Like many young men of his generation, Kevin Gibson earned some of his first paycheques working with cars – starting right at the bottom as a manual car washer. He never imaged that in a few decades he’d still be working with cars, only now as the owner of two Midas franchises.
For Gibson these days, sponges and suds have been replaced with computers and sales spreadsheets. But what remains unchanged is his enthusiasm for working in the automotive repair business. That said, Gibson readily admits he’s happier now, handling the business side of the operation. “I’ve basically come through the ranks right up to the top. I love what I do, and the freedom it gives me,” says Gibson, whose Midas Auto Service and Tires franchises are located in Stratford and Waterloo, Ontario.
Gibson is certainly no stranger to car repairs – after decades in the business, he knows enough to take to the shop floor during busy periods to lend a hand to simple repairs. His earlier work experience includes managing service departments at two car dealerships and even, at one point, working in a Midas shop. In fact, it was his positive experience working there that attracted him to the Midas franchise concept in the first place. “I really liked the Midas system, because their business model is based on customer care,” says Gibson.
While Midas franchisees do not need to have automotive experience – and many successful franchisees don’t – Gibson feels that having this experience gives him a leg up with his two businesses, and helps him relate to his staff at their level.
Developing good relations with employees is critical to his business success, says Gibson, as there is a serious shortage of qualified car mechanics in the marketplace today. Like many service shops, Gibson has addressed this by bringing in apprentices to train under his licensed mechanics.
As well, the Midas head office and its family of franchisees are very supportive, and are just a phone call away whenever a problem or challenge crops up, says Gibson. The Midas business model is about building long-term customers, with a focus on quality service, he stresses. Unlike some automotive shops, making a steep, one-time profit is not part of the plan. “I’ve told my mechanics many times that it’s better to keep a customer than to get every single nickel out of their pocket. There’s lots of work out there; we don’t need to go looking for it,” stresses Gibson.
The formula is working – Gibson’s Stratford operation overshot its target by $125,000 in its first year of operation, and then experienced a further $50,000 increase in its second year. Things are also looking rosy for his new Waterloo operation.
While one could credit beginner’s luck for this great start – or, in this case, possibly the Midas touch – Gibson’s hard work ethic and solid nose for business likely contributed far more.
Adapted from an article originally published in the July/August 2016 issue of FranchiseCanada. Check out our current issue FranchiseCanada, on newsstands now, or you can order your subscription by calling 1-800-665-4232 ext. 224.