As the Chief Operations Officer at Brakes To Go, Jonathan R. Ganther is in charge of directing and managing all service operations for the company. In addition to his supervisory responsibilities, Jonathan takes a hands-on approach to customer service, personally taking customer calls, scheduling appointments, and even handling service appointments if circumstances require.
As the original founder of Brakes To Go, Ganther takes pride in having originated the Brakes To Go mobile service concept, an idea he birthed from the bed of a half-ton pick-up truck in 2013. Since then Brakes To Go has rapidly grown to solidify the mobile repair concept and legitimacy across Central Texas – and now D/FW!
In this latest TBR Leadership Spotlight, Ganther discusses how he has married his management style with his vision for changing the automotive repair business.
What is your current role and area of responsibility?
I am the Chief Operating Officer and Co-Founder at Brakes To Go. My role involves overseeing all service operations for the company, including ordering parts, managing technician schedules, executing performance reports, and managing all hiring efforts. I am very hands-on in my role and wear many hats at the company. I am also heavily involved in training all of our new techs, and even step in to handle service appointments when needed.
How would you describe your work/leadership style and why has it worked so well for you?
I always try to establish an upbeat, welcoming culture with my employees. I believe if your team feels respected and appreciated, they will make strides to support your business. We consider our company culture a top priority and maintain it through giving annual employee bonuses, organizing team dinners, and taking an overall laid-back approach. To keep our culture alive, we strive to hire technicians that will match this philosophy and bring a positive energy to the company.
What do you see as your biggest challenge right now?
Brakes To Go goes against the conventional auto repair business model. We are a mobile company that goes straight to the customer, wherever they are. While this sounds ideal in a perfect world, we’re trying to convince people of a “new” way to get their car serviced, which can be challenging. We have had to invest a lot of money in advertising, and our cost of acquisition can be high. Our customer is technically everyone who drives a car, however it’s tricky to narrow down our target market and find our ideal customer that is open to this new way of brake repair.
How has the global Covid-19 pandemic impacted your operation? What will the brake world look like in light of the pandemic in the near term?
As a service company in the middle of a global pandemic, we saw road traffic decrease by 75-80 percent. If people aren’t driving their car, they don’t need their brakes serviced as frequently. On top of this, we saw a substantial increase in competition. More businesses started entering the mobile auto repair space; even big box retailers. This accompanied with a significant decrease in people driving made for a tough year and a half. I also see the pandemic having an affect on the auto industry long-term. Remote work is now more desirable, and we’re seeing lots of companies take a hybrid or fully virtual approach. We’ve also seen a multitude of supply chain interruptions and increased cost of production. For instance, the cost of rotors has gone up by almost 20 percent since the start of the pandemic. With increased competition and higher production costs, smaller businesses are definitely at risk.
What do you look for when evaluating top talent?
Consistency is a top priority of ours when recruiting new employees. The longer a technician works at a company, the more exposure they have to different parts of the car repair process. Specifically, we look for hands-on experience with brake repair, given that Brakes To Go is exclusively a brake service company.
What is the best career advice you have been given?
I think the best advice I’ve ever been given is “step into unexpected roles with grace.” When you run a business, you have to be prepared to step into any role, whether it’s part of your job description or not. I think being adaptable is one of the most important parts of this. You’re bound to face adversity throughout your career, but it’s the attitude you approach problems with that will determine your success.
Where do you look for inspiration
I love reading other entrepreneur success stories. It’s inspiring to see how other business owners built their product or service from the ground up. Seeing these companies take off despite all odds gives me momentum in my own business.
How do you see the industry evolving over the next five-10 years and do you have any bold predictions for us?
In the next five-10 years, the industry will see a lot less automotive repair being performed. Electric cars don’t have much to them aside from an electric motor, which is far more efficient and reliable than a traditional engine. Gasoline-powered engines have malfunctions and far more things that experience wear and tear. As the market for electric cars grows, the auto repair industry will take a major hit.
What is the major challenge(s) facing your organization’s commercial vehicle operations now, in the near term and the long term?
Short-term, Brakes To Go is struggling with access to commercial vehicles. As stated previously, we are a fully mobile company and rely on these vehicles to fulfill our service appointments. Due to COVID, the auto industry is experiencing significant part shortages and limited vehicle availability.
In the long-term, a major obstacle we face is the life-span of our commercial vehicles. These vans experience a great deal of wear and tear, resulting in more repair needs overtime. This means that our commercial vehicles don’t last very long and will need to be replaced more frequently than a standard car.
What are the best opportunities for the company?
Expansion is the most promising opportunity for Brakes To Go. Currently, we only service markets in Texas. The cost for adding locations is extremely low, since we’re just simply putting more trucks in a new area. Expanding our company to new markets will lead to increased profitability and stronger brand awareness. Our goal is to expand to every major metro market in Texas, plus three out-of-state locations within the year.
The overall automotive world is being overwhelmed by the concept of autonomous/automated driving for both safety and efficiency reasons. How soon do you believe we will see truly autonomous commercial vehicles on the road?
I think all vehicles will be completely autonomous by 2035. We are on the verge of a major spike in automated driving. Multiple manufacturers have committed to going fully electric within this decade, and the efficiency, cost and overall maintenance for these vehicles blows gasoline cars out of the water.
Tell us something that most people might not know about you or your organization.
A lot of people start a business to get rich. For me, Brakes To Go is about setting up a successful organization that not only gives back to employees, but to the community. We do this by giving back to organizations like Brakes For Breasts and running various special promotions throughout the year such as Veterans Day and student discounts. We are always looking for ways to engage our local community and make a difference.
Learn more about Brake To Go HERE.