Igor Kuzmenko, a Christian Brothers Automotive franchise owner in Lititz, Pennsylvania owns one location but has the desire to open additional locations one day. Igor ‘s franchise has been open since October of 2017. The location currently has 13 employees. This article will give you Igors perspective on what it is like owning a Cristian Brothers Automotive franchise as well as insight into Igor’s background and valuable advice for those interested in joining a Christian Brothers Automotive franchise and opening your own location.
Name: Igor Kuzmenko
Location: Lititz, Pennsylvania
Franchise owner since: 2017
What is your background? Did you have prior experience with the automotive service industry?
I was born and raised in Ukraine. I have an MBA in Agriculture Management. I spent 20 years working in the agricultural equipment business in Ukraine and Russia, working in sales, business management, and dealership development. I moved to the US and spent five years working for New Holland as a North American marketing manager. I never worked in the automotive industry prior to Christian Brothers Automotive.
Did you leave a career to own your business? How did it prepare you for owning your own automotive franchise?
While I enjoyed what I did, I always had a dream to start my own business. When I was in sales, I learned how to build relationships, be a good listener, be a team player, and manage financials all while managing a business unit. While in marketing I learned how to promote and differentiate the product from the competition. All these skills were instrumental in starting my own business. Last, but not least, the support of my spouse to make that final “GO” decision was most critical.
What made you decide to transition into opening your own Christian Brothers Automotive franchise?
We were on a trip out of state and our truck broke down. We pulled into one of the national automotive repair chains on a Friday afternoon. The shop was not very busy but they were in no hurry to take care of the family with small kids waiting in the cramped lobby. It was not the greatest experience. At that moment my wife said, “You wanted to open your own business, why don’t you open a shop that treats people right?” That was my “aha moment.” That’s when I started my research.
How long did your franchise search take from start to signing? Can you walk us through your process?
The name Christian Brothers Automotive came up on my radar when we moved to Pennsylvania in 2013 and my car needed service, but they weren’t in our area. In my search for a potential franchise, Christian Brothers Automotive came up again and I realized it was an opportunity for me to open one in our area.
I called and spoke with the Franchise Development Director. After a series of interviews, a personality test, meetings and spending time with franchisees, and some paperwork, we made it to the final interview at the Home Office with the leadership team. Every interview was very comprehensive. I think the rigorous selection process ensures the success of the franchisor by bringing in the right people as franchisees. Meeting the leadership team and founder Mark Carr left no doubts in our minds that this was the right move for us to partner with CBA. We also were among other lucky ones who were granted a franchise agreement. We signed our agreement within 4 months of our initial contact.
What was your biggest challenge in the first year or two in business?
The biggest challenge was to acquire automotive technicians who were willing to trust in the success of a new business in a small town. Those who are willing to accept our culture and philosophy, treat each other and guests with integrity and respect, commit to creating an outstanding guest experience, exceed our guests’ service expectations, and work as a team. I wanted to ensure from day one we serve our guests with the highest standards of excellence, integrity, and workmanship.
Did you review the FBR Franchisee Satisfaction Survey Results during the process? Did they have an impact on your decision?
The biggest impact on my process was talking to other franchisees. Unfortunately, I did not have access to the Franchise Satisfaction Survey at the time of making the decision. Reviewing the Franchise Satisfaction Survey would have been an important part of the process. When you make a life-changing decision you want to be sure all pieces of the puzzle fall in place. FBR’s Franchise Satisfaction Survey (FSS) should be one of them.
Do you currently participate in the Franchisee Satisfaction Surveys? Do you feel your feedback is heard?
Yes, I do participate in the FSS every year. Christian Brothers Automotive (CBA) truly cares about feedback from their franchisees. I have seen CBA time and time again obtain feedback from FSS or directly to the shops. They take it seriously and resolve the proposed improvements or changes. CBA is great at listening and understanding on all levels whether it is coming via survey, on the coach level, or CEO and Leadership Team. It is their DNA.
At any time during your research process did you ever consider abandoning your search for automotive franchise opportunities? If so, what kept you going?
No, everything I read about CBA made me want to pursue this specific franchise. I was fortunate to come across CBA early in my search.
What are you most proud of?
I am most proud of my team. They are caring and they are great at what they do. I learn from them every day. Together, we work very hard to become “The choice in Lititz and surrounding community when it comes to automotive repair.” This is our vision.
There are a number of automotive franchises opportunities, did you look at others? What made you decide to go with Christian Brothers Automotive?
What really stood out is how CBA treats its customers; in a professional manner with honesty and integrity. These were not just words to them. This really stood out in customer reviews, leadership team interaction, and conversations with franchisees. I have not experienced anything like that with other available franchisors.
Looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently? Any lessons learned?
Now that I am looking back and thinking about it, I wish I had a bit more time to transition from my job to my new business. That would have allowed me to better understand local business requirements and rules for this type of business. It would have allowed me to have these details set up rather than at the last minute when first opening. Also my advice to all the future franchisees: Start your local marketing and networking 12 months prior to your opening date.
How has your automotive franchise enabled you to connect with your local community?
Lititz is a great community of caring and wonderful people. Being a part of the local community is a privilege. It’s been dear to my heart from day one. Community service is a driving force for our shop. Whether it is helping local elementary school PTO with their fundraiser, supporting the community building “the Tree House” playground, providing free oil changes, and on the National Service Day donating cars to single moms and those in need. Not only do we see ourselves as a partner in the community, we see ourselves as a partner in the care and servicing of the vehicles. I have joined the local Rotary Club, BNI, and Chamber of Commerce. Serving local communities and being a part of networking groups is key to building your business awareness and also allows you to be a “Nice Difference” in the community. I think many people want to do business with us just because of who we are and what we do for the local community.
Any other insights you can share with us?
Being in the corporate world prior to partnering with CBA, I always felt corporations had great mission statements, declarations of partnership with business associates, or treating their employees right, which was often far from the reality. I feel fortunate and privileged to be a part of an organization that treats its employees, partners, and vendors truly with “nice difference”. CBA ‘walks the talk” whether it is a leadership of the company or regular employees – this is in their DNA. Being a part of this organization truly made a difference in my life and made me a better person. It opened new pathways to how I can better serve others.
For more information on Christian Brothers Automotive franchise opportunities,
Call: (855) 910-9504