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Why I Bought My Franchise: Steve Isom, Jiffy Lube

Isom owns over 25 Jiffy Lube locations throughout the U.S. He spoke with 1851 to discuss why he chose to franchise with the iconic quick lube brand.

Steve Isom is the executive vice president for Stonebriar Auto Services, LLC and a new Jiffy Lube franchisee focused on building ground-up Jiffy Lube Multicare locations across the country. Prior to Stonebriar, Isom was the division vice president for Take 5 Oil Change, where he oversaw store operations and profitability in the southern division of the company. When the opportunity arose to become a franchisee himself with a brand and franchise model he truly believed in, he jumped on it.

1851 Franchise spoke with Isom to learn more about why he chose to franchise with Jiffy Lube.

1851 Franchise: Tell us a bit about your background.

Steve Isom: I’ve been in the quick lube industry for 30 years and have worked with three different brands, Jiffy Lube, Lube Stop, Take 5 Oil Change, and now back to Jiffy Lube. All of those years provided me great experience on the franchisor side of the franchising industry.

1851: How did you get interested in franchising?

Isom: In 2018, I was the vice president of operations for Take 5 Oil Change, and the opportunity came up to lead a multi-unit franchise operation with Jiffy Lube. In terms of what drew me to franchising in general, I was very attracted to having the support and infrastructure of a big brand while also running my own business. Having that framework really helps get the business off the ground, as does the marketing power of a major company. I liked that as long as I was willing to follow the procedures, I would succeed — no surprises.  

1851: Describe the moment you knew you wanted to buy the franchise. What made you buy?

Isom: While I had worked on the executive team with Jiffy Lube in the past, when I saw the way the franchise model had evolved over time, I was very impressed and knew it was primed for success. 

1851: Why was this brand a better fit than other brands in the segment?

Isom: The one thing that we all know is that the consumer is moving more and more toward speed and convenience. If you just look at Amazon’s investment to go from two-day delivery to one-day delivery, it is clear that consumers expect immediate service. Jiffy Lube not only offers a fast oil change, but if the customer also needs another service, we are a one-stop-shop. Unlike other brands in the segment, Jiffy Lube has the experience and training to provide any automotive service the customer ever needs under one roof, which is essential in today’s industry.

From a franchising angle, the Jiffy Lube training program was really best in class and stood out from other brands. With the complication of vehicles today, training is more important than ever, and Jiffy Lube offers everything from computer-based training for technicians to hands-on training in the shop. In addition, the Jiffy Lube franchise model gives franchisees the option to work with one of their preferred developers when building a new location. The developers help you find great sites and streamline the construction process. This allowed my team and I to focus 100% on store operations and customer service.

1851: Walk us through your journey as a franchisee candidate with the brand. What happened between your first inquiry and opening your first location?

Isom: I signed on with Jiffy Lube in March 2018. I spent the first couple of years putting together a plan, as well as finding and securing locations. While the developer helps with the process, I am still the one who chooses every piece of real estate. In our first year, we opened 22 locations, and we are scheduled to open five more this month. Our goal is to open 150 locations over the next five years.

1851: Did you do a discovery day? How did that go?

Isom: The discovery day was a great way to meet the team. In addition, there is also a Jiffy Lube boot camp for new franchisees where they get a detailed introduction to every department, including IT, fleets, operations, training, marketing and more. Over a few days, you meet with the head of each of those departments and get an introduction to the team, learn about the support you can expect and develop an understanding of how to use all of those tools available. The boot camp was extremely helpful. 

1851: What advice would you give to a franchisor who is hoping to get more franchisees to sign on?

Isom: It is important to really highlight the brand’s differentiators in relation to other competitors in the segment. What is the value that the brand is offering prospective franchisees? It is also important that the team believes in the brand and that the mission of the franchise is clear so that franchisees know if it is right for them. Franchisors need to make franchisees excited about what they are doing. Franchisees shouldn’t just be a disinterested investor, they should want to get excited about the brand and be an ambassador. It is important that franchisors aren’t just selling the financials, but are selling the dream of the business.