Have you ever wondered how someone goes from zero franchises to a widely successful multi-unit operator? Well, if you have, today’s episode is for you. Our guest today is Brian Beers, a successful multi-unit franchisees, podcast host, and proud father.
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ABOUT OUR GUEST:
Meet Brian Beers, a dynamic entrepreneur, podcast host, and proud father. Over the last few years, Brian and his brother have scaled their franchise auto repair business from 6 to 33 locations doing over $40M a year in revenue. Brian offers valuable insights into scaling a business and the rewards of multi-unit franchising.
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Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:01):
Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast, where each week we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team, and as we open today, have you ever wondered how someone goes from zero franchises and owning no business, to a wildly successful multi-unit operator? Well, if you’ve ever wondered that, maybe you’re a franchise, or wondered maybe how that mindset works, today’s episode is for you.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:34):
Our guest today is Brian Beers, and Brian is a dynamic entrepreneur, he’s a podcast host and proud father. And over the last few years, Brian and his brother have scaled their franchise auto repair business, going originally from zero to six, then to 33 locations and grossing over more than $40 million in revenue. Brian offers valuable insights into scaling the business and the rewards of multi-unit franchising. You’re going to love our interview, so let’s go ahead and jump right into it.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (01:04):
Yeah, Brian Beers. My title, I guess, is President of the Prenlyn Automotive Group. My brother and I have scaled our family business from just a handful of automotive repair franchises. Today we operate 33 locations, we’ll do 42 million in revenue, about 200 employees all in the Philadelphia, New Jersey area, that’s the primary driver. And then we’re working on developing a new home service franchise, and I also help people buy franchises. So I’ve been in the franchising business all my adult life, my family’s been here for 45 years, so I live and breathe it.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:38):
I love it. Well, as a fellow lifer and franchising, my whole career has been spent in franchising as well, I appreciate your background and experience, and one of the reasons I was excited to have you on the show is to talk through you helped the family business grow from a handful of franchises to over 30 and what that’s like. Most of our clients are emerging franchise brands and they would love to have franchisees like you in their system, most franchise systems would. So I’d love for you just to share maybe some insights of what it was like growing from just a few, over 30, and what that experience was like and what kind of support the franchisor was able to offer, or not offer that you wish you might’ve had.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (02:26):
Yeah. So to back it up, my dad got [inaudible 00:02:28] Midas, my dad got in the business in 1976 when he was 22 years old, with my granddad, and then a couple of years later, his brother-in-law joined, and together they opened up stores for 30 years. They had six locations in the Philadelphia market and they were the general manager over the six locations, and they bought and sold up and down a little bit, but that was the core. It was 2010, they were looking to retire and sell and ’08, ’09 had been rough, and they’d been there for 30 years, they were ready to move on, and they weren’t making any money.
And I had graduated college and thought, well, hey, instead of you guys selling it, what if I come aboard and I see if I can breathe some new life into these things? And so I did that, I joined them after college, I knew nothing about cars. I was always entrepreneurial in nature, having whatever jobs and small businesses and things, but it was still a lot for me to learn. And it was one of the best parts being in a franchise is there’s this whole knowledge group out there, and so I was able to travel the country and make friends with other younger franchisees who were growing and share best practices and ideas and come back and implement those things.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (03:37):
And it took, I don’t know, 5, 6 years, I’d say, of trying and growing and me taking on more responsibility and them letting the reins go. And we still had the six stores and we were starting to grow the sales that we’re starting to get better people in starting to create a more vibrant culture, integrating Slack, and I didn’t know Slack back then, but more technology. Today, we use Slack and ClickUp and all this stuff. And then my older brother had joined. We were both employees, we had no equity, we both wanted to make more money, and the only way we were to make more money is if the pie got bigger. But we went out and got a loan and we were able to acquire two more locations in the Philly market that we owned separately from the original six, and then we just snowballed it.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (04:20):
That was in 2016. And then the money we made from those two locations we put back in, we bought another one in 17, and then we bought another one in 18. We opened up another one in 18. We opened up another, or bought another one in 19. And at this point we had six, they had six. It was all ran as one company, but equity splits were different.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (04:38):
And then we said, “Hey, I think we can go into another state. I think we’ve got this thing down. We’ve got the infrastructure.” So we reached out to a guy in New Jersey, seven locations, older, looking to retire, didn’t have an exit plan. So we were able to buy his seven locations in a single shot, so we go from 12 to 19 overnight in a brand new state. And then once we were in the state, the other ones and twosies who wanted to sell that come to us, so we were able to acquire those and we were able to acquire another group of five. So a lot of our growth has been through acquisition through, it’s a legacy brand, a lot of older franchisees that want to get out. We’ve opened up new stores too, competitors or closed locations, things like that too. So as of today, we bought out our dad and uncle a couple of years ago, and my brother and I are now working on building this organization, and that’s more of the details on the growth.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (05:30):
You talked about implementing some technology and tools and systems and feeling that comfort level of going to a new state after you had opened your own six and started to do that. How did the operation change from the six or 12 combined at that point to now cross state lines, you can’t just drive down the road maybe an hour and meet with the employees at the location?
