Houston-based Christian Brothers Automotive is going to open two stores in Wichita in 2015.
“We’re a full-service automotive repair franchise,” says spokesman Josh Wall. “We do everything from oil changes to … engine replacements, but it’s going to be a premium-level service experience.”
He says that means providing “a great, honest mechanic” with service specialized for “someone that really likes to be catered to.”
There are hardwood floors, leather furniture, nice art, soft drinks and free rides while cars are being repaired.
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“You can really enjoy the experience,” Wall says.
“The owner of the business is our chief shuttle driver.”
That’s because the company’s model is based on developing relationships.
“What we’re trying to focus on is building a long term, lifelong customer,” Wall says. For the owners, he says, that means putting “them in situations like driving a customer home or driving them back to work.”
The first Christian Brothers is under construction on the east side of North Woodlawn a little bit south of 13th Street where a McDonald’s used to be.
The company doesn’t yet have a franchisee for this location.
“Sometimes we take a little risk where we see a great opportunity, a great market,” Wall says.
He says permitting and working with the city usually takes about seven months.
“It just so happened it moved a little bit quicker than that,” Wall says of this site. “We went ahead and pulled the trigger on the property and began developing.”
He expects there will be franchisee by the time the store opens around February or a little before.
If not, he says, “Well, we’ll have some unhappy people around here in Houston.”
Actually, Wall says he’s teasing. The company would do a corporate-owned store until it found a franchisee, but Wall says he doubts it would come to that. He says when the company has gambled on starting a store before it has a franchisee, “It’s worked out for us in the past.”
On the west side, franchisees Jesse and Rachel Schemm, who are moving from Goodland, are opening a store on former Sam’s Club property on the west side on 29th Street just east of North Maize Road.
That store likely will open around the beginning of the third quarter.
The stores will be about 5,000 square feet with nine bays and each will employ between eight and 12 people.
Most of Christian Brothers’ 133 stores, which are in 18 states, are owned by franchisees.
Wall says there’s a slight chance that the company may want to open a third store here if the market and economy continue to grow as they have been.
“It’s exciting to see it growing the way it is.”