A Day in the Life of a Franchisee
Christian franchise opportunities in the auto repair business.
Matt and Lee Rucks didn’t expect to own an auto repair shop or move to Hendersonville, TN, but when Matt was laid off by a vitamin manufacturing company in 2009, their plans were cast to the wind. The family prayed for their next opportunity when a friend told them about a business he’d seen in Atlanta — an auto repair shop that was unlike anything he’d ever seen. It was a franchise called Christian Brothers Automotive.
Matt called Christian Brothers to set up a conversation. “My wife came home and I said I was thinking about opening an auto franchise and she said to drop that idea and focus on getting a job, and I said I had a call lined up with someone that night.” After that conversation, Lee was impressed.
The couple went to Houston with plans to open a store in Greenville, S.C., but learned they could start the business much more quickly if they were willing to move to Tennessee. They decided to make the move.
Matt and Lee’s business is open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. The mornings are mostly spent shuttling customers to work and customers’ kids to school. The complimentary rides make having their vehicle serviced more convenient. Lee is especially fond of shuttling customers because it gives her a chance to get to know them better. “I want to know how customers heard about us and what they like about us. They’ve usually had a bad experience elsewhere, and they heard about us from a friend or neighbor or from family who had a great experience. They feel we’re trustworthy, and we earn a lot of loyalty from that. Customers might pay a little bit more for certain services, but they don’t mind because they know they’re being taken care of.”
The conversation with customers also tends to veer into the personal — How is your day? How is your family? How are you? While Matt and Lee don’t force their faith onto anyone, customers soon realize that Christian Brothers truly is a Christian business. Many customers open up about their lives, giving Matt and Lee a chance to connect in a meaningful, spiritual way. Customers are also brothers and sisters in Christ, and building those relationships is one of the things that makes each day special.
Once customers have been taken where they need to go, Matt oversees operations — ensuring that oil changes are completed, engines are repaired, radiator fluids are exchanged — while Lee looks for ways to market the business. The couple’s store has a partnership with a nearby Discount Tires. Since the tire franchise doesn’t offer alignments, they refer customers to Christian Brothers for the service. Matt and Lee, in turn, encourage customers to check out their neighboring business when they need a new set of treads.
Back inside Christian Brothers, four technicians take advantage of multiple bays to quickly and efficiently make repairs and provide services. Christian Brothers hires highly skilled technicians who operate in the bay with the precision of a doctor in the operating room. As the day’s receipts pile up, a floor buffer is busy keeping the service bay floors spotlessly clean. When customers have questions about a repair, Matt, Lee or a service manager can lead them into the garage and show them any issues with a vehicle and explain their recommendations. Customers are often impressed by the transparency and professionalism.
“There’s a level of trust,” Matt says. “It takes a while to earn it, but you build a reputation in the community.”