With 30 years in the car service business, Roberto Calarese has a very good idea what his customers want when they bring their automobiles to him for repair: Trust in the company doing the work. It's the reason he became a franchise owner in the first place.
"The benefits of owning a franchise include, most importantly, the customers' loyalty and trust," says Mr. Calarese, who owns four Meineke Discount Muffler shops in Miami.
"Being part of an important business, recognized by customers nationwide, is based on the principle that together you can make it happen."
Mr. Calarese's four shops employ four workers each and average between 200 and 250 customers per month. They specialize in "quality under-car care" and service work such as exhaust systems, brake systems, steering and suspension systems (wheel alignment, wheel balancing, shocks and struts, coil and leaf springs, rack and pinion, front-end parts, tire rotation, and motor cushions), belts, cooling systems, CV joints, universal joints, oil and filter changes, motor transmission mounts, trailer hitches, and wiper blades.
Born in Argentina to Italian parents, Mr. Calarese completed high school and then served in the Army for several years. When he was 20, he went to work in an English auto repair shop, where he says he received in-depth training in the repair business.
Three years later, he opened his own shop and went on to represent the dealership Perkins Argentina before moving to Miami with his wife and four children in 1990. There, he opened an independent business, Airport Foreign Car Service.
However, he says, market analysis indicates that customers like to do business with franchise companies. His own experience taught him that customers prefer knowing that they can expect the same services and warranties nationwide.
So in 1996, he opened his first Meineke shop. He subsequently opened two more and converted Airport Foreign Car Service into a fourth Meineke location last year.
"To have a successful franchise business, I think, you need business experience or good in-depth training, dedicated employees, good customer relationships, customer loyalty, and the drive to succeed," Mr. Calarese says.
He also says he would recommend owning a franchise to other people who want their own business. "It offers you its support – economically, financially, and morally – its good and bad experiences. And it's satisfying to know that customers prefer a franchise business overall," he observes.
– Vivienne Heines
Meineke Discount Muffler Shops Inc.
Business: Automobile service
Date established: 1972
Number of franchises: 891 in the United States, Canada, Dominican Republic and Guatemala. 17 company owned stores.
Total annual revenues: N/A
Requirements : $50,000 liquid; minimum of $150,000 total
Where available: United States, Canada, Dominican Republic, Guatemala.
Contact: Franchise Development Department
Meineke Discount Muffler Shops Inc. 128 S. Tyron Street, Suite 900 Charlotte, NC 28202
Web site : www.meineke.com
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