Career networking sites such as LinkedIn encourage users to build a robust profile describing career accomplishments, education, interests and volunteer
work. For Robert Hulse, this means including roles as household manager, church leader, educator, curriculum developer and leadership in multiple nonprofit
organizations. While at first glance one might be surprised to see “multi-unit franchise owner” on that resume of achievements, a deeper look shows
it makes perfect sense.
During a period of job transition, Robert and his wife came to our offices at FranNet of Atlanta with goals to better control their destiny, create a secondary income and build equity through business ownership. But their drive to own their own business extended far beyond the numbers and their own personal gain. Robert also wanted a vehicle to serve others and fund his humanitarian missions, but he wasn’t sure what type of businesses would fulfill his diverse list of goals. As we worked together through the process, we landed squarely on a franchise model aligned with his business objectives as well as his personal calling. Robert is now the owner of his first Roosters Men's Grooming Center, a Regis franchise brand.
I visited with Robert at his John’s Creek Roosters MGC location for an update on his plan and his purpose.
LK: Robert, you’ve shared some specific and important personal goals. Please tell us about those goals and how being in business for yourself will enable you to achieve them?
RH: After moving to Atlanta in 2011, I became aware of and exceedingly concerned about the growing epidemic of human trafficking. I found there is a large gap in how organizations collaborate and work with each other to combat this problem. In order to have a meaningful impact, I needed flexibility in my schedule to begin implementing my vision and establish a consistent source of funding for this cause. Small business ownership seemed to be a perfect vehicle to build a system of connections with families, local officials and fellow business owners. I hope to raise awareness from the ground up, to get people talking to each other about human trafficking, and to discover what we can do together to rid our communities of this tragedy.
LK: You hold the title of CEO of your household and have dedicated a lot of time to leading and volunteering in your community. Now that you’re a franchise owner, how are you using these experiences in your business?
RH: In all of these various roles I’ve learned the importance of building trusting, nurturing relationships as a cornerstone to any large scale group effort. People just don’t follow anyone; they follow those they trust. As a franchise owner, there is nothing more important than establishing and maintaining faith in the Roosters Men’s Grooming Center brand with our guests, our team of stylists and barbers, and fellow franchisees. Trust is built through connecting authentically with others. All of my prior experiences are brought to bear on the challenges of inspiring, coaching and leading a diverse team of professionals in a way that helps realize the dream of a world without human trafficking.
LK: Please share a little bit about your franchise exploration.
RH: I knew I wanted to work within our community through a service business that creates jobs while allowing for the schedule flexibility I need to work on the greater mission. With the tools and guidance provided by FranNet, we collaboratively developed a personal business model that included semi-passive management style based on working with skilled professional employees.
The process was rigorous, but by trusting it and engaging openly in the soul-searching it provided, I found FranNet’s services to be invaluable in helping find the right franchise fit.
LK: Ultimately, you chose to purchase an existing Roosters franchise location to start?
RH: Yes. Buying an existing location meant I hit the ground running day one, bypassing much of the startup cost and hassle. After a smooth handover from the previous owner, I now have an empowered team to handle the details of day-to-day operations while I focus on building relationships in the community, becoming active in the Johns Creek Chamber of Commerce and sponsoring youth sports, which I very much enjoy!
LK: Give us a quick snapshot of Roosters.
RH: At Roosters Men’s Grooming Center, we work hard every day to provide an unparalleled grooming experience. Whether you need a precise haircut, a close shave, or a relaxing facial massage, we exist to make men feel great about how they look.
LK: How important was brand strength for you in choosing your franchise?
RH: It was everything. I wanted a strong, well-established franchise with a reputation for high standards and ethics, but also looked for a brand that offered room to grow in the Atlanta market. And I knew did not have a desire to build my own brand from scratch. We found this balance in Roosters Men’s Grooming Center (backed by Regis Corporation). I’m really enjoying working with my team on building the brand presence here in Atlanta.
LK: Tell me about the training and franchisor support you’ve received during your ramp up phase.
RH: I spent a full week at Regis Corporation’s headquarters in Minneapolis. I met with every department that was relevant to small business ownership – legal, marketing, accounting, and real estate. I spent a great deal of time being coached on the brand itself. Each and every time I call the Regis folks, they have been exceedingly responsive and interested in doing whatever they can to support our team. Every franchise owner would prefer to keep the royalties paid to the franchisor, but I guarantee that the help and support I have received over these first few months has well exceeded this “mandatory” cost. If I had to learn this business alone, doors would never have been opened and I would have failed already. Beyond the corporate support, Roosters MGC has a well-established culture of teamwork that exists among its franchisees. I am learning more of the value and importance of these relationships and I’m incredibly grateful to have them.
LK: Knowing what you know now, what advice could you give people who are looking to go into business ownership through franchising?
RH: Getting into a franchise business intelligently requires two things. 1) a well-understood knowledge of one's self as it relates to business ownership and daily business operations and 2) knowledge of how one's own goals and ownership style align with the thousands of franchise opportunities that are available. Neglect either one of these components and success in franchising will be elusive.
LK: How would you sum up your experience so far?
RH: I’ve learned business ownership is very much like adding a new family member. There are always shifting needs for the business and for the team that require attention and energy. Much like raising children and running a household, people are relying on me to make solid decisions and those decisions have a real impact on their lives. I’m 100% committed, much like one would be to a family member, to never let them down.
LK: What’s next in your journey?
RH: In the short term I’m focused on growing repeat customer business at our John’s Creek location and becoming known as a valued business in the community while we’re sourcing the real estate for our next location. Ultimately, I’ll have multiple locations in Metro Atlanta region and this will provide a solid foundation for delving deeper in the effort to eradicate human trafficking.
Robert ended our conversation with a pay-it-forward piece of advice for anyone setting out on the path to business ownership regardless of the purpose behind the pursuit, “if you are looking for someone to walk with you through the franchise ownership decision- making process, you will do well to let Leslie lead you!” Thanks Robert!
If you have a mission that extends beyond your bi-monthly paycheck and want to make a career change to have more time to pursue your purpose, contact me. Let’s start building your personalized business model today.
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