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“5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became the CEO of Tint World Automotive Styling Centers,” With Charles Bonfiglio

I had the pleasure to interview Charles Bonfiglio. Charles is the CEO of Tint World® Automotive Styling Centers™; the largest and fastest-growing aftermarket car and truck accessories and window tinting franchise in North America. With over thirty years of experience in successfully leading multiple first-class franchise organizations, Charles has acquired specialized knowledge with a diverse […]

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I had the pleasure to interview Charles Bonfiglio. Charles is the CEO of Tint World® Automotive Styling Centers™; the largest and fastest-growing aftermarket car and truck accessories and window tinting franchise in North America. With over thirty years of experience in successfully leading multiple first-class franchise organizations, Charles has acquired specialized knowledge with a diverse set of business and technical skills that bring unique value to the Tint World® Franchise Company and partners alike. His particular area of expertise is successfully developing and growing automotive franchise companies to maximum profits and market share by building strong management teams with a winning attitude that provides outstanding customer satisfaction, and implementation of advanced marketing techniques, creative financing, and real estate development. As a strategically minded visionary and driven entrepreneur, Charles continuously seeks to expand and grow existing business with continuous improvement to maximize profitability, while developing new revenue and generating opportunities by leveraging innovation and multi-channel revenue streams.


Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I was in my early 20s, I moved from Brooklyn, New York, to South Florida with the idea of opening an automotive aftermarket accessory shop. This was largely due to my love cars and accessorizing them with car stereos, window tinting and other cool items. Although I felt this would be easy, it was not well received by landlords, bank lenders, or anyone else for that matter. This prevented me from being able to secure a lease and loan that was necessary to start my business. I felt that they didn’t trust me as a young person with a new business concept.

After several months of rejection, I had a discussion with a cousin of mine who was about my age and had recently opened an automotive repair franchise. He invited me to visit his new business. Even though it wasn’t exactly the type of business that I wanted, after visiting his store I saw that his new business was doing well. I didn’t know anything about franchising at that time, but I decided to apply for a franchise business. After a few weeks, I received a letter of approval from the franchisor and this approval letter alone gave me the credibility needed to secure a bank loan and a lease from the landlord; this all happened before I became a franchisee.

I quickly saw that franchising was a better pathway for my success. It was a lot quicker than trying to reinvent the wheel. It didn’t take long to become an expert and successfully operate the franchise business. Within a year I opened my second store and within 20 years, I acquired nine locations. As I was building on that success, I wanted to make my original dream a reality by starting the Tint World® Automotive Styling Centers™ franchise.

Can you share one of the major challenges you encountered when first leading the company? What lesson did you learn from that?

When I first started out as a franchisee of multiple automotive repair shops, I was responsible for opening and operating my own stores. I became an expert at hiring and training my staff. Within a short period of time, the stores were fully operational and profitable. Knowing that once I had the stores up and running with the right staff in place, I was able to back off and let my staff run the businesses.

In contrast, as the CEO of the Tint World® franchise, being a part of opening and operating locations is different because they are independently owned. When I had my own franchise stores, I was able to dictate the way I want things to be done. However, with independent owners running the franchise businesses for themselves, they sometimes may not run their business in manner that I would run mine. I have come to realize that each franchise owner grows at their own pace. I didn’t take me long to realize that I had to train and support franchise owners in a way that is inspirational and could literally give them a sense of comfort and ease right from the beginning. The fact that I didn’t have direct control of the franchisees was a new learning curve for me. It was a new reality to guide the leadership of the owners and staff. They appreciate when I explain some of the obstacles that I overcame when I was a franchisee and because I was able to adjust to this new role, it has provided a platform for our franchisees to successfully grow their businesses.

What are some of the factors that you believe led to your eventual success?

Following a proven franchise business model and being inspired by my cousin were instrumental to my success. By getting involved with my franchisor and being elected for various committees, I gained specialized knowledge in sales, marketing, operations and training programs.

As an elected committee member, I enjoyed helping and training other franchisees become successful and was also able to learn from franchisees that were doing very well.

Learning and sharing what I had learned really helped me evolve as a business owner and ultimately led me to the decision of developing the Tint World® franchise business system in 2006. It was a unique business model that was grounded in my 30-plus years of building automotive businesses.

