Frank Brandenberg is currently CEO and has held an ownership position in Auto-Lab since 2004. During his 35 year career he has held positions that include being an elected corporate officer for Unisys Corporation, EA Industries, Inc., Litton Industries and Northrop Grumman Corporation. Frank has a record of quickly resolving difficult business problems by building strong management teams and implementing innovative, industry leading business solutions. He currently resides in Milford with his wife and is the active grandfather to five.
1. Tell us about the Auto-Lab Complete Car Care Center concept.
Auto-Lab provides complete car care. We can do anything a dealership can do but typically quicker and at a lower cost to the customer. This includes everything from oil changes to engine rebuild. Since 1989, we have had a focus on automotive diagnostics as a differentiator with other automotive service providers.
To support this value proposition to our end customers, we have built a business system that provides the franchise owner with exceptional support, training, financial value and efficiency.
2. How and when did you become involved with Auto-Lab?
After I retired in 2004, I acquired Auto-Lab as a passive investor. However, the business of automotive repair and working with franchise owners was intriguing so I became active as the CEO.
3. What was your background prior to joining Auto-Lab?
I was a senior executive with global high-tech companies including Northrop Grumman from which I retired. Moving from a career in large, business to business, global, publicly held high tech equipment companies to a privately held, retail, service oriented franchise has been very interesting and stimulating. By the way, to test the franchise, I did open my own Auto-Lab Complete Car Care Center.
4. What are the advantages in being an Auto-Lab Complete Car Care Center franchisee?
As the franchisor, we are with the franchisee every step of the way from site selection, fit-up, continuous training, a second to none business system, substantial discounts for equipment, parts and supplies, pre-qualified vendor list for everything from insurance to advertising, recruiting, periodic business reviews, peer reviews, marketing and advertising, social media, etc.
5. Who is your ideal franchisee?
A person with enthusiasm and pride for owning their own business. People committed to providing exceptional customer service. We look for people with great inter-personal skills when dealing with customers, the community and their staff. A majority of our franchise owners have not been involved with auto service until they joined Auto-Lab.
6. Tell us a little about the automotive service market.
Our market is continuously growing as a result of the ever-increasing number of vehicles on the road, the average age of a vehicle growing to over 11.4 years, as well as the ever-increasing complexity of new vehicles being introduced every year…mostly in computerized systems which is our sweet spot.
The market is recession resistant, cannot be outsourced and, while it is retail, it cannot be replaced by the internet and has limited competition.
7. What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
Listening! Our franchise owners are entrepreneurial by nature and continuously come up with ways to improve the business. So, we listen, conduct peer reviews and implement best practices.
8. Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
I have been fortunate throughout my career in working with incredible people. The lesson I learned for success is to surround yourself with great people and great things happen.
9. What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?
Spend time with several of our franchise owners. Visit their shops and spend a day or two with them. The owners enjoy the opportunity to show off their success. Come to our Discovery Day Event. Take time to build a business model. Be sure your family is rooting for you.
10. In your opinion, why do you think that Auto-Lab would be a great opportunity for someone?
It is a great, growing market. Unlike food franchises, it is not a 7-day/18 hour enterprise. Margins are great. Customers love you because you are solving their vehicle problems and we guarantee our work (24 month / 24,000 mile parts and labor warranty).
The franchise owner can earn a good living while building substantial equity.