Business

Gwinnett County Couple Recognized by CNBC as Franchise of the Year

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Brian and Nola Klaubert opened their first Christian Brothers Automotive franchise in 2002 after leaving lucrative tech jobs in Tulsa, OK. The two were exposed to the brand while Brian was working for Kimberley Clarke, a job that required expansive travel time and caused the couple to relocate nearly every three years.

“They were giving us signals that we were going to have to move back to Wisconsin but the environment wasn’t for us,” said Klaubert. “We were considering other job options and wanted to ensure whatever we chose wasn’t a ‘flash in the pan’ opportunity.

Business at the Tulsa Christian Brothers Automotive was booming and without prior automotive experience, the Klaubert’s opted to delve deeper into the company.

“The Christian aspect and the values associated with the brand are the real reasons we chose to hop on board,” said Klaubert. “If you talk to anyone in the corporate office and the vast number of franchisees, every member is helpful, friendly and encouraging. The notion that we are able to exhibit our faith in our business while helping other people is inspiring. We wanted an organization with good working conditions and they’ve exceeded our expectations.”

Aside from the support of the franchise system, the automotive repair industry had also proved to be recession proof during the .com bust of 2001. Although many other businesses were struggling, car repairs were influx as customers preferred to hold onto their cars rather than sell.

“The recession was the validation we needed to purchase our first franchise and we’ve never looked back,” said Klaubert. “We opened our third location in 2012 and would even consider expanding.”

So what has led to the Klaubert’s growth and recognition? Aside from the ability to manage quality of life and growth potential of their business to maintain their own sanity, it’s about ensuring every person involved in the success of the business is taken care of.

“We always look for a way to make situations into a win-win-win,” said Klaubert. “First and foremost, there always has to be a benefit to the customer because the core of our business comes from repeat clientele. Our next step is to confirm that the employee understands the benefit they’re adding to the bottom line when they treat our customers with respect. Finally, every action should ultimately be a win for the business.”

The next element is to remain committed to leading the industry in quality equipment and diagnostics.

“We don’t look for the easy maintenance services or point customers in the direction of another auto repair location,” said Klaubert. “When a customer comes to us, we’re able to service the whole vehicle. We’ve gained a reputation for being able to solve problems. We consistently service vehicles that have already been looked at by other mechanics.”

Finally, it’s about maintaining high expectations for all employees in order to reassure customers that your product and service is trustworthy.

“Your value in the community will be a direct reflection of the attitude and abilities of your employees so make sure you hire the best of the best,” said Klaubert. “I also reinforce the idea that faith moves money. We don’t have to make money on every single action but we have to do the right thing every time. When you work in an environment like that, you can feel better about yourself and your job.”