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Car Service City’s Success After Switching To Franchising

Car Service City has been around for more than ten years. Entrepreneur spoke to founder and franchisor Grant Brady about how the brand has grown and evolved over the years.

GG van Rooyen

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Grant-Brady

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After dealing with a frustrating and unhelpful service shop, Grant Brady stumbled upon the idea of creating a reliable service centre that wouldn’t try to take advantage of customers.

From this simple idea a large national brand has grown. Today, Car Service City boasts a national network of more than 60 service centres — and the plan is to add to this growing number.

How was the idea for Car Service City born?

I took my car to a repair shop over the festive season of 2003. When I went back, I discovered that they had closed up shop for the holidays without fixing my car, leaving me with no transport.

I realised that my experience wasn’t unique. People were sick of being taken advantage of by fly-by-night mechanic workshops.

I thought there was a gap in the market for affordable services run as a clean, professional, corporatised operation.

Related: Full Stomachs, Smiling Faces with Maxi’s

How did you come to the decision to franchise the operation?

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My hunch proved to be correct, as the gap in the market proved to be big. Car Service City took off quickly. Within two years we were operating 22 corporate-owned stores.

We realised that it made sense to switch to a franchise model, since this was the best way to accommodate our rapid rate of growth.

Although the majority of our stores are franchise operations now, we still have some corporate stores. We keep these stores because they allow us to keep our ear close to the ground — we get to experience the same things our franchisees do.

We get to understand the challenges they face daily. We also get to ‘test run’ our initiatives in our own stores, before rolling them out throughout the franchise network.

How has the franchise operation changed over the last decade?

It all comes down to processes. You can’t run a large operation in the same way that you run a small one. We’ve spent a lot of time putting structures in place that allow us to bring new franchisees on board in a hassle-free and structured way.

We’ve also refined our training. Training is incredibly important, which is why we don’t only train our franchisees, but help them to train their staff as well. We assist franchisees in training staff at every level.

Has your approach to selecting franchisees changed at all?

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Not really, although we probably have the luxury of being a bit more selective these days. We really look for owner/operators that will live the brand and be at the coalface every day. We’ve found that owner/operators have a much higher success rate than those owners who simply put a manager in place. You need to make the store your own.

We’ve also always aimed to allow anyone — regardless of educational or work background — to become a Car Service City franchisee. This is still the case. We aren’t looking for technicians; we want business-savvy people who are passionate about customer service. Some of our most successful franchisees are from the corporate environment where they’ve become used to structured systems and processes.

Related: Chicken Xpress – The ‘No Frills, No-Fuss, Keeping-It-Simple Franchise’

What is the biggest challenge of running a large franchise operation?

Communication is probably the biggest challenge. The larger an organisation becomes, the harder it is to communicate effectively with everyone involved. We make sure that we do everything we can to stay in touch with our franchisees.

We are not only very involved with the set-up of a new franchisee, but try to visit franchisees regularly as well. Moreover, we organise events that allow franchisees to interact. It’s important for franchisees to get to know one another, since they can provide each other with great support — they are all dealing with the same challenges.

We maintain an ‘open door’ policy at head office. We want franchisees to feel welcome; franchisees visit me daily.

What sets your most successful branches apart from the rest?

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Energy. When you walk into a great store you can sense that there is a different energy in the air. The employees seem happy, motivated and hard-working. This all stems from the owner. The owner sets the tone. If the franchisee is hard-working and passionate, the employees will follow his or her example. As mentioned, we look for owner/operators for exactly this reason. An owner isn’t there simply for the paycheque — he or she has real skin in the game.

How do you deal with brand image and identity when it comes to a large operation such as Car Service City?

The bigger and more visible the brand is, the more important it is to maintain its image. We pay close attention to this by running large marketing campaigns and managing social media.

Social media has become particularly important because it allows a customer to not only interact with a particular franchisee, but with the brand as a whole.

The franchisees deal with marketing at the neighbourhood level by making use of the brand’s well-known ‘flyer guys’. However, just about everyone knows what Car Service City’s flyer guys look like, so it’s important for head office to ensure that they maintain the desired brand image. Because of this we play a big part in training and equipping them.

Related: Avoid These 3 Simple Mistakes When Buying A Franchise

And how do you deal with brand identity at a franchisee level?

