Strategizing Franchise Operations

Feb. 15, 2023

Carmen Strickland sees avenues of opportunity for Mighty Auto Parts franchisees.

There is a lot to be said for a commitment to a company that has lasted for three decades. Over those years, navigating inevitable change becomes a necessity and thinking strategically about what comes next becomes second nature.  

Carmen Strickland has worked for Mighty Distributing System for 30 years. She joined in 1993, and throughout her journey she has seen firsthand many aspects of the company. Ultimately, all of her experience led her to the franchise operations department that she finds herself in today. 

“I started off as a programmer for Mighty and grew within the IT department for about 15 years,” Strickland says. “Then I went into the production information department, which is our catalog and buying guide … all our data that is housed for the franchisees, for about 10 years. Then [I] started in the franchise operations department about five years ago.” 

In 2018, she became Mighty's director of franchise operations, and in November 2022 she was promoted to vice president of franchise operations. This new role allows Strickland to continue with her dedication to the Mighty franchise model, which as she explains, is distinctive within the industry.  

“Our model is a stocking business, so our franchisees go out to their customers and stock their shelves,” Strickland says. “So they end up stocking their shelves rather than doing a quick delivery or the guy driving up and delivering the part.” 

Mighty Distributing System is a Georgia-based franchisor. It has a franchise distributor and company operations network that spans across 44 states as well as five international markets, according to the Mighty franchise website. Mighty Auto Parts franchisees offer preventive maintenance products as well as services that include inventory management, training and more.  

Setting Goals 

Strickland’s work as the director of franchise operations involved working with the processes used to onboard franchisees and ensuring standardization across practices. As vice president of franchise operations, she will continue to do some of this same work while also bringing on more franchise consultants. 

“My work is very direct, especially for a brand-new franchise,” Strickland says. “I become their main contact on the process of onboarding them, setting them up with inventory, warehouse, shelving [and] every aspect of an operation side of the warehouse.” 

As she settles into this new role and into the new year, Strickland has long-term goals on her mind. She wants to ensure that franchisees are supported and set up for success.  

“My goal for this department is to set some standards and procedures for onboarding our new franchisees, for audits of our existing franchisees, support from an accounting or operations standpoint for our franchisees and just be more proactive on helping them from a support aspect and helping them grow their business,” Strickland says.  

This strategy for success and consistency is especially important because, as Strickland points out, Mighty franchisees come from many different areas within the industry.  

“We have franchisees that own Jiffy Lubes, that own tire distributors, that own other quick lubes [and] that own dealerships,” Strickland says. 

The Aftermarket Impact 

According to Strickland, dealerships are an interesting avenue for Mighty because working with them provides an opportunity to set up an innovative approach to the franchise model.  

“Dealerships have become more of our focus for strategic franchises,” Strickland says. “So, we’re trying to set up processes and procedures to help onboard them …  teaching them from an aftermarket standpoint because they’re so used to the OE.” 

Strickland says the intention behind developing these dealership relationships harkens back to the dealership experience during the 2008 recession. People weren’t interested in buying new cars, which put dealerships in a tricky position. Strickland says the aftermarket model could be a beneficial implementation for these dealerships to avoid another 2008-esque situation in in the future.  

“We went into a depression, and nobody bought new cars, so dealerships had to find new ways of going about that,” Strickland says. “One way is working on all makes and models, so right now our goals for the future with the dealerships that we’re bringing on would be to help into the aftermarket because that is an area they’ve never ventured into before.”  

Dealerships are not the only category that can benefit from Mighty franchising. Quick lube service providers, tire dealers and entrepreneurs alike can participate within this system as well.  

Strickland says individuals interested in learning more about franchising can visit the Mighty Auto Parts website and click on “Own a Franchise.” From there, Mighty can help determine the best strategy and approach, which is something that Strickland looks forward to seeing the impact of within her role.  

“We do margin analysis, comparisons of what you’re currently buying, and your cost and we will then cross over the parts and do the cost,” Strickland says. “It’s a great way to look at, ‘Does it make sense?’ and more and more it does, lately.”