BeTheBoss - What’s the story behind PRO FLEET CARE ?
Greg Lawrie - The history of PRO FLEET CARE dates back to 1984 when my father Bob Lawrie opened his first rust control shop. At the time, the general consensus was that a tar or wax product was the best way to protect vehicles against rust. Bob was not convinced that this was the solution. Instead he used a light chemical that could migrate into seams and crevices. Over the next 10 years, the marketplace also began to shift towards this type of product.
As business grew so did the demand for servicing fleet customers. To better accommodate this growing segment, Bob developed the first ever mobile unit that went to the fleet owner. Customers saved time and money as they no longer had to have one of their employees drive equipment from their workplace to Bob’s shop. This also minimized their equipment downtime. The mobile system was very successful and Bob decided to wholly focus his attention on developing this market.
BTB - What made you decide to franchise?
GL - We wanted to attract the best service providers, that had a vested interest in the business so that our customers would continue to have the high level of service they had become accustom to
BTB - Tell us a little about the Automotive Repair Market?
GL - One major trend that is having a positive impact on our industry but a very harmful effect on our vehicles is the use of wetting agents which are added to the salt applied to our roadways. These agents are used to help activate the salt at lower temperatures, they allow the municipalities to spread less salt and help the salt stick to the road as well as our vehicles and equipment. They also activate when wet and continue to work for longer periods of time. The reason they choose to use these melting agents is that they are more effective and safe for the environment.
BTB - What have some of the challenges been in growing your franchise?
GL - The challenges have been learning to say no, because we have committed to sustainable growth within our own area (Ontario) and with the right partners. We have had to turn down some great people, because we knew that at the end of the day, Dad and I would not be able to support these business partners the way we require our franchisees support their customers.
BTB - Who has been your greatest inspiration?
GL - My Father & Wife have been huge inspiration to me. I grew up with Dyslexia (by the way, who ever came up with the name Dyslexia, they must not have understood the challenges we face with spelling). Anyways, having been born in the Seventies caused a great deal of hardship for people who fell into such a category. This was the pre spell check ere and many people equated this disorder with being dom. To say my self confidence reached a low, during my school years would be a understatement. My father, is a man of character, he had determined that he would do whatever it took to get me the best education, including closing his real estate brokerage and moving to the United States, sending me to some of the best prep schools when money was difficult to come by and encouraging me to go to university. Trina, has been the best thing that has ever happened to me. If ever there was a women that had your back, it would be her. She is the Proverbs 31 women
BTB - What are some of the advantages in being a PRO FLEET CARE franchisee?
GL - Low overhead, great working conditions and hours, good return. From a pure economic point of view, our franchise partners benefit from the fact that they are buying in on the ground floor. As the business grows, so will their return on investment. Our relationship is also different than that of a larger system. In our system, my father and I are able to work closely with all of our franchisees, unlike a larger system, were there are several layers of management. Family is really important to my father and I that is why we work hard to build strong and lasting relationships with our guys. It’s not uncommon for our guys to call us at home after hours, and why not, after all they are family. We value our franchise partners and understand that their interaction with the customer speaks volumes, and that is why we value their input on the day to day decisions, after all they are the face of our company.
BTB - What “Gadgets” (Blackberry, Iphone, Ipod, etc) can’t you live without?
GL - I can live without gadgets, my business is not complicated, you get paid to spray, the more you spray the more you get paid. Sure my guys have Blackberries, Iphones etc., I’m just not as important as they are. It’s simple, you want to speak with me, pick up the phone and call me any time. If its email, I will answer it when I am in the office, I figure it’s not that important that I need to drop what I am doing with my family to answer.
BTB - What do you do in your spare time?
GL - I sit on the promotional and visioning committees for my children’s private school, counsel business owners on the advantages of franchising as a model to grow their business effectively, read business and motivational books, travel and spend time with my family and friends.
BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
GL - You need to look for a business that has average to high profits, medium to low over head and repeat business.
BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that PRO FLEET CARE would be a great opportunity for someone?
GL - I feel so confident about Pro Fleet Care as a business opportunity for someone, that I would encourage my own children to get a franchise after all it was good enough for me that I continue to spray even to this day.