Franchises Poised for Growth – Rissy Sutherland

By Sullivan Alexander, Contributor, the Price of Business Show. * Sponsored

Sullivan recently interviewed Rissy Sutherland, COO or Honest-1 Auto Care.

About the interviewee:

Pursue your American Dream… 

Rissy Sutherland brings a wealth of automotive industry experience to her role as Chief Operating Officer at Honest-1 Auto Care, a position she has held since April 2008. After learning the automotive industry from the inside out while working in her family’s shop for 10 years and holding every role inside the automotive business, Rissy established herself as a leader in the category while serving first as Director of Training and then as Vice President of Operations and Training for Moran Industries, where she managed all operations and training for over 200 repair facilities. Rissy received both her Bachelor of Science and Masters in Human Resources and Training degrees from Clemson University in South Carolina in the 1990’s while working in her family’s automotive facilities. In addition to this she was recognized as one of the top 40 people under 40 by the Phoenix Business Journal in 2009.

Describe the franchise model including (products or services offered, number of employees, location, type of customers you work with, etc.)  

Honest-1 Auto Care (H-1) is a full service automotive repair and maintenance company designed to provide a high quality service experience to the customer in a female/family friendly upscale environment with attention to matching customers’ expectations and needs with quality and honesty in all regards. Our points of difference are that H-1 is the only National franchise that is 100% ESA certified as eco-friendly in our industry, the H-1  facilities are upscale and match our customer centric approach, and H-1 embraces the full meaning of its name as to honesty and integrity in all things we do in our  business. A typical store will have from 5-10 employees. Our buildings will generally be 4,000-5,000 sq. ft. with 6-8 bays, and located as a free standing unit or operated as an end cap in a shopping center. H-1 can take over an existing business (in our industry or not) and convert to our use, or build from the ground up.

Tell us about the franchise branding, both in terms of customers and franchisees. 

We retained a rebranding firm in 2008 to create validity to our change in brand from a light hearted image of a cartoon character, Otto, as our focus, to a highly professional and highly relevant brand with expertise in all areas of maintenance and repairs while creating a customer centric approach to the consumer with a full blown commitment to being the #1 Eco-Friendly and Customer Centric franchise chain in the industry. Our customers are loyal to the H-1 brand because we offer a very recognizable difference from what the traditional industry facilities offer.

Briefly describe the key franchise systems that have been developed and put in place?

We have rebranded the H-1 model in all regards since we took over the company in 2008. New logos and interior and exterior signage, a first-class,  interior image, and a plethora of new programs were added such as: new training program, continuous webinars regarding key issues, new standards manual, new opening manual, new operating manual, ESA (Eco-Friendly) certification manual, new marketing manual, new revenue generation programs, retaining and establishing a relationship with a nationally known ad agency, retaining a PR and Social media agency that manages our appeal to the marketplace. We continue to be on the forward edge as technology changes, new ideas develop, and specifically embracing the opportunity, and need, to be the first system to be 100% ready for the expansion of hybrid technology as predicted by the industry pundits.

What do you see as important considerations in selecting a franchisee and what is the initial investment and operating cost profile of a typical franchisee location (estimate is acceptable).

We use the three-tier model of franchising. We us the Region Director (RD) as a bridge to our franchisees by training the RD to support, assist in site location, and sell franchises within his/her territory, etc. We look for financially qualified individuals with a background in sales or management, who are entrepreneurial in nature with a desire to succeed in their own business. Our franchisees need not have any experience in automotive to own and operate a store. We have full training and support to provide what is needed to be successful. Our costs for a single unit are between $169,750 – $398,750.

As the franchise expands what do you see as hot button issues?

Finding sites to meet the wave of franchisees we have brought into our system is number one.

When you look at other franchise options available, describe why this is the next big thing both from a customer and franchisee’s point of view?

Our concept is recession resistant, especially since H-1 increased revenues 11% through the recent Great Recession. It requires employees that are trained and stay on board, and we are a needed business that will not be obviated by technology. Our franchisees believe as do we, that by servicing the customer in a friendly, upscale, impeccably-clean environment, they will enjoy their overall H-1 experience and enable us to prosper. No techno-babble. Just relevant and truthful diagnosis and repair.


Honest-1 Auto Care is the only national full-service auto care company that is 100% ESA® Certified Eco-Friendly. Honest-1 leads the industry in numerous eco-friendly initiatives including strict recycling of automotive materials, pollution prevention, resource conservation and offering Eco-Friendly Auto Care services such as their eco-friendly fluid lines,  ECO TuneUp® and ECO Oil Change® options. In addition to its high environmental standards, Honest-1 has a very unique customer-centric approach to the auto care industry providing centers that are family-friendly, characterized by clean and upscale waiting areas, Internet cafes, children’s play areas, comfortable leather chairs and couches, an HD TV and complimentary beverage stations. Honest-1 was ranked 321 in Entrepreneur magazine’s 2013 “Franchise 500” and ranked 338 in the magazine’s 2011 “Franchise 500” list. Additionally, Honest-1 ranked as one of the top companies in the 2011 and 2012 Lube and Oil News “Top Oil Change-Plus Chains” and in the 2013 “HOT 100 FRANCHISE LIST” by



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Sullivan Alexander is a contributor on the Price of Business Talk 1110 AM KTEK (on Bloomberg’s home in Houston), whom you can learn more about at

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