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (05:53):
Yeah, so that was a big fear we had to overcome, in that we had thought a lot of our success was because we were local, every store is 15 minutes to the next, they’re daisy chained in a manner in the Philly market. And as my dad ran it, it was extremely hands-on, we were less hands-on, obviously, with more and more stores, and then we had hired out, there’s roles as these district managers. And we found that a good district manager could oversee six, seven, maybe up to eight locations pretty well. He would be the center contact for the stores and doing the hiring, training, the operational excellence, holding them accountable, all that stuff.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (06:32):
So we were less involved in that because, at that point, I think we had two guys over the 12 stores. So we had this limiting belief that we were only successful because it’s local. And so eventually we got over that and said, “Hey, listen, I’m not in these stores every single day making it happen. We create the vision, we hire the good employees, we set the expectations, we hold them accountable, we track a lot of stuff. We’re digitally very connected through Slack and Teams and all this stuff,” and so that was the thing where we said, “All right, well, if we’re not having to go to these stores every day to make them successful, does it really matter if it’s 45 minutes down the road or an hour and a half up the turnpike? No, they’re basically the same. As long as we can hire a really good leadership team that lives in market, because someone still needs to be on site and provide that coaching and hire the people and have the oversight.”
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (07:27):
So we really then just look to hire that district manager who lives in the market, who would share the same core values as us in terms of they’re very driven, they want to win, they’re responsible, they’re accountable, they’re friendly, all these things. And so that’s what we did, we said, “All right, we’ll go hire a district manager whose got experience and place him in.” We got him hired and onboarded into our system, I don’t know, two months before, or a month, six weeks before the acquisition date. So that by the time he had taken over the Jersey market, he already was integrated into our system, knew our expectations, was comfortable with the point of sale and all that stuff. And then once we got over that, with the other acquisition we did up, now we have seven or eight stores up in this market that’s about an hour and a half north of Philadelphia, it was the same thing of, all right, as long as we can find a guy up there and we can just continue to duplicate it.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (08:22):
As you’ve expanded and maybe have plans to continue to expand in the system and doing other business ventures, as you’ve grown through this over the last roughly eight, 10 years or so, what do you know now that, if you could tell yourself something when you were first getting started?
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (08:39):
A couple of things. Sometimes I think we’ve held on to people who weren’t good for way too long, that hurt the business. You have somebody, you know they’re cancerous, you know they’re hurting it, but for whatever reason, I’m blinded by it, or just whatever it is. And so sometimes we’ve made it, and I take responsibility where I’ve hired the guy and I should have fired the guy and I didn’t and then it leads to all these other problems, because you have the wrong people in the wrong seats. And so that would be advice is once you know someone’s right, or once you know someone’s not right, there’s really no turning around. Most people don’t get magically better, and so part of it’s getting really good and having a lot of clarity around who is the right person, especially in these leadership roles, and working really hard to find those people and retain those people. And if they’re not right, find the right people. And so that’s a big one.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (09:27):
The other one, like I mentioned before, the limiting belief that, hey, I thought that… Because we had other opportunities to acquire other stores even in market, and just thinking small about that. And one of the big lessons is if someone else can do it, I can do it. None of this is rocket science. And we have the mentality, my brother and I, of we’ll say yes and then we’ll figure it out, because we’re pretty confident that we can figure it out. So even in the thing in going into New Jersey, or buying these new stores, or we are going to have this new venture and this new franchise and a lot of these things, it’s like we believe in ourselves, we believe other people can do it, that we can do it. And I think some people just overthink, they want to analyze, they want to create all these big spreadsheets and they have this all the details. But at the end of the day, I don’t know, I think you just got to trust your intuition sometimes. And so a lot of times we’ll say yes, and then we figure it out, and sometimes we mess up and then we just change it, other times we made the right decisions. And I think indecision by people is a huge problem.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:27):
Your career in franchising, you’ve grown these stores, and that leads you to new ventures in franchisees. So I’d love for you to share some of the other avenues that you’re branching into in the franchise world.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (10:38):
So we just signed a 13 unit development deal with That 1 Painter, which is a residential painting franchise, so we’re going to develop almost all the Philadelphia market and surrounding counties and up in the markets that we already exist and we’re comfortable with. So we’re really excited about that. One of our biggest bottlenecks for growth on Midas is real estate. It’s really hard to find retail, automotive, 4,000 square foot, major road, meets all the demographics, that isn’t too close to an existing store, because a lot of these, especially in the northeast, things are zoned in clusters, and so sometimes zoning’s an issue. Also, we don’t want to get on a plane, we just don’t want to complicate our lives, we have to travel to all these different cities, and so we really want to grow in the Philadelphia, Jersey, this region we already exist.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (11:21):
And so while we continue to look for real estate opportunities, we like the idea of having a business that has literally zero real estate, almost no overhead, it’s a 100% mobile, it’s really a sales and marketing machine, and we’re really good at driving sales and doing the marketing. So I think we could do really well on that, so we’re launching that in February, we’re getting through the holidays and then we’re launching, we’re going to do a two-year development plan on that.
