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Q&A: A Nationwide Expansion

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November 5, 2018—A year ago, Brian Moak rebranded his family’s business from Duxler Complete Auto Care to HEART Certified Auto Care, with a goal of promoting tolerance.

HEART Certified Auto Care announced the opening of franchises throughout the U.S. in December 2017.

HEART currently has three locations—in Evanston, Wilmette, and Northbrook, Ill.—and Moak recently told the Windy City Times that he now hopes to take his vision nationwide, and expand to perhaps as many as 100 franchise locations within 10 years.

HEART introduced a new approach to auto repairs called Virtual Inspection Program, which is a system that provides photos of any areas in the automobile where repairs are recommended.

"The automotive repair industry is booming, with over $105 billion per year in revenue and consistent growth since 2015," said Brian Moak, founder and owner of HEART Certified Auto Care. “We are building off our established business model and changing how auto service is delivered. We’ve adopted what we believe are the best practices in our industry, and we’re taking automobile service to the next level with our franchise owners.”

Ratchet+Wrench connected with Moak to discuss franchisee plans and the progress so far.

 

How did you start the franchise?

We wanted to grow and focus for a while. One of the things we wanted to focus on was how to grow and at the same time, share our values with anyone who wants to learn them. We’ve been marketing to our customer-base.

So, HEART, which is an acronym for “helping everyone achieve reliable transportation,” is a program that really runs itself.  For the last two-and-a-half years, I have worked sequentially. I made a plan to decide what needed to happen. It is a 260-page document that outlines the agreement between the franchisee and us. Then, we needed to get our operations manual set, which is another 170 pages. Then, the marketing plan needed to be set.

Normally I like working simultaneously, meaning I like to do 18 things at one time, but for this particular endeavor, working sequentially was very important.

 

When you say that you’ve been marketing to your customer base, do you mean shops?

No, I mean to my existing customers. We have about 16,000 active accounts. We’re starting to market to them because we have some really smart, sophisticated and shrewd customers. We are currently running and have a rolling 99 percent customer retention rate.

 

Typically, “franchise” refers to shops that join your system and adopt your network.

That’s one aspect of it. But maybe we’re doing the best we can and doing $8 million per year but are stuck. That type of business might look for us because our corporate revenues are $2.9 million per location.

So, someone might look to us and say, “Wow, that is where I want to go but I don’t know how to get there.” Someone in that situation might reach out to us and say they are interested in the systems and brands that have been created.

There are the individuals, the systems and then the corporations that buy us.

 

When a customer buys into your system, do you help them open a shop?

Yes, we provide a turn-key solution. So, we go through an interview process and all that due diligence. Then the next step is finding a location, getting the people trained, finding a market network and finding a tool with which they will work

 

Are you just going to stay in the Chicago area for now?

Probably. We’re marketing toward the Midwest. The Chicagoland area will probably be the best place for us and as we grow, that is where we will put our focus.

 

Is that something you’re planning to do as you grow? Are you planning to expand?

I think so. I think we will expand our customer base. We have incredible efficiency. Ninety-five percent of our cars are done on the same day and because of it, we have outstanding results.

We appeal to a certain kind of customer and I think we can find that customer all over the country.

 

Have you thought at all about how oversight is going to work with your franchise system?

In the beginning, franchises will work with me and I will be actively involved in making sure we are doing things that need to be happening.

I am going to be very involved in that and I will create systems on the corporate level that will drive a results-driven support system.

 

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