ORLANDO, Fla. — Jiffy Lube International Inc. franchisee and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Briggs Anderson was honored as the franchisee of the year at the franchise group's recent annual convention in Orlando.
Mr. Anderson and his wife Niki Leffingwell joined the Jiffy Lube network in January 2017 with an acquisition of eight Jiffy Lube service centers in western Montana. Their company, Foster Group Inc., subsequently closed two of the five stores in Missoula but opened a new one in Butte to yield the seven it now operates.
The award is presented annually to the franchise entity that best exemplifies Jiffy Lube's core values and attributes, including a commitment to operational excellence, employees' professional development, innovation and an outstanding customer experience.
"In a short period of time, Foster Group has demonstrated a commitment to excellence, improving the appearance of the service centers, attracting and retaining well-trained team members and enhancing the overall customer experience," Jiffy Lube President Patrick Southwick said.
"I am honored to be the recipient of the highly coveted 'Franchisee of the Year' award," Mr. Anderson said.
"I believe the award was hard earned and much deserved by the 45 employees in western Montana. Our first two years of business were challenging, but thanks to the work of great employees and patronage of great customers, we have been able to make it and look forward to many years ahead."
Prior to becoming a Jiffy Lube franchisee, Mr. Anderson was a U.S. Marine who served in Falluja, Iraq, in 2007, and Helmand Province, Afghanistan, in 2008 with the Second Battalion of the Seventh Marine Regiment. Following his tour of duty in Afghanistan, he returned to the U.S. to serve as an officer instructor at the Marine Corps' officer training school, The Basic School, in Quantico, Va.
He worked for Cargill Corp. from late 2011 through late 2016.
Ms. Leffingwell is a licensed pediatric nurse practitioner in Montana who worked as registered nurse coordinator at Missoula Valley Pediatrics prior to making the decision to stay home and focus on the couple's three children.
The couple credited their employees with helping to build trust with customers by focusing on providing quality service.
"Our operational philosophy is that if we do a great job inspecting the vehicle and servicing the customer's vehicle, then we will develop a loyal customer base, with drivers returning to our locations for all of their vehicle maintenance needs," Mr. Anderson said.
"Additionally, we coach our service center technicians to help educate customers on manufacturer recommendations so that the customer can decide when and what services they want performed on their vehicle."
In recognition of the employees' contributions to the business' growth, the owners raised wages by more than 10 percent since taking over the stores.
"Today, I think it is easier for some of our employees to envision a career at Jiffy Lube in Montana," Mr. Anderson said.
The enterprise operates three stores in Missoula and one each in Columbia Falls, Butte, Bozeman and Helena. Three of the locations are Jiffy Lube Multicare locations — offering expanded services including brakes and batteries — and Foster Group is working on plans to develop its remaining stores into Jiffy Lube Multicare locations.
Another aspect of business that helped Foster Group earn the top franchise honor is its commitment to the environment, Jiffy Lube said. The service centers store motor oil in bulk tanks rather than cardboard boxes, a move that cost more initially but which will reduce cardboard waste by at least 10 tons and plastic waste by 1 ton in 2019 alone.
Foster Group also recycles all of its waste oil, either by using it for heating in the stores or recycling through a third-party oil recycler, and recycles used metal oil filters rather than sending them to a landfill.