New and inexperienced franchisees often feel lost or unsure when they're just starting out. To ease the anxiety, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania-based Maaco Auto Painting and Bodyworks has created an annual five-day convention where new franchisees pair up with veteran franchise owners to network and share ideas.
Lisa and Jeff Brennen, Maaco franchisees in Richmond, British Columbia, first met their "mentors" at last November's convention. Charlesan Neugebauer and Jan Marshall were very helpful, offering advice on subjects from financing to advertising, says Jeff. "Mentors have been franchisees for a minimum of five years," he explains. "They have a lot of experience they can pass on to someone who's just starting out."
Since its inception four years ago, the MaacoMentor program has become a vital element in integrating new owners into the Maaco system. "The new and established owners often stay in contact beyond the convention," says Bill Silverman of Maaco.
Jeff Brennen, who says the Mentor program goes far and beyond what he expected, hopes someday he, too, can become a mentor and offer insight to new franchisees. "[The mentoring relationship] gives you a sense of belonging," he says. "You feel that you're now part of the Maaco family."