JESSE SCHEMM WILL OWN ONE OF TWO CHRISTIAN BROTHERS FRANCHISE LOCATIONS OPENING IN 2015 IN WICHITA
God and family led Jesse Schemm to the Christian Brothers Automotive franchise. After spending a decade living in Detroit and Seattle, the 36-year-old auto industry veteran returned to Kansas to be close to family. He and his wife, Rachel, settled in western Kansas, near his parents. Her parents, however, were near Kansas City. With three kids between the ages of 1 and 6, the couple wanted to be somewhere closer to both sets of grandparents. Jesse also wanted his own business. They prayed for the right opportunity and soon discovered an auto repair franchise that they’d never seen before — Christian Brothers Automotive. Not only did the business have an impressive track record and a faith-based core — it was also looking to expand into Wichita. That’s almost exactly halfway between the grandparents, making it much easier for everyone to visit.
We were blessed to meet Jesse about a year ago, and his store will be launching in 2015 near the northeast corner of North Maize Road and 29th Street North. About the same time, a second location will be launching at 1302 Woodlawn Blvd.
This is Jesse’s story:
What were you doing before deciding to become a Christian Brothers franchise owner?
I spent the past 13 years with the Ford Motor Co., about six years in dealer operations support and then the last several years managing a service department. I was in charge of managing personnel, scheduling, customer service and profitability. I lived in Detroit for a few years, then Seattle before moving back to Kansas to be close to family because we were having kids. My mom and dad live near Goodland, and my wife’s family lives near Kansas City. I have always wanted to own my own business, and starting a car dealership is a pretty hard row to hoe these days. I started looking for other businesses.
We wanted to move somewhere that would be central to both our families, and I stumbled onto the Christian Brothers opportunity in Wichita. I had never even thought about franchising until I started looking at Christian Brothers Automotive, and it looked like it would be a great way to achieve my goal of owning my own business while still having the support of a very strong parent company.
How did you stumble upon Christian Brothers?
Last August, when we decided to make a change, I found a service manager job that was available at an existing Christian Brothers Automotive location in the Kansas City area. That was the first time I had heard of them, and that led me to their website, which led me to the franchise opportunity link. The more I read, the more interested I got. I started reading everything I could find about the company online, and everything I read was really good. I think God has really laid this out for us.
What did you like about the business as you were looking into it?
The parent company bases its business on Christian principles, and I like knowing that I have a trusted partner with great ethics. They also offer a large amount of franchise support, a solid business model and proven track record of success. It fit my beliefs and my ultimate goal of wanting to start my own business.
Was the leadership team what you expected when you met them in Houston?
Discovery Day was great. It was neat to see the headquarters facility in action and to meet (CEO) Mark Carr and hear his story and see how God has blessed this. It really shows that this business is His deal, not ours.
I was impressed by how much research goes into how Christian Brothers picks their locations, what their locations look like, how they adjust things to continue to make the business more profitable, how they continue to find ways to offer better support. They have done a lot of due diligence to understand what makes an auto repair business successful.
What are your goals?
My goal for the business is for it to achieve a level of financial comfort for my family and provide me the resources to support the community where we live and work — and to do it by helping others by keeping their vehicles in good shape. I also look forward to helping people who are less fortunate and being active in the community.
What sets Christian Brothers apart?
I think what Christian Brothers has created in the automotive repair sector is what every dealership would like to have. The facility is very nice, the quality of the work is excellent and all the tools are available to be able to diagnose any brand of vehicle. Christian Brothers invests in diagnostic tools that help it stay ahead of the curve. Christian Brothers is also unique in the way it approaches customer care and the support of its franchisees. Mark Carr took everything everybody hated about taking their car in for repair, and he changed it all. He made it a better experience.
How large do you expect the growth opportunity to be for your business?
People’s expectations are very low because automotive repair has had such a negative perception through the ages. I think the opportunity to change those expectations is enormous. The demand for service is also enormous. Most vehicles are on the road now for a long time, and they all require maintenance and repair. As the price for new cars keeps going up, people are hanging on to their vehicles longer. People will invest in maintenance if it’s with someone they trust, and Christian Brothers Automotive excels at letting customers know about their vehicles’ conditions so they can make the best choices. That builds trust.
What kind of person do you think would enjoy owning a Christian Brothers franchise?
Anyone who is willing to do whatever they need to do to take care of the customer. I have an automotive background, but that actually makes me a little unusual among owners, because the Christian Brothers model is built largely on owners who have zero automotive experience, but who are dedicated to their customers and employees. I think Christian Brothers is a good choice for anyone who is looking for a way to live their faith every day with good, trusted partners.
Do you think your automotive experience gives you any advantages?
I think my service department experience is helpful, but that’s because I have worked at many different dealerships and service departments, which has given me a well-rounded view of automotive service. What you don’t want to do is come into Christian Brothers thinking you know everything there is to know about running an automotive repair business. You need to follow the Christian Brothers model. My experience has taught me enough to know that they have an excellent model.
Your business is about a year away from launch. How would you describe the support you’ve received so far?
The biggest challenge is patience, because I’m eager to get started. By and large, it’s been great. I’ve had a lot of support, and they are available to take calls and answer questions. My patience level is helped by knowing that they are as motivated as we are to get the store open. (Christian Brothers is also building a second store in Wichita, which will help build the brand in the city. The second location will also be available in 2015, and we are seeking a franchise partner for that location.)
Are you excited?
We’re thrilled to have this opportunity. We feel God led us to this opportunity. Every conversation we’ve had with the headquarters has been better than the last, from the first call to the meeting in Houston. The excitement continues to build, the support level is huge and we are ready to go!