Interview with Lane Vance – President of Budget Brake & Muffler
Lane has been with Budget Brake and Muffler since 1979, where he began as a company store manager. During the thirty plus years which Lane has been with the company, he has been involved in all aspects of owning and managing a franchise and the management of “the company”. Lane was first hired by the founder of Budget Brake and Muffler, Warren Swanson, as a store manager in 1979. Warren then partnered with Lane in the operation and ownership of a franchise location (Barnet Highway).
In 1985, tough economic conditions increased demands and to improve relations with the franchisees, Lane was then brought into the office in the position of Area Manager. In this position Lane worked with the franchisees in all aspects of the support, maintenance, sale and set-up of the franchises. As well as bringing the franchises into the computer age. Then in 1990, Lane was appointed as Director of Operations.
This change in position included a significant change in responsibility. Lane became responsible for expansion, overseeing the running of the franchises, as well as negotiation of building leases, parts supply contracts, advertising and policy decisions. Lane was very involved in decisions effecting the direction and growth of “the company”.
In 2004, Lane was appointed as Vice-President, although he had been operating in this capacity for a number of years. Lane was very involved in the day to day operation of the business and in the last several years was responsible for to making decisions in the direction of the company, the advertising and marketing plans for the franchises and the policies and procedures which “the company” would create and maintain.
Currently, as President, Lane is responsible for all aspects of the operation of Budget Brake and Muffler
BeTheBoss - What is the Budget Brake and Muffler franchise opportunity all about?
Lane Vance - Budget Brake and Muffler is about forming partnerships, with individuals, to ultimately build a strong, automotive repair service franchise network. We want to make both the franchise system and the individual franchisees successful.
BTB - Who is your ideal candidate for a Budget Brake and Muffler franchise?
LV - Our ideal candidate is an individual that has hands on experience in automotive repair and with a strong business background. This combination has proven results for us, and has a shorter learning curve. That having been said, we have also had success with individuals (repair technicians) that have little or no business experience, but have a drive to learn and to succeed.
BTB - What type of training and support do you offer?
LV - We offer training in all aspects of running an automotive repair facility using the “Budget System”. This includes everything from greeting customers, to completing daily and monthly paperwork. We want our franchisees to succeed, and that means a solid foundation to work from. We are here to provide that.
BTB - What are some advantages in being a Budget Brake and Muffler franchisee
LV - Our most important advantage is the franchise system. We have a proven track record of over 37 years in business, and we have never lost a location due to the failure of a franchisee. We have formed strong relationships with our suppliers. This allows us to negotiate good parts purchasing discounts, and as well as good pricing for other products and services used in our locations. We promote the use of a state of the art point of sale system, which helps franchisees to monitor their cost of doing business on a daily basis. We also provide the training and support for this system in house, which means questions regarding the system are answered quickly. Another advantage over our competitors is the “local ownership” of our individual locations and the margin of profit enjoyed by our franchisee (as compared to other franchise chains). Franchisees have the advantage of dealing with a franchisor that is in touch with the local market and trends.
BTB - Are you a member of any Associations?
LV - As a franchisor we are members of the Canadian Franchise Association. On the store level we are members of the Automotive Retailers Association. It is through association with the ARA that we are able to provide an affordable health and dental plan, as well as other discounts on items like credit card discounts, and insurance.
BTB - Tell us a little about the Automotive Repair Market?
LV - The automotive repair market in British Columbia and Alberta consists of repair facilities that range in size from a one bay owner/operator to large facilities such as dealer ships and the like. At present the trend in automotive repair has moved away from the specialist shop to a shop that can handle all aspects of a customers vehicle repair needs. According to DesRosiers Automotive Consultants Inc.; the Canadian Automotive Aftermarket parts sector was valued at US$19.9 billion (C$20.0 billion) in 2007. It is the largest retail sector in Canada ahead of clothing, food, furniture, and pharmaceuticals. The Automotive Aftermarket parts market at the retail level will experience an average annual real growth rate of 2 percent forecasted through 2008.
BTB - How successful is your company today and what is your future growth plans?
LV - Currently Budget Brake and Muffler has been in business since 1974, and has thirty three locations (29 in British Columbia, 2 in Alberta) and is the largest brake and muffler repair franchise in British Columbia. Our growth plans include expanding our footprint in Alberta, and smaller markets of British Columbia.
BTB - What are your franchisees saying about the business?
LV - We are committed to servicing our franchisees and providing the best level of support and training that we can. This way we help to keep our franchisees profitable, and they will desire to continue the relationship and commitment with “the company”. If you ask one of our franchisees some of the reasons they continue to be a Budget Brake and Muffler franchisee they will tell you that they:
- enjoy being part of “the Budget family”
- have a strong sense of trust
- have a sense of belonging
- are very satisfied with the organization as a whole
- are part of the partnership
- believe that the Head Office cares about them
- believe that the Head Office has their best interests at heart
- believe that they get fair value for the royalties that they pay
- have very effective advertising and marketing that includes them in the makeup of the advertising
- have long term relationships with people of like minds
- know Budget is the best brake and muffler franchise in the market today
The faith and commitment our customers have with us is evidenced by the number of long term franchisees that are currently in our system. Out of thirty three franchisees, fifteen of our owners have been with Budget Brake and Muffler for more than 25 years, placing their trust and livelihoods in the hands of Budget Brake and Muffler. This is something that “the company” is immensely proud of; there are not many brake and muffler specialty franchise chains which can boast that almost fifty percent of their owners have such long term commitments to one company.
BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
LV - The best advice we can give is to look at franchises that fits your needs. It should be something that you enjoy doing and have an aptitude for. As well, look for a franchise system that will provide support and training, and will have an active role in your successes.
BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that Budget Brake and Muffler would be a great opportunity for someone?
LV - Budget Brake and Muffler wants our franchisees to succeed. With the partnership of a motivated individual, our network of experienced franchisees and Head Office staff, we can form a successful working relationship that has the ability to meet the needs of both the franchise system and the individual franchisee. A Budget Brake & Muffler franchise has the potential to be a long term business venture, that can provide a legacy to pass on to your children.