Christian Bros. sets sales pace for auto sector
New car sales are at their highest level since 2005—on pace to hit more than 17.5 million in the United States this year—and national brands are seeing gains bringing mom and pop-type shops under their umbrellas.
These trends have been especially beneficial for CARSTAR Auto Body Repair Experts, which saw an 11.08 percent increase in sales in 2014, even while only adding one additional unit during the year. That positive sales growth was enough to move the Overland Park, Kansas-based company from the No. 112 spot on the Franchise Times Top 200+, to No. 106.
“While the total store counts are remaining consistent, CARSTAR has added new stores that are larger, better-run shops in place of smaller, less efficient shops,” said CEO David Byers. “As the collision industry consolidates and the insurance industry consolidates, the top collision repair companies are benefitting from additional insurance work.”
Houston-based Christian Brothers Automotive (No. 266) leads the category in revenue growth, with sales up 16.7 percent during 2014, to $154 million from $132 million the previous year.
“This year we’re expected to have our biggest year yet in number of stores opened,” said Josh Wall, vice president of franchise and strategic development. “Our unit level growth will go up to about 14 percent for 2015, and we expect to open about 19 locations by the end of the year, so that’s a high-water mark for Christian Brothers.”
Mirroring many of its competitors, the company is focused on building long-term relationships with its customers and, thus, has added staff at its headquarters to bolster franchisee training and education for individual operators.
With relatively flat sales (up 2.5 percent) and three fewer units, Leesburg, Virginia-based Precision Tune Auto Care (No. 256) saw marginal increases in same-store sales.
“Vehicles are continuing to get older, and that trend is good for us, because we’re basically servicing vehicles that are beyond their warranty period,” CEO Robert Falconi said. “It’s not like the bays to service these vehicles are growing, so it’s been stagnant in terms of growth—it takes a lot of money to open one of these centers.”
In a category that increased its sales 1.9 percent and shrank its unit count more than 2 percent in 2014, several companies delivered notable sales gains, including Glass Doctor, Meineke Car Care Centers, MAACO and Express Oil Change.