Ann Saiz: Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Opening a Franchise

An Interview With Cynthia Corsetti

Be sure to build and develop the right team. While I know this takes time, once the training is complete, be confident that everyone has the same mindset and overall goals. This was one thing that took a little longer to achieve in some of the markets, but overtime, we’ve found the right people, who have fit well for us as a growing business.

The world of franchising offers a unique blend of entrepreneurship and established business models. However, navigating the franchise landscape can be daunting, especially for those embarking on this journey for the first time. There are lessons to be learned, pitfalls to avoid, and success stories to be inspired by. As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Ann Saiz.

Ann Saiz is a Midas franchise owner with locations throughout Florida in Lake Worth, Lake Park, Davie and Fort Pierce. Ann and her husband, Anselmo, opened their first Midas franchise location in Lake Worth in 2018 and added three more stores by the end of 2019. Prior to becoming a franchise owner, Ann spent the earlier part of her career in retail sales and marketing in New York City, where she became skilled at connecting with customers. She and her husband have had fun meeting their neighbors and getting involved in their communities; they have hosted fundraisers with local schools and volunteered with Best Buddies, a local organization that supports children, teens and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series. Before we dive into our discussion about succession, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share with us the backstory about what brought you to your specific career path?

With a background in marketing and sales, the idea of being an independent franchise owner while still being part of a renowned brand intrigued me. I liked the idea of becoming a Midas franchise owner, as Midas is a pioneering auto repair outlet with more than 60 years of history. It allows me to have my own business imprint while impacting the local community where I operate.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Since my husband and I started our journey with Midas, we’ve encountered countless meaningful moments. What stands out to me are the personal connections we make. It’s surprising how everyday actions can profoundly affect someone’s day, week, or even life. We really take the time to assist our customers and explain any issues their vehicle may have along with solutions. It’s rewarding to know that by solving a minor problem, we’re enabling them to get back to their lives happily.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Do you have a story about how that was relevant in your life?

When I reflect on my favorite life lesson quote, “don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know,” many thoughts come to mind. This lesson has been a guiding principle in my career and I recommend always leaning into it. I believe that facing the unknown is an opportunity for growth and innovation. By staying open to learning and bringing a fresh perspective, you can reach new levels of creativity. Ultimately, overcoming intimidation can turn into your greatest strength.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I firmly believe that what sets Midas apart is our unwavering dedication to our customers. While many businesses prioritize customer service, we go above and beyond by valuing our employees at our stores and fostering strong partnerships. These partnerships extend to our customers, our team members, and our franchisor. By nurturing solid relationships, we gain insights from different perspectives and thrive together. We understand that when customers, employees, and suppliers are satisfied, our business flourishes. With years of experience in the automotive repair industry, Midas has honed the best practices to help enable their franchisees to be successful.

What factors did you consider when selecting your franchise, and how did you determine it was the right fit for you?

When my husband and I started considering franchising, we explored various options and even pursued one outside of Midas. However, we soon realized that there were more limitations than opportunities in that venture. Around the same time, we received a call from Midas to discuss franchising opportunities. During our conversation, I was impressed by their forward-thinking approach and focus on growth, not just for the company, but also for their mindset and impact on local communities. I appreciated Midas’ progressive outlook and it played a significant role in our decision to franchise with them.

Can you share a significant challenge you faced while establishing your franchise? How did you overcome this obstacle, and what did this experience teach you about running a successful franchise?

We began our journey by opening our first Midas shop in September 2018. During the training for this location, we were offered a second opportunity to open a conversion location. Our first store was a shuttered business, meaning it was closed, and we had to start from scratch. The second store was a conversion, already having some muffler business, but it needed to be transformed into a Midas.

At first, when I came across the opportunity, I felt unsure. We hadn’t even launched our first location yet — how could we manage a second? However, the opportunity was too good to pass up, especially considering the excellent location. So, we decided to seize it. In the end, we embarked on developing and opening both locations at the same time. Just two months after our first location opened, we were already renovating our second Midas shop when we were offered the chance to take over a Midas in Davie, which became our third business.

The significant challenge was handling three Midas shops in less than five months, each with its own unique set of circumstances, all while being a new franchise owner learning the ropes. This experience taught me that to succeed in running a franchise, once you’re committed, you have to dive in headfirst and push forward relentlessly to achieve your goals. It’s crucial to find strategies to tackle obstacles and emerge victorious. Instead of dwelling on the problem, focus on finding solutions.

Looking back to when you first started your franchise, what was one aspect that completely took you by surprise? This could be related to the franchising process, customer interactions, or day-to-day management that you hadn’t anticipated.