And then, I help people buy franchises. So I’ve got on Twitter last year, just sharing my experience growing our business, and it resonated with a lot of people and a lot of people reach out to me saying, “Hey, how do I find a franchise? What should I look for? How do we find a scalable franchise?” A lot of people we work with, they want something that can grow, and they don’t want something that only wants to stay small. And so people started coming to me, and so I’ve built a team now and we do franchise consulting, we play matchmaker, help people find the best brand based on their skills, their budget, their location availability, all that stuff. So that’s a lot of fun and we get to meet a lot of entrepreneurs and help them build big businesses just like mine.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (12:22):
You’re certainly a great example of someone that can come in, get started with maybe initially a small multi-unit development option, a three or a five unit franchise, or maybe even a single unit, and grow and develop and build this. So I think it’s great that you’re coaching and helping consult with these folks through this process. Well, Brian, this is a great time in the show where we make a transition, we ask every guest the same four questions before they go, and the first question we ask is, have you had a miss or two on your journey, and something you learned from it?
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (12:53):
All my experience in franchising has been a success. We opened up another brand that was in a similar space, it was an automotive parts space that was a franchise, and yeah, it failed. We did it for a number of years, we lost money through the whole, we never made a minute of dime, it’s just a loss the whole time, and so we got out of that. And a lot of it was, A, understanding the business model, that was a B2B model, all my successes in B2C. It was like B and B2B, it’s heavy relationship based, because we’re in the B2C space, it’s heavy marketing, things are a little bit easier, more mass appeal. And so some of it was understanding, I think, what your skillset is, and taking a business that matches what your skillset sets are. And for me, I’m not really necessarily the relationship guy to go and smooze with all these, in this case, it was other shops to buy parts from us. And so anyway, that was a huge miss and we lost a ton of money in that. Obviously I learned a lot. In this case, it was what kind of business I didn’t want to have, that was relationship and inventory and high overhead costs and all that stuff.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (13:53):
It’s an interesting story you share. I had a similar experience, but the opposite. I’ve always been B2B, somehow was convinced to get into a B2C franchise, and let’s just say it had a very similar experience, it just did not go well.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (14:08):
People always ask, what’s the perfect franchise? And there’s no magic bull, that something that I would do really well and you might lose money, you do terrible in the same thing. A lot of it, I think, when people look at franchising, there’s nothing magical here, there’s a full spectrum and it’s finding a brand that matches what your skills are and the type of business you want to run. That’s a great thing, there is something for everyone, it’s just a matter of finding what’s right for you, I think, is key.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (14:34):
And certainly the service you provide in helping with your consulting business and helping folks sort through that because sometimes it’s hard to figure it out on your own. Let’s talk about a make or two. You’ve shared some wins already. Are there other highlights or wins you’d like to share?
