Meineke Car Care Centers first opened in 1972 and has been franchising ever since. The company is dedicated to growing its brand and, in fact, Meineke’s senior vice president of franchise development, Dave Schaefers, was recently in Vancouver, BC to do just that.
Currently, Meineke has just under 1,000 franchises, but Schaefers said the company, which is part of the Driven Brands family of automotive companies, could easily double its number of franchises.
Meineke’s current locations include 48 of the 50 States – Hawaii and Vermont being the only ones the brand is not in – parts of Canada and Mexico.
The company has 25 “hot markets” that it is looking to grow in based on population and volume of cars, including Los Angeles, Dallas and Miami.
Meineke’s main product and service is complete car care, specializing in brakes, oil change, exhaust and diagnostic services.
Because a franchisee would be dealing with employees and dealing with one of their customers’ major life investments, the type of person who would be a good fit for a Meineke franchise, Schaefers said, is someone who likes dealing with people and who wants to be hands on with running their business.
“Our industry is very much a people-person industry,” Schaefers said during an interview from Vancouver. “It’s got to be someone with the capability to: a) follow a system and b) understand that you need to have a sense of urgency and a sense of quality of the work that you’re providing.”
With the way technology has changed and put more power into the hands of consumers, the industry has changed from being a transaction-based industry to a relationship-based industry,” Schaefers said. He speaks from experience, having been a franchisee of ten Meineke stores on his way to his executive position.
“Franchisees have to care about how their store looks, how the phone is answered, how their employees look and how they act and treat the customers,” Schaefers outlined. “You need someone who really cares about giving the brand experience,” he added.
Schaefers said there is a need for this service because even though the industry is worth $320 billion, there is actually over $600 billion of un-serviced repairs every year, meaning when a vehicle is taken in to fix a problem, only a portion of the work it requires is actually done. There is usually much more work on the vehicle that needs to be done but that isn’t performed.
“It’s great because it’s a destination business,” Schaefers said. “People come to us and if you do a good job, they come back again.”
What differentiates Meineke from the competition in an industry where virtually all companies are offering similar products and services is that Meineke actively tries to educate the customer about why they do the repairs they do.
“I think it builds trust and when you build trust you typically end up with very loyal customers, so that’s the operating method that our franchisees fall under and I think that differentiates us a good deal from the competition,” Schaefers said.
Meineke technicians inspect the vehicles, assess them, make an estimate and present what they find to the customer and let the customer know what needs to be fixed and in what priority. Customers are free to make appointments for later if they cannot get the service done that day.
“The more you are able to educate a customer about what they need and don’t need, the better off you’ll be with that customer,” Schaefers explained.
Franchisees are given an initial two and half week training course in Charlotte, NC, but the company also has Franchise Business Consultants located throughout the country who perform routine visits with franchisees. And, Meineke being what Schaefers calls a “data driven company,” it also does a lot of electronic communications with franchisees.
An example of that would be Meineke’s Dealer Access system, an online hub where franchisees can pull up information about all of Meineke’s fleet accounts, all of its training materials, company news, and market research data. “There are lots of tools for franchisees,” he said.
And, the company is constantly trying to improve itself. Currently, Meineke is testing how phones at the various franchises are answered, giving franchisees the opportunity to grade themselves on how well they convince customers to come into the franchise.
Lastly, Meineke also has their national warranty program, meaning if a vehicle is serviced in one part of the country at a franchise and it breaks down in another part of the country, the warranty is still good. That also works across international borders.
With that kind of active expansion going on, there is plenty of room in Meineke for more people-person franchisees.
For more information visit: www.meinekefranchise.com
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