Ima Motorsport is simply beautiful, the minute you walk in you are embraced by the most visually appealing car customization shop ever seen. The floor is epoxied and flawlessly clean, the walls all painted and color matched along with the equipment while the offices are well decorated and clutter free. IMA simply delivers great service with each customer every time creating an experience worthy of the types of cars and clientele they attract.
So who is behind IMA and what makes them successful?
We recently had a photoshoot at IMA and were so impressed with the shop that we decided to make IMA our next success story, and seeing how hospitable and nice the crew was, their leader Ivan agreed to sit with us and tell us about his story and how IMA got started.
What is IMA Motorsports all about?
IMA Motorsport is here to be the most reliable specialty shop in the area. We have a passion for cars. Whether is German, Italian, Asian or American, we thrive for the opportunity to work on mechanical works of art.
Where did you get the idea to start your own shop?
Back in the mid 90’s, I was working for an independent shop in Northern Virginia. During the seven or so years I worked for them, I built a very solid customer following which I attribute my success to today. I had always dreamed of having a shop that was capable of doing anything to a car, like the things you read about in high-end magazines. Ten years later I am living my dream and continuing to work hard to please my customers.
What are some of the core values you live by as a business owner?
When you become a business owner, you must have discipline. For me the discipline is very simple, honesty is the best policy. When we undertake a new project and estimate the end performance or horsepower, we are able to deliver accurate results. No smoke and mirrors here! In other words I live to set correct expectations with customers to make sure they are satisfied, I don’t feed them what they want to hear but rather teach them and educate them on outcomes.
When looking back, what was the most difficult part of the transition from corporate America to business ownership?
For me, it was expanding the business which included more space and employees. There are many obstacles to overcome when looking for a space to perform automotive repair. There are county regulations, finding a landlord that understands what you are doing and even the neighbors you end up having. There is a time in every business where you are transitioning to become larger so that you can eventually make more money. During this transition, it is difficult to remain focused as many things are on going at the same time and all are equally important. Being able to multitask without thinking about the money factor is very difficult but necessary.
Tell us more about anything that differentiates IMA from the rest of the shops out there.
IMA Motorsport is a shop that can do just about anything. We can perform very basic maintenance to more difficult tasks like transmission and engine rebuilds. We had a new customer come in one day who had visited another local shop. They told him his transmission needed to be replaced which was quite costly. We were able to take it apart, fix it and put it back together for a substantial amount less than he would have spent replacing the transmission. Its our care for our customers and their satisfaction that differentiates us from the competition, we are in business to make customers happy from an enthusiast to an enthusiast…The money comes second to our clients. We are truly a one-stop shop. With our experienced staff, we can fabricate or modify anything, build and tune race or street performance engines or build your entire dream car. There is nothing we haven’t been able to do.
What makes you work harder?
My family is what makes me work the hardest. I define my family as those that are there for me; my wife & kids, my employees and my most loyal customers. I’d do anything for my family.
What are your plans for the next 5 years for IMA?
I would like IMA Motorsport to be the premier shop in Northern Virginia within the next five years. I want to be the “talk of the town” for our quality work and reputation for excellence in all aspects of automotive repair, service and performance.
What advice do you have for those that want to start their own shop?
While going into business for yourself can seem glamorous, the road to glory is a long one. Owning your own business takes a level of commitment a lot of people cannot handle. It is not just your commitment, it is your family’s commitment too. There are many late nights, long weekends and missed family events while trying to help the business succeed. Vacations; remind me what those are? When first starting out, there will be 10 or 11 p.m. calls from customers who “just have a question”. You know you shouldn’t give out your cell phone number, but what if that call at 10 or 11p.m. results in a job that can pay your bills for a month? You can never stop thinking about all things you want to accomplish. You need to find someone you can trust who has been successful in their own career and discuss your plans with them. After all, they were successful in their career, why couldn’t they help you be successful in yours?
For someone trying to break into business for themselves I recommend having your policies and regulations in place prior to hiring your first employee. Researching the area for competitive pay scales is crucial. When I started out, it was just me. I didn’t need any policies or regulations and pay scales, what are pay scales? My business started growing very quickly and I hired my first employee, a buddy I had known for a while. Things ran quite smoothly for a while, but when it came time to hire more people and try to enforce new policies, it was very difficult. It has been a long and trying road moving from friends working together to employer and employees. It is very difficult to find good people and when you do, how do you keep them happy without “selling the farm”? It is very easy to be taken advantage of when you are busy working on your business.
Tell us about any/all your toys and what’s done to them?
Like candy is to a kid, gadgets, tools and equipment are my habit. Having the right equipment and tools for any job is the only way to go.
I have an 04 Porsche GT3 that has been upgraded with all the components to make it an GT3 RS, like suspension and even better brakes. I also have a 944 Turbo dedicated race car that is a one of a kind build. It produces nearly 500hp. It is a very well developed car. My top speed in a race at Daytona was 180mph. I also have a stock 1985.5 944 daily driver. For both business and pleasure I have an 05 Freightliner 22′ Toterhome that pulls a Featherlite stacker trailer that accommodates three cars.
We Would like to take a moment to thank Ivan and his wife Jennifer for allowing us to use IMA Motorsports for our last photoshoot, we wish them both huge success at their new location.
Make sure to contact them www.imamotorsport.net or check them out if you are local and experience the IMA difference.
25354 Pleasant Valley Road, Ste 155
Chantilly, VA 20152
1 888 322 6997