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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




Vital stats

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?


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?


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?


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.

Company Posts

Spur’s Got A Taste For Success

With eight brands across five countries, the Spur Corp’s secret sauce to success has all the best ingredients — most importantly, its franchisees. Sacha du Plessis, Group Marketing Executive at Spur Corporation, explains the company’s 51-year journey in creating some of the most popular places to eat the world over.

Nedbank Franchising




What is the biggest contributor to Spur’s success?

Since the beginning, we’ve made an unwavering commitment to run restaurants that are operated by entrepreneurially-minded owners who put the customer first. Customer satisfaction is one of Spur Corporation’s most important value drivers, we partner with people who ensure we retain and grow a loyal customer base. We seek to work with franchisees who take pride in the training of their staff and prepare food with passion.

This mindset has been alive for over 50 years in our staff and franchisees.

Please share some of the challenges Spur encounters as a franchisor?

We have a sizable franchise network and a big priority is to ensure that we meet customers’ expectations in every single franchise they visit. Another challenge is finding the best franchisees to partner with, people who are aligned with our company values and customer orientation.

In terms of growth, it is sometimes challenging to find the correct locations per brand and to ensure the rental is at a level where it’s sustainable for the franchisee. The management of our marketing communication to ensure we remain relevant and distinctive in an ever changing landscape can also be a challenge.

Related: A Three-Pronged Approach To Franchise Success

Name a few of the qualities you look for when selecting franchisees?

Our business was built on a highly focused customer orientation and centred on a love for food. Our franchisees need to be focused on the customer: Pleasing the customer, meeting the customers’ needs and being willing to spend large amounts of time in growing a business that essentially is the hospitality industry and is really about people. Our franchisees are people who have an appreciation for, and love, food as well as serving their local community over and above their product.

Why is Spur a solid investment for entrepreneurs seeking to pursue franchising?

We’ve invested greatly in growing our brand over a long period of time. Spur was founded by our Executive Chairman Allen Ambor in the spirit of entrepreneurship. Over the past 51 years, we’ve built a track-record of comprehensive operational, finance, marketing, IT, training, procurement, distribution and development support. Our marketing approach grows sustainable brands in a considered and well researched manner.

Our customer scope is broad, so while our main brands are focused on the wider South African market, we also have niche brands. This track record reassures the franchisee and broader market about Spur Corporation’s credibility.

What kind of support can a franchisee expect when joining Spur?

Franchisees can tap into expertise that’s been built up over five decades. We provide franchisees with the most effective tools to help manage and sustain their businesses successfully. Our operational support is wide-reaching and includes access to procurement, development, logistical as well as IT support. Skills development is one of the most important ways in which Spur Corporation supports its franchisees to run successful businesses.

Marketing support enables franchisees to actively identify opportunities and get assistance in developing and implementing bespoke marketing plans for each restaurant. Most importantly, when a franchisee joins Spur Group he or she gets access to cutting-edge management know-how from an experienced team of people who are passionate about our business.

Related: Nedbank’s Full Service Offering for Franchise Owners 

Why is it important for successful franchises such as yours to have a strong banking partner and how does it benefit the franchisee?

Buying into a brand is a substantial investment for a franchisee, so they need a banking partner that will help with financial planning and running the business. Nedbank has built relationships with franchisees while helping to open and maintain their businesses.

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Company Posts

Muscle And Grill Is Your Daily Chef. We Provide Fresh, Nutritional Food At Affordable Prices

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

Muscle and Grill




Vital stats

Muscle and Grill is a healthy fast food establishment based in South Africa. In the face of modern South Africa, lives spent on the go require a fuel to match their aspirations while maintaining a delicious, fast and fresh service.

As our lives swirl into life’s vast depths of opportunity, our bodies are often the product of poor health habits, while trying to keep on the move to achieve our goals. Muscle and Grill challenges this. We want to be able to support the South Africa of tomorrow by offering the food your body needs to keep reaching new heights – to keep pushing the boundaries of accomplishment with health food convenience.

At Muscle and Grill we’ve got you covered. We provide nutritional fast food that is fresh and affordable. We have your health at heart. You could start your day off with some free-range scrambled eggs or fresh oats – for lunch a mixed bowl of rice, protein and fresh vegetables – or to round off your day, replenish your mind and body with a hearty health-infused burger and all its wholesome goodness. We have not forgotten that home constitutes a hungry family who have all been active, so grab a lean beef pasta salad with some greens on the side to go.

Related: SA Fast Food Franchising On The Rise

It isn’t always easy to stay in tune with both body and mind. We do all the prepping for you so that you can keep up your pursuit of greatness.

