With developing markets across the U.S., Christian Brothers Automotive has no shortage of available territories for new franchisees, but the automotive brand is particularly determined to pursue new business in the Phoenix, Arizona market.
Phoenix is not yet saturated by a single, dominant automotive brand, and Christian Brothers is looking to capitalize on that availability. Initial franchisees in the market have seen a growing demand for their services and a marked potential for growth.
One of those franchisees, Ocotillo’s Tony Schottenbauer, told 1851 that the demand for reliable automotive services in the Phoenix area has all but eliminated his need for advertising.
“I don’t do much advertising,” Schottenbauer said. “I rely on customers to tell people about us. People are looking for what we have to offer. When I get a new customer, I really try to exceed their expectations, and I know they’ll bring me new business.”
According to Schottenbauer, that high demand for automotive services can be attributed to the unique climate, geography, and civil layout of the desert city.
“People drive a lot around here,” said Schottenbauer. “We’ve got Phoenix, Mesa, Tempe, Gilbert, and Chandler all within 25 square miles. People work in one city and live in another. There’s not a lot of public transportation, so it’s very difficult to get by without a car. And the heat can be rough on cars. You can live in other cities without air conditioning in your car, but it’s essential here, and that can take a toll on cars.”
With 1.5 million residents, Phoenix is the sixth-largest city in the U.S., and the surrounding towns of Scottsdale, Glendale, and Tempe add another 4.3 million residents to the Greater Phoenix Area. And compared to similarly populated metropolitan areas, far more Phoenix-area residents are driving. According to the most recent census data, the average Phoenix household has two cars and the average commute is nearly 25 minutes.
Despite the massive customer base, Christian Brothers is not awarding franchise opportunities to just anyone. The famously selective development team is seeking candidates who can live up to the faith-based company’s core values, which demand transparency and unwavering respect for the customer. Josh Wall, the brand’s vice president of franchise and strategic development, explained that franchisee candidates are vetted on a personal level.
“During the candidate discovery process, we are trying to learn their why,” said Wall. “We want to know what motivates and drives them. It’s about finding good stewards of the brand—people who want to live out their faith and become pillars of their community.”
For like-minded entrepreneurs, that dedication to the brand’s core values makes Christian Brothers a uniquely fulfilling business opportunity.
“They walk the walk,” Schottenbauer said. “They don’t just have Christian in the name. It’s clear that their operations are all based on Christian values. My only goal is to treat customers with respect, and the Christian Brothers mission statement is to love your neighbor as yourself. So it’s easy. It’s like following the law. I work hard, but it comes naturally. It’s just a matter of treating people right.”
Christian Brothers’ diligent vetting process also provides insight into a candidate’s capabilities as a store manager.
“We are really able to see how well the candidate serves and relates to the customers and employees,” Wall said. “Do they have the drive to push through or are they easily intimidated? Are they wallflowers or do they engage with people comfortably? These observations along with financial statements and background checks, ultimately contribute to the franchisee selection process.”
For franchisees, that stringent application process comes with a unique upside. Qualified candidates are awarded territory with minimal upfront investment compared to other automotive repair franchises, and the brand takes on the full cost of purchasing the land and building the store, which is leased to the franchisee.
“Christian Brothers shares in the financial risk side by side with franchisees, thereby creating a true team effort towards success,” said Wall. “Because of this, we are careful in our search for candidates who are the right fit. Maybe they lack the substantial net worth required by other franchises or even automotive industry experience. What matters is that they embody the values that Christian Brothers was founded on.”
Christian Brother’s measured approach to opening new stores has proven enormously valuable in the long run. Not only has the brand been able to protect its reputation across all markets, but each individual franchisee is also carefully positioned for success. In the 35 years since the first Christian Brothers store opened, the brand has not closed a single store.
Now the brand looks to extend that track record, pursuing rapid expansion in a market that is not only one of the country’s largest, but also among the most eager for an increase in quality automotive services.
“We expect new stores in the Phoenix market to be some of our most successful locations,” said Wall. “Everything about the area, including the success of our initial franchisees in the market, points to that.”
Startup costs for a Christian Brothers store range from $458,950 to $555,350. To learn more about the franchisee application process, click here.