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Thomas E. Wolfe, president and CEO of Ziebart International Corporation, on the resilient nature of the automotive industry, adopting new technologies, and the importance of savvy investing.
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GF: What does success look like to you?
TW: Success is being able to provide my Ziebart employees and franchise owners the opportunity to make a good living through continued growth of our company’s business format. We are constantly striving to put our best foot forward and continue evolving as we go.
GF: What are the vital components behind a well- run organization?
TW: The key to a well-run organization is to hire qualified, passionate employees that believe more can be done as a team than as individuals. This, combined with a constant drive for innovation and open communication with customers can truly make all the difference. GF: What most interests you about franchising? TW: One of the things I love about franchising – from a franchisor’s perspective – is being able to provide turn-key operations and guidance to franchisees, while giving them the flexibility and pride in owning their own business. I’ve loved creating a brand that is helpful and evergreen in its pursuit to genuinely help automotive consumers around the world with innovative products and services, that in-turn create a wonderful and profitable opportunity for franchise owners.
GF: How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your organization?
TW: We have been fortunate that in past recessions, the automotive aftermarket industry typically performs very well. Consumers are holding onto their vehicles longer, which means that they are more than ever investing in the maintenance and appearance protection of these vehicles, which in turn, supports our business model. While we had to pause some activities and spending for a short period, in order to provide our staff and guests the safest experience possible, we are back up and running and consumer interest in our brand has never been stronger.
GF: What are the biggest challenges facing your industry today?
TW: One of the biggest challenges facing our industry is the simple fact that it is ever-changing. From the way that our consumers are purchasing their vehicles to the technology being used to build vehicles, as well as the technology being built into these vehicles, continues to change. So, for Ziebart, our biggest challenge – and motivator – is adapting our products and services to best suit the needs of our evolving customers.
GF: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to embark on a career in franchising?
TW: My biggest piece of advice for any entrepreneur looking to dive into a long-term career in franchising is to make sure that you have a complete understanding of the industry you want to get involved with. Do your due diligence – get to know the ins and outs of the franchise, the leadership team and the industry before committing to a franchise system. This will set you up for a smart investment and a successful entrepreneurial future.
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