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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
When Jud Cook retired from the U.S. Army, he wanted to open a business that would allow him to plant roots for himself and his family. Christian Brothers Automotive has allowed him to do just that in Riverview, Fla. Cook says service has always been a part of his life and career; becoming a franchisee is just the next stage of this. Here's what he has learned.
Name: Jud Cook
Franchise owned (location): Christian Brothers Automotive in Riverview, Fla.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We opened our doors in September of 2013.
Since I came from a completely different professional background, the training, support, and group of peer franchisees created an attractive model for me to begin my business. With Christian Brothers Automotive you have the opportunity to be part of a system that puts people first, including both customers and franchisees.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was a colonel in the U.S. Army. I transitioned from being the chief engineer for U.S. Central Command to owning a Christian Brothers Automotive location. Jenny, my wife, and I moved all over the world and she, like many military spouses, carried the burden of raising our four children through my absences. Christian Brothers Automotive gave me an opportunity to plant our roots and build something special for my family and the community.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
The business is a partnership between my wife and me. Christian Brothers Automotive recognizes the importance of family and always treats us as members of their family. The company mission, core values, and operating principles are focused on providing exceptional customer service.
Service has always been part of my life and career. It is my experience that successful organizations are ones that serve a larger purpose and can give back to the community. We strive to treat our customers and employees like we want to be treated. Christian Brothers Automotive sets a high standard for potential franchisees and the selection process is very thorough. It is comforting to know that fellow business owners in the system are well qualified and hold service in high regard.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Total investment for a Christian Brothers franchise starts at $373,100, and most candidates have between $50,000-$100,000 in liquid capital.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I researched companies via the internet, magazines, and by interviewing existing owners.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Fortunately, there weren’t many unexpected issues. Christian Brothers did a great job keeping me informed.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Pick an industry that you enjoy. Within that industry investigate multiple companies and learn as much about them as possible. It will become pretty clear which brands you want on your final list but always interview franchisees with the company before making any decisions. They can give you great insight into the challenges, culture and rewards of a particular franchise.
What’s next for you and your business?
I’ve been at it for a relatively short period of time. We want to grow our business so that we are one of the top rated among all Christian Brothers Automotive locations in customer satisfaction and sales. I am striving to make my shop top of mind in discussions at meetings of civic organizations, church groups, and Facebook pages in our neighborhood. We have been successful to this point and look forward to continuing our growth in the community.