By B.C. Manion
Christian Brothers Automotive – a Texas-based automotive repair business with locations in several states – is making its entry into the Florida market with a new shop being built on SR 54, just east of Livingston Road.
The business is a full-service automotive repair shop, providing everything from oil changes to engine replacements, and a range of services in between, said Josh Wall, vice president of franchise and strategic development for the company.
The shop will have an upscale look and feel – with a brick and stone exterior, wood flooring, leather couches, artwork and Wi-Fi, Wall said.
Like most repair shops, it will have a selection of magazines in the waiting room. But unlike the majority, it also will likely have a Bible and may have a prayer request journal, as well, Wall said.
However, the company doesn’t encourage its patrons to sit around in the waiting room killing time.
It also provides a shuttle service, to deliver its customers to work, home or shopping.
“We want to make it as convenient as possible for them,” Wall said.
The shuttle is driven by the franchise operation’s owner, — and that’s for a reason.
“It allows them to really connect with their customers.”
The company has 93 franchise operations in 11 states, and expects to open its 100th location sometime in 2012. Florida will be the company’s 12th state and it has current commitments for stores in 16 states.
Besides the Land O’ Lakes location, it also plans to open a store on Bruce B. Downs, south of County Line Road, on May 21 and another on June 11 on Race Track Road near Countryway Boulevard.
“We’ve had our eye on the Tampa market for some time. We’re really optimistic about the growth,” Wall said. “We believe this is a service that customers want and need.”
The economy has caused many people to delay purchasing new cars and, as a result, they are investing more to maintain their car and keep it on the road, he said.
“We have seen this as a national trend,” Wall said.
When Christian Brothers Automotive is considering a new franchise location it considers a combination of factors, Wall said. It wants to make sure there’s a market for its services and it wants to give its franchise operator the best possible chance for success, he said.
Christian Brothers Automotive uses a model similar to Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s, Wall said. It builds its stores and leases them back to franchisees.
So far, the company, which is 29 years old, has a solid track record, Wall said. “We’ve been franchising for 15 years with a 100 percent success rate.”
The shop under construction in Land O’ Lakes is expected to open on Feb. 13. The 5,000-square-foot facility will have nine automotive repair bays. Eventually, it is expected to have about a dozen employees.
The chain’s normal operating hours are Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. However, when a new location opens, it also is open on Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. for the first six to nine months.
The idea is to introduce the shop’s services to the local community, including to that segment of the market that only get repairs and maintenance done on Saturdays, Wall said.
The company is closed on weekends to allow its employees to relax, spend time with their families and worship, Wall said.
The policy of being closed on weekends has helped the company to recruit outstanding employees, Wall said.
While the new automotive shop goes up near the northeast corner of SR 54 and Livingston Road, two other projects are being built on the southwest corner of the intersection. One is a RaceTrac gas station and the other is an apartment development.