My experience in opening and operating nine automotive repair franchise locations provided me with a deep understanding of how to be successful as CEO of the Tint World® franchise.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Became CEO”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. The difference between an entrepreneur and a CEO. They are very different, and nobody tells you that. An entrepreneur is a visionary. They create something new, and they make it work. They grind, and they work hard, and they do a lot of the heavy lifting themselves. However, when you become a CEO of a franchise system, that method might be really good for the first 40 stores, but once you start getting beyond that, you really have to put the right people in place to run your corporate office. This is essential when training and empowering them to do what they do best. To sum it up, when you become a CEO of a franchise, it’s more of a leadership role, but the objective of a successful company does not change.
  2. It is extremely important to have a good company culture from the beginning, especially in the areas of hiring, onboarding and training. When you are a CEO, there are some people you hire, and then you see them maybe once or twice a year. Building on a culture of good will and a sense of belonging to something great almost guarantees that there will be a team with specialized skills that is ready to make a positive impact.
  3. As CEO, you become the face of that company. There is no way of hiding, and it’s all about leadership, which is actually a good thing, and it’s something that you have to learn on the job. Nobody ever told me that I’d be standing up in front of these people to motivate them at annual conferences; I’d be on podcasts and in newspapers. You need to develop a completely different mindset from being an entrepreneur. As CEO, you are the glue that holds the whole company together, and everyone is counting on you.
  4. The CEO also must be well-versed in pretty much every area of the business in order to lead a sustainable organization. It is also necessary to look ahead at market trends in order to leverage new opportunities. These new opportunities require answers to specific questions: How fast can I build? How safe can I build? How can I steer this ship into greater success?What practices have resulted in our continued success in leading the industry that we serve?
  5. When you’re the CEO, your organization is on a continuous path of growth with never-ending changes. You are constantly learning how to become better in every aspect your field, and learning to balance that growth strategically can be challenging. It is my job to empower my team manage the day-to-day workload and develop new initiatives. This allows me to spend more time on the thinking, planning, networking and maintaining a good face for the company.

What advice would you give to your colleagues to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I believe it is important to have a good work/life balance. What really gives you that balance is to focus on doing work that you enjoy and are good at, so when you put in longer hours it’s something you find fulfilling. Then, it’s really not a job, it’s a hobby and part of your life’s adventure. Having strong family values and quality of life allows you the freedom to maximize your ability to focus on your business and its success. To build and maintain solid work relationships, we have fun, team building activities such as dinners, bowling, charitable events, etc.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

My mother and father were the guiding forces in my life. They always made me feel special and told me that I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to it. I have had a few mentors who helped me with certain goals that I wanted to achieve.

For example, a customer, Howard.

When I was a franchisee with the automotive repair shop, a customer by the name of Howard came into my store. He was about my age and just out of college. He worked for a big development firm in Miami, and he was really smart, but he had a lot of college debt and didn’t make a lot of money. The muffler on his Saab was completely broken and was rusted out like Swiss cheese. He didn’t have the money to replace it, so I fixed as best I could and didn’t charge him; I just genuinely wanted to help him.

Over the years, Howard sent customers my way. He gave me real estate, bookkeeping and budgeting advice that literally made me millions of dollars. When you help someone out, never think that it’s not going to come back to you in some one way, shape or form.

What are some of the goals you still have and are working to accomplish, both personally and professionally?

It seems like no matter how much I accomplish, there is always something else to reach for. I want to keep evolving from an entrepreneur to a CEO, ultimately 20% entrepreneur and 80% CEO. Right now, I’m at about 50/50. I want to be able to create a space where I don’t have to do a lot of the production work myself. Alternatively, this leaves me more time for strategic planning.

In my personal life, I would love to schedule more traveling with my wife, Jeanette. She is the CFO of Tint World®, and she has an amazing staff around her. We want to build a team that can be successful without our direct guidance. I believe this will allow them to create self-sustaining results.

What do you hope to leave as your lasting legacy?

I want to leave a legacy of sustainable businesses, pass on the knowledge that I have acquired to my children, and know that I made my family proud; this is the greatest gift I could ask for.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would enhance people’s lives in some way, what would it be? You never know what your idea can trigger!

I want to leave a legacy of sustainable businesses, pass on the knowledge that I have acquired to my children, and know that I made my family proud; this is the greatest gift I could ask for.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

We are on Facebook at www.facebook.com/tintworld/, Instagram @tintworld, Twitter @tintworld, and LinkedIn at www.linkedin.com/company/tint-world/ and www.linkedin.com/company/tintworld-franchise/.

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