Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email ktaylor@entrepreneur.com.

For Andrew Slattery, the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, were a wakeup call. At the time, Slattery was a salesman for a plastics company and was traveling often. It took him days to get home to his family after the attacks, and it was then that he decided it was time to take his career into his own hands.

Slattery – who had no previous experience in the automotive industry – decided to become a Valvoline Instant Oil Change franchisee. Today, he owns 28 locations, and plans to keep on growing.

Name:  Andrew Slattery

Franchise owned: 

I own 28 locations of a Valvoline Instant Oil Change franchise between North and South Carolina. My centers are located in cities such as Charlotte, Raleigh, Ashville, Wilmington, Winston Salem, and Greenville –Spartanburg.

How long have you owned a franchise?

I purchased my first Valvoline Instant Oil Change 12 years ago. It was an established location but the owner had passed away. I moved across the country from California to North Carolina to purchase the business from his widow. 

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Why franchising?

Since I had no previous experience owning a business, I decided buying a franchise was the smartest thing to do. By aligning myself with a company such as Valvoline Instant Oil Change, I was able to get the guidance I needed. I was never left to solve problems on my own. I was always able to depend on corporate for franchisee support. Valvoline Instant Oil Change is rare in that regard.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I am a former salesman for a plastics company based in California. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, were a wakeup call for me. My sales job required me to travel. As I struggled to get home to my family in the days following the attacks, I realized I needed to take my fate and fortune into my own hands. It was then I started looking into franchising and what ultimately led me to buy into Valvoline Instant Oil Change.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

I really wanted to find something with a good track record and with a good outlook for the future. I researched various franchise opportunities online and kept coming back to Valvoline Instant Oil Change.

You might think my interest in the company was connected to some deep seeded passion for cars. It wasn’t. I even blew the motor in my first car because I didn’t know I had to check or change the oil. I didn’t know a thing about cars at first. What I do know is a good business model when I see one – and I saw that in Valvoline Instant Oil Change.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

It really depends on the scope of your initial investment and your market.  Valvoline Instant Oil Change required me to have around $300,000 liquid assets to become a franchisee. I purchased the business for $180,000. I paid a $30,000 franchise fee to Valvoline Instant Oil Change.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

I did my research about franchising on the internet. Once I zeroed in on Valvoline Instant Oil Change, I picked up the phone and called the franchising division. I didn’t have an appointment. It was a spur of the moment call. The franchising team took my call seriously and answered all my questions. I followed that phone call up with a trip to Lexington, Kentucky to the company headquarters. The visit solidified my interest in the franchise. 

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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

I don’t think I understood the hours one needs to put into a new business to make it successful. There is also a lot of paperwork involved, whether paying bills or filling out tax forms. It can be overwhelming at first. Luckily, with the support from corporate and my fellow Valvoline Instant Oil Change franchisees, I was able to overcome the challenges.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

Research the franchise well, no matter how big or small. Make sure you get an attorney to do due diligence on the property and the lease. Make sure you have a clear title. Once you buy in, follow the system in front of you. The Valvoline Instant Oil Change franchising model is tried and true. Follow the guidelines, the programs, the training and the classes. It is a full program. If you follow everything, you can be very successful.

What’s next for you and your business?

What’s next? Growth. I just completed the purchase of two existing quick lube stores and converted them into Valvoline Instant Oil Change centers. I am working on a new build right now, which will be my 29th location. I hope to open the garage doors in October.

All this upward movement will allow me to add some more jobs. I’m also planning on hiring more people on the support and operations side.

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