The first thing Rissy Sutherland and Jack Keilt did when they bought into the Honest-1 Auto Care franchise in 2008 was have the company take a year-and-a-half hiatus from expanding its franchise network. Drawing on their experience as owners of individual franchises, Sutherland says, “We looked at what was important to us as franchisees, from our franchisors … and chose to take everything from the ground up: logos, concept, training, sales processes and the franchising program.” Since implementing the changes, the Scottsdale-based franchise has come back strong. Same-store sales growth from 2011 to 2012 averaged 36 percent, and it has 15 stores in the queue to add to its nationwide network that ended 2012 at 28 stores.
The analysis conducted during its franchising hiatus — to determine the franchise’s ideal demographic and what it wants — brought to light the fact that the auto care customer base in the last 10 years has changed from more than 70 percent male to 68 percent female — and the female customer values a different experience. Bringing together both her own sensibility as a woman and former experience in the auto industry, Sutherland incorporated into the newly designed franchise a new business model with a focus on relaying information in a way its female base of customers could understand, a vital element in laying a foundation for trust; eco-friendly auto care practices because “taking care of the environment was, hands down, important”; and a family-friendly waiting area “so they don’t have to worry about bringing their kids.”