CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AUTOMOTIVE FRANCHISE OWNERS RECEIVE A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF TRAINING AND SUPPORT IN ORDER TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE IN THEIR COMMUNITIES
Christian Brothers Automotive franchise owners come from diverse backgrounds, the majority of which are not connected with the auto industry. To help our franchisees succeed in their new careers, we have designed a robust support enterprise that includes providing owners and their technicians with our customized tools, as well as substantial training and coaching on a wide variety of aspects of their business.
Our focus on training is unique in the industry. During the Great Recession of 2008, a significant number of companies that provided automotive-related training closed their doors for good. Christian Brothers saw the changing landscape and decided to develop a training program that would help make our automotive franchise owners and their technicians the most knowledgeable and confident in the industry.
“We are somewhat unique in the industry in that our owners rely on their service managers and technicians — because often they don’t have auto backgrounds,” says Bob Augustine, Technical Training Manager at Christian Brothers. “This good thing about this is that our owners don’t bring bad habits with them. But if they don’t have an auto background, they might not know if their employees are well trained or honest. This can get them into trouble. So we need to ensure that our owners are trained and that they know if their technicians are trained. Our support system has been a big driver in achieving this — our owners have someone they can call to get a second opinion on something, to verify if the technician has it right and has all the necessary tools, and to ask if there are any pitfalls. Our owners have a safety net.”
Bob is one of the principal developers of the training program, which includes webinars, on-site training and remote technical support from subject matter experts who can address issues as they happen. Christian Brothers also made a substantial investment in making sure our automotive franchise owners have the tools they need to remain competitive and provide our customers with an alternative to going to the dealership for maintenance.
“We are significantly increasing the count of cars we service by showing our customers that we can do things that historically only the dealer could do,” Bob says. “We made a huge financial investment in diagnostic tools. We can work on 98% of what comes in the door with what we have. We have dealer tools for 75% of the cars that come in for service, while the average independent repair shop may have only one or two of them. Companies that did not invest in these tools are in real trouble right now. It was a painful transition, but now we are way ahead of the curve. It was time and effort well spent.”
Bob says that our automotive franchise owners and their technicians regularly make use of our full-time coaching department.
“A lot of times they just want to call to say they are about to do something they haven’t done before, and they want us to guide them through the process,” Bob says. “We find that with the average technician, after two or three calls on a topic to our subject matter experts, they are fully trained, ready to go and we don’t hear from them again about that issue.”
Christian Brothers also partners with technical colleges around the country, so that we may use their facilities for training, as well pluck the top students straight after graduating.
“We have access to a dozen training centers nationwide, and we encourage franchisees to get familiar with the people running their local technical schools,” Bob says. “We will sometimes kick the door open on behalf of the franchisee. Interestingly, one of the aspects of the relationship that the tech schools really like is when we have a franchisee on the advisory council for the school. That helps the school develop their programs.”
Christian Brothers is a highly rated, faith-based, auto repair franchise with a unique financial model. Christian Brothers assumes a majority of the risk by purchasing and constructing “built-to-suit” buildings, which the franchisee manages. Christian Brothers does not charge a franchisee based on top-line revenues like virtually every other franchisor, but instead on a share of the profits, which is calculated after expenses. Franchisees also pay themselves a salary before they pay the franchisor a nickel.