2 min read

Local Business Interview: Bill Wallace, Co-Owner West Coast Diesels

Bill Wallace is an early ChatGPT adopter. He uses it to create marketing content, generate employee procedures manuals and sees many more use cases to improve efficiency and productivity across his businesses.
Local Business Interview: Bill Wallace, Co-Owner West Coast Diesels

In April we spoke with Bill Wallace, co-owner of West Coast Diesels,  a diesel engine repair business established in 2011 and based in Santa Rosa, CA. He also runs BW Builder, a construction consulting firm and West Coast Fundamentals, a nonprofit seeking to promote trade careers for young people.

AI: Growing Array of Use Cases

Bill Wallace began using AI (ChatGPT) around mid-2023. He uses it primarily to create marketing content and improve his copywriting. He also uses it to create procedures manuals and related documentation, such as employee handbooks. Wallace sees significant potential for AI to help streamline technician documentation, reducing the time spent on paperwork from an hour to a few minutes. He hopes AI will evolve into a true personal assistant capable of handling a wider range of tasks. He has also utilized AI for data analysis and creating forms in his construction consulting related work.

Overview and Highlights

0:06 - 1:00: Bill Wallace provides an overview of West Coast Diesels. Established in 2011, it focuses primarily on diesel repair and has roughly 15 employees. It operates two locations in Santa Rosa.

1:02 - 1:55: Wallace discusses their marketing strategy, which focuses primarily on Google SEO and reputation management. He also also uses Mail Shark, a physical direct mail marketing firm. They also run an annual marketing event at local fairgrounds.

1:13 - 1:21: Wallace explains his preference for printed direct mail, noting its effectiveness despite being an "old-school" method.

3:15 - 3:47: Wallace discusses his CRM system, provided by Steer, a hybrid marketing services-SaaS company that focuses on automotive repair shops.

5:17 - 5:43: Wallace discusses his hopes and expectations for AI, that it will become a true personal assistant able to handle a wide range of tasks and streamline business operations.

7:00 - 7:56: Wallace details use of Tech Metric, a cloud-based program for managing repair shop metrics and data, streamlining job tracking and analysis.

8:22 - 8:48: Wallace elaborates on the potential of AI to substantially automate documentation and procedural tasks, improving efficiency.

11:00 - 11:16: Wallace emphasizes the importance of promoting trade careers, highlighting their value in offering viable career paths outside of traditional university education.

12:00 - 12:21: Wallace discusses the goals of his trades program, which include teaching financial literacy and budgeting to young people in trades.

13:21 - 13:45: Wallace mentions using AI to create employee handbooks and detailed step-by-step procedures for his technicians, improving efficiency and reducing reliance on external consultants to create these documents.

17:54 - 19:01: Wallace talks about the evolution of his business, from paper record-keeping to cloud-based systems, and how it has enhanced customer interactions and operational efficiency, including "digital inspections" and text-based customer communication.

This is part of our ongoing series of interviews with local business owners and operators.