In this exclusive Q&A, we learn about HEART Certified Auto Care from its founder and CEO Brian Moak.
Chicago-area based HEART Certified Auto Care, with locations in Evanston, Wilmette and Northbrook, Illinois, is an auto repair business that believes in education and transparency. The company offers a wide range of vehicle services. Launched in 2017, HEART is built on more than 90 years of auto repair experience. The brand is looking to grow through franchising, with a goal of opening 10 new franchises over the next two years.
Franchise Chatter (FC): What is HEART Certified Auto Care?
Brian Moak (BM): HEART Certified Auto Care is a top-tier, full-service automotive shop. HEART is an industry leader, always excelling in customer service and providing honest, transparent auto repair service. We’re focused on reinventing the auto care industry by over-delivering on customer experience in an industry where one typically wouldn’t expect it. Our customer retention rate is 95 percent and we have an approval rating of 99 percent.
This isn’t just coincidence because our customers are greeted by friendly staff, comfortable, family-friendly waiting rooms, free loaner cars and shuttle services, among other amenities. We don’t even ask our customers to refill the gas when they borrow a loaner car because of our customer-first mission.
We always use digital inspections to show the good and the bad under the hood, which is a personalized touch. HEART technicians show pictures and videos of any damage found, before walking a customer through a thorough explanation of repair needs. Through this process, we educate customers about their cars, as they’re a partner in our business and both of us want to build a long-term relationship.
FC: Why did HEART change its name from Duxler?
BM: In 2009, I owned three of the five Duxler locations in Chicagoland. My family did not own the Duxler name, and in order to share our mission nationally through the launch of the franchise concept, we had to utilize a different one.
In choosing our name, we landed on HEART, which stands for “Helping Everyone Achieve Reliable Transportation.” This acronym truly encompasses our mission, values and culture. Our name now reflects who we are, a transparent, experienced auto shop at the HEART of the community with a sincere passion for our customers and employees.
FC: Tell us more about how HEART is unique.
BM: HEART stands out amongst the crowd mainly because we firmly believe we’re in the hospitality business. We offer more than 90 years of auto repair experience in a customer-focused environment complete with 98 percent same-day service, digital inspections with photos, an industry-leading warranty of two years or 24,000 miles of coverage for parts and service, complimentary loaner cars and shuttle service. We prioritize making auto repair and service as transparent and understandable and easy and convenient as possible for our guests.
Additionally, we care about two types of customers: the customers that walk in the front door, as well as the “customers” that walk through the back door and clock in. Our company is unique because both customers are equally important and valued. At HEART, we emphasize family and both our customers are treated as such.
FC: How is HEART a family business?
BM: I grew up in the auto care industry. My father brought me to work at Duxler Complete Auto Care when I was only two years old, and even created a playpen out of tires for me. For years, I watched and learned from my father’s work ethic, community-driven mission and passion to provide auto repair service with HEART. I worked at my dad’s shop after school and during summers both as a kid and after college.
He and I expanded the business together to three locations, and by age 27, I bought the business from my dad. When I took the company over from my father, I continued to share and expand upon HEART’s mission, improving on the customer and employee experience.
FC: Why is HEART appealing for today’s franchisee and consumer?
BM: HEART is appealing for today’s franchisee and consumer because we are breaking industry standards by taking a completely different approach to car repair.
For franchisees, this industry service adjustment has been proven through our three Chicagoland HEART locations. While net earnings within the industry stand at 4 percent, HEART outperforms the competition earning at least 14 percent. We have developed core practices to efficiently run a profitable automotive service shop that is community-driven, customer-focused and respects its employees.
In a setting where customers often feel vulnerable, HEART removes the “fear factor” that can accompany car trouble. Customers feel comfortable with HEART and trust our process. We pride ourselves on being transparent with services such as digital inspections – photos of both the good and bad under the hood (Virtual Inspection Program) and provide thorough, clear explanations of suggested repairs.
FC: What is the growth outlook for the company?
BM: With the average age of cars in the U.S. at 11.6 years, the need for quality auto care will only continue to increase. HEART plans to open 10 new locations over the next two years, specifically targeting Midwest suburbs like Hinsdale, Westmont and Oak Brook in Chicago, and parts of Northwest Indiana and Milwaukee.
That number is expected to grow to 100 locations nationwide over the next decade, creating opportunities for service-minded entrepreneurs to make a difference in their own lives and the lives of this growing customer base.
FC: Why is the timing right to franchise with HEART?
BM: The time is right to franchise with HEART because we are the next big thing. Our dinosaur industry is ready for a young, agile and hip company that is driven toward the next generation of customers. The auto industry is thriving, raking in $105 billion annually. HEART is at the ground floor and as we grow, the original franchisees will have 100 percent access to me and my expertise.
Also, franchisees will have a development model that closely mirrors the level of customer service that has earned our current retail centers a 99 percent approval rating, a 95 percent retention rate and an average gross profit of $1.3 million annually.
FC: Who’s an ideal HEART franchisee and what’s the initial investment?
BM: An ideal franchisee is someone that is customer-service focused, business-culture driven and leads from their heart. We believe in integrity, compassionate urgency and giving back to the community. An ideal HEART franchisee also looks at the world through that lens. A franchisee should plan to put in the effort to achieve something extraordinary as an owner/operator.
The initial investment ranges between $323,600 and $850,500.