Hard Work Meets Opportunity
Jeff McFadden joined Service King as a service advisor in 1988. Since joining, he has held almost every position the company has to offer and has risen to the rank of president. With 28 years of experience with Service King, McFadden has the longest career of any tenured president or CEO of the Big 4 MSOs. McFadden has been credited with being an integral part of the growth and development of Service King. Throughout his journey, McFadden has seen many changes in the industry and has picked up a few helpful tips along the way.
Starting out as a service advisor, you rose all the way to the top of Service King. How were you able to do that?
It’s pretty simple actually—I worked hard and was given an opportunity. Hard work meets opportunity; there’s no better recipe for success. The growth of this organization has been constant. I think what’s really helped me out is that in my early years I was able to work in every capacity. By managing a shop, writing estimates and performing other various job duties I now have an appreciation for every single person that is on our team.
I’ve always had goals. When we had three Service King locations and then grew to five, I wanted to be one of those location managers. When I became GM, my goal was to help start new locations. I’m so encouraged by the company and the organization, I think that’s so important. For me, really early on, it was all about, “Wow, look at this opportunity!”
We believe as executive leadership that it is our responsibility to continue to grow and give opportunities, which is what was given to me. We give young leadership hopefuls the same opportunities that we were given.
You’ve always had goals. What’s next on the list for you?
At this point in your life, your priorities change. I’ll be 50 in May and I’m sitting here looking at photos of my daughters. My goals are to change someone’s life. There’s nothing more fulfilling to me than that. My goal is to continue to create a great organization and to be the MSO of choice.
What is the thing you’re most proud of in your career?
I’ve had the opportunity to introduce a number of different people to Service King, including CEO Chris Abraham, and watch how it’s changed their lives. I’d probably say that watching these good, quality people help shape the business and seeing the impact that that has had on their lives is what I’m most proud of.
Since you started in the industry, what are some of the biggest changes that you’ve seen?
Back in the early ’90s, consolidation wasn’t happening as much and there was trust lacking with the insurance industry. I think that has to do with technology. Now, with all the increases in technology, there’s more transparency and there’s more confidence with the insurance industry.
What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in Service King?
In the early ’90s, 12 of us were shareholders in the company. Now, it’s over 300. A company full of shareholders allows us to run the business like we own it.
Where do you think the industry is headed in the next five, 10 years?
There are a couple of things. First, and I think this will happen even earlier than five years, there will be more engagement with the OEs. With our ability to service customers, I think that MSOs are a great ally for the OEs. Technology will continue to advance and create a more seamless experience for the customer. I think in the future, body technicians may be more of an engineer-type due to the changes we’re seeing in vehicles and the complexity of the repair.
What is Service King doing to prepare for the future?
I’ve noticed that MSOs in general are investing in technical trades and trying to develop the talent of the future. [Our] apprenticeship program is something that we’ve invested in. We connect our apprentices with journeymen for one year, which allows them to be independent after that first year. Service King is dedicated to training and investing in its personnel.
You mentioned a deeper relationship with the OEs. Is this something that Service King is currently working on?
We are having conversations to see how we can help them. With driving patterns up and fuel prices down, Service King believes there is a need and a place for us to provide assistance to the OEs.
What trends should shop owners keep their eyes on?
Equipment is becoming more and more critical. Shop owners need to be investing in their equipment and in their personnel. Take the time to stop and see where the industry is going. Shop owners should be asking themselves how they can continue to invest and keep pace with training and vehicles. This is so important, otherwise shop owners will find themselves in a position where they’re unprepared.
What changes can we expect from Service King in the next few years?
We’ll continue to perfect our operations. We’re very critical of ourselves and we’re always looking for ways to improve. We’ll continue to grow and focus on the vehicle, training and personnel. We’re in a great position and we’ve had wonderful success—this year is our 40th anniversary. Externally and internally we’ll continue to make investments as well as checking to make sure we’re keeping pace with an industry that is consolidating.