WOMEN OWNERS AT CHRISTIAN BROTHERS FOCUS ON AUTHENTICITY, RELATIONSHIPS, CLEAR COMMUNICATION
At Christian Brothers Automotive franchise we’ve noticed a trend: our women-led-and-owned locations tend to be among our finest performers — the best of the best.
It doesn’t mean that our male franchisees aren’t thriving, they definitely are. In fact, in our 30-plus years of conducting business we’ve never closed a franchise. But there’s no denying that many of our women-led Christian Brothers franchises are standouts.
We asked a few of our female franchisees to weigh in on what it’s like to own a Christian Brothers Automotive franchise. They had plenty to say, particularly about the strengths women bring to the table in the male-dominated automotive industry. They also loved talking about the unexpected rewards that come with being a woman owner.
CREATING TRUST AND SAFETY
“I have received a tremendous amount of support from customers based on being a woman,” says Sarah Vowell, a Christian Brothers franchisee in Parker, Colorado. “Almost all customers understand that I am here to make sure they are receiving the very best customer service.”
“One of the biggest advantages to being a woman owner is connecting with and supporting other women.” Sarah adds. “Having their trust is important to me. There are many women today who are responsible for the maintenance and repairs of their vehicles. I want them to feel safe, and I want them to know we are being forthcoming and honest with recommendations.”
Cindi Reagen Smith, who owns the Christian Brothers Automotive Midway-George Bush in Dallas, Texas, says being a woman owner has presented her with a few challenges. But she’s quick to point out she welcomes those challenges. When customers treat her a little differently because of her gender, or when they ask a car-related question she can’t answer, she turns it into an opportunity for relationship building.
“I have fun with customers,” Cindi says. “They love it when I say, ‘Hold on a second, let me get someone who speaks automotive!’
“Knowing that the owner doesn’t ‘speak automotive’ either makes it less intimidating for both men and women,” Cindi adds. “It gives me the opportunity to brag about the incredible talent we have in our shop. I promote the trust our customers have in our recommendations. Christian Brothers is a place you can send your teenage daughter and never have to worry about her being taken advantage of.”
Cindi, who was named Christian Brother Automotive Franchisee of the Year in 2008, knows a lot about one-to-one communication and building trust. She was a nurse for 35 years before embracing business ownership with Christian Brothers. Her franchise is consistently among the top 10 percent of Christian Brothers franchises.
IMPROVING CUSTOMERS’ LIVES
Jonita White, owner of the Christian Brothers Automotive franchise in Frisco, Texas, says many of her customers are fascinated and surprised when they learn that she is the owner of her franchise. Some seem to even trust her more because she’s a woman.
“I think it puts people at ease,” Jonita says. “My nearest community is a 55+ community, and they are so fascinated that it’s a woman running the business. They love it. I have a lot of female customers, they can instantly let their guard down.
“I try to improve the lives of my customers,” Jonita adds. “When somebody brings their car in, they are often having a stressful day — and it’s even harder for women because so many feel like they have been taken advantage of by other auto repair businesses in the past. But I am a people person and I love the Lord, I make sure my staff and technicians are honest and upfront with customers. Honesty and integrity are important, something customers respect.”
Jonita’s devotion to service is typical among our owners, especially our women owners who often have extensive backgrounds in helping professions or careers that focused on people skills. For example, Amy Stehr, who opened a Christian Brothers Automotive franchise in Rockwall, Texas, in February 2012, was previously a director for the March of Dimes.
Even though Amy owns her franchise with her husband, she’s the one who takes the lead when it comes to hands-on management at the store.
“My husband actually has 30 years of automotive experience, but I am the one who got the store up and running,” Amy says. “I bring an outgoing personality and am someone who enjoys helping people. I hire the best people who have technical backgrounds, and then I focus on the overall customer experience.”
GAINING LIFELONG CUSTOMERS
Many of our women owners tell us successful Christian Brothers franchisees — whether male or female — share a common trait.
“One must have a desire to help others,” Cindi says. “You need to be a good listener with the ability to consider options and opinions and not be afraid to ask for advice.
“We are like the dentist’s office for cars, and nobody really wants to be here,” Cindi adds. “Car repair is not always fun money to spend. There is a lot of responsibility when you consider the number of families depending on the job we do. One of my very favorite things is to have an upset customer come in with a huge estimate from another shop and find they need little if any of the repairs recommended. It is a blast to make someone’s day and gain a new customer for life.”
OWN A CHRISTIAN BROTHERS AUTOMOTIVE FRANCHISE
Founded in Houston in 1982, Christian Brothers is an automotive repair facility based on a core philosophy of honesty, integrity, reliability and exceptional customer service. We provide full-service automotive repair for all domestic and foreign vehicles, and pride ourselves on providing a pleasant, professional and clean automotive service experience every time. Our service model includes courtesy shuttles that make it easy for customers to drop their car off and get a ride to home or work. When the car is ready, they can be picked up. This makes it easy for customers to have their vehicle serviced Monday-Friday. It also makes it possible for Christian Brothers to close on the weekends, which enables franchisees and employees to spend that time with their families, church, and friends.