Chris and Michelle Mays opened their Port Charlotte, Florida, Tint World® location on March 7, 2020, right before “everything hit the fan,” as they describe it. But despite a global pandemic coinciding with their opening, they are staying on the path to success with the help and support of their Tint World® Automotive Styling Centers™ corporate team.
“For me, it was scary at times,” Chris said “Those thoughts are completely normal. You just have to put them aside and go for it anyway. You’re never going to keep somebody down who is committed to standing up.”
We had the opportunity to check in with the Mays to find out more about their journey to becoming Tint World® automotive franchise location owners and their plans for the future.
Question: How did you become a Tint World® location owner?
Chris: Michelle has been in retail management longer than we have known each other. We’d talked about getting her a business she could operate herself and stop running other people’s businesses. I was scrolling through my Instagram feed on night and saw an ad for Tint World® franchises. I looked into it and emailed her. She went over it and said she liked it.
We ended up setting up a Discovery Day and went to Boca Raton to visit Tint World® Headquarters. We loved it. They just felt like family. Even Tint World® CEO Charles Bonfiglio, I have no doubt we could call him on a Sunday night at 9 p.m. with an issue, and he’d be there for us.
We decided we would go for it, and it was about a two-year process from seeing that Instagram ad to opening the doors to our store.
Q: What was your work experience before joining Tint World®?
Chris: I am a contractor. I’ve been self-employed since 1996, and I’m currently operating a successful contracting business. Michelle is running the Tint World® location, and I’m jumping back and forth.
In 2007, when we moved to Port Charlotte, Michelle had been a stay-at-home mom for five years. She started looking for work, and I remember vividly that she had so much experience, it was almost too much experience for everything. It was disheartening. She got a temporary holiday position with Bath and Body Works, and after that she just soared, becoming an assistant manager and manager. Then she was headhunted by Sephora to manage a store, and that is where she was when we found out about Tint World®.
Q: What went into your decision-making process to become a Tint World® location owner?
Chris: A big part of it was that I built my contracting business over the years and rebuilt it after the economy collapsed. I knew what it took to get a business off the ground. The biggest thing in my eyes was meeting the team at Tint World® Headquarters. Even in uncertain terms, let us know that they would be there for us no matter what, which gave us a lot of confidence and support.
Michelle: Talking to the other owners and hearing it from them, as well, was a big part of our decision, too.
Q: Were there any people at Tint World® that particularly inspired you to join the franchise?
Michelle: We met the manager in the Ft. Lauderdale store at the time. He was just so passionate about being a manager, and about the company in general, not just the store where he worked.
Chris: For me, it was Charles and Director of Franchise Development, Anthony Foley. I get them. I think we have a lot of the same personality. I got that they cared about people in the organization, and they’re not going to let just anybody into the organization. They don’t want anyone to fail. They want everyone to succeed.
Q: Do you have a particular specialty or favorite Tint World® service?
Chris: I like them all, but I’ve personally taken a liking to Nano Ceramic Coating. I was trained on it, so I’m the one who does it in our store.
Michelle: I think Nano Ceramic Coating is exciting because it makes a significant visual difference. Just seeing the results is amazing.
Q: What kind of car do you own currently?
Michelle: When we opened, we had a borrowed 2020 Chevrolet Corvette C8 in our showroom, and we were the first Tint World® location to have one. I have a 2013 BMW 335i, and I have a 2017 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1, which was a Mother’s Day gift three years ago.
Chris: I surprised her, too! They even sent me home with a giant bow. I have a Chevy 3500 dually Crew Cab.
Q: What is your favorite car that you don’t own?
Michelle: I own my favorite car.
Chris: The Koenigsegg Jesko. It’s a beautiful car. It’s fast. If Charles wants to buy me one for our one-year gift, it really wouldn’t hurt my feelings!
Q: What challenges have you faced as a Tint World® location owner?
Michelle: Handling our store during the coronavirus has been a challenge, but construction was our real nightmare. We signed our lease in July of last year, and we gave our contractor a deposit when we signed the contract in July, too. He dragged his feet. We were supposed to open at the end of November. We had to fire him and get another contractor to finish the job. Chris did a tremendous amount of the work, too.
Chris: At one point, we had inventory in our building, and the first contractor left a 14×11 hole in the back of our building.
Q: What advice would you give a new Tint World® location owner?
Chris: First off, be sure you put deadlines in your contracts with your contractor. Also, call people when you have a question. We had a great support team, not just corporate and not just guys we pay to be there for us. One of the biggest things that put us where we are right now is calling and reaching out. We have a team of people with plenty of experience that are there for us. If you trust the process, everything else will fall in line.
Q: Do you have plans for growth in the future?
Chris: We originally wanted to open a store in Sarasota, but another owner had already bought the rights to that area. While we were in training, we found out that the owner had given up Sarasota, so we secured it while we were there. We plan on opening in Sarasota once the Port Charlotte store is up and running well. I still have my construction company that I’m trying to get to a point where it doesn’t need me at all. If we can get all those to where they don’t need us, who knows? The sky’s the limit.
If you would like to learn more about Tint World® franchise opportunities, download our franchise kit today!