Open Mind Leads to Phenomenal First Franchise Success

Open Mind Leads to Phenomenal First Franchise Success
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For more than two decades corporate executive Bill Love bounced around the idea of owning his own business. Every few years he would resolve to make his entrepreneurial dream come true, only to pull back when decision time arrived. Bill admitted to retreating to the perceived safety of his every-two-week paycheck. Who could blame him? I did the same thing.

There’s nothing like a sudden shift in your career plans to force you to rethink your perception of security. When his executive position was eliminated in the summer of 2016, Bill decided it was time to open his mind to the idea of building his own corporate ladder. This time, it was different. Bill recalled his inquisitive wife Renee asking the one question that changed his mindset completely, “what’s the worst that could happen? You can always go back to working for someone else.”

After a phenomenal (and lesson-filled) first year in his Floor Coverings International franchise, Bill Love believes this inquisitive nature and open mindset was key to not only finding the perfect franchise fit, but to surviving “the breakers” to become the franchisee of the month (within his first three months!) When I caught up with Bill recently, he shared some insights for how to open your mind to phenomenal success in your first franchise.

Be Open to Other Possibilities
“If you told me five years ago I’d be the owner of a floor coverings franchise, I might not have believed you!”, says Bill. “I thought I needed to be passionate about the business; so I was thinking about a business related to craft beer, like a growler store, because I love craft beer.”

The first thing I worked on with Bill and Renee was helping them to let go of pre-conceived notions about the type of business to pursue and open their minds to the positive things the business could do for their family. The more suitable question to ask yourself when evaluating a franchise opportunity is whether the business suits your skills, unique talents and goals - not if it’s a product or service you love. Often when we mix our beloved hobbies with a need to generate income for our families, the thing we love suddenly becomes a chore. As Bill and Renee considered what they could do with the time flexibility and income generated by his business, the span of franchise options drastically widened.

Be Open to Something Completely New
Coming from big box retail, Bill thought he’d naturally need to look at inbound retail business models. This is a common misperception. In fact, most corporate refugees who turn to franchising as a means to business ownership do so in an industry that has little or nothing to do with their former corporate career. It’s the skills you learned in your former role that make it work - skills such as recruiting and training staff, organizing and managing teams, motivating and collaborating, leadership and vision.

Be Open to Inquiring as to the Good, Bad and Ugly
The vast majority of franchise owners I’ve worked with have told me the most meaningful information they gleaned during the due diligence process was through interviews with existing franchise owners. This was true for Bill as well.

“Franchisors have a positive view of their company, but it’s hard for them to speak to the day to day operations,” It’s vital to take time to speak directly with the franchise owners of the opportunities you’re investigating and learning the good, bad and ugly from a variety of perspectives.

“We narrowed it down to two franchises I loved and it seemed like an impossible choice, but after the franchisee interviews, it wasn’t even a debate.” Bill chose to speak with 4 all-stars, 4 doing well and 4 struggling franchisees for each of his two finalists. “I felt I most identified with the ones knocking it out of the park at Floor Coverings International and that led to an easy decision to move forward.”

Be Open to Asking for Help
Bill finalized his franchise agreement in December and started selling in February, a fast ramp up by any standard. He naturally felt it was important to sell because it was his skin in the game. “I started really quickly and in my first 30 days was named franchisee of the month and was on my way to becoming the next flooring mogul!” But, while he was crushing sales goals and accepting awards, the new franchise owner forgot to hire back office support. Operating the business solely by himself quickly became overwhelming. “Looking back, I wish I had the foresight to have hired an office manager before sales started pouring in.”

Halfway through his first year, Bill learned a phrase used frequently by his franchisor, they call it “getting in the breakers”. Bill said, "it’s overwhelming to ramp up your business, sell, fulfill orders and build your team.” While Bill describes himself as an entrepreneur who is comfortable with a bit of ambiguity and chaos, he admits he may never have fought his way through the breakers without the support of the franchisor and fellow franchisees.

“It really helps to talk with people who’ve ridden out the storm and landed safely back on shore.”

One of the reasons Bill wanted to own his own business through a franchise was the success formula the franchisor brings to the table. In his franchisee interviews, he found those who were struggling were the ones who thought they knew a better way and went on their own problem-solving adventures rather than relying on the time-tested processes of the franchise system. “It’s easy to think you know a better way, but you have to remember the franchise has seen just about everything and can help in ways you might never imagine.” When you find yourself struggling, the answer can be as simple as going back to the basics and doing it the way the franchisor designed it.

Closing in on his first year as a successful franchise owner, I asked Bill if he could say he was happy with his decision. His honest and open answer summed it up perfectly. He said, “if you had asked me during the breakers, it would have been a different answer, but yes, I’m super happy.”

If your mind is open to exploring the possibilities in franchise ownership, reach out to me today to set a time for an exploratory discussion. I can be reached at jdenise@frannet.com.  

Julie Denise utilizes her 30 years in financial services as an independent businesswoman and FranNet of Atlanta consultant. Since 2012, she has enjoyed connecting people, guiding those in career transition and expertly assisting those that would like to explore business ownership through franchising. Recognized often for her advocacy, she was named a Top FranNet Consultant in 2014 and 2016.

A graduate of Northwestern University, Julie volunteers with Atlanta Jobseekers, is the Atlanta Chapter Leader for the Business Executives Networking Group (BENG) and secretary for the SCORE North Metro Atlanta Chapter.

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