Albert and Serina Daniel have a blueprint for success for the two franchises they own in Western Maryland. The couple operates a Milex Complete Auto Care shop in Frederick and a Milex/Alta Mere co-branded store in nearby Boonsboro. That blueprint has led to a fourth time winning the Milex Franchisee of the Year Award.
As Albert was off in the garage working on a customer’s car, we caught up with Serina to discuss some of the secrets to their success. If you’re looking to replicate the achievements that Serina and Albert Daniel have experienced, you may want to include the following strategies in your operations manual.
Keep your employees happy. Beyond simply being the right thing to do, you know the saying – happy employees, happy customers. Plus, keep your employees happy, and they’re likely to stay, and then they’re likely to become experienced staff who keep your business running better than ever.
Serina said that they’re continually looking to offer competitive benefits. She also makes sure that the employees get flexible hours, so they can do their family functions, and she and Albert pay for lunch for the employees who work on Saturdays. “We want to do everything we can to keep everyone well-rested and happy,” she said.
Keep your customers happy. Obviously, you want to provide excellent customer service – and a superior end-result (that is, your customers happily driving away in a car that runs well). But those little extras can help immensely when it comes to maintaining customer loyalty. For instance, Serina said that they make it comfortable for customers to wait for their car to be serviced, with a waiting room as well as a small lounge area, where people can watch TV, sip a cup of coffee and use the facilities.
And Serina said, “We do our best to transport customers who need to leave their car here for a long period of time.” In fact, she is usually the one to drive them to their home or work while their car is being serviced.
Give your customers a reason to come in. Again, outstanding service and a satisfied customer is great, but it isn’t like this is the grocery store, where they constantly need a reason to visit. Every year, around the holidays, Serina and Albert send a customer appreciation letter with four or five coupons that can be used throughout the year.
“We’ll have a coupon they can use during the month of their birthday, a coupon to use in the spring – something they can hold onto and bring with them for each visit throughout the year,” Serina said. “And a lot of customers do hold onto them and actually use them. It’s a little bit unique and not like just getting a flyer in the mail.”
Serina and Albert have established a working relationship as well as they both handle the daily operations of the shops. Albert focuses his attention on the garage, overseeing the technicians and making sure the equipment is updated. Serina handles paying the bills, doing payroll and working on contracts.
While she is very humble and may not like to compliment herself and her husband too often, Serina admits they complement each other very nicely. So congratulations, once again, to the Daniels for winning the Milex Franchisee of th