About us

It was once said that great ideas are born from ones’ frustrations. That is exactly how Muscle and Grill came about. Having no real on-the-go option to stay healthy, or having the time to prepare to be healthy, became a huge frustration for us. We struggled to find enough hours in the day to keep up with a busy lifestyle and still eat healthy while on the move. Our work came first and our lifestyles suffered.

The vision for Muscle and Grill is to make it possible to stay healthy on the go. We want healthy food to be easily accessible for all walks of life.

Our mission is to provide quality, healthy fast-food. The food we provide is delicious and will keep you coming back for more.



Muscle and Grill works on an almost self-service basis. The point of sale system is customer operated where you can select what meal you would like to have. Once payment has been processed electronically the kitchen staff will receive the order and prepare it to spec. Muscle and Grill will be a completely cashless business, making it super-efficient for consumers and business owners.

Related: 3 Crucial Considerations For New Multi-unit Franchisees

The concept of Muscle and Grill is partnered with Puré Frooty. Puré Frooty is a self-service smoothie bar which prepares smoothies for you at the touch of a button. You can have a store with or without a machine – the choice is yours. Both concepts look to promote the idea of healthy living on the go.

We’ve looked to compliment our values by looking after that which grounds us. Our packaging and utensils are all eco-friendly, as we believe ‘going-green’ is not just a choice of eating but of the environment too.

So, when you are ready to join the next revolution in the fast food industry contact Muscle and Grill at or visit the website at to inquire on our franchise options today. Achieve your goals, stay on the move and look after yourself through Muscle and Grill.

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Company Posts

Nando’s Is Firing Up The East

Carlos Duarte has been part of the Nando’s brand since inception. When his brother Fernando co-founded the flamed grilled chicken brand in 1987, Carlos soon participated in its success and today owns four highly successful franchises in Johannesburg — three in the east and one in the south. Here’s how it all began.






Vital Stats

  • Player: Carlos Duarte
  • Franchise: Nando’s
  • Position: Franchisee
  • Visit:

What were you doing before becoming a franchisee?

I was in the audio visual technology field, as an employee. Then I joined Nando’s as an assistant manager in the Savoy and Rosettenville corporate stores. Franchising was my first experience of entrepreneurship.

Why did you decide to become a franchisee?

When my brother, Fernando Duarte, launched Nando’s in 1987, I noticed its quick growth and wanted in on the action. Being assistant store manager prepared me for when the opportunity to run my own store came along soon after.

What prompted you to partner with Nando’s?

I joined Nando’s in 1991 as a joint venture partner. At the time, Nando’s hadn’t yet franchised its operations, and the JV partnership meant the brand owned 51% of the business, while I owned 49%. My first franchise store was in Edenglen in 2001.

Related: (Watch) Why Nando’s Is Clucking Its Way To The Top

Describe some of the challenges of running not one, but four franchise locations

At the Edenglen store, we initially battled with sales and getting feet into the store. To be honest, I think the area was overtraded at the time, so it wasn’t the best location. Since acquiring the store in Lambton, Germiston, another in Greenstone and a third in Comaro, I’ve learnt to be cleverer in how I do things — and how I handle some of the same challenges — and learn every day from the brand itself.

Name some of the benefits you’ve experienced as a Nando’s franchisee

Nando’s is 31 years old this year. We’re in 30-odd countries worldwide with thousands of stores across the globe. As franchisees, we leverage off the dynamism of an operational business that’s known for its marketing — customers talk about our ads and they love our food.

What kind of support do you receive from Nando’s as a multi-unit franchisee?

Besides the popular marketing campaigns that attract customers, Nando’s has an extensive training manual along with a skills development training consultant who comes to the store for two days to help staff understand and implement it. The training is really effective — it has to be as this industry involves a very high turnover of staff and new skills need to be taught often.

Why is it important for a franchisee to have a good banking partner?

As a franchisee, your bank should understand your business — from operating costs, to overdraft needs and revamping expenses — so it has cash available for loans that can be approved quickly, with minimal hassle. On the technical side, a reliable mPOS device is imperative, especially for us, because 30% of our sales volumes are from home and office deliveries. It’s a fundamental method of payment every bank should provide its customers of a similar nature.

What advice do you have for budding franchisees on seeking out a good franchise brand and banking partner for their business?

  • Do your research to ensure you’re partnering with a brand that is established, well-known and expect to pay a fair price for that franchise.
  • Be aware of how the franchise brand is perceived in the market and what location opportunities are available to you as a franchisee.
  • Choose a banking facility that always has the funds available to grow your business.
  • Ensure the bank understands the brand’s business model and where you’re falling short.

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