Part of the shop’s transformation included making sure the franchise brand was represented appropriately in key places, including the checkout counter. ago they opened in Northern California. That’s when we realized it was time to reconsider.” McCardie acknowledged that everyone is struggling. Co-branding can be a good solution depending on a company’s needs. “A lot of times as independent owners, we think ‘it’s my way,’ and are reluctant and almost afraid of change,” McCardie said. “But we’re living in a changing world and economy. We need to make the adjustments.” With co-branding can come a whole host of benefits including financial stability, improved marketing and technical support. Beagelman of SMB Franchise Advisors added, “It is certainly very synergistic—you already have a staff, already have customers coming in, why not offer an additional product line?” McCardie pointed out the car audio electronics industry has been shrinking. “Instead of being afraid of the change, working with other organizations will help us grow. So many doors will open because we have the help of a larger company,” he said, pointing out more of the benefits. “As a small business, there’s only so much we can do.” According to Anthony Foley, the Franchise Development Director at Tint World, they’ve developed solutions for marketing and IT support, and also help franchisees understand business management. Tint World has been open since 1982 and the corporate office is located in Boca Raton, Fla. “Every individual
business is different,” he said. “Every owner has a unique spin on how they want to enter the business and get customers. We understand that. We all have a unique perspective on how businesses need to run. We know what business owners are looking for. We know what makes their businesses operate in a fluid fashion. We’ve been in their shoes.” Tint World aims to make business more automated for the franchisee and places special focus on the core profit, according to Foley. “How do we help them drive more revenue more efficiently?” Foley said. “How do we help them drive more business? Cover conversions, key performance indicators—that gives us a good barometer on where business is and where we need to go. Where are you now and where do you hope to be?” This is an important question business owners must ask daily, and the answer is subject to change as the business evolves. Each retailer chooses the best ways to further their own goals. For some retailers, such as Auto Sound Specialists, co-branding can be a good solution. For others, remaining independent might be the better choice—this all depends on individual needs and aspirations for the future.
The Right Fit Depending on factors such as location and advertising, co-branding may not be a good fit for everyone. JT Torres co-branded with Al & Ed’s Autosound
for nearly 14 years, and the partnership recently ended in November. “They’re going pretty fast. It seems they have a good structure,” Torres said of Tint World. “My concern would be jumping from one company to another.” After being with Al & Ed’s for so long, Torres—who won the Mobile Electronics Installer of the Year award in 2015—decided it was time for a change. Torres noted that the business of window tinting brings in a wide margin of revenue and “presentation is key.” “What I like is it’s a lot easier to train somebody to do window tinting than to train them to do custom stuff. It makes it very easy to manage a shop,” he explained. “If I decided to go with them, I could continue to do my thing.” This would mean a JT Automotive and Tint World co-brand, Torres stated. “They have their own point of sale system. They help you with the business, and [they] have a whole team that does marketing to promote your business. If you need someone to help you get business going and dealership work, they will give you that as well.” While co-branding can help a business expand quicker, there are challenges involved as Torres described. Steve Beagelman pointed out, “One of the biggest things is training the staff if they’re operating multiple businesses.” The staff members must handle new product lines or approaches and understand how another business is managed, without the retailer losing its identity in the process. “You don’t want them to be an