Bobby Greenlee, a face familiar to local automotive service customers, has opened his own business, Budget Auto Clinic, in west Morristown (next to TVA Credit Union).
He discovered the inclination not long after graduating from Rutledge High School in 1969 and then earning a college degree in accounting.
“I never worked in accounting a day in my life,” Greenlee said. “I found out my expertise was not sitting behind a desk, but was instead talking to people and helping people.”
He worked at a Rutledge furniture store, first as a delivery person, then as a salesman, assistant manager and manager. He moved to Jefferson City to run a furniture store and got married in 1975.
From 1977 to 1998, Greenlee managed an independent Goodyear retail store in Morristown. From 1998 to 2009, he worked as the customer service manager at Kingsport Tire. A severe illness that caused a 38-day hospital stay left him with a long recovery at home and eventual retirement.
Then he got bored.
He was missing helping customers, Greenlee said. He developed a local consulting business helping other businesses by evaluating their customer experiences — he was their literal customer coach.
Yet there was an idea in the back of his mind that would not let go. Friends and family supported it — Why not open his own shop?
Greenlee’s 40 years of customer service experience, along with a prime available location, led to a business partnership with his son, Chris.
Longtime customer and friend Jimmy Whetsel has a good feeling about both business owners and location.
“Good business is a personal thing, Whetsel said. “Customers want to hear, ‘we’ll take care of that, don’t worry about it.’”
“Bobby has always been the same; here, wearing his shirt, or the other places he’s worked, wearing somebody else’s shirt; and when you run into him over at Ingles in Aisle 3. Customers may not remember the word ‘Federated’ or even the oil change. They will remember the guy wearing the blue shirt.”
Greenlee credits longtime friend and radio man, the late Ed Dodson, with being a mentor with regard to good treatment of people.
“I believe that our customer is the only reason we have a business,” he said. “That is the reason that I went back in to the business, to ensure my customer is treated with respect and honest answers provided to their needs.
“Our goal is to fix the car the first time; listen to their needs; offer competitive prices; provide excellent service; offer pick up and delivery free within 10 miles; offer six months or 12 months financing, same as cash; offer a 12-month or 12,000 mile warranty; offer a free 23-point inspection; offer free six month roadside assistance and take care of our customer the excellent way every time.
“We want to give them more than they expect. Our customer is the most important person that we have the privilege to serve every day,” Greenlee said.