What is so special about the automotive service business?
The industry track record of the last eighty years has been excellent in terms of economic opportunity. The
reason for the industry’s long-term success rests in the fact that the American public is largely dependent on
automotive transportation and, as a whole, is very concerned about motoring safety, comfort, economy, and
dependability. In turn, the maintenance and repair of automobiles has been described as a “Basic Need”
business and can be compared to other necessity industries such as food, clothing, and shelter.
Why will the automotive service industry continue to prosper?
New cars cost a lot of money
Large numbers of consumers are deciding to avoid another round of car payments as long as possible.
The average age of cars and light duty trucks in use currently exceeds 11.3 years and continues to increase each year.
The number of miles per vehicle odometer exceeds 100,000 miles.
The number of light vehicles in use during 2013 exceeded 255 million in the United States alone and continues to grow.
The complexity of consumer lifestyles and scarcity of personal time continues. Increasing numbers of
people just don’t have the interest, the ability, or the time to repair their own vehicles by themselves.
Why is the automotive service industry attractive to small business entrepreneurs?
There are three fundamental reasons:
No dependency on minimum wage labor.
Limited hours of operation (no 16 hour days) and Sundays.
The attractive business economics associated with a service business.
What services and products are standard at Merlin 200,000 Mile Shops?
What's the difference between Merlin and the other undercar service chains?
There may be several answers to this question. One might be that our trademarks allow us to “own” the vehicle
longevity service category. Or because we concentrate much of our efforts on individual shop success as
evidenced by the fact that the average annual sales per Merlin shop statistic continues to grow each year, and
that it is much higher than several much larger national competitors.
Perhaps it is the way we go to market and our overall business philosophy. (We focus on building long-term
customer relationships instead of maximizing one-time sales transactions). We lead in developing innovative
customer retention and relationship building strategies such as our exclusive
DRIVE FOR 200,000 and
200,000 Mile Transferable Warranty, and
Merlin's Exclusive 200,000 Mile Tire Warranty. Or that we provide “new
thinking” programs to attract, keep, and reward employees. Or because we are not the biggest. Or, maybe, the
answer is that we do not approve everybody as a franchisee, nor are we a good fit for every applicant’s life
The best answer, however, is the one you determine on your own as a result of your observations during our
initial meeting, as a consequence of your independent research, and as a conclusion from your discussions with
Merlin franchisees (and, perhaps, competitors). Your answers to this question are far more important than any
What will the franchise cost?
The initial franchise fee for a single shop is $30,000. The Merlin equipment package costs approximately
$150,000, and opening inventory amounts to $30,000. Start-up expenses and working capital will typically bring
the initial investment to about $252,000. Up to 80%, or sometimes more, of the initial investment can usually
How much up-front cash is required to secure an individual franchise?
In most cases, a qualified candidate will need a minimum of $50,000 in cash. However, the exact amount will
depend on the background of the individual, his or her financial resources, and overall business plan.
What special qualities does a Merlin franchisee need to successfully operate a shop?
High energy level and good work ethic.
Ability to concentrate and follow a system.
Good verbal communication skills.
Basic understanding of business economics.
Sales and marketing aptitude.
Ability to hire, lead, and motivate employees.
Why is dedication to the customer so important?
Because, quite frankly, Merlin shops are not in business merely to fix cars. Our purpose for being is to
satisfy the needs of our customers. Cars do not have dollars. People do. Without a large base of regularly
repeating customers, sufficient sales levels do not happen. Successful auto service business owners must be
focused on and dedicated to serving customers in order to build that base. They must be willing to do whatever
it takes to create strong customer relationships.
How much money can I make?
Not a lot at first. The answer depends on several considerations.
The amount of energy and time you will put into your business.
The degree to which you follow and execute the Merlin operating system.
Your ability to recruit, develop, and lead employees.
In other words, your profits will be determined by how quickly you grow your business, to what extent its
sales volume exceeds a “cash flow break even point,” and to what extent you are effective in controlling
expenses. It depends on you and how consistently you apply yourself and implement our operating system. Only
you can answer this question. At our initial meeting, we will give you sales statistics as well as the tools
and introductions with which to research the business economics and determine the profit potential. Your
discussions with existing Merlin franchisees will be instrumental. However, just the sheer number of Merlin
shops suggests that reasonable profits are possible.
Where would my Merlin shop be located?
Merlin shops are generally located in high growth areas that are being “under served” by the competition. We
currently have a limited number of approved locations from which you may make a selection. If you have a
location of your own or one available to you, we will be glad to evaluate it. Selection of a site is always
subject to mutual approval.
How soon can I be in operation once I have been accepted as a franchisee?
Location is the determining factor. On a new and “contract-controlled” location, construction usually can be
completed in 120 to 150 days, subject to building permits and zoning requirements. In the case of an existing
operation, this time period could be as little as 75 days.
I would like to know more. What is the next step?
First, fill out our online request form by clicking here.
In turn, if we sense a potential
fit, you will be contacted to set up a personal meeting. During this meeting, mutual goals will be explored,
and detailed information will be exchanged. Such a meeting is purely exploratory and does not obligate you or
Merlin 200,000 Mile Shops in any way.