Jiffy Lube’s director of network development shared his thoughts on the benefits and challenges of the franchise industry
Jiffy Lube didn’t just pioneer the quick lube industry; with more than 2,000 locations worldwide, it dominates it. The man charged with continuing this dominance is Chris Dykes, Jiffy Lube’s Director of Network Development. After beginning his career as a market development analyst at Shell Oil Company, Jiffy Lube’s parent company, Dykes made the move to the auto service giant. 1851 caught up with Dykes to learn about the challenge of continued development in the quick lube segment Jiffy Lube established.
How did you first get involved with the franchising industry?
I joined Shell about 20 years ago and came over to the franchise side with Jiffy Lube, about two years ago. Jiffy Lube as a brand has been in existence for over 40 years, so to be a part of taking what has historically been a quick lube business model through its evolution into the multi-care operation that is carrying forward now has me excited to help create the next 40 years of history for this brand.
What do you love about the industry?
This country was built on the entrepreneurial spirit of its people. For me, franchising creates a great framework for people to be able to go out there and exercise that spirit with the proper resources instead of trying to do all of it on their own. It’s a great stepping stone for people to do what they want to do in business to become that self-made superstar.
Part of that dream, too, is owning a car. Jiffy Lube has a unique connection point and offer point because it exists in an industry that services one of those critical passion points for people. Most people’s No. 2 investment in their life in terms of cost is their vehicle, so we have the opportunity to connect with the community and consumers to build a long-lasting relationship in a way that is different from most franchise offerings.
What do you wish you could change in franchising?
Some of the things that make franchising great, like the structure and government regulations, are also some of the toughest things to work through. They are extremely important, but can also lessen flexibility for both franchisors and franchisees. The trickiest part of franchising is how to always make sure you are maintaining that balance of consistency of [the franchise] offer without quashing the entrepreneurial spirit all within the framework of the law.
What's the biggest change you've seen in the industry since you started out in franchise development?
The biggest change I’ve seen is the pace at which everything moves and the way people get their information. Everyone now has some sort of mobile device that impacts the way consumers make their choices of where and how they are going to shop. They want to make appointments, choose from a menu of services and preselect options to streamline service.
It’s even starting to change the way franchisees interact with consumers and further, the way our franchise development team interacts with potential franchisees. When Jiffy Lube started, people were fascinated by the new industry, and franchise owners were seeking the brand out. Now, there is a much different franchise purchasing process, which has led to us exploring digital and social media as a recruiting platform.
What makes a great franchisee?
From my perspective, a great franchisee is someone who has a passion for the consumer. While we put a product on or into your car, consumers are really coming to us because they trust us from a customer interaction perspective. While a passion for the automobile helps add to those customer interactions, it is first and foremost a people business for us. This goes beyond consumers to how franchisees treat their employees as well. In the auto industry, one of toughest things franchisees must do is compete for employees. In order to retain employees, they have to be engaged in the work and continually wanting to be there, which comes down to how those people are treated and motivated.
What's the number one thing that sells franchises?
Franchises sell because of the opportunity to make a profit. When the goal is to make money, franchise systems provide a great framework to go do that. What appeals more specifically to the franchising system is that it takes a lot of the ‘scary’ out of an entrepreneurship endeavor. As a potential franchisee, you don't have the same number of worries as an independent business owner. Policies and procedures are already in place thanks to an established brand behind you. It comes with marketing support and people who can train and install you into a proven model that gives franchisees the opportunity to jump in with both feet.