in. That’s very important to me.”
Hassan Dabaja is willing to do whatever it takes to make the customers happy and to keep them coming back. He is sure to always offer a full explanation up front of what the problems with each customer’s tires are, and he considers himself a “troubleshooter” who can solve just about any tire or car-related problem.
He also speaks regularly with other independently owned tire shop owners in order to discuss ideas for how to improve the business and to find new ways to better serve his customers and to better compete with the larger shops like Belle Tire.
“We never have problems competing with the bigger shops,” he said.
Neither does the Detroit location, which is found at 14343 Joy Road and is also doing well. That’s because the formula for success, like its logo on the outside of the store, has remained the same at Dabaja’s Tire Center for all 30 of its years: the customer comes first. It sounds simple, but in reality, it’s not something many other shop owners can say with a straight face.