Couple working on their transmission franchise created life they wanted
The iconic AAMCO franchise is fortunate to have several successful married couples working as franchisees. It’s often said that couples make up for each other’s weak spots, making each other stronger in the process. In the case of Stacey Kujawa and Julie Lento, a married couple who own the thriving AAMCO franchise in Rancho Cucamonga, CA., it’s their conscious effort to run a business with integrity that fuels their drive.
Stacey and Julie come as many married couples do, with unique skill-sets and professional backgrounds. Stacey worked for a number of auto dealerships, as well as in the insurance industry with Aflac, while Julie spent spent several years working in real estate. Though the pair always wanted to own a business, it was only until Stacey worked as a customer service manager in a nearby AAMCO franchise that the business model clicked. When the opportunity to buy an AAMCO franchise came up, Stacey and Julie jumped at the prospect.
“We realized it was a great opportunity for us,” Stacey says. “We wanted the chance to do something together, and being in the auto industry was extremely exciting for us. It represented an opportunity to own a business that was exactly the opposite of how auto repair businesses are typically run. We saw it is a chance to be a positive force, to conduct business with honesty integrity and to treat customers with dignity and respect.”
Julie was especially adamant about paying close attention to their women customers, and sought to make them feel comfortable from the get-go.
“As a woman, it can be overwhelming to come into an auto repair shop,” she says. “We wanted to change that. When a woman comes into our lobby, I immediately greet them. I make sure that our technicians walk them through what work needs to be done on their cars in as much detail as they like. This tactic has worked. Our number of women customers has steadily grown. We have a solid reputation as a trustworthy brand. Word of mouth between them has been our best advertising.”
The couple services about 50 cars on a weekly basis, and a growing number of their clients are referrals. Their overall business has steadily grown over the years as a result of their commitment to exceptional customer service. To ensure that their customers are trying with high standards, Stacey and Julie stress the importance of hiring technicians who share your values.
“It’s incredibly important to put together a team that you trust,” Stacey says. “Not only do they require the expertise that AAMCO is known for, they also have to be good with customers. They have to believe that in the mission to conduct business with integrity at all times. It’s the way that we treat customers that determines how successful we are.”
Stacey and Julie have owned their AAMCO franchise for nearly eight years. In that time, AAMCO has made significant strides in becoming an industry leading brand that is focused on increasing the level of profitability AAMCO owners experience in their stores.
AAMCO is currently rolling out a new comprehensive Point of Sale (POS) system, which will improve our business model by providing the ability to create estimates and invoices for customers much more quickly and easily, driving revenue for franchisees in their centers. In addition, AAMCO recently a new consumer financing platform to help alleviate the financial burden of expensive car repair, while increasing the potential for sales for our franchisees.
“What I really love about AAMCO is their support,” Julie says. “If you reach out to them with an issue, they are going to help you address it. Nothing falls through the cracks.”
As Stacey prepare to open a new AAMCO franchise about 100 miles aways from their current store, the couple has some thoughts for married couples who want to go into business together.
“We’re still speaking to each other,” Julie deadpans before laughing. “It’s been great working in the same business as my husband. He runs one part of the business and I run another part, so cover all the bases. It’s nice being able to go home together and understand each other’s day. I know what he went through and vice versa. There aren’t a lot of couples who can say that. But most importantly, he shares my values. That’s the most important thing to consider because if you go into business together, you have to stay in business together.”
Bring the iconic auto repair franchise to your community
With nearly 650 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.