Precision Auto Care's Fix for Stalling Franchises


Leesburg, Virginia-At Precision Auto Care, it was thecompany--not its customers' cars-- that needed a tune-up. Thefirm lost more than $45 million over the past three years, notleast because it often took the car-maintenance franchisor weeks tocollect sales reports from the firm's 583 outlets in 13countries.

No company gets turned around overnight, but Precision thinksthat in addition to such measures as a new advertising logo and thesale of noncore operations, the targeted use oftechnology-including a new point-of-sale data-collection system anda company intranet-will point the way to revenue increases andprofitability.

The point-of-sale system with which Precision has begun linkingits 380 U.S. centers to headquarters records sales as they occur,letting corporate officials monitor each outlet's operationwithin an hour of the close of business. The system has beeninstalled at 45 centers so far, and all U.S. outlets will beequipped with it by some time next year.

The driving force behind the changes is Lou Brown,Precision's president, who joined the company last August afteragreeing to buy 1.7 million shares of company stock for $750,000and to work for a dollar for the first year.

Precision's point-of-sale system totals sales data atPrecision's garages and breaks it down by type of work done onwhich day of the week. Corporate officials hope to use theinformation to tell them which services are most profitable, topinpoint days when service on fleets might be scheduled becauseindividual customer business is slow, and to show lower-performingoutlets how more successful ones got that way.

For example, in a recent week, one of Precision's Atlantaoutlets had sales ranging from $1,695 to $4,417 on different daysof the week, and the mix of services performed varied a bit fromday to day, although the basic oil change was and still is a stapleof Precision's business.

Will the point-of-sale system help get Precision into the blackand boost its anemic stock price, now at about 60 cents a share? Itmay already be contributing to a company turnaround. Last year,Precision lost $18.4 million. Through the first nine months of thecurrent fiscal year, it has lost just $5.6 million

Without the point-of-sale program, "we'd have noability to improve the bottom line," Brown says. "I'mconfident this is a good business if we get the right people, theculture, the technology, the management, the operational methodsand the marketing." -Washington Post

Editor's Pick

Everyone Wants to Get Close to Their Favorite Artist. Here's the Technology Making It a Reality — But Better.
The Highest-Paid, Highest-Profile People in Every Field Know This Communication Strategy
After Early Rejection From Publishers, This Author Self-Published Her Book and Sold More Than 500,000 Copies. Here's How She Did It.
Having Trouble Speaking Up in Meetings? Try This Strategy.
He Names Brands for Amazon, Meta and Forever 21, and Says This Is the Big Blank Space in the Naming Game
Business News

These Are the Most and Least Affordable Places to Retire in The U.S.

The Northeast and West Coast are the least affordable, while areas in the Mountain State region tend to be ideal for retirees on a budget.

Thought Leaders

The Collapse of Credit Suisse: A Cautionary Tale of Resistance to Hybrid Work

This cautionary tale serves as a reminder for business leaders to adapt to the changing world of work and prioritize their workforce's needs and preferences.


6 Secret Tools for Flying First Class (Without Paying Full Price)

It's time to reimagine upgrading. Here's how to fly first class on every flight, business or personal.

Business Solutions

This Comprehensive Microsoft Excel Course Can Turn You into a Whiz for $10

Master Microsoft Excel for less than the cost of your lunch with this top-rated course.


8 Things I Discovered While Working With Affluent Clients in New York City

After a decade working with the 1%, I learned that they have common traits.

Growing a Business

5 Tips That Can Help You Seize Every Opportunity Your Next Industry Conference Has to Offer

Discover five ways to make the most out of the marketing, networking and personal and professional development opportunities a professional conference affords you.