Last week, Moran Family of Brands, franchisor of general automotive repair, transmission repair, window tinting and driver safety products, announced its upcoming expansion plans for 2018. Six agreements were signed throughout Winston-Salem and Cary N.C.; Tampa, Fla.; Las Vegas; Dallas; and Bear, Del.
Not including these new stores, Moran currently has 120 locations of its Mr. Transmission, Milex, Alta Mere and SmartView stores throughout the United States, with new plans to take the brand international, starting with Nigeria.
Pete Baldine has been a part of the Moran Family of Brands since 1999, and has served as its president since 2014. He spoke with Ratchet+Wrench to share Moran’s expansion plans going forward, its plans to convert independent shops, and why its owners chose to get into franchising.
Can you give a recap of Moran’s recent expansion efforts?
There were about six different agreements that we recently signed, and a couple of them are already open. We have others that are in various stages of development, mostly site selection. These were all Milex and Mr. Transmission co-branded locations, with the exception of the one in Tampa. That one is actually a tri-brandeed agreement. They will do Mr. Transmission, Milex and Alta Mere.
We’re also getting ready to open up our first international location in Nigeria after signing a master’s franchise agreement there. We’re working on a couple of other countries as well, that look like they’re going to come together.
What are your future goals with the Moran Family of Brands?
We’re building a lead generation program for the long term, that will allow us to keep repeating this. This is based on systems and processes that will continue to deliver solid results to us. In addition to that, we are very interested in talking to independent shops who want to convert and become part of a franchise. It’s often tough for independents to come up with a succession plan when they’re close to retirement, and being a franchise gives them more opportunity to sell, many times at a higher price. We’re bringing a couple of independents on right now in resale situations, and we’re going to continue to look at that as an expansion avenue. I think it’s something that can be a win-win.
From a conversion program, some markets that we really want to target are markets like St. Louis, Indianapolis, Columbus [Ohio], Dallas, Houston. And we’re open to any markets where we’ve got the room, where we have the capacity. Those are five markets that we’re really focused on.
Why does the co-branded and even the tri-branded model work so well for Moran?
The appeal with co-branding and tri-branding both is that this model allows you to, in-essence, be a one stop shop for the customer.
Reputation and loyalty is really what the industry is all about. Allowing a franchisee to have frequency of use and build that loyalty is really the ticket there, providing multiple revenue streams. The transmission business as a standalone is still a great business, but you only reach 7 percent of the driving public at any given time. If you’re doing automotive repair, you have an opportunity to reach 100 percent of the driving public. The economies of scale that you get from having two or three brands under the same roof is a big driver of that.
Why do you think people go into franchising rather than starting their own independent auto shop? Is it just the network and experience you have available?
Some of our franchisees do look at both, some ask themselves if they want to go independent, or if they want to be a franchise. I think that many times when they meet us, they understand from our process that we take them through our philosophy is in regards to strongly supporting the franchisees, and providing support in areas that make a difference for them. As a small business owner, they have to wear a lot of different hats. If they’ve got a problem or there’s a level of discomfort in making a decision, they pick up the phone and call us. We’ve got one of our department heads that talks them through and helps them solve those problems.
Another important component is that when you’re an independent you’re basically out there by yourself. Our owners have support from other franchisees. We always have a great mentorship program where an existing franchisee will mentor the new guys, and they’re able to tap into that community. For the first year that a new franchisee is on board they’re assigned a mentor, and they’re in that mentorship program.