The veteran franchisees cited a recession-resistant business model as a prime reason to franchise with the brand.
In an age when many prospective business owners research franchise opportunities online, veteran franchisees Rahul and April Rai found their latest venture the old-fashioned way: the franchise expo route.
Earlier this year, Rahul went to a franchise expo in Irving, Texas, where he met brand executives from Grease Monkey, the nation’s largest independent franchisor of automotive oil change centers. He was instantly intrigued by the brand’s potential and impressed by corporate representatives, whom he described as personable and professional.
The husband-and-wife team are no strangers to the franchising world. Rahul currently owns and operates five stores with the e-cigarette franchise Artisan Vapor, a brand he first joined in 2013. The Rais decided they wanted to branch out and expand their franchise portfolio.
“I never really looked into automotive, but I was researching recession-resistant franchises,” Rahul said. “Oil change and automotive maintenance needs are the kinds of services that are always needed.”
They officially signed with Grease Monkey in October and are in the process of selecting real estate for their first franchise, which will be located in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The Rais’ franchise will join another Grease Monkey in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, located in Denton.
Grease Monkey has come a long way since it was founded in 1978. The brand got its start when founders Bob Palmer and Alex Anderson identified a major issue in the automotive industry. Gas stations were increasingly transitioning from full-service locations with one or two gasoline islands and two service bays to self-service pumps that could offer lower prices and create higher volumes.
The result was that thousands of service bays disappeared from the North American landscape, which made it difficult for drivers to find a place to get their oil changed. As a one-stop-shop for an oil change and automotive maintenance needs, Grease Monkey has filled this void. Today, the brand has more than 230 locations across the U.S. and was recently recognized on Franchise Times’ Top 200+ List for 2019.
For the Rais, their trip to Discovery Day sealed their decision to franchise with Grease Monkey.
“I have almost no experience in the automotive industry but I felt confident when I saw how the company operates and communicates with and trains franchisees,” he said. “Everyone was very professional, and that made the decision to franchise much easier.”
The Rais are excited to bring Grease Monkey to the Dallas-Fort Worth area. April is especially interested in making sure their franchise provides the best customer service possible.
“We’ve always been very focused on customer service and making sure our customers feel at home,” she said. “Especially as a woman in this industry, sometimes you go into these automotive shops and feel like you’re being ripped off. That’s not the feeling you get with Grease Monkey.”
Rahul echoed this emphasis on customer service and building client trust.
“We want to build confidence in our customer base and always make sure we properly explain why something is necessary,” he said. “We also want our waiting room to look more like a hotel lobby and make it look inviting and warm and have really good snacks available so people feel as if they are in a comfortable space.”
They are confident their franchise will be well-received in the market. What’s more, they are not fazed by electric vehicles.
“A lot of people tried to discourage me from pursuing this kind of franchising opportunity and said ‘Everything is going to be electric soon,’” he said. “Gas cars will still be around for a long time, and what’s more is if there is no electricity, how do you charge a car? Gas car needs will always be here.”
Prospective Grease Monkey franchisees should make sure they attend Discovery Day at the brand’s Denver headquarters before signing on to franchise, the Rais said. April specifically recommended thoroughly reading the franchise agreement and visiting different Grease Monkey locations.
“Even though Grease Monkey is a franchise, every location can be a little bit different, so you can see how that location operates,” she said.
With several years of franchising experience under their belts, plus a true passion for customer service, the Rais are full speed ahead with Grease Monkey.