How to Grow the Business
Looking to grow your shop network? Ready to start franchising? There’s a lot to consider before jumping in. Let’s take a look at two different growth plans—one from an established franchise, and another from a relative newcomer.
First up, SpeeDee Oil Change and Auto Service. Ralph Yarusso, chief development officer for FullSpeed Automotive, says the goal from the start was to become a franchise. Since 1982, the brand has accumulated 180 stores throughout the U.S. and Mexico, with more locations on the way. In 2020, the brand was ranked No. 415 in Entrepreneur’s Franchise 500.
Josh Bishop, on the other hand, feels his brand still has room to grow. His company, MAXI On-Site Oil Change, just passed two years in business. And while he earned six-figure sales within the first year of business, he wants to get to the five-year mark before even considering a franchise model.
Here’s what led SpeeDee to adapt a franchise model from the start, and what MAXI still strives to achieve.
Have a vision.
Back in the 1980s, the brand’s concept was fairly unique for the era, but common for modern-day quick lubes. Founders Gary Copp and Kevin Bennett wanted to blend two different models together: quick lube and auto repair. And while he wasn’t part of the company at the time, the founders wanted to blend the quick lube model with the repair model to differentiate from the other brands that did one or the other. Now, this is the model that many competitors are trying to migrate into today.
“They really wanted to expand the quick lube model and that was their vision,” Yarusso says. “When you are able to have the cookie-cutter model in place, that’s the right time to franchise it.”
Growing up, his grandfather had an old-fashioned oil change shop in the 1980s after retiring from the railroad.
“I was 6 or 7 years old when I did my first oil change,” Bishop says.
Before starting his venture, he was a college professor and took part in law enforcement part time, but he wanted something more. He wanted to start his own business that had a need—something no one else in the state of Ohio was doing. With the skills he accumulated in his youth, MAXI On-Site Oil Change was born, naming the company after his son, Maximus.
But when Bishop started back in January 2019, he had no franchise goal in mind. He thought of it as having three part-time jobs to pay the bills.
Don’t slow down.
In 2008, Midas acquired SpeeDee, which had a different business model. SpeeDee saw more cars in a day or week, but Midas, a full automotive service chain, had a higher ticket average. So, they came up with a co-brand concept, putting together SpeeDee and Midas.
“The strategy was to combine the two. Enjoy a better car count and blend it with a higher ticket average,” Yarusso says.
Yarusso says when the acquisition took place, Midas essentially stopped growing the SpeeDee brand altogether. With the co-brand concept, Midas was only focused on growing the Midas brand or its new cobrand model.
Even when Midas was acquired by Tire Battery Corp. (TBC) in 2012, the SpeeDee brand remained in a state of slow growth. Yarusso says the only way to expand was through the SpeeDee-Midas brand. You had to be a current franchiser from this brand and want to open up more locations. Under this model, the SpeeDee growth was stagnant prior to FullSpeed Automotive’s acquisition.
Within the first four to five months in business, Bishop soon realized his idea would turn out to be a lot bigger than he thought initially.
“The demand is so incredible,” Bishop says. “I started the business to have more freedom in my life, but the company has been branded so well and I simply work off of my grandfather’s principles.”
When he officially hit $30,000 in sales the first couple of months, he quit his other jobs to solely focus on MAXI. Now he services 1,000 residential customers, 30 fleet companies, and 50 food trucks, performing at least 100-plus oil changes in a week.
Show a successful track record.
So, what led Grease Monkey to acquire SpeeDee? Its original model.
“You don’t want to offer a franchise model to a franchisee where the model hasn’t been vetted properly and shows a true track record of success,” Yarusso says. “You hope they follow that formula.”
Like Jiffy Lube, Grease Monkey has grown its model from oil changes to full-service maintenance and other auto repair services. Grease Monkey saw its vision in the backbone of the SpeeDee brand and wanted to expand on that growth.
“It was the right time to put that model out there and reinvigorate it because all of our competitors are trying to gravitate towards that, that’s why SpeeDee was an attractive brand.”
When FullSpeed Automotive acquired SpeeDee in 2017, co-branding with Midas ended, and the company brought the SpeeDee model back to life. Since then, the strictly SpeeDee brand went from 53 franchises to 76 in 12 different states, with more locations on the way.
“This vision that this SpeeDee had back in the 1980s, who would have known that everyone now wants to have this vision for their brand,” Yarusso says. “It’s the right vision.”
For MAXI, however, Bishop says he’s not in a rush to franchise his operation. He says while his brand is successful, there’s not enough proof of its concept to offer it to others as a franchise. Bishop wants to see five years of solid working experience before making any moves.
While he doesn’t have a solid model at the moment, he has an idea of what he’s looking for. For one, he has no desire to be the CEO of the company someday. His goal would be to not have a lot of employees, and instead take the owner-operator route, allowing someone who wants to be their own boss to manage their franchise.