How Car Service City Became One Of SA’s Biggest Franchise Brands

Updated on 25 July 2017

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How Car Service City Became One Of SA's Biggest Franchise Brands

Car Service City, which specialises in providing affordable car service and repairs, today has 62 franchise workshops countrywide and employs over 1 200 people.

They were recently named Franchisor of The Year at the Franchise Association of South Africa Awards for Excellence in Franchising, and were runners up for Job Creator of the Year award, which they had won previously in 2016.

The first thing that its franchisor and founder, Grant Brady, will tell you is that the road to their impressive success was anything but easy. Grant knows first hand how difficult the franchise industry can be. He has faced many challenges in the business’ 12 year journey, navigating them however, is no secret, he says.

“It boils down to hard work and persistence: both [are] traits which every person is capable of doing and [can] choose to do everyday.”

Filling The Gap

Car City Service was launched with the goal of addressing a specific pain point. In 2004, Brady had grown increasingly frustrated with the state of South Africa’s car service industry. The breaking point was finding himself without a car when the workshop where he had taken his car in for its annual service, closed its doors early for the December holidays.

“Apart from being blind mad, I thought surely there is something in having a workshop that your wife or daughter could go to, where they wouldn’t get ripped off and lied to, and they’d be safe driving their vehicles afterwards. Yes, there were large, well-established service center brands already, but I had spotted a gap for affordable service centers that could be relied upon and would run a clean, professional operation,” Brady says.

Ironically, changing the negative view that many people have for car service centers was one of their early and toughest obstacles.

“The biggest challenge is changing the market perception of a mechanical workshop – but we believe we are slowly getting that right,” Brady says.

To find out how Car Service City went on to perfect its business model, Brady shares the 3 franchising principles they live by. 

1. Be The Tortoise Not The Hare
People (potential franchisees) have to buy into the business concept from the word go. The franchisees who are in it to make a “quick buck” always do your brand more damage than good, and one then has to work twice as hard to fix it.

Taking the slower approach, waiting for the “right” franchisee who shares in your vision, always results in success. We are now much stricter with regards to potential franchisees. We ensure a culture and business fit before anyone signs on.

Be very selective in your franchisees. Only let people join your business who are as passionate as you are – teach them and invest in them. Don’t be tempted to grow too quickly. The old saying “easy come, easy go” is very relevant in franchising. Take the “tortoise” approach, rather than the “hare”, as I can guarantee it will be more rewarding that way.

2. Invest In The Team
Never underestimate the value of training – and this is consistent. Always offer training, don’t assume everyone knows just because they have been doing it for a while – take the opportunity to train and retrain to ensure everyone is on the same page. We did not initially offer nearly enough training, and since introducing a fabulous training schedule, we have only seen the benefits.

3. Spend Money Where It Counts
Invest in systems that help to grow your business. Don’t [be] “penny wise and pound foolish”. [For example] a good IT system is invaluable and the support of an IT system is worth even more.

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