Once a workshop has been around for a decade, maintaining brand identity can be tricky. Every once in a while, a workshop needs to be refreshed, as things start to look tired. It needs to be brought up to date with regards to design. You need to update your signage, décor, etc.

Overhauling an entire store can be very expensive, which is why we employ a more constant maintenance plan. We try to help them to slowly upgrade their stores. They might upgrade their signage first, and then update their furniture later. The aim is to ensure that the workshop looks up to date and fresh at all times.

What does the future hold for Car Service City?

We definitely want to expand. The focus will be on growth, growth and more growth! However, we don’t want to expand too quickly. We’ve learnt that growing too quickly can have a negative effect. You want to ensure that you have the necessary support structures in place to deal with the added complexity before you start signing franchisees left and right.

We try to build up our systems until we feel that we can deal with a certain number of franchisees, and only then expand.

Once those new franchisees are up and running, we repeat the process — creating the necessary structures for a next wave of expansion.

Job Creator of the Year

Car-Service-City-Job-creatorCar Service City was presented with the Job Creator of the Year award at the 2015 Awards for Excellence in Franchising, sponsored by Absa.

The Job Creator of the Year award recognises those franchisors who, through the expansion of their franchise brand, or through their network of franchisees, contribute extensively to job creation. In addition to assessing the number of jobs created, the criteria also takes into account the skills training offered and the franchisors’ efforts to encourage entrepreneurship and job creation through enterprise development initiatives.

“We act with integrity and are honest about our work in order to be fair and ethical. Accountability to our customers, franchisees and employees, is clear and we always operate transparently. Skills development, performance rewards and participation in a safe and healthy working environment is offered to all employees and franchisees,” says Franchisor Grant Brady.

Car Service City costs

Related: Ordering Made Easy

Remember this

Running a large franchise operation is not the same as running a fledgling one. A franchise brand needs to grow and mature.

GG van Rooyen is the deputy editor for Entrepreneur Magazine South Africa. Follow him on Twitter.

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Franchisors

Osteostrong: An Exploding Global Movement Of Positive Change

A Kyle Zagrodzky Article by Dirk Coetsee.

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Kyle Zagrodzkys’ sincere passion for what he does made me smile in recognition of traits that I am always searching for in a leader, which is a love for people that is drastically enhanced by the positive multiplication factor of having the heart of a servant.

The climate of the interview was one of tangible enthusiasm as the author witnessed a serial entrepreneur at the cusp of global expansion, share his thoughts on his company with refreshing transparency.

The CEO and founder of OsteoStrong speaks with a sense of awe, visible in his eyes, of his business relationship with Tony Robbins and his mission to change lives through this innovative franchise system.

Yes, you read correctly, the iconic performance coach and entrepreneur Tony Robbins who authored Awaken the Giant Within and recently Money Master the Game: 7 Simple steps to financial freedom, is a very enthusiastic and committed advocate for OsteoStrong and Kyles’ business partner. Sincerely and truthfully sharing the same value system is often the rock on which sustainable, successful and world-famous business partnerships are built.

Related: Start A Service Franchise: Cash In On These 3 Successful Models

The franchise system OsteoStrong, is the collateral beauty emanating from Kyles’ most highly regarded value of giving to others and is set to become a global phenomenon within the next couple of years.

OsteoStrongs’ patent-pending robotic technology is based upon the research of Dr. John Jaquish, PhD who’s journey in life sciences started when his mother told him that she was diagnosed with osteoporosis. He invented a device that’s purpose is to trigger the effects of high impact loading without the risk of injury. The result of a once-weekly treatment utilising this device is over 14% gains in bone density in both the spine and hip over a just 6 months!

The reader, at first glance might have the same impression as the authors initial paradigm of this systems’ value offering, that is simply put, that OsteoStrong is the most effective cure purely for those at an advanced age with the focus of combatting or preventing osteoporosis.

The above assertion is however a dramatic deviation from the whole truth. Although this system is proving itself to be the most advanced and effective cure for osteoporosis, any athlete engaged in any discipline and of any age can receive a vast range of performance enhancing benefits from this innovative system.

