How Franchises Assist in Opening a Shop
Amy Stehr signed a deal in 2007 with her husband, Mark, to become joint-owners of a Christian Brothers franchised location in Rockwall, TX.. Stehr was without auto experience, but Mark had worked in the dealership industry prior, and felt the opportunity would be beneficial for the community and the duo.
A few years later, the location was set, but unfortunately Mark had accepted a position elsewhere during the transaction, leaving the operation up to Stehr.
“We actually signed a franchise agreement in August 2007 and we didn’t actually open the store until 2012,” Stehr says. “In that timeframe, my husband had made another commitment that he couldn’t get out of, and he asked me if I would simply open up the store for him.
“At first, it was pretty intimidating.”
Today, Stehr has taken full ownership of Rockwell’s Christian Brothers Automotive shop, and her husband now runs the second location in Forney, Texas, Stehr explains how working with a franchise can help ease some of the strains that come with opening a shop for the first time.
As told to Kiley Wellendorf
Our franchise picked out the location of our building, so we were given the call once the building was ready. We actually signed a franchise agreement in August of 2007, but didn’t officially open the shop until 2012. When it was time to open up the business, I was able to talk with our “home office” who helped walk me through the process of what to expect as a franchise business owner and how to run the shop successfully.
When we opened, my focus was really about getting the right people in the business that are going to help drive the store to be as successful as possible.
We all have the same design, but we can add in personal touches. We all have the same format as far as the mission and how the building looks, but we steer it the way it’s going to work best for the shop. We steer it the way it’s going to work the best. Each shop is set up the same, but with our franchise, we have a number of couches that helps make our front room look like a “family room.”
I know shops that now have toothbrushes, toothpaste and diapers in the restrooms for customers, and I know shops that offer fresh-baked cookies at their business. We’re all about serving our customers and the franchise has been extremely supportive in making our ideas a reality.
At our shop, we always want to provide our customers with something to eat, we want them to feel comfortable, and we also have been able to provide our customers with a shuttle service that can even drop you kids off at school—if need be.
There’s always a line open for us if we have questions. We have support that makes sure our procedures are correct and connects us with others in the industry. If we’re ever running into specific issues around the office such as IT problems, we can contact the “home office,” or support center that is able to get everything up and running faster. The home office is also there to help us with vendors and additional advice about how we can improve our shop. We’ll have someone come in and check on the shop to critique it which has been really beneficial and allowed us to see what we could do differently.
The office gives us funds as well to give back locally and become more invested in our own community. Ever since we opened, we spend time supporting single moms and widows in the community, and that really hit home.We open one Saturday per year and provide oil changes and make sure vehicles are safe for those customers. We provide them with gas cards, a great fellowship, assist vehicles that are in bad shape, and the home office supports us financially. As far as locally, we choose what we want to participate in, so we always support local schools and churches that need help.