AAMCO Promises the Ultimate in Brand Recognition for Franchisees

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FRANCHISING USA COVER STORY FEBRUARY 2016

One of the best reasons to open a franchise is because the brand comes with built-in recognition and few franchisors can promise the brand reputation that AAMCO has.

“As a 50-year-old brand, AAMCO is one of the great North American brands synonymous with the automotive industry,” President and CEO Brett Ponton said during a recent interview while waiting for a flight from Philadelphia, where the company is headquartered, to Ohio, where he was planning to visit a franchisee. “The auto industry has been a longstanding cornerstone of our country’s history and we’d like to think that AAMCO is woven into the fabric of the great American car culture.”

First started in 1963 by Anthony Martino as a transmission repair shop, the company now has nearly 700 locations throughout North America and about 12 years ago expanded into total car care.

The longevity of the AAMCO brand is a testament to its proven business model, Ponton said, and the company, which also started franchising in 1963, has franchisees that have been with the company for 50 years, who are now passing their businesses onto the next generation of entrepreneurs.

In that next generation of franchise owners, Ponton is looking for franchise candidates who will be committed to their business and engaged with employees and customers alike. They should have an entrepreneurial spirit and be dedicated to providing excellent customer service.

Ponton, who has been with the company for about two years, also added that franchisees do not need to have an automotive background in order to be successful with AAMCO.

AAMCO University

Ongoing support and training is offered at its state-of-the-art training facility, AAMCO University, which is located in the Atlanta area. It includes classrooms, plus a simulated repair center for hands-on training for franchise owners, customer service managers and technicians.

“Our proprietary curriculum cuts across these three stakeholders,” Ponton noted.

The ownership training for new franchisees offers a four-week program that combines classroom instruction with in-the-field work.

Throughout its decades-long run, AAMCO’s commitment to training has built extensive career paths for employees of its franchisees.

The company has also spent a significant amount of time simplifying its business model for franchisees. As cars become more complex, it has become more difficult for franchise owners to repair transmissions at the local level, Ponton explained. To help franchisees become more profitable, AAMCO has acquired Global Powertrain Systems, conveniently located next to AAMCO University. This partnership allows the company’s franchisees to keep their costs low and focus on increasing their profitability in total car Care.

Plenty of Space

Even with nearly 700 locations spread throughout North America, AAMCO still has plenty of territories available for development. The company has room for expansion across the United States, Ponton said, but is specifically targeting areas in the Southeast, Mid-Atlantic and Northeast regions, as well as Texas.

In addition to brand recognition, AAMCO franchisees also enjoy the fact that they won’t be entering into a market that is merely a trend at the moment. Automotive care is something people are going to need in the foreseeable future and AAMCO is what Ponton describes as a great “destination draw,” meaning consumers are usually willing to drive further to get to an AAMCO because the brand is so well known for fixing transmissions. Offering total car care services allows franchisees to establish life-long relationships with customers, in addition to providing more revenue streams with a significant return on investment.

AAMCO never stops looking for ways to make life easier for its franchisees. When Ponton, who has over 20 years of senior management experience in the automotive industry, first joined the brand, he initiated a five-year plan to ensure the brand remained well positioned for future growth. That plan includes a commitment to training and development of franchisees and their employees, as well as significant investments in technology for car care, customer service, marketing and maintaining positive franchisee/franchisor relationships.

Over the next year or so, Ponton noted, AAMCO will roll out a new point of sale system, a new customer relationship management platform and a new franchisee relationship management system.

With its commitment to constant improvement and its undeniable brand recognition, AAMCO offers franchisees a sound business opportunity.

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