When you increase your skeletal strength, it dramatically impacts your total strength output. As an example, during a four-year case study that engaged 500 subjects, the average strength gains were increased by a whopping 290%. These results were achieved through a total of 1 session per week at seven minutes per session.

osteostrong

The author was amazed to learn from Kyle first-hand that the awe-inspiring and very typical results are achieved with virtually no effort on the clients’ part. Your total commitment as a client is to go to a facility once a week for seven minutes, engage in four extremely safe “trigger events” (high impact loading) dressed as you are to receive a plethora of benefits over time.

Related: 7 Laws Of Great Pricing

It is common for clients to see a rapid and vast improvement in speed, agility, and balance. Clients also in general report that general niggles such as shoulder, lower back and knee pain disappear. A compound effect of the combination of all the benefits mentioned is a much-improved general sense of wellbeing.

OsteoStrong does not compete with anyone in the gym or wellness industry. Instead, its highly unique value proposition compliments the offering of all businesses related to fitness and health.

This cutting-edge innovation is a franchise system, a business, yet more importantly it is exploding as a global movement of positive change. Commitments for the development of over seven hundred and fifty franchises have been signed and the franchise management team is working overtime to keep up with the amount of franchise enquiries. They do keep up though, as their commitment to positively affect as many lives as they can, is unshakeable.

As the author was about to end the interview with Kyle he recognised a certain peaceful look on this business leaders’ face that can only be derived from a sense of knowing that he is changing lives and making a difference through sincere giving. We are all heartily invited to take part in this movement of positive change that is OsteoStrong, and for the sake of our own general wellbeing we should not turn down the invitation.

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Franchisors

What Franchise Model Is Right For You?

Learn what factors determine which franchise model is right for your business.

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Franchise Model

Franchise Model

Many years ago, the most common franchise was the traditional brick-and-mortar location such as fast food restaurants and storefronts. Modern technology has brought a variety of business models to the marketplace that offer several different models to choose from.

Related: What Is The Future Of The Franchise Model?

Home-based businesses

Home based businesses are very popular these days since technology has made it possible to perform many business activities remotely. These businesses include accounting and professional services, consulting, digital and other marketing services and a variety of other models.

These franchise models offer owners many benefits including lower operating overhead costs, fast and easy startup and the convenience of working from home. Consider the following when evaluating a home based franchise business:

  1. Are you a good time manager? Working from home allows you to live and work in the same place, which is great for some but a nightmare for others. Many have a hard time concentrating on work with the distractions of home such as children, pets, spouse or even TV or home projects. On the other hand, many struggle with stopping the work to enjoy family time.
  2. You should give yourself specific starting and ending times to create a regular work schedule.
  3. Have a door with a lock. You will need to have a private and professional workspace. Additionally, it is equally important for you to be able to shut the office door at the end of the day and focus on home life.

Related: 5 Strategies For Franchise Leadership Development

Mobile businesses

Mobile businesses

Some business owners prefer to work out in the field as opposed to being tied to an office or storefront. Mobile businesses can be flexible and offer lower startup costs. These businesses include food trucks, home and business repair and maintenance services, pet grooming and other creative service models. Here are a few things to consider:

  1. Make sure that your franchisor offers a strong marketing programme. Mobile businesses do not have the benefit of walk-in traffic so they must generate all of their business with outbound marketing efforts.
  2. Use technology to maximise your efficiency. Time is money as they say, especially when you have to factor in travel time between paying jobs. On demand scheduling apps, mobile point of sale systems and communication tools can add to your bottom line when implemented properly.
  3. Check your homeowners association (HOA) rules if you plan to park a commercial vehicle outside of your garage. Many HOAs do not allow any vehicles, including trailers, with logos or wraps to be parked in plain view.

Brick-and-mortar businesses

Brick-and-mortar locations include the standard restaurants, retail, hotel, storefront and offices. This model offers the potential benefit of walk-in traffic which may be a better fit for someone who is more comfortable having customers come to them as opposed to business models that require outbound marketing or sales. This model generally requires more planning and related expense due to the build-out and construction of the site before opening. Before you decide to open a brick-and-mortar franchise, you will want to keep the following items in mind:

  1. Location, location and location are said to be the three most important factors in the success of a brick-and-mortar business. Proper due diligence is mission critical to ensure the best location. The franchisor may offer site selection assistance or refer you to qualified service providers that can help you find the best options.
  2. Use a qualified commercial real estate broker. You should interview a few brokers to make sure that you find one that you feel will best serve your needs. You may find a broker that has experience in your specific business category, which can be an added benefit.
  3. Read Brick and Mortar Franchise Success by Carolyn Miller. Miller is the founder of the National Franchise Institute, which offers classes and education for location-based franchise operators. This book offers a wealth of money and time saving tips and trick that are a must for anyone opening a brick and mortar franchise.

