Top auto industry franchises a business booster

RNR president and owner Larry Sutton.

Top auto industry franchises a business booster

With its impressive year-on-year growth and enviable returns, Tampa, Florida-based RNR Tire Express and Custom Wheels has been named one of Franchise Gator’s Top 100 Franchises of 2016. Coming in at 28th place, RNR boasts 16 franchisees running 86 franchise locations across the country. By February that number will be 100 and another 34, so far, will open in 2017.

RNR is one of a handful of automotive franchises to make the top 100. Traction News talked with RNR president and owner Larry Sutton about the business’s success and why franchising makes sense in the tire industry.

The RNR journey

Sutton founded the company in 2000 and the first franchise opened in 2003 – somewhat of an “accident” Sutton says. “We created a new business model using a payment model on tires and wheels which was pretty unusual at the time, and then there was this demand from people wanting to do what we were doing, wanting to do it how we were doing it and needing our help to do it, so we became a franchiser.”

Providing a “unique opportunity in the rent-to-own industry” and a product offering that has “filled a void in the tire and wheel sector” has proved enormously successful for RNR. RNR customers are provided a program allowing them to pay for tires and wheels in weekly, bi-weekly or monthly installments. They are also offered the lowest cash prices on products and a huge selection of both new and previously rented merchandise.

In the last 24 months four different franchisees have renewed development agreements that means the creation of 100 additional stores in their territories over the next five to seven years. Next year RNR opens its 100th franchise, with another 35 scheduled in 2017.

What makes RNR so attractive to franchisees?

Sutton says RNR is a non-traditional franchise that, while it has its processes and structures, values input from its franchisees and attracts people with an “entrepreneurial spirit.”

“We have an extremely attractive culture of inclusion and we try to make sure that culture is throughout the franchise,” he said. “We include our franchisees in all the major decisions — it’s not a voting kind of situation — but we are very interested in what they want and when we come up with new ideas and new concepts for business they are very much involved in that process.

“Because most of our franchisees are more on the entrepreneurial side there’s a plethora of knowledge there and we’re open to learning from them as much as teaching them.”

A story of shared success

Sutton shares the story of one member of the RNR family who started working with tires on the shop floor and now manages seven stores and part-owns three of them. It’s not only the opportunity to offer franchisees the chance to run their own business that makes the industry so enjoyable for Sutton and his team, but seeing the franchise’s 600-plus employees grow and move up through the business.

“The upward mobility potential in the company is amazing because of the fast growth; the chance they have to learn new skills and advance is tremendous and that is every bit as satisfactory as growing a bigger company,” Sutton said. “It’s all fun but that particular experience of watching people’s lights come on and really becoming a part of who we are and buying into it and then creating passion in people about what we are doing – that’s the most fun of all.”

RnR 2

Why become a franchisee?

There are distinct advantages of taking on a franchise for anyone wanting to run their own business. The ‘turnkey’ concept behind franchises mean you walk into a pre-packaged business that has been proven to work. It costs less than setting up your own business. You have access to training, marketing and promotions. Store fit-outs and guidance are all included. While you pay a franchise fee to the franchiser, it comes with less risk and a lower price tag than going it alone.

“We know it works because we’re opening them all over the country; in the past 20 months we’ve opened 24 stores and every one is tracking exactly or better than we had anticipated,” Sutton said.

“It’s because we’re very diligent about getting things done the right way. We know how to make it work, we bring that knowledge to the table and we’re prepared to make sure that nobody fails.”

According to Franchise Gator, RNR’s top performing stores generate average annual revenues of $1,809,389 with an average annual operating income of $448,651. To set up as an RNR franchisee, you’ll need liquid capital of at least $250,000. Here are the other automotive franchises in Franchise Gator’s Top 100 for 2016.

Christian Brothers Automotive

A faith-based auto-repair franchise, Christian Brothers’ Automotive has been operating for 30 years and currently has more than 125 locations operating across 17 states, with a plan to reach 200 by end of 2017.
Liquid capital required: $80,000


Meineke Car Care Centers franchises provide a complete car care model to give consumers “high quality services at affordable prices.” A well-known brand in North America, there are almost 1,000 Meineke franchises operating nationally and internationally.

Liquid capital required: $110,000

Tint World

Tint World is the U.S.’s largest and fastest growing window tinting and automotive styling ,franchise. It provides a wide selection of automotive products and services including window tinting, car audio video, auto security, styling accessories, auto detailing and reconditioning services.

Liquid capital required: $50,000

Interstate All Battery Center

Part of a 60-year brand, Interstate All Battery Center offers services to both business-to-commercial and business-to-business clients, supplying batteries for cell phones, laptops, home security systems, vehicles and more.

Liquid capital required: $200,000


AAMCO has been in the automotive service industry since 1963 and is the world’s largest chain of automotive specialists. It has brand recognition in excess of 90 percent and almost 900 locations nationwide.

Liquid capital required: $65,000

Mr. Transmission/Milex

Mr. Transmission/Milex is one of the leading franchisors in the automotive aftermarket industry, specializing in transmission and drive train maintenance repair, rebuilds, and replacement. It offers franchises in high volume, general automotive repair, high-ticket transmission repair, or both.

Liquid capital required: $70,000


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