US car service chain Quick Lane opens in Australia

By Sarah Stowe | 28 Jan 2020 View comments

US vehicle service and maintenance chain Quick Lane Tyre and Auto Centres has opened its first Australian store.

Global CEO John Hanighen, visiting from the US, told Inside Franchise Business the Hoppers Crossing store is just the first of many outlets planned for Australia. He expects a national presence for this brand within five years.

“It may be sooner but we’re not looking to do it in one year. We’ll expand from here and go where the best results will be according to site modelling. We’re looking to do individual franchises across different states, we want to do a more individual approach as we’ve done in other markets.”

While Quick Lane is a separate business here, the overarching brand is owned by car giant Ford. That’s something that reassures franchisees, Hanighen said.

“The franchisee feels much better about the relationship, that we’re in it for the long haul. We have about 1100 locations and have been trading for over 23 years, we’ve had some very good success.”

The franchisor prefers hands-on operators as franchisees but is open to interest from investors. In Thailand one business owner has a portfolio of eight service outlets.

Typical franchisees could be a family looking for a business with a succession plan. Parents could open up the first store and then the younger generation tale on a second outlet, Hanighen suggested.

Whether the franchisee is an investor or individual they can expect to undergo typical financial checks before signing up to the franchise. It helps for franchisees to be motor enthusiasts and a motor servicing background is a bonus, but the system in place is set to help franchisees, Hanighen said. Training through an academy ensures technician and franchisee are appropriately skilled.

“All coaches come from the aftermarket,” said Hanighen. The support team in Australia numbers eight people; the first store has four technicians, a service advisor and store manager.

“We have high expectations for the market, it’s a very good economy for us to come in and partner with customers locally.”

Typical hot spots

Quick Lane's first outlet in Australia is at Hoppers Crossing | Inside Franchise Business

Quick Lane’s first outlet in Australia is at Hoppers Crossing | Inside Franchise Business

High traffic areas around second tier shopping centres are typical hot spots for this US brand as 70 per cent of custom comes from consumers out shopping.

What defines the right location is less about demographics – income and age groups – and more about the age of the vehicles in an area. A suburb with cars in the four to nine years aftermarket category is prime hunting ground.

Hanighen pinpointed price transparency and “a laser focus” on a menu of 14 specific services as particular benefits to Australian consumers.

Quick Lane offers menu-pricing for most vehicles and will utilise an online, paperless service which provides instant two-way communication between the service centre and customers.

“Our policy is to always let you know what’s happening, jargon-free – and many Quick Lane services are menu-priced, so you know what the maximum cost will be upfront,” said Tim Bill, general manager at Quick Lane Australia.

The new service point at Hoppers Crossing, Victoria, utilises smart technology and a comprehensive diagnostic system that allows its technicians to provide services for all vehicle makes and models. The smart technology also provides time efficiencies, and all jobs are endeavoured to be completed in 90 minutes or less.