Christian Brothers Franchise Review: Q&A with Cincinnati Pioneer

Christian Brothers Franchise Review: Q&A with Cincinnati Pioneer

Doug Beachy is bringing Christian Brothers Automotive to Cincinnati. Here’s why he’s excited about the brand.

Doug Beachy had an itch to shake things up in his career, but he wasn’t quite sure where to begin. That itch, combined with an empty nest at home and perhaps a bit of divine intervention led Doug and his wife, Jamie, to discover Christian Brothers Automotive. The growing auto repair franchise was looking to open a location in the Cincinnati area just as the couple was looking for a new adventure, with two of their grown children finishing college and the other two already starting families of their own.

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Doug’s new store should be up and running by mid-2015. In the meantime, Doug has been gearing up for his new role as a business owner. Here is Doug’s story.

Tell us about yourself.

My wife, Jamie, and I are in this together. Jamie is a teacher’s aide at a local school. I’ve been working in the corporate world for 28 years. I’m an account director, so I’m in charge of sales and client account relationships.

How did you decide to go into the auto repair business?

About a year and a half ago, I was working with a franchise consultant. I have always been interested in cars, and I like to spend a lot of time in the garage. I wanted to kind of turn the page on the corporate world and get into business for myself. I took some personality tests to see what kind of business I would most likely enjoy and be successful in, and this confirmed that auto repair was a good choice. Then I found out about Christian Brothers.

Why were you focused on something car-related?

It is a personal passion. I researched several franchise opportunities, and ultimately I was drawn into automotive repair. I initially looked at other auto repair franchises because Christian Brothers is not here locally, and I hadn’t heard of them. But after researching several, I wasn’t quite satisfied those were right for me. After I ran across the Christian Brothers’ website and viewed the company’s mission statement and its ideals and talked to [vice president] Josh Wall, I was drawn to the mission and the history of Christian Brothers. I like that it is firmly faith-based, that it has a commitment to integrity and a dedication to excellent service. The principles of the brand were all attractive to me. This was further cemented upon meeting the corporate team and witnessing the integrity of the company up close.

How far will your store be from where you live?

We live in Loveland, and the store that we’re opening is right on the edge of town. It’s in Miami Township, three miles from our house. We’ve been residents of the community for quite a while, so we’re really excited.

How so?

There were all kinds of locations we could consider and places we could think about going, but it wasn’t much of a contest. We know that investing in our local community and staying close to home is the right calling for us, and that’s why we’re excited to bring Christian Brothers into the communities of Loveland and Miami Township. As residents ourselves, we care about the community. We have some long-term relationships here, and we look forward to establishing more. All four of our children went to school here, so we have a special place in our hearts for the community and the great teachers who serve here. One of the things we intend to do is honor the schools near our location. We have plans for teacher appreciation and parent events. It’s marketing, but it’s more than that. It’s also about serving and honoring the teachers, and we’re excited to get started and serve the community with integrity and excellence. We want to provide the “nice difference” that Christian Brothers is known for and bring that to the Cincinnati area.

How did the fact that faith and principles play a big role in Christian Brothers’ business affect your decision?

It was all the difference for me. I looked at a couple of other brands in the automotive industry, and I just wasn’t satisfied with what I saw. I talked to other owners, and I also secret-shopped them and did my research. The difference was the faith-based approach, the integrity. When there isn’t integrity in the business, it shows fairly quickly. Another thing on my deal-breaker list — this was a little selfish — but I wanted a really nice place. I wanted something that I could be proud to open up every day and walk people through. I wanted something that reflected my values and the fact that this was a big deal to me and that I was proud to bring it into the community. That aspect just wasn’t there for me with some of these other franchises; Christian Brothers is a totally different experience.

How is integrity made apparent at an auto repair franchise?

It’s in customer service. It’s how people are treated. It’s a matter of personal attention versus just viewing every person as just another face coming into the store and not personally greeting them. We’ll be offering rides to customers to help alleviate the hassle of having their car repaired. I plan to do some of that myself or have a member of my family shuttle customers to where they need to go. That is one way we are offering a personal touch, as well as by following up after the repair to make sure that everything was done as planned. Those are small differences that exude the fact that we want to have integrity in every interaction. I’m sure we’re going to make mistakes, but we’ll stand behind our work and make them right.

Have you gotten to know other Christian Brothers owners?

In my current job, I travel around quite a bit, so if I’m in an area where there’s a Christian Brothers operating, I make sure to stop in. They are very engaging and all willing to help out. There were many times I’m sure I overstayed my welcome, but I never got that impression from them. They have always been quite hospitable and have taken time out of their workday to help another franchisee along.

What are the next steps to get your business going?

The property has closed, and the facility is under construction. This is something the franchise takes care of for me. I don’t have to worry about it too much. My next steps are to hire and build a top-performing team and get the word out for our grand opening in April.

What are your goals for your business?

First off, Jamie and I need to make a living. So we want the store to be successful and profitable as quickly as we can get it there. It’s a little bit of a family sacrifice for us for that first year or so, but we’re ready for that. Secondly, we want to take some of our profit — once we return to making a comfortable living — and reinvest into the community.

What’s your sense of what makes a good personality fit for the Christian Brothers brand?

I know they’re looking for Christians, and they’re looking for preferably families or husband-and-wife teams. I don’t know if there is a certain type of person, but anyone who would be interested in the challenge of bringing their faith to life every day in business — that type of person would be an excellent fit for Christian Brothers.

What skills will you be carrying over from your corporate life?

Obviously there are organization building and marketing skills that are applicable, but you know, just treating customers and employees right and being honest in setting expectations.

You’ve made it sound like your experience with auto repair has been mostly a hobby so far. How will you be prepared for your new role?

Our church has a facility we call the Healing Center. I can’t remember how many people we serve in a given month, but it’s a lot. Through the Healing Center, we offer food, counseling and job-related services to our guests. We also have a small auto clinic where a guest can schedule an oil change or brake work. If they buy the brake parts, we’ll perform the labor to fix their brakes.

I like being in the garage and the camaraderie, but what I really like best is having an opportunity to speak with a guest about what was wrong with their car, what they could do to fix it, how they could prevent it from happening again and things like that. I like the personal interaction, and like many families in today’s economy, our guests typically can’t invest huge sums of money in their cars. We try to help our guests out as best we can and give proper advice as far as what they can do to keep their car safely on the road for as long as possible.

How has the support from Christian Brothers been?

It’s been fantastic. Every step of the way, they’re there when I need them. If I’m uncertain about something or I have a question, they’re very accessible. They do what they say, and they say what they do.

How many people are you looking to hire?

Right now the plan is to hire three technicians and a service manager, and then as we grow, we’ll add additional resources both in the garage and in the front office.Some of it will be a family affair, with Jamie helping out and my dad, who is retired. I’m hoping he’ll spend some time with us around the shop.

Learn more about the Christian Brothers franchise

Christian Brothers Automotive is growing nationwide, and is seeking great franchise partners who share our passion for service, and for giving back to the community. Contact us today to learn more about the company and franchise process!