Program Spotlight: Honest-1 Auto Care
Since it’s inception in 2003, Honest-1 Auto Care has been breaking the mold in the automotive maintenance and repair industry. The brand claims the word “honest” is part of its name for a reason.
“When you hang the word honest on your door, you better be honest or your customers will never forgive you if you aren’t,” said Tom Miller, director of franchise sales.
In 2008, Jack Keilt became president and CEO of Honest-1, and the company has grown tremendously since.
“When I started with the company, the car count was around 55 cars per week and currently sits between 85 and 90 cars in that same time frame,” said Braden Poole, vice president of operations, who transferred to Honest-1 three years ago. “When I see a double-digit increase in our customer count, I believe it can be directly attributed to the maturing of our stores and the customer-centric processes that we’ve put in place.”
An Honest Philosophy
Honest-1 Auto Care created an open service commitment that outlines its attention to detail, honesty in service recommendations, transparency throughout the sales and service process and a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee.
“The reason I came to this company is because of the perpetual challenge you face when others question your integrity in this industry,” Poole said. “People want to see that you’re selling items or services to a customer that they can actually benefit from.”
Honest-1 Auto Care is the home of the Honest Mechanic. Honest Mechanics strive to provide straightforward service recommendations that are clear to the customer. They are not searching for ways to upsell.
“We have to substantiate what our company name, Honest-1, means through our actions in the store,” Poole said. “We’re all in business to make money, but our customer-centric atmosphere and our transparency throughout the sales process is what really sets us apart.”
Family Friendly Leads to a Healthy Bottom Line
Honest-1 Auto Care is striving for high retention and growth in the industry. A large majority of the operations department consists of individuals who have been in the industry for decades. Part of making this happen is hiring people who are dedicated to innovating.
It’s clear across any industry that strong businesses with high employee retention believe that if they take care of their own employees, the customer service aspect will follow.
“We currently have 58 percent customer loyalty nationwide, meaning customers who have come back within six months,” Poole said.
Honest-1 touts itself as a family friendly business. They want their customers to feel like part of their family. They offer a warm place where customers can relax, have a great cup of coffee, check their emails at the Internet café or just sit back and watch family friendly TV on a flatscreen TV while Honest-1’s family of technicians services their cars. There is even a warm, safe place for the kids to play and watch cartoons in the kids play area.
“Close to 70 percent of our customers are women,” Miller explained. “Very few companies seem to be taking advantage of this opportunity. The women in our lives want to go to a clean facility with comfortable chairs and nice bathrooms. You can’t expect women to go sit in a stiff, old chair with grease smeared everywhere.”
Since women represent 50 percent of the market — and even more buying power — Honest-1 wasn’t willing to leave those sales just sitting on the table. And, they certainly weren’t willing to give up that business to anyone else either.
Expanding the Honest Family
With a steady flow of profit coming in and with a solid branding solution, new franchisees are eager to get a piece of what Honest-1 has to offer. The franchise is growing quickly, with 59 locations currently open and operational, seven projected to open in the near future, 29 in the site development stage and 26 in the queue with the company’s regional developer.
“We want to take care of our franchisees and ensure they are set up for success,” Poole said. “They receive extensive training once they come on board with us to ensure everything is streamlined with the brand’s expectations.”
Honest-1 encourages female ownership, as well, with 26 women currently holding ownership responsibilities and six locations owned solely by women.
Though all locations are currently in the United States, international expansion is on the horizon.
“We’ve crossed a bridge in franchising,” Miller said. “We grew through the 2008 recession and aren’t too far from expanding outside of the country to Canada.”
Honesty, integrity, taking care of employees and treating customers like family — these concepts aren’t revolutionary, but they are helping Honest-1 pave the way to changing the way the automotive aftermarket industry is viewed, one happy customer at a time.