By Brock Hossack
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always loved cars, motorcycles and pretty much everything else that burns fuel. You might say the auto industry’s all I know! So, I’ve been very fortunate to own and operate a Speedy Auto Service franchise in my hometown of Fredericton, where I’ve managed to double sales since purchasing the business.
A lifetime with cars
I was born in Fredericton and I’ve lived here for all 53 years of my life. As a child, I watched racing on TV and would wash and clean my father’s car. I got my first job changing tires at a service station at 15 years old. Later, I got into buying cars, tinkering with them and then selling them. My friends and neighbours would ask me to help fix their vehicles, too.
I have one brother, Brent, who’s 15 months younger than me. You might say we were a male-dominated household! He grew up to become a truck driver and now I fix his vehicles.
In 1978 and 1979, I studied accounting at the Atlantic Business College. I then spent two years handling income taxes for farmers and fishermen.
I also met my wife Candace in the summer of 1980. We were introduced by our mutual friends.
Accounting paid well and I thought it might be a career I would enjoy, but it wasn’t. I enjoyed working with people, but not the feeling of being locked in an office all day, crunching numbers.
In 1983, I returned to my automotive focus and became a service manager at a Volvo and Subaru car dealership. I ended up staying there for 20 years, until the business was sold in 2003.
After that happened, I worked at a couple of other dealerships and service departments. Then I stumbled across a franchising opportunity with the local Speedy shop.
Working for myself
By this point, I was tired of working for people who wouldn’t tell me the whole truth, had their own agenda or changed what they said every week. Ultimately, though, I was just tired of working for other people; it was time to work for myself.
Fredericton’s Speedy shop was corporate-owned back then, not a franchise. The manager, Tom Lockhart, had been there since it opened in 1974 and I was one of his customers. One day, when I was there to get a muffler for my car, I was chatting with Tom and he explained the corporation was looking to franchise its stores.
I went home and talked with my wife about the opportunity. We got excited because it seemed like the perfect thing for me to pursue, but we were also scared to death about the scale of the investment. So, we looked over the numbers and, thankfully, we saw the business made a lot of sense.
When I compared Speedy to its competition in the franchised auto-repair market, for example, it was the better choice not only because it already had a strong reputation in Fredericton, having operated continuously since 1974, but also because it entailed lower royalties and advertising fund contributions from franchisees, as the company ran fewer system-wide ads.
And when I compared buying the franchise to the option of running my own independent auto shop, the advantages of going with Speedy included its proven business model, corporate support, national buying program and in-store software.