Cultural differences - A new direction

In the UK, the automotive sector is a thriving area of industry for franchising. Alloy wheel repair, mobile bodywork repair, tool distribution and many more franchises depend on the strength of the UK automotive market. Gareth Samuel investigates problems that franchises incur when moving into new markets.

Fools rush in’ goes the saying. It is one that holds particular relevance in the world of international business. When franchised brands operating in the automotive sector reach the point where they are ready to spread their wings and soar into different international markets, getting it right through meticulous planning and proper research is incredibly important.

The difference between the US and the UK’s automotive markets is, in many ways, representative of the differences in cultures. Previously, US audiences were not concerned with fuel economy or practicality and, despite a slight shift towards more efficient vehicles, according to Jordan Terry of CarTalk.com, this is not set to change any time soon: “Environmentalists and auto gurus have a maxim: when gas prices go up, car sizes should go down. The statistics I’ve seen tell another story: Americans don’t like small cars as much as the media wants us to.” European’s, on the other hand, have long had a penchant for practicality when it comes to picking a car. The Golf, German manufacturer Volkswagen’s four-door hatchback, is by far Europe’s most popular car – sales are 10,000 higher than its nearest competitor, reported The Telegraph last year. These differences in cultural preferences must be recognised by automotive brands when moving into new markets. Some of the world’s most successful franchises, including Hertz and Avis car rental businesses have had to adapt their business models to ensure that they can replicate success in different countries. Russian consumers, for example, have no interest in convertible cars because of climate – factors like these have to be taken into account when branching out into new markets.

Geographical trends are also vitally important to the success of any franchise business operating in the automotive sector. Screen Rescue is one of the most exciting new franchise launches on the market today and specialises in repairing damaged windscreens to save customers money instead of replacing the glass. It is a business that is currently thriving as announcements of lower road-repair investment levels make national news. Amanda Hilario of Screen Rescue explains: “Windscreen damage is at an all-time high, providing over 22 million repair opportunities every year; a situation exacerbated with year-on-year reports of low investment by The Highways Agency into potholed-ravaged trunk roads – roads that carry 65.5 per cent of HGV traffic and a third of all motor vehicle traffic in the UK.” For Screen Rescue, the quality of highways and the investment in local infrastructure is directly related to the success of a franchised location.

In order to ensure each franchise sold will be successful, the franchise is dedicated to careful and calculated expansion. Amanda continues: “Screen Rescue is committed to leading the UK industry in commercial windscreen repairs only by way of solid franchise expansion. The viability, success and longevity of each franchisees’ business is of paramount importance to us and so our sophisticated support systems and NVQ technical training reflect this. All too often some franchises grow so fast their franchise owners are left behind, so we’ve engaged in territory launches within phased releases, ensuring each new franchise owner receives the daily support and focus vital to their success.”

Some automotive brands, however, have the history, reputation and proven business model to make only slight alterations to their business practices before reaching out to foreign audiences.In the tool distribution world, Snap-on is one of the world’s most respected firms. The tool manufacturing and distribution brand has been providing mechanics, both professional and amateur, with premium quality tools since the 1920’s. What really set the business apart, originally, was its pioneering of the mobile distribution of its high-end tools, enabling mechanics access to the products without losing time leaving the premises to purchase the tools themselves. It is a business that puts developing a long-term relationship with a customer as a corporate priority.

Now, nearly a century on, the business offers UK franchise owners the chance to be a part of its success with a Snap-on franchise opportunity. A spokesperson for Snap-on UK tells The Franchise Magazine: “Unlike many franchises, Snap-on do not charge a management service fee or on-going royalties; Snap-on is different. We concentrate on selling high-quality tools and equipment to professional technicians through a network of professional franchise owners. That has always been our strength and is how we run our business today.

“As a Snap-on franchise owner, you don’t sit back and wait for your customers to come to you. You drive your custom built mobile store to your customers, on the same day, at the same time each week and deliver them the best personalised, professional service associated with the Snap-on brand. This regular contact is what gives you your competitive edge and forms the foundation to the success of your business, as it enables you to build strong relationships with your customers, as you service their tool requirements on a weekly basis.”

Despite the vast differences in a number of cultures throughout the world, one commodity will always remains in universal demand – quality. Revive!, Snap-on, Screen Rescue, ChipsAway, Mac Tools and many more automotive brands provide their customers with a high-quality service universally, which enables each of these franchises to thrive Worldwide. If your business is looking oversees for the next big venture, a business model centred on the provision of a quality product or service will almost certainly lead to long-term prosperity.