Stafford Wong, Mister Transmission Multi-Unit Franchise Owner
I’ve been entrenched in the business world for most of my life, having been offered my first management position as a young adult. When I came across the franchising model in 1995, then discovered Mister Transmission in 2012, it seemed like an opportunity that was almost too good to be true.
One of the unique draws of the franchise model for me was the idea I could start and run a business with the assistance of people who had tremendous experience and proven ability to be profitable. From my own experience, I knew opening a business by yourself can be very difficult, especially if you try to go into a field you haven’t worked within before. With franchising, though, the idea is you’re dealing with a company that has been there and done that and can allow you to learn from its mistakes.
BeTheBoss.ca: What made you choose Mister Transmission from all the franchise opportunities you looked at?
Stafford Wong: I spent about seven years with another transmission franchise before I realized I needed to make a change. Over time, I had started to notice how much stronger the brand recognition with Mister Transmission was compared to the franchise I was already part of. Mister Transmission was always my main competitor, and it struck me as a great franchise system all around. It offers a fantastic range of services related to vehicle transmission repair and rebuilding, as well as addressing driveline-related issues with transfer cases and differentials. Since diagnosis and repair of problems with transmission performance is such a specialty sector, there aren’t a lot of service providers who do it right.
One of the most important features for me, though, was the franchise system’s proven track record of success. It’s been in business for more than 55 years! My business experience had taught me when customers are making a buying decision, they have greater willingness to spend their money with a company that has a name they’re accustomed to, so Mister Transmission’s good reputation struck me as an enormous strength. Even now, when I talk to someone new and tell them what I do for a living, it’s rare for anyone to tell me they’ve never heard the company name before.
BeTheBoss.ca: Can you describe the support you got from the (brand) head office team as you got started?
Stafford Wong: The head office team provides excellent technical training, and my team and I really appreciate having access to specialist knowledge when it’s needed. Although I’m not licensed as an auto mechanic, I now have pretty good knowledge of the trade from being part of it for so many years.
The franchisor also helps with advertising via radio and the Internet. Things like social media, website development, and Internet exposure aspect form a really big part of how the team supports us, and they do a great job of it.
BeTheBoss.ca: Describe the most rewarding part of owning your business?
Stafford Wong: There are a lot of moving parts to balance when it comes to running a franchise, but I really feel it’s all worth it when I can see my business growing and becoming more profitable. Every store I’ve bought was, at first, an underachiever—the Brampton store, for example, was in the bottom 10 per cent of the franchise system in terms of sales when I took it on. In the past five years, both it and the Barrie store have achieved close to a 400 per cent increase in sales. I was able to grow their sales by about 300 per cent after the second year, and both locations are now in the top 10 per cent of the whole system.
That success doesn’t come without a lot of hard work. To get there, I had to make sure the fundamental elements of my business—sales, customer service, and technical ability—were very strong. For one thing, you have to be able to communicate to the customer why he or she should have a vehicle fixed with you. It’s not as easy as you’d think—people know they have options, and the Internet affords them an opportunity to find reputable places and ensure their dollars are well spent. They always want to be certain they’re getting fair value. Consumers today are much more educated than they were even when I got into the transmission business in 1995.
With that in mind, I really try to communicate efficiently with clients and make sure they realize the advantages and various benefits of dealing with Mister Transmission. It’s important to me to drive home the value we provide and establish strong trust. Then, when we do get the sale, it’s just as important to have staff with the technical ability to produce a high-quality product. That way, customers walk out feeling they’ve been treated well on all sides: they’ve received good service and good-quality repair.
BeTheBoss.ca: What are your goals going forward?
Stafford Wong: Going forward, I’d really like to acquire more locations—six, eight, 10, who knows? Keeping the business growing is a huge goal, especially because I can do that while still spending time with my family. Most stores close at 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, and only have limited Saturday hours. Working with Mister Transmission has allowed me an opportunity to satisfy my dreams of being successful both in my personal family life and on a financial level—through hard work, of course!