Susan Trumble: Trailblazing Through a “Man’s” World
Moran Family of Brands has a diverse set of franchise owners who have come from a wide range of backgrounds. Some have been in our system for decades and have worked in the auto repair industry their entire lives while others have successfully transitioned into franchise ownership as a second career after years in the corporate world.
Many people may think the auto repair field is dominated by men, and statistically that may be true. But Moran Family of Brands has several female franchisees who have broken the mold and become among the most successful owners in the system.
Look no further than Susan Trumble, who owns the Mr. Transmission/Milex store in Florence, Kentucky. Susan has owned the shop for more than 25 years and was named the Mr. Transmission Franchisee of the Year in 2017. She has taken an unlikely route in her career but one that has been personally rewarding.
The automotive repair industry is in Susan’s blood, but if her father, former Mr. Transmission franchisee Bob Strunk, had his way, her nearly 30-year career with may not have existed at all.
“My dad didn’t want me to work in this industry. He said it was a man's world and not a place for a woman, especially not his daughter,” said Susan. “But something clicked after I started working there. I was hooked and loved working with him and with the public.”
Susan started working at her father’s Mr. Transmission shop in 1992, during some time off from her first job out of college, a flight attendant for U.S. Air. While it was just temporary position at first, answering phones and assisting where needed, Strunk grew more comfortable with his daughter joining the family business, and eventually asked her to manage his store.
“One day he handed the keys to me and said, ‘run the shop, Susan’” she recalled. “I’m sure the reason he didn’t tell me in advance was he didn’t want me to think about it and panic over it. He probably had more confidence in my ability to run the store than I did.
“I went from being a flight attendant to managing an automotive repair facility,” she continued. “Talk about two different worlds.”
“A Man’s World”
Susan said in general it can be challenging to deal with some male customers since they can caught off guard when they learn she knows more about cars than they do. After her father passed away many people thought the business would suffer or fail.
“After my dad passed, many of our local competitors placed bets on how quickly the store would close. These conversations weren’t exactly a well-kept secret,” she said. “When the conversations inevitably got back to me, it made me mad and lit a fire under me to succeed.”
Over the years, the customer base at the Florence Mr. Transmission/Milex has grown to the point where it’s about 50-50 male and female. Susan notes one of the best parts of being a woman in her position is servicing cars for other women.
“Women tend to trust other women more, know they won’t be taken advantage of and will not be embarrassed to ask questions or say what they don’t know about car repair,” she said. “In reality, there are plenty of women who are just as knowledgeable about cars as men.”
“A Big Family”
Whether it’s working with her team, customers, or with the Moran Family of Brands corporate office, Susan attributes her success a franchisee to the family atmosphere.
“The camaraderie we’ve built is a big key to our success, but our entire staff is like a big family,” she said. “We’ll go to lunch together each day or cook for each other on occasion. Sometimes, we’ll often just stay at the store for an hour after it closes just talking and swapping stories. The staff relationship extends beyond the shop, as they attend each other’s family graduation parties and weddings. It’s definitely a unique and different environment, and something I really cherish.”
Through mutual respect and two-way communication, Susan has built an excellent relationship with the Moran Family of Brands corporate team. She has also developed a strong relationship with Moran CEO Barbara Moran-Goodrich based on their shared experience of being females in a male-dominated industry.
“We’re extremely proud to have Susan as one of our franchise owners,” Moran-Goodrich said. “It speaks volumes that she has been able to be as successful is she is in an industry that is traditionally more male-dominant.”
Susan notes that if a franchisee has any issues, the corporate office is just a quick phone call or email away.
“Prospective Mr. Transmission and Milex franchisees should know there is a lot of support and assistance they can receive from the home office to help them run their business,” said Susan. “Potential franchisees just need to know that the help is there and to reach out for help if needed.”
Her commitment to serving her customers and building a community within her co-branded Mr. Transmission and Milex store has brought her endless amounts of joy and continued success, especially with her customers.
Susan’s relationship with her customer base is another key to her family atmosphere. Recalling the emotional support she provided to a family who was stranded in the area during Christmas, she notes that customer service is absolutely huge, and compassion is key.
“I think it is important to show people compassion in their time of need,” said Susan. “Nobody is prepared to spend hundreds of dollars on emergency car repairs. I just try to reassure them that this is just a vehicle and I will help them get through this.
“When people come to you in a time of need, they are not just looking to have their vehicle repaired,” she continued. “They are also trying to put the rest of the puzzle together as to how the rest of their week is going to play out. I’ve done it so many times, if I can take the time to help my customer put that part together, then getting the job is easier because I’ve helped them out of panic mode.”
After 28 years with Mr. Transmission and Milex, Susan is quick to answer when asked about what she values most about being a franchisee.
“The thing I value the most about owning a Mr. Transmission/Milex store is the relationships I have with my customers and co-workers,” she said. “If I don’t have them, I don’t have this business. I want my co-workers to feel a part of the team and have them come to work feeling that it is their business. They are the people that make this place run.”
Regardless of popular opinion, there are many great franchise ownership opportunities for woman in the auto repair field. If you want to be like Susan and blaze your own trail with Moran Family of Brands, visit our franchise page and get in touch!