In response to the comment from the last posting, a large portion of the 1-800-Radiator customer base is auto repair shops. In the old days mechanics and radiator shops used to be able to fix the brass and copper radiators that had leaking tanks or clogged fins. Now it is more cost effective to buy and install a new radiator, especially one that comes with a lifetime warranty, than to repair an old one. The key to supplying radiators to repair shops is getting parts their quickly and making sure it is the correct application and fit. It doesn’t hurt that our radiators come with candy as well.
I recently flew into Birmingham Alabama last week to meet our newest franchisee. He will take over a strong 1-800-Radiator start-up territory. I’ve been to Birmingham before on a short visit to see potential franchise candidates but that was about the extent of my travels into the state. After having a nice dinner with our new owner and his wife, I headed up to Gadsden Alabama, a smaller city about 60 miles Northeast of Birmingham. I wanted to meet some very strong candidates who were interested in opening up a 1-800-Radiator distribution franchise in the Gadsden/Anniston area. I never thought of myself as a “Yankee” until I got into rural Alabama. I was immediately struck by the beauty of the area as I headed up Interstate 59. There was a full moon that silhouetted the pine trees along the way and the beginning of rolling hills that would eventually lead to Lookout Mountain. I met our Gadsden candidates at a restaurant in the downtown area called “The Fish Market.” We showed up 45 minutes before they closed and were persona non grata as we stayed well past their restaurant closing but the staff was friendly and I got a good sense for what kind of owners these people would make.
At the heart of a 1-800-Radiator franchise, we look for owners who will be good at establishing relationships with our wholesale customer base and be very service focused. When a radiator goes in a car, the part needs to be replaced right away and the car will not run without a functioning radiator. Part managers and owners of auto and collision repair shops look to buy radiators and other cooling components from someone who can get them a good quality part quickly and at a competitive price. Their customers hold them to a standard for quality and service and we communicate the integral role our franchise play in that process. It’s all about earning the business by earning trust. Gadsden is a friendly town and a great market for automotive cooling products; hot, humid summers and a former industrial center (Good Year, Republic Steel). Prior to meeting my people the following day to tour a potential warehouse location, I had breakfast at a place off of Highway 280 called “Jacks.” Clearly the place had it’s regulars and as I came in and set up my computer, I realized how much I stuck out. Lamenting the lack of healthy choices on the menu, I decided to indulge in hash browns and sausage, eggs and gravy. If you’re going to be a bear, you may as well be a Grizzly. It struck me thinking about the strong Southern accents our new potential owners had and their insistence that we have a nice dinner before discussing business the night before that the key to the success of our franchise model was having locals run their own markets.