Discover four automotive service franchises that help Canadians get where they need to go safely and efficiently
By Georgie Binks
Every day, millions of Canadians step into their cars and drive themselves and their families to work, school, appointments, and more. Vehicles also play a key role in providing essential services to Canadians throughout the country. Any automobile owner would know that a lot goes into maintaining a vehicle. Behind these routine responsibilities and other improvements are automotive service franchises that help complete the important work for car owners.
Mr. Lube Canada is the friendly face behind regular vehicle maintenance, while Tint World® Automotive Styling Centers™ specializes in window tinting, detailing, accessories, and more. Master Mechanic provides repair and maintenance for residential and commercial vehicle owners. For Fix Network, the franchise provides four brands offering services such as collision repair, mechanical services, and glass repair and replacement.
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The pandemic may have led to fewer cars on the roads in the past year, but it has certainly impacted small- and medium-sized businesses. In the automotive aftermarket industry, many independent auto body shops are now exploring options to join well-established aftermarket franchise companies such as Fix Network, notes Sylvain Seguin, executive vice president, Canada at Fix Network. He says that as the aftermarket industry continues to operate as an essential service, Fix Network is ensuring that its franchisees are protected from the economic fallout of the pandemic.
Seguin also notes that the organization has been able to expand its business steadily. “Last year, we added 60 new locations around the world and expanded the ProColor Collision brand to the United States. The U.S. has always been one of the biggest aftermarket leaders and we’re keen to attract a large number of independent collision repair shops to the ProColor Collision franchise,” he says.
The franchise was founded as Fix Auto Collision in Quebec in 1992. Since then, it has expanded to more than 20 countries with eight brands. In 2004, president and CEO Steve Leal joined the network as a franchise owner and took majority control of Fix Auto Canada Inc in 2015.
Fix Network is currently offering franchise opportunities in four brands – Fix Auto and ProColor Collision (both collision repair services), Speedy Auto Service (mechanical services), and NOVUS Glass (glass repair and replacement).
“Our franchise partners can experience the benefits of joining a well-established network: continuous mentoring, access to insurance providers, territory protection, marketing and training support, operational best practices, and Canada-wide warranty for their customers,” explains Seguin. “An increasing number of body shops are aligning with Fix Network because it equips them with the right proprietary tools, training and technologies that can help them drive their business with total control.”
Going forward, Seguin says he hopes the franchise attracts more independent aftermarket shops. “We’re always keen to encourage passionate and highly motivated people who have experience in the automotive aftermarket business, or independent body shop owners who want to take their existing operations to the next level.”
At Fix Network’s three Canada-based training centres, franchisees and their teams receive training in advanced repair technologies, estimation, insurance handling, smoother shop operations and exceptional customer services.
Learn more about Fix Auto franchise opportunities
Learn more about NOVUS Glass franchise opportunities
Learn more about ProColor Collision franchise opportunities
Learn more about Speedy Auto Service franchise opportunities
When the pandemic hit in March 2020, Master Mechanic discovered just how much they were needed. “Being an essential service required our stores to remain operational so we could serve our communities, and frontline workers,” explains president Todd Wylie. “Essential workers needed their vehicles to be reliable and that was our primary focus.”
Master Mechanic also knew the importance of providing a safe environment for its team members, customers, and franchisees, so the franchise implemented additional health and safety procedures.
Back in 1982, the company launched in Ontario and then began franchising in 1983. Today, the automotive maintenance and repair facility has 38 locations in Canada.
“Our franchise owners are licensed technicians and work full-time in the business,” explains Wylie. “Aside from being professional technicians, what makes us unique is the one-on-one interactions we have with our customers and the personalized approach we take in not only getting to know their vehicle but getting to know our customers too. We focus on developing long-term relationships with all our customers, taking care of their vehicle needs for the lifespan of their vehicle.”
Owning a Master Mechanic franchise means working reasonable hours, six days a week, while still being able to achieve a great work-life balance. The ideal franchisee is organized with a strong work ethic and is customer focused. Although being a licensed mechanic isn’t required, it’s considered an asset.
