Description: Ziebart is committed to providing its franchisees with all the tools necessary for long-term success. Through partnership with a globally recognized brand that has been in business for over 55 years, your business will be trusted by the consumer market. Opportunities: Franchise opportunities available worldwide. Master licenses available in Australia, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, Peru, South Africa and Thailand. Business Type: Franchise. Minimum Cash Required: $100,000. Financing Assistance: Yes, through a third party. Training Provided: Yes. SBA-Approved: Yes.
2013 IFA Convention Interview: Thomas Wolfe Talks Ziebart & Auto Industry Trends
Ziebart International will waive 100% of the $30,000 license fee for veterans who qualify.
A goal-oriented franchisee makes it work
From an article by Michael J. McDermott
Not too long ago, Bob Golub found himself in a position that’s become all too familiar to many people since the onset of the Great Recession. In his mid-50’s, married and with three kids in college, Golub had enjoyed a successful career in the manufacturing industry, amassing an impressive skill set spanning sales, sales management, marketing and distribution. Yet, through no fault of his own, he found himself standing on what could have been a personal and professional precipice.
“The company I worked for was downsizing, and my position was being eliminated. It was as simple as that,” he relates. “You never think it’s going to happen to you, but when it does, it’s a real wakeup call.”
Fortunately for Golub and his family, he’s a realist, and he started out by conducting an objective, fact-based assessment of his situation. He sat down and laid out the personal and professional goals that would be most important to him in seeking a new position, then he went to work evaluating the possibilities. “Given the downturn in the economy, my age and the types of positions I was interested in pursuing, it became apparent pretty quickly that owning my own business presented the best solution to employment for me over both the short and long term,” he says.
Among the personal goals that mattered most to Golub were being able to stay near his hometown of Lansing, Michigan, and greatly reducing his travel time in order to spend more time at home with his family. On the business side, he wanted an opportunity that would allow him to leverage his substantial professional skills while also providing the greatest chance for success and future growth. While conducting his search for a candidate business to buy, he came across an existing Ziebart franchise that had recently become available, and everything seemed to click.
“I recognized that this was an opportunity to buy a business with an established brand name in the marketplace and an established customer base,” Golub says. “At the same time, it was clear that there was real opportunity for growth here and for me to put my own imprint on the business. It all came together, and I decided to take the plunge.”
Ziebart International Corp. is consistently ranked among the top franchise systems by leading national business magazines. Since 1994, the half-century-old company has been owned by its employees through an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP), which it credits with fostering employee commitment, dedication and long-term devotion to building the business. Its roots are in an innovative process developed by company founder Kurt Ziebart to prevent automobiles from rusting, but over the years it has greatly expanded its offerings. Today, Ziebart is the worldwide leader in automotive appearance and protection services, providing complete car care solutions to customers through a network of about 400 locations in 30 countries.
While Ziebart’s pedigree in the automotive services market was impeccable, Golub’s experience in that market was non-existent, so getting the right kind of support would be critical to his business plan. “The franchise offered me all the help I needed in all the areas that mattered—technical support, marketing support, business systems, product suppliers and more,” he says. “The combination of Ziebart’s outstanding franchise support and my own sales, marketing, technical and business background allowed me to be successful right out of the chute. I wanted a business that would offer me the most manageable level of risk along with the greatest opportunity for growth, and Ziebart has fulfilled that role for me.”
Golub conducted an extensive search before choosing the existing Ziebart franchise, and he considered a number of independent businesses during the process. “Most independent business owners are very proud of what they have built over time, and they should be,” he says. “However, as the new owner of a business that someone else has built, you can usually expect little or no meaningful support after you make the purchase. Because the previous owner and his or her name have become so closely identified with the business—often for many years— when the busines sells, it’s a real gamble as to how the existing customer base will react. Will they accept the change in ownership or take their trade somewhere else? Do you want to take that chance? I didn’t."
Golub points out that, in the case of a franchised business, the brand recognition lies with the franchise brand, not with the individual owners. As a result, he felt the downside risk of losing customers due to the change in ownership was considerably lower. “I had no experience as a business owner, but I had lots of experience in sales, marketing and other critical business funcions,” he says. He looked at some other franchise businesses that were not well established in his area and, while they offered the kind of support that is so critical to the success of franchising in general, that lack of a local track record gave him pause. “It equated to a higher-risk business in my mind,” he says.
His experience in researching, selecting and buying a franchise has given Golub some strong opinions on the topic, one in particular. “The key to owning a franchise is to have your goals established,” he stresses. “Then follow your goals, and your chances of being successful will be much greater.”
That’s the formula he followed in choosing his Ziebart franchise. “I got the support I needed and the brand recognition I wanted. And the Ziebart franchise is a great match for my skill set and more than 30 years of hands-on experience in sales, marketing, business and technical applications,” he says.
When Golub made his list of goals for choosing a franchise, they included a business that would let him stay close to home, an established brand name in the marketplace, an opportunity to grow, products or services to which he could relate, and an environment that would allow him to leverage the considerable experience and skills he’d acquired over his long and successful career.
Now that he is a Ziebart franchisee, his goals include growing the business to more than $1 million a year in profitable sales and providing a work environment that will allow his employees to be successful in their lives while providing the best products and services in the market to sustain the business over the longer term.
With his business up and running for some time, Golub has gained additional appreciation for the advantages of franchise versus independent business ownership. “The level of support I receive is a big plus in owning a franchise,” he says. “You have access to people who know your business and whom you can turn to for help in solving problems and figuring out ways to continue growing your business.”
At the same time, he acknowledges that potential franchisees need to be aware of the key differences between franchise and independent business ownership, and they should make sure they are okay with them before taking the franchise plunge. The most important difference is that while an independent business owner makes all the decisions for his or her business— and bears all the consequences, good or bad—a franchisee sometimes has to defer to the franchisor on certain issues, especially those that affect the prospects and wellbeing of other franchisees in the system and/or the system as a whole.
“There may be times when the franchisor makes a decision or takes a direction that you might not think is right for your business,” Golub points out. “That has the potential to create conflicts that must be worked through. It’s important that you understand what your franchise fees are paying for, and you must be convinced that the services, buying power, brand recognition and other advantages you get from being part of a franchise system are worth the fees you are paying for those things.”
Asked what advice he would offer to someone considering buying a franchise today, Golub reverts to his emphasis on goals. “You must delineate and understand your goals, both personal and professional,” he insists. “I know that may sound kind of ‘old school’ but, based on my own experience, it’s crucial. Make sure you understand the financial needs the business venture you are undertaking will entail, and over-fund yourself, if possible. Having sufficient cash on hand so that you don’t have to worry about meeting operating expenses will free you up to focus on the strategic needs of the business rather than having to worry about finding revenue sources just to keep the doors open.”
When all is said and done, Golub is confident that the path he’s chosen for himself is the right one. “I have made a good decision, both for myself and my family,” he says. “If I had to do it all over again, there’s not one thing I would change about how I went about buying my Ziebart franchise.”
Contact Ziebart International Corporation for information on franchise opportunities.
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