Midas celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, but rather than just celebrating what it has accomplished, it’s completely reinventing itself and that has one long-serving franchisee excited for the future.
Kent Smith splits his time between Albany, NY and Boston, MA, as he owns 21 Midas franchises between those two cities.
Starting as a Midas employee in 1978, Smith purchased his first franchise in 1994 and has been growing his stable of shops since then. So, he’s seen Midas reinvent itself multiple times and the brand’s latest reinvention has him anticipating the company’s new direction.
That new direction is making Midas a tire destination. Known for mufflers, shocks and other types of automotive service, Midas has now turned its attention to becoming people’s number one choice for tires.
Smith believes this next reinvention of the Midas brand will be extremely successful because the company was purchased by Sumitomo Corporation of America three years ago and now has the backing of Sumitomo and its subsidiary TBC Brands, which specializes in tires.
For every dollar of tire sales, Midas franchisees can expect a dollar fifty in additional sales for higher revenue, higher profit margin services, Smith explained.
This newest reinvention of the brand has him so excited, Smith is anticipating expansion himself, noting that he would add more shops to his network if the deals are right.
Smith started as an installer of mufflers and shocks back in 1978 and worked for the same franchisee until 1993, growing with that franchisee’s network of shops, moving up to assistant manager, then manager of a store for three years and, finally, to supervisor for a group of stores.
But while climbing the corporate ladder was fine for a while, that top step still looked better than what he was experiencing.
“I realized along the way that I was making all the money for the franchise owner who was building family vacation homes all over the United States, putting his kids in the best colleges and going on all these lavish vacations while I was working,” Smith recalled during a recent interview from his apartment in Boston. “So I wanted to be part of that.”
In 1993, he left that franchisee’s network of shops on amicable terms to buy his own Midas franchise, but the move wasn’t easy.
First, he lived in Boston at the time, but his former employer and a business partner owned all the Midas shops in and around Boston. That meant Smith had to relocate, so he chose Albany.
Then, when he tried to buy three failing Midas franchises in the Albany area, nobody was willing to provide him with the financing to do that.
Smith convinced Midas and the current store owners that he could turn those failing franchises around and make them profitable. So, he signed a management contract for a year and was able to double the sales for all three locations in 12 months and make them profitable.
That was enough for him to secure the financing he needed to buy those three stores. And, because Smith was already used to working in a large network, he kept looking for stores to buy between Albany and Boston.
By 2000, Smith had nine locations and in 2011 when his old boss retired, he bought another 11 from him and has added some and sold some in the intervening years to make his current total 21.
Smith’s former boss was keen to have Smith take over his stores because he recognized Smith’s knack for taking underperforming stores and turning them into profitable endeavours.
There’s no secret to how to turn a store profitable, Smith noted. It’s people. Get the right managers and service advisors in place and you’ll have a good business.
Because Smith approached franchising from inside the company, working his way up, he was already more than familiar with what it took to run a successful store. And while Midas gave him the same training it offers to all new franchisees, Smith routinely looks outside the company for additional help from consultants.
“I’m a firm believer in hiring outside consultants to improve the production in my store and provide inspiration to the employees in my business so it’s not just a job for people,” Smith explained. “It’s more like a career.”
Smith relies on Midas for technical training like teaching employees how to sell tires. And, at the moment, there is a big focus on getting all of Midas’ stores prepared for their transition to a tire destination.
Because of this current transition, Smith noted, he believes it’s a good time for potential franchisees to get involved with the company to get in on the ground floor of their rebranding efforts.
Smith has been doing this himself, as helping new franchisees get their start is something else that excites him about being a business owner in the Midas family.
He’s already helped five of his former employees become franchisees and he’s prepping another two for eventual franchise ownership now.
Smith provides in-store training and advice for potential new franchisees and helps them get set up for franchise ownership, even selling them their first shop sometimes.
“That’s what I get excited about now,” he said.
The average store sales for the five guys he’s helped groom for business ownership are over a million dollars for each store.
Now that those five new franchisees are up and running, they’ll need to go through the same learning process Smith himself went through as a business owner.
That process saw some lean years while getting established, but also many good years once he got a foothold established.
“Midas has been very good to me and my family,” he said.
With its new direction and fresh focus, at 60 years old, Midas has successfully reinvented itself once again and holds great opportunity for people like Smith who want to be business owners.