Couple builds a growing business as a multi-unit franchise owners with AAMCO
Shina and Keun Kim, owners of two AAMCO franchise centers in Maryland, were born to become entrepreneurs. Long before they were married, Shina and Keun spent their childhoods in and around the businesses that their parents owned, and when married almost 30 years ago, they followed their parent’s example into building businesses of their own.
Keun and Shina owned several auto repair shops and gas stations before they joined the AAMCO franchise family 12 years ago. Their desire to expand their business led them to keep an eye out for property in the area, and one day the couple discovered a mid-century brick building on a busy street in Rockville, MD., and Shina fell in love. Happily for Shina and Keun, the building housed an existing AAMCO franchise and the owner was ready to retire from auto industry.
“I looked at this beautiful, old building and couldn’t believe it was for sale,” Shina says. “Coming from auto repair backgrounds, the prospect of owning an AAMCO franchise really appealed to us. We did a lot of research about the brand on the internet before deciding that AAMCO was the right fit for us.”
The couple spent their first few months spending the long hours necessary to get a business off the ground. In order to play to their own strong points, Keun led the front of the house where the cars we being serviced, and Shina took over managing the books.
“It’s so important as a married couple to know what your individual roles are,” Shina says. “In the beginning, we would leave our house to go to work in the dark, and we would return in the dark. We knew that we had to spend long hours in the business in order to be successful, and in working together, we wanted to support each other and rely on each other. The hardest thing is to not bring work back home with you, and when you’re working with your husband, that’s almost impossible. But we did manage to find a balance, and most importantly, our three kids saw how hard we were working every day.”
In time, their AAMCO center took off and began winning new business. As the couple’s’ business grew, Shina also recognized that being a woman owner was a tremendous asset to her customers. “We’ve found it is very important to have a woman owner in this business,” Shina says. “It helps with customers, especially women, who want to have a calming presence and explain things in a way that isn’t perceived as aggressive to someone who is already stressed out. No one wants to spend money on fixing their cars, but most people don’t have a choice, and so we work hard to make the experience as positive as possible for our customers. We treat them fairly and we’re transparent, and in return we get their loyalty and their recommendations to their friends and families. Our customers are our biggest marketing tool.”
Seven years ago, the couple decided that the time was right to expand their business by opening a second location in the nearby town of Gaithersburg, MD. Now, the couple takes turns as to which station they work in, in order to always have a presence in their businesses. As they look into the future, they want to work as hard as they can in the hopes that one of their children will continue on as an AAMCO franchisee, while they enjoy their retirement.
“AAMCO has been very good to us,” Shina says. “It’s given our family a great life, and I do hope that one of children keeps these businesses going. They have been in the business all their lives – it was important for us to be role models to them. We mentor at-risk youths as well, in order to show them that they can do something positive with their lives, and we’ve since hired two great technicians from this program as a result. It’s important to show the value of work, and being able to do this with my husband makes it so much the better.”
Bring the iconic auto repair franchise to your community
With nearly 640 centers across North America, AAMCO is actively seeking single- and multi-unit operators who are passionate about the brand and committed to providing the highest-quality service. Interested candidates should have a minimum net worth of $250,000 and liquid assets of at least $65,000 per unit. Depending on the real estate site selected, franchisees can expect the total investment to be approximately $226,300 – $333,500, with a $39,500 initial franchise fee. Reduced franchise fees are available for honorably discharged veterans.