Franchisees also love the brand and the franchise system. “Within our system, several of our franchise owners started as apprentices, then became licensed mechanics, and now franchise owners. Growth within our system is strong and really shows just how much our teams and franchisees enjoy being within it,” says Wylie.
“Our job is helping people get back on the road safely, especially since a large majority of people’s cars have been dormant,” Wylie explains when reflecting on what’s to come this year. “When I look back at our history, we’re a pretty resilient group and our owners are pretty resilient too. Even if we hit some bumps in the road, we know the Master Mechanic team will make it through together.”
Mr. Lube Canada
When Cliff Giese and his father started Mr. Lube Canada in 1976, they never could have guessed how perfect the franchise would be more than 50 years later, especially during a pandemic.
Stuart Suls, president and CEO of Mr. Lube, explains, “It’s a drive-thru. You don’t get out of your car, you never did. One of the great benefits now is we were always a stay in your car [service].”
Mr. Lube offers oil and fluid change, as well as tire change, rotation, and repair. And it’s proudly Canadian, says Suls. “This is our full-time job; we look after Canada. We understand our customers and the many regions of Canada.”
With 177 locations nationally, the franchise boasts low ongoing capital reinvestment. Its greatest challenge is finding automotive-zoned real estate. That, and educating customers so they can get their car serviced without voiding their warranty.
Undoubtedly, the pandemic has impacted franchisees across the country, and to help them, Mr. Lube has reduced fees paid to the franchisor. The franchise has also been able to use the pandemic to provide a new product for its customers, which it plans to continue. “We can sanitize your car using the HVAC system in your car,” explains Suls.
He adds, “Thirty per cent of our franchisees are second generation. We’re like a family. Ninety per cent of our stores are [run by] multiple unit operators.”
In fact, one franchisee who immigrated from Tanzania in 1976 started working at a Mr. Lube as a technician in 1986 and now owns 11 stores.
Suls says that an ideal franchisee should be hardworking and entrepreneurial. “We want someone who wants to follow the system but also has good ideas, can contribute and help us adapt. We’re super customer-focused so we need people to be customer-focused.”
Tint World® Automotive Styling Centers™
There’s the saying, “When one door closes, another opens,” and for Charles Bonfiglio, CEO and president of Tint World® Automotive Styling Centers™, that’s exactly what happened when the pandemic hit. Restaurant and shop doors closed, but not car doors.
“A lot of people were getting money from the government, but they couldn’t go shopping or to restaurants. However, they could get their car tinted or their stereo put in,” says Bonfiglio. That led to a big sales increase for the brand.
“Our business model was deemed an essential service, so we were able to operate throughout the U.S. and Canada,” Bonfiglio explains.
The system’s concept is an automotive styling franchise that specializes in window film, paint protection film, car and truck accessories, window tinting, vehicle wraps, and ceramic coating, to name a few, as well as residential, commercial, and marine services.
Tint World® was founded in 1982 and is the largest and fastest-growing automotive accessories and window tinting franchise worldwide. With over 80 franchise locations currently open, including three in Canada, there are another 30 centres in development – 10 of which are expanding further throughout Canada by the end of the third quarter.
While many businesses struggled during the onset of the pandemic, Bonfiglio says Tint World® followed their own playbook. “One of the first things we did when the pandemic hit was take to our social media channels to let customers know more about our business and the safety measures and best practices we were taking.” He adds that Tint World® centres even offered complimentary vehicle disinfectant services to first responders and other essential business personnel, supporting members of their local community, and doing their part to help keep everyone safe.
Ideal franchisees have great leadership skills, customer service skills, and a passion for the automotive industry. “Our team at headquarters provides owners with the full package of tools and systems to effectively run their business,” says Bonfiglio. “Our marketing program is turnkey, and we do all the heavy lifting from our end. We also assist with their financials and provide them with powerful third-party accounting systems [to help them succeed].”