How do you know when you have a winning formula? Maybe winning the Milex Franchisee of the Year award three separate times could be a hint! Albert and Serina Daniel, owners and operators of two Milex franchise locations — Frederick and Boonsboro, MD — know the secret to good business, and they have built up their Milex Complete Auto Care locations to a level of quality that stands out among franchises throughout the nation. We caught up with the two powerhouse franchisees to see what the secret was, and how other Milex franchisees could replicate their success.
Albert grew up around the automotive industry, which awakened an early passion for vehicle repair. He learned the basics from his father, and his skills only improved when he entered the US Navy. Once he figured out the basics, it was easy for him to transfer his skills, and he spent the rest of his civilian career in the automotive repair business.
After an injury at work at a previous job, his wife Serina, gave him a homework assignment to help advance their careers. She asked him to look for franchise businesses that might be good for the two of them to invest in. This is how they found Moran Family of Brands, and were introduced to Milex Complete Auto Care.
Once they decided to look into Moran, the rest happened quickly. The couple opened their first location in 2007, just as the economy was beginning its historic downturn and the government was starting the Car Allowance Rebate System, otherwise known as the “Cash for Clunkers” campaign. The first few months were tough, as with any fledgling business, and these additional challenges didn’t make the situation any easier. But when they started to break even six months later, they knew they had done the right thing.
“Those first few months were definitely stressful,” said Serina. “There were times in the beginning where he [Albert] was working until midnight and we only had one other mechanic on-hand. We had to learn to start spreading out scheduling and manage incoming tasks so he wouldn’t spend his whole life in the shop.”
Serina and Albert have built a reputation in their area that sustains their business success. In fact, their community service ethos includes one ironclad principle: always be able to solve a customer’s car troubles. This has led Albert to make himself and his staff experts in repairing cars of all makes and models. It means no customer is turned away, which lets people know they can count on their local Milex for their car repair and maintenance needs. It’s that trust that has grown their customer base, through repeat business and referrals, leading to the couple’s third win during their short time in business.
Albert and Serina have two big pieces of advice for business owners who want to gain a reputation for excellence. The first is to keep up with the rapidly-changing technology in your industry. “Cars are changing every day, in terms of the technology they contain,” said Albert. “The best thing you can do to keep from turning away a customer is stay on top of technology.”
Serina advises, “Social media can be fantastic, but business owners must keep a balance between communication channels for customers. Many people still prefer a phone call or email to a Facebook post.”
Albert Daniel sets an example for the franchisees the Moran system, and looks to share his advice and support others. He serves on the Franchise Advisory Alliance and has long been a trainer and mentor to other Milex owners. The secret ingredient that sets the Daniel’s franchises apart isn’t tough to find — consistent, hard work and a belief that every business decision should be made with the customer’s needs in mind. So, join us in congratulating Albert and Serina for a job well done, for the third time since 2007!