A Day in the Life of an AAMCO Franchisee
Longtime AAMCO owner opens up about what a life in AAMCO has meant to him and his family
Lou Fizzarotti has always been driven to hold a position of authority. From an early age, he wanted to own an auto repair business, and he achieved that goal in 1979 when he purchased an existing AAMCO in Jersey City, New Jersey. In the first 90 days, he recorded more sales than the store had reported for the entire previous fiscal year. Lou didn’t stop there — he’s constantly working on improving his brand, and he has spent 35 years as one of the leading performers in the AAMCO system.
“The brand has been good to me,” Lou says. “As an owner, you get out what you put in, and I am very content with where we are. We’ve done very well.”
Lou has seen a lot from his Jersey City auto repair shop over the years — personally and professionally. He’s witnessed the rise of AAMCO as a national brand. He is married and has raised two sons — both of whom are in their thirties with children of their own. He’s watched his customers’ children grow up, and he’s seen the neighborhood around his shop change more times than he can count.
Lou’s business has evolved with the AAMCO system. After focusing exclusively on transmission repair until the early 2000s, Lou’s business now draws 50% of revenue from transmission repair and 50% from Total Car Care. He made a huge leap, probably the biggest in his career, when he stopped using expensive in-house transmission builders and started ordering remanufactured transmissions from the 200,000-square-foot remanufacturing facility built by AAMCO and sister company Global Powertrain Systems (GPS).
Lou now buys all of his high quality remanufactured systems from GPS, and the results have been amazing. Lou keeps his labor costs lower, and his customers’ vehicles get serviced and on the road faster than ever before.
Success is built on hard decisions and embracing change
Parting ways with an expert builder he had employed for 25 years was a tough decision, but Lou says using our remanufacturing facility has had a positive impact on his business.
“We have a lot of things today that we never had before,” Lou says. “We have a state-of-the-art remanufacturing facility, where they are always expanding the parts they have in inventory. I have a lower ‘comeback rate’ today than I had in 1980. It’s a completely different model now; there’s less liability. Thirty years ago if something went wrong it came out of your pocket. Now it doesn’t. I get a professionally rebuilt and tested transmission and if it doesn’t work, they send me another one. We could never do that before.”
AAMCO is a family and can provide a great life for your family
Lou still loves going to work.
“For me, coming to work is fun, which a lot of people don’t understand,” Lou says. “I have slowed down somewhat, though. We bought our retirement home on the Jersey Shore a few years ago, and we go down there every weekend. The backyard is full of toys for the grandchildren. It keeps the family together.”
His dedication to the business is inspiring to his staff — which he commonly calls his family — the majority of whom have been with him for several years.
The importance of family is central to Lou’s life. His wife, Ruth, of 35 years is the bookkeeper, and she says that working together has had a positive impact on their relationship.
“I understand what he goes through on a daily basis,” Ruth says. “I understand what’s going on in his life, unlike if I were not here working alongside him.”
Lou’s philosophy of “getting out what you put in” as an AAMCO owner has paid off in spades. His advice to new and future AAMCO franchise owners is equally simple: “People who are successful in business become unsuccessful in business because they stop doing what it took to become successful,” Lou says. “The whole secret of staying successful is to keep doing what it took to become successful.”