Chris White was no stranger to the challenges and rewards of growing and leading companies when he attended his first FranNet workshop in 2007. Starting
out in sales, he climbed to the pinnacle of the corporate ladder, eventually becoming the President and CEO of a $500-million-dollar beverage company.
Additionally, he served on the board of both public and private companies. When we first met, he was approaching 60 years old and had begun asking himself,
Like many transitioning corporate executives who come to FranNet for guidance, Chris wanted to attempt starting and scaling his own business from scratch, something he’d never done. At the time however, the economy was becoming “a little too dicey,” as he described it, so he looked for help in determining if it was the right time. If so, was he as well suited for business ownership as he thought?
Working with Chris reminded me of when I left a marketing executive role at 3M to venture out on my own. It was both exciting and terrifying at the same time. For Chris to be successful, we needed to develop a personalized business model to address the goals and attributes he most desired such as a high growth potential, simplicity, recurring/contractual revenue and a predictable future exit strategy for when he’d be ready to retire. When we identified an opportunity in master franchising for a start-up commercial cleaning franchise company, Chris was immediately interested.
Master franchising (or regional development) is a much larger way to grow a franchise business throughout a territory or region. With a typical franchise agreement, the franchisee is offering services or products directly to the end user. A master franchise agreement includes the rights to an exclusive geographic market, which allows for multiple ways to generate income including sharing in the royalties from the locations operating in the region you’re in charge of developing. I’ve often called it the sweet spot of franchising.
Sounds like a dream, right? Realize though, prime territory for established brands like Subway were scooped up years ago when those companies were much younger and relatively unknown. The opportunity for substantial growth through master franchising exists predominantly with emerging brands. To succeed as a master franchisor, you must relish the idea of helping mold a younger, growing company versus having a finely tuned business system handed to you. And you must be comfortable leading in multiple business functions including sales, marketing, finance and operations while being committed to developing an entire territory.
Fast forward and Chris White has discovered he is indeed well suited for business ownership as President and Master Franchise Owner of Mint Condition of Georgia, providing commercial cleaning and floor care services. As the master franchisee with ownership rights to the state of Georgia, he’s taken Mint Condition from 0 to 30 franchises and is enjoying being part of the $100 billion annual commercial cleaning industry.
Chris answered some questions for the benefit of anyone looking for their next chapter through business and franchise ownership.
Why did you want to start your own business?
I thought my general management background was well suited to assume the challenges of a startup business. I wanted to start from scratch and develop it to a point where it is an attractive company for someone else to acquire and continue scaling when I’m ready to retire. We also knew there were tremendous growth opportunities in the Atlanta market and across Georgia.
How would you summarize your business ownership journey?
Knowing I’ve started a business from scratch and built it into a successful enterprise is extremely rewarding. We’ve worked to put together a solid foundation, one that is set up for another individual or company to take it to the next level as I approach retirement. This company has a bright future and I’m proud to have had a hand in creating our success.
What challenges have you encountered as an entrepreneur?
When you start a business, you learn everything and that nothing can be skipped or missed. In the corporate world, if I had an IT problem I just called the IT department. In my own business, I do a little bit of everything and have learned self reliance. When I go to bed each night, I know I’ll face new challenges the next day, but I’ve gained a whole new level of confidence to get the job done.
I’m approaching 70 years old and my wife and I are looking forward to spending more time with our children. We are exploring some strategic options to free up some personal time as we go on to the next chapter in our lives.
In closing, Chris offers some words of wisdom for anyone looking into business ownership. He says, “it’s not for everyone, but for people who have high levels of energy, it can be extremely rewarding.” He believes aspiring business owners need to identify their personal and professional goals and be thorough in understanding the business model they choose to explore. According to Chris, a well suited candidate for franchise ownership will…
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