How Midas Franchise Owner Increased Sales 20% Two Years in a Row
Posted on: June 6, 2014
Dan Turner discusses the brand and the keys to his success since buying a Denver Midas franchise.
Dan Turner became a Midas franchisee two years ago after having spent his adult life in the auto repair industry, including 26 years as a key manager for Sears Automotive. He managed 71 auto repair locations for Sears before a former colleague asked him to become part of the Midas family. At the time, Midas had corporate-owned stores, and Dan managed 13 of them in Colorado. In 2011, when Midas decided to sell its corporate stores, Dan bought one in Denver, where he had lived for 30 years. His store’s revenue jumped 20% in 2012, then another 20% in 2013.
This is his story.
I’ve been in automotive all my life, starting when I was in high school in St. Louis. I started working for Sears Automotive after my father’s work brought us to Colorado, and I spent 26 years with Sears. Dave Saunders, who was with Sears, hired me and another person to help start the commercial sales division, which we grew into a multimillion-dollar business from nothing. I eventually ran the whole Northwest region for Sears Automotive, which included 71 stores. There was way too much travel. Scott Kennan, who helped build the commercial division with me at Sears, went to work for Midas and wanted me to be part of the team. Moving to Midas meant more money and less travel, and it allowed me to be part of a company that was totally focused on automotive. I was hired to oversee 13 corporate-owned stores in Colorado before Midas decided to become completely franchised. When they sold the company-owned stores, they gave me the opportunity to buy this one.
Do you enjoy being a franchisee instead of an employee?
This has been the best move I’ve ever made. I should have bought stores years ago.
Tell us about your growth so far.
Our revenue has been up 20% for back-to-back years. We’re pumped about it. The best thing is, it’s not from pressure-selling them — it’s just taking care of customers one at a time.
My experience set me up for this. I had been managing stores, so transitioning into owning one was simple. I am more involved in payroll and some other details, but I already knew how to manage the store to the numbers.
What activities have been key?
Oil changes. I’ve had a $19.99 banner hanging outside my shop for two years. I’m not trying to make a profit off oil changes, but it brings people in. That’s the key. Then you can do an inspection and start to win repeat business. The oil changes help increase the car count, which is key. Once you get cars on the lift, you have a chance to start to build a relationship with your customers and look out for them and let them know what other things they might want to do to keep their cars running well.
Another thing that is important is the appearance and cleanliness of your shop. Some garages are dirty and unorganized, and that makes it hard to function. I clean a lot. I am constantly cleaning. I work hard to eliminate obstacles so technicians can stay under the cars, making money. When he has to walk 20 feet to get a part or has to search for something, that is time he isn’t under the car. Staying productive all day long is key. I have known so many managers who think, “I have a guy who does that.” No! You do it all — putting away stock, ordering stock, updating pricing. If my technicians are busy, I’ll pull a car into the bay, put it on the lift and do an oil change and inspection. I’ll drop a transmission with my guys.
What does your typical day look like?
I open the shop every day except for Thursday, which is my day off. We’re closed Sundays. I open at 7 and get everything rolling and selling. I’m at the front counter most of the day. When my sales manager, Andrew, or my son comes in I can work on other things, like ordering supplies, doing paperwork and paying invoices. I do have an accountant who helps keep everything in line, which I highly suggest for everybody.
How much growth potential do you see for your business?
I’m here for the long haul. I have the rights for 20 years, and I can renew for another 20. My son is 30, and I’ll pass it on to him. His name is Patrick, and he’s phenomenal. His experience is in hotel management for Omni and Marriott. He was working 70 hours a week, and every weekend, every holiday. He was getting burned out and asked if he could come work for me. I told him, “Well, you’re going to be running this place someday, so you might as well start your training now!” He’s been a motorhead his whole life, and he’s loving it. He also liked letting customers know that we’re a family-operated business, and people love knowing that. He developed great customer service skills in the high-end hotel industry, and it shows. He loves to deal with customers, and people love him. Patrick’s personality, my manager Andrew’s personality and my personality — we’re all outgoing, and we make people feel comfortable coming in. And then we take great care of them.
How does that affect your business?
The majority of our customers are women — probably 60 percent — and they let their friends and family know about us. Our customer service scores are off the charts because we take the time to show and tell them about issues with their cars and help them make good, educated decisions on repairs. I have many ladies tell me that they have never been treated so good. “You are honest, you prioritize repairs for me,” they say.
What mistake would you warn new franchisees not to make?
You need to be present. If you’re not, you will fail. You need to have enthusiasm and be willing to say yes. There are so many shops where guys only want to work on X number of cars in one day, and they are apt to send customers away. If someone brings us a car, we get it in the building and get it inspected. If you send that customer away, they’ll go to a competitor. You’ve lost that chance to build the relationship. In this industry, the first person to inspect a car gets the majority of the work. We also offer courtesies. We have customers come in all the time with their check engine light on, and we’ll scan the code for free. Once they know what is wrong, the majority of them will come back to you for the repair. Serving that customer immediately is key. My guys will stop what they are doing to scan a code. There are a lot of people who think, “Unless I’m getting paid, I’m not going to do it.” My guys understand that some of these free and low-cost services bring in more customers, which is what gets everyone paid well.
What does Midas offer for franchisees who aren’t as steeped in automotive as you?
Midas offers a lot of training at the home office to help people run the business, and there is also a lot of training available for your technicians. The Midas training portal (TBC University) is huge — you can get educated on areas where you are weak. I encourage my guys to learn. Even my son, who normally works on the front counter, takes the mechanical courses. My master tech does, too.
John Linden, our training manager for Midas, is phenomenal. He writes some of the questions and creates some of the testing for ASE certification. He is incredible at putting things into terms that anyone can understand. He can teach anything, and he has a passion for it.
Midas also provides Shop Operations Managers and Franchise Support Managers who visit and help you succeed. The support is there. They want you to make money, and they know that the more money we make, the more money they make, plain and simple.