Looking back at the early days, starting our franchise didn’t catch me off guard, but navigating through COVID-19 was a significant challenge. It affected all businesses at the time, regardless of their age or experience. Overall, I’m grateful for Midas’ support structure, which provides immediate assistance when needed. I was pleasantly surprised by the level of support from Midas as a franchisor, which guided me through every step of the process.

In hindsight, what advice would you give to potential franchisees about selecting a franchise that aligns with their personal and professional goals?

My advice would be to make sure they understand what their goals are and know that it takes time and effort to achieve them. I think when you come into a different market like the automotive industry, you are bringing in a fresh perspective and you can apply it to customer service and strong business practices. Be prepared to be involved and be dialed in every day. Make sure you bring a team together that aligns with your overall goals as well.

How do you balance adhering to the established systems of your franchise with the need to innovate and adapt to your local market? Can you provide an example of a successful adaptation or innovation you implemented in your franchise?

Midas encourages us to innovate and engage with our local communities, so there isn’t much need to balance. In terms of adaptation, sometimes it’s as simple as changes to personnel, making sure they’re the perfect fit for your business’s vision.

What are your “Five Things I Wish I Knew Before Opening a Franchise”?

  1. Be sure to build and develop the right team. While I know this takes time, once the training is complete, be confident that everyone has the same mindset and overall goals. This was one thing that took a little longer to achieve in some of the markets, but overtime, we’ve found the right people, who have fit well for us as a growing business.
  2. Understand how much of an opportunity you can impact your local community. Our involvement with Best Buddies happened naturally when a local teacher, waiting for her car repair, shared information about a fundraiser. Intrigued, I learned more about Best Buddies from their Regional Director and admired their work. I wanted to get involved. It’s an amazing organization, and I’m proud to support it in the communities where my Midas stores are located. Through their program, we hired a young man with disabilities. Seeing the positive impact on our business and employees firsthand was life-changing. We also encourage our vendors and other local businesses to support Best Buddies to give back within their local community.
  3. Reach out to local schools and help with fundraising. In just five years, through fundraising, I’ve witnessed customers returning and our Midas shops becoming a part of their lives. We’re woven into the stories they share at home, and it’s rewarding to see how our work can positively impact people.
  4. Make a deep connection with your employees as they become part of your extended family. Working closely with your employees is a given, but it’s crucial to go the extra mile and know about their personal milestones like weddings, births, or when they’re not feeling well. Being deeply connected with your team is essential for effective business operations.
  5. Get a true meaning for what comes back to you in operating your business. Employees who take ownership of the stores they work in create a special connection. Customers also develop a strong sense of loyalty to our brand, feeling protective of us. It’s incredible to hear people say they’ll only visit our Midas shop because they trust us to be honest with them. The connection and partnership between our team and customers truly enhances experience at our Midas shops.

As your franchise has grown, what have been the key drivers of its success? Looking forward, what strategies do you plan to implement to ensure continued growth and sustainability in an ever-evolving market?

The key drivers to our success are our partnerships. Building a team and community is essential — no one achieves success alone. Delivering on our promises is crucial, and this year, I’m focusing on improving communication. Whether it’s with our employees or customers, clear communication is key, especially when explaining car repairs. We strive to communicate responsibly and provide detailed explanations, ensuring everyone understands, regardless of the customer’s level of familiarity with automobiles.

The strategies to implement our partnerships are ongoing — it’s through ongoing training — every single employee knows what our goal is and how we will achieve it at our Midas shop. It may take longer with some people than others, but when it finally clicks, it’s golden.

As someone steering the ship, what thoughts or concerns often keep you awake at night? How do those thoughts influence your daily decision-making process?

Safety is a priority for us. Helping to ensure the safety of our employees and customers is paramount. I want everyone to be healthy and able to enjoy each day. I emphasize to my employees the importance of working safely to help provide our customers with safe and reliable transportation and the ability to save our customers money through proper maintenance.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

I’m deeply passionate about people taking care of themselves and living healthy, happy lives. If I could start a movement, it would be to regularly discuss this with my employees and strive to encourage them to make positive choices for their well-being.

Thank you for the time you spent sharing these fantastic insights. We wish you only continued success in your great work!

About the Interviewer: Cynthia Corsetti is an esteemed executive coach with over two decades in corporate leadership and 11 years in executive coaching. Author of the upcoming book, “Dark Drivers,” she guides high-performing professionals and Fortune 500 firms to recognize and manage underlying influences affecting their leadership. Beyond individual coaching, Cynthia offers a 6-month executive transition program and partners with organizations to nurture the next wave of leadership excellence.