IT'S A tough ride-taking a successful company and driving it onto an even more prosperous road. But that's exactly what Todd Leff, the new president and CEO of Cottman Transmission Sytems Inc., is trying to do. "We want to grow. We want to be the leaders in the business," says Leff. "But we're a very successful company and we don't want to make any changes that will cause our core system to suffer."
Knowing what to change and what to keep became Leff's mission when he took over the presidency in July 1998. (He purchased part of the company along with a few other executives and an outside venture capital firm in July 1999.) One specific change he's implementing is a series of presidential forums in which he travels to about seven markets, sitting down with 10 to 15 franchisees in each.
Contracting with national fleet companies, Cottman is also creating a national customer base for its franchisees. The growth of the franchise has made this type of moneymaker possible. Named the last two years as one of Entrepreneur's Top 100 Fastest Growing Franchises, Cottman now has about 285 stores.
Not one to be left out of the Internet revolution, Cottman has also introduced a program to provide e-mail notification for its customers. Every time a car is serviced, the franchisee enters the customer's name and e-mail address into the system-the customer then receives an automatic e-mail notification when they need service. The best part? The e-mail arrives as if it came directly from the franchisee, which increases repeat sales.
With $112 million in system-wide sales last year, the road ahead looks to be prosperous indeed.