Most franchise owners report that their business lifestyle was a determining factor in their choice of a business model. Consider the “day in the life” of each franchise model to see how they match up with your ideal business before you choose. You should be able to visit existing franchises or participate in a discovery day visit to get a good feel for how each model operates.

This article was originally posted here on Entrepreneur.com.

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Get Into Your Franchisees’ Good Books: 4 Ways To Communicate Better

Build a better relationship with your franchisees to avoid conflict and strengthen your brand.

Diana Albertyn

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franchising-communication

Your franchisees weren’t chosen on the basis of a friendship criteria, so it isn’t surprising that you may not get along with all of them. If they were just tenants in your building, that would be fine – but as partners in your business, your relationship with them should constantly be worked on, especially by you.

“Ultimately, the best relationships – whether personal or commercial – are typified by mutual respect and trust,” notes Sally J’Arlette-Joy, founder and CEO of Sandwich Baron. “Communication is key to keeping all parties informed about changes, potential issues and success factors.”

How well are you communicating with your franchisees? Do you know what their pain points are? Are you open to their ideas for the business?

Here’s a guide to building and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships between your franchise and its network:

1Create and maintain multiple communication channels

Leverage the power and convenience of technology to interact with your team when you’re unavailable in person. Not only is everyone aware of any changes or developments, it’s a simpler way to communicate with everyone at once, getting the message across quicker and in more ways.

Related: Communication: The Glue That Holds Business Together

“To be effective, however, the communication needs to be more than frequent,” advises

“It needs to be honest. Get caught in a single half-truth, and trust is destroyed.”

Emails, WhatsApp groups and productivity apps are great ways to communicate in-between monthly or more frequent visits.

2Hone in on honesty

Transparency is a key factor and requires you to trust your franchisees to run an honest operation. They should also be able to know you trust them, allowing them to return the favour.

“If, for example, an operation uses mystery shopping to uncover violations of standards and under-reporting of revenues, franchisees should know about it,” says franchise consultant Mark Siebert. “Hiding this from franchisees will foster distrust and conflict.”

Trust isn’t easily repaired, so emphasise its importance to your franchisees and practice what you preach – always be open and approachable, no matter the situation.

3Keep an open mind for opportunities

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Most menu innovations, like the McDonald’s Filet-o-Fish – invented in 1962 by Lou Groen, a McDonald’s franchisee – don’t come from head office, but the guys running the network on the ground. They’re a result of a franchisee being unafraid to raise their hand, presenting a new idea, and being listened to by the franchisor.

“If a franchisor is willing to listen, and through meaningful dialogue between both parties, they may discover new ways to help the franchisee grow the business or exit the franchise as painlessly as possible,” says Monisha Prem, corporate advisor at M. Prem Inc.

Related: The Changing Face Of Business Communications

Strong relationships with your franchisees dictate their respect for the leadership of the franchise. Not sure how to go about strengthening your partnership as soon as today? Start by ensuring you’re aware how franchisees feel and how you can change or improve upon that.

4Steps to a successful partnership

Before you message all your franchisees for a coffee catch-up, remember that the quality of communication often trumps the quantity.

Keep the communication lines open by applying the guidelines below:

  • Whenever possible, take calls from franchisees rather than letting them go to voicemail; and always respond to messages on the same business day
  • If possible, establish a dedicated franchise support line
  • Every day, call at least one franchisee you haven’t spoken to in a while. Ask how they’re doing, how their family is, and what else your team could be doing to support their business.
  • Never speak negatively about franchisees to an employee in the company. Communications relating to franchisees should always be respectful.
  • Use a technology platform to track all communication with franchisees for staff members’ interaction with franchisees or should a dispute ever arise.
  • Appoint one person in the company as the communications manager, and have all system-wide communications filter through that, ensuring consistent tone and accuracy of information.

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