Franchising changed the face of retail business in the late 20th century. Instead of a businessperson having to build their own business from scratch, they could buy into an existing brand and enjoy all the benefits and reputation of that brand from day one.
The owners of the brand could expand their footprint more easily by sharing the cost with the franchisee, and the consumer could be assured of receiving consistent service and quality, no matter which store they went to.
But despite this, franchising hadn’t caught on in the motor industry, and in 1986, it was Supa Quick that changed everything. “Firestone’s then-CEO, Bill Taylor, was looking for a way to protect smaller tyre dealers from the large manufacturer-owned conglomerates that dominated the market,” said Bridgestone South Africa’s Head of Sales and Marketing, Shaun Wustmann. “He conceived the idea of licensing some small dealerships to sell Firestone tyres, even though they weren’t owned outright by Firestone.”
The Supa Quick concept was quick to take off, and with the success of the licensing programme, the chain was migrated to a fully-fledged franchising concept by1989. Now, a businessperson who had never before owned a tyre outlet could buy into the business and benefit from the expertise of the group. Some of the stores were initially owned by Supa Quick itself, and these were sold after 1989, giving new franchisees the opportunity to tap into the rapid growth of the South African auto industry in the 1990s.
Now, as Supa Quick celebrates its 30th birthday year in 2016, Bill Taylor’s original vision has been proven in practice – these days, most tyres in South Africa are sold through a franchised outlet. And, having pioneered the concept, Supa Quick remains the market leader, with over 240 stores across the country, expected to grow beyond 300 by 2020.
“The success of the idea is shown by the commitment of our franchisees,” Wustmann commented. “More than 80% of the original store owners from 1986 are still involved in Supa Quick,” he concluded.