Industry Insight: One Tough Industry
The release of Entrepreneur magazine’s annual Franchise 500 showed a resilient quick maintenance industry following a dizzying and tough 2020.
As usual, quick lube and maintenance franchises were well-represented on the list. Especially impressive were the improvements that most brands made. It was rare to see rankings decline, and that’s saying something after this past year.
The biggest move in the industry came from Take 5 Oil Change, which improved by 210 spots from the 2020 list. The company is ranked at No. 216 with its aggressive growth plan. Entrepreneur noted that the company added 341 units in three years.
“I’m very proud of our team and all our franchise partners on their efforts to continue to expand the Take 5 brand and deliver the same level of unmatched customer care at all our locations,” Danny Rivera, executive vice president and group president of maintenance for Driven Brands, said in a press release celebrating the movement.
Parent company Driven Brands started 2021 with big news of an initial public offering. The sale reportedly raised $700 million.
Other Big Moves
Take 5 isn't the only brand that made a strong showing in this year's list. Valvoline Instant Oil Change moved up 37 spots to land at No. 20 this year. That makes it the highest-ranking quick lube on the Franchise 500 list.
Midas also made big gains, going from 199 in 2020 to No. 111 in 2021.
One of the biggest slips in the automotive segment came from Big O Tires, which landed at No. 205 in 2021 after being in the top 100 (No. 91) last year.
Overall, the industry is showing great resiliency. Looking at the list just two years ago, VIOC has gained 86 spots. Jiffy Lube has gained 13 spots. Midas is now 190 spots higher than in 2019. Grease Monkey has gained 111 spots since 2018.
A Closer Look: Midas
Will Helton is the vice president and general manager overseeing Midas for parent company TBC Corporation. In an exclusive interview with NOLN, Helton had no illusions about the challenges that auto service had in 2020, but he said that the franchises in the system rose to the occasion.
“2020 was a challenging year. There was not a playbook for the year,” he said. “We saw the pandemic as an opp versus a setback. I’m really excited and proud about how the Midas system as a whole responded during those unprecedented times.”
Nuts and Bolts
Helton said that a couple company developments in recent years helped Midas stabilize during 2020. One has been the ongoing effort to bill itself as more than the classic muffler shop. Midas has made an effort to promote its full-service automotive care menu, including the addition of tire sales and service.
Tires in particular have been a growth area for the company, Helton said.
“And it really opened us up, and it really showed during the pandemic,” he said. “Offering tires was a main customer acquisition piece during the pandemic.”
Another key to the company’s development has been the community service of franchisees, Helton said. Midas has national programs that the company supports with the help of franchisees, but Helton has seen individual franchisees go farther to take on initiatives that have more local impacts.
“We’ve really challenged them,” he said. “We have a few franchisees that are above and beyond, pillars of the community.”
That’s an aspect that the company is looking to continue to develop as part of the company culture.
As Midas rises through the Franchise 500 ranks, Helton pointed to a few factors that helped the company succeed. Atop his list is the relationship the company has forged with franchisees. Midas turns 65 years old in 2021, and Helton said that the longevity is due to the respect for franchisees and the deep partnership ties that have been built over that time.
“It’s communication. It’s partnership,” he said. “It’s working together and finding solutions to help both sides. And we have a really strong partnership now that’s really coming out in all phases of the business.”
This relationship was tested during the pandemic, and Helton said that the Midas system passed the test. As corporate franchisors, the company needed to step outside of its normal duties a bit and lend additional support, Helton said. At the same time, franchisees continued to make impacts by launching their own community service initiatives.
That culture played a big role in Midas’ development as a franchise.
“In the face of adversity, that’s when you can truly tell the relationship,” he said.