Industry Insight: The Franchise 500 List
Feb. 20, 2020—With the recent release of Entrepreneur magazine's Franchise 500 rankings, some new, big names have proven themselves worthy of making the cut.
This year, Dunkin’ Donuts has topped the list, beating out McDonald’s, which held the No. 1 spot for the past two years. The company has grown to nearly 9,500 locations throughout the U.S.
And this year’s list wasn’t a disappointment for the automotive industry. The list showcased many quick lubes, tool manufacturers and full-service auto shops that show lots of promise. Some companies slid down on the list a bit; Express Oil Change and Tire Engineers, for example, dropped from the No. 99 spot last year to this year not even making the list. However, most brands climbed the ladder, and some even made the list for the first time ever, like Take 5 Oil Change.
Overall, more than 1,105 companies applied for this year’s ranking—a record-breaking year for submissions—according to Entrepreneur, with the scoring based on more than 150 data points. But the key factors are costs and fees associated with franchising, the size and growth of the brand, corporate support, branding strength, and financial stability. From the list, Midas and SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service stood out. Here’s a breakdown of what contributed to this year’s success and why they should be franchises to look out for in 2020.
A Big Jump: Midas
This year, Midas came in at No. 199, which is up 102 spots from 2019’s list. And with the past seven years having consistent sales growth and franchisees, Midas has now reached 2,100 locations worldwide. Between 2017 and 2019, Midas added 77 new locations to its list.
“We are a growing, franchisee-focused organization,” said Will Helton, Midas Vice President & GM, in a press release. “Midas has a lot to offer ambitious folks looking to go into business for themselves but not by themselves--a famous brand, a full range of high-demand services, including brand-name tires, compelling marketing and an attractive package of financial incentives. This is an exciting opportunity.”
“Our growth strategy has taken us to the next level,” Helton says. “We are focusing on becoming a complete automotive repair specialist.”
And with this includes redefining the brand and shifting Midas’ focus onto other avenues: tires and customer service.
The company started to focus on accelerating tire-service expansion significantly in 2016 and 2017, with upgrades to distribution, computer support, and shop signage, among other things.
“Our stores will look like tire locations, associates will be tire-service experts, and the Midas brand will become known as a destination for tires in the same way that we are known for brakes, repairs and exhaust,” said Mike Gould, Midas’ Former Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer, back in a 2015 press release.
According to Newsweek Magazine’s 2019 List of American’s Best Companies for Customer Service, Midas was recognized as the most service-focused organization in the automotive industry. Offering more complete auto repair services, like tires, has helped contribute to the company’s second focus on enhancing customer service. Helton also says they’ve put a focus on having franchisees take care of customers and reinvest in their buildings through branding and the customer experience.
In the future, Helton says Midas’ three-tier approach—winning with existing locations, bringing in new franchisees, focusing on target markets—will help continue the company’s growth.
Up-and-Comer: SpeeDee Oil Change & Auto Service
SpeeDee Oil Change and Auto Service marked its 40th anniversary by making this year’s list for the first time ever; No. 415, to be exact. In 2019, the franchise opened four new locations, and they made sure to start off 2020 right by opening four additional locations. So, what brought them into the Franchise 500 limelight?
On top of being acquired by FullSpeed Automotive in 2017,, two new members were added to the executive leadership team. The parent company of SpeeDee welcomed Kevin Kormondy as president and chief executive officer and Wes Stephenson as chief operating officer.
“The addition of Kormondy and Stephenson to the executive team was a huge win for our company this past year,” says Ralph Yarusso, FullSpeed’s Chief Development Officer. “Both of them hold a wealth of knowledge and experience in the industry—they were multi-unit operators who held top positions, they’ve held positions on different councils, were leaders of franchisee organizations and now are leaders in a franchisor organization. Kormondy and Stephenson’s significant experience on both sides not only gives the company a ton of credibility, but also puts us in a strong place to succeed.”
On top of this, the company’s focus on customer service has pushed them even further. According to a SpeeDee spokesperson, the brand builds customer relationships and guarantees retention by employing SpeeDee Performance Certified professionals, offering free top-off services and generating detailed maintenance history reports. In fact, Yarusso credits the company’s long-term success to its commitment to providing excellent customer service.
“Over the last 40 years, SpeeDee has built such an impressive reputation as one of the most trusted automotive service providers in the industry,” Yarusso says. “I think the longevity of the SpeeDee brand can be attributed to our commitment to providing exceptional customer service and delivering a high level of transparency with each person that walks through our doors with our Total Trust Guarantee.”
SpeeDee Oil Change and Auto Service experienced a solid year in 2019—and it’s fully prepared to build on that momentum in 2020. According to Yarusso, in 2020, SpeeDee is going to focus on growing its presence in existing markets.
“We want to focus on developing our current business, growing it to be the best it can possibly be,” he says.