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (14:51):
Yeah, some of our biggest wins, with franchising, we’ve done a number of creative financing deals. So in these acquisitions, many of them, almost all of them, have been owner financed. And so that basically, in that scenario, the seller of the franchise becomes the bank. So we make a down payment, we make monthly payments with interest, he’s got a note and security agreement and all the same stuff the bank would have, and there’s some win-wins in that, a lot of cases, some of these that we’re buying aren’t making any money, and so that a bank would never give a loan on it, and he wants a price that isn’t maybe necessarily justified by anybody, but if the terms are good, it can make sense.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (15:28):
And so I think that’s one of the really creative things in franchising is it is a relationship once you’re in the franchise, and franchisees want to sell to other franchisees when they want out, it’s the easiest transaction, versus dealing with an outsider. And so I think one of our biggest wins is figuring out how to structure these owner finance deals so the seller is good and that we’re good. I think for anybody looking to grow into the franchise, even if it’s a newer franchise, sometimes people buy franchises and it’s just not right for them and it doesn’t necessarily have to be a legacy franchise to have these opportunities, and so getting good at that is key.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (16:04):
Let’s talk about a multiplier that you’ve used to grow yourself personally, professionally, any of your businesses you’ve been involved with.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (16:11):
Yeah, there’s a couple. The one, I think, that I speak to the most about is, so in January of 21 I hired a business coach, and so I’m part of an entrepreneurial higher net worth group, and a bunch of the guys there had a lot of success in hiring coaches to help them just expand their mindset, grow their thinking, and certainly I found somebody who’s highly recommended and a ton of experience and hired him. And that kicked off a number of things from me and launching my podcast and the whole personal brand and Twitter and all this stuff that’s working today.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (16:45):
After a first couple of calls with him and thinking what direction we wanted to go in, that’s what led to reaching out to this guy in New Jersey and coming over that. So a lot of it, I think is, for me, and I’m still with him today, I’ve spent, I don’t know, or I’ve invested, over $100,000 with him over now two years, but I’ve gotten a huge, huge return on that too. I think sometimes you got to invest in yourself, I think it’s the best investment you can make, and I think sometimes you’ve got to find the right person who can help you. But for me it was overcoming my own objections, these limiting beliefs I talked about, and really seeing what’s possible. Sometimes these guys can open up a whole new world that you didn’t even know existed.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (17:26):
Well, Brian, the final question we ask every guest is what does success mean to you?
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (17:30):
Yeah, success to me is freedom. I think what we’re all seeking is freedom. Freedom of time, to spend time doing whatever we want to do each day, to have money to be able to go on trips or whatever we want to do, not worry about money. Relationship freedom I think is awesome, working with the who we want to work with and not being forced into coworkers or people that you don’t want to be involved in. I think, as an entrepreneur, as a business owner, you have the opportunity to create all that. You can create a company, you hire who you want. If you hire the right people, they will take over roles that you once had as the owner, which then gives you more time freedom. And if they’re good, obviously that’s scalable, and then that gives you more money, and then you have more freedom there.
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (18:13):
So for me, it’s spending time with my wife, and we have two kids, the dog, and we like to go on trips and we like to travel. And so I think a lot of it for me is building a business that gives me freedom and I think franchising is one of the best paths to get there for the right people.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (18:29):
And Brian, as we bring this to a close, is there anything you were hoping to share or get across that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Brian Beers, Multi-Unit Franchisee (18:35):
Yeah, if they’re interested in me, like I said, I’ve got a podcast, Business with Beers, it’s all the major platforms. So I bring on franchisors, franchisees, to talk about finding, just scaling, operating franchises. I also talk about some investment stuff of once you’re starting to make money, where do you put it? So that would be best. My only plug here is if you want to learn more about me, that’d be a great place.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (18:58):
Brian, thank you so much for a fantastic interview. And let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key take-aways.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (19:04):
So take-away number one is when Brian talked about holding on for people too long, and what he meant by that is when you know that someone that’s working for you is not the right fit, he said it’s rare and very unlikely they turn around. And so he said once you know they’re not the right fit, it’s best for all parties to go ahead and separate.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (19:27):
Take-away number two is when he talked about a miss that he had and he said he opened up a B2B business franchise, and he’s always been in the B2C business and he just said the business model wasn’t a great fit. And I thought that was interesting because I had shared a story of mine where I have always been in the B2B space and opened up a B2C franchise and it didn’t go so well. And his point that he made thereafter is that there are lots of franchises out there, and there’s certainly one that could be the right fit for you or the franchisee that’s maybe coming into your franchise system.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:03):
Take-away number three is when he talked about purchasing and buying some of the other franchisees in the Midas franchise system when he purchased some existing franchise locations, and he said he was creative with financing deals with some of these franchisees, and I thought the use of creativity was important. So be willing to be creative, think outside the box, or be willing to think of things in a different way. I think that’s the take-away there.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (20:31):
And now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win came from when Brian talked about the multiplier that he used, and for him it was hiring a business coach. And I think business coaches are fantastic and certainly great consultants, certainly it is a little self-serving, but as a consultant, we advise our clients well and we have expertise and knowledge in our area that will help our clients get to where they want to go faster, generally on a much more narrow pathway. And that’s the same reason, for example, why I have a business coach, and others, and Brian talked about how hiring that business coach, for him coming up on almost three years ago, has accelerated his growth and his pathway to find that right person to help guide and coach him along the way, and I encourage you, if you have not done so, to consider doing that as well.
Dr. Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:28):
And so that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone might be ready to franchise their business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at bigskyfranchiseteam.com. Thanks for tuning in, and we look forward to having you back next week.