Although the last Maaco closed in July 2011,conditions were right to open his business, said Washer.
“I’m very motivated and driven and what happened with them didn’t concern me, didn’t affect me,” he said. “I’m pretty determined to succeed.”
Todd Jenkins, who had owned a different Maaco center in Cape Coral for about five years, said his business sunk when the economy tanked in mid-2007.
“The economy just kind of pushed me out the door,” he said.
Jenkins had fewer jobs coming into the shop, despite having the corporate support and recognition of a national brand, and had trouble keeping up with operational costs and franchise royalty fees, he said.
Now he’s beating the pavement looking for work, he said.
Still, hundreds of franchisees across the country weathered the recession and Maaco had dramatic sales increases in 2010 and 2011, said Dave Schaefers, senior vice president of franchise development for Driven Brands, the parent company of MAACO Franchising Inc. and other automotive aftermarket retailers.
Opening a franchise isn’t a decision that comes lightly on either side.
To become a Maaco franchisee, owners must show a net worth of roughly $300,000 with $90,000 available as liquid cash, Schaefers said.
The capital requirements are meant to help the new franchisee qualify for lending to help them open the business. After that, the franchisee pays an eight percent royalty fee weekly to MAACO Franchising, he said.
Schaefers said the company invests a lot of time educating franchisees, providing training and operational support.
Washer, a retired Lee County sheriff’s economic crimes investigator, started the process of opening his Maaco center years ago and paid the down payment on his franchise in October 2010. He secured a Small Business Administration loan and invested hundreds of thousands of dollars, purchasing the industrial building where the shop is, and investing in top notch equipment to paint, repair and refinish vehicles, he said.
He’s installed a new paint mixing room, a paint booth and a separate oven in the 11,000-square-foot shop.
“Basically, I invested everything that I have into making this work,” he said. “When you’re opening a business, you can’t go halfway in.”
A blend of favorable deals in the Cape Coral market, and the support of a national brand, have been instrumental in opening his body shop, Washer said.
It meant he could focus on being a hands-on owner, with support to manage the business and offer better prices for his customers, he said.