Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. This week, we’re getting a head start on Women’s History Month early, profiling female franchisees that everyone can learn from. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Two Men and a Truck may sound manly, but the business is in Alicia Sorber Gallegos’s blood. Gallegos’s grandmother, Mary Ellen Sheets, was the founder of the company, and her father and uncle were the first “two men” in the moving business. Today, Gallegos is the newest member of the family to be making waves in the company, as Sheets sits on the company board. Here’s what Gallegos has learned from becoming a franchisee in the family business.
Name: Alicia Sorber Gallegos
Franchise owned: Two Men and a Truck in San Diego
How long have you owned the franchise?
We opened in September 2012.
I always wanted to have my own business, but I didn’t really consider opening a franchise until I worked at a Two Men and a Truck start-up location. That experience showed me franchising is a great model for a first-time business owner because of the tools and resources provided.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I held a variety of sales and marketing roles in the Two Men and a Truck system. In my last position, I was the marketing manager for a group of franchisees with locations in Chicago, St. Louis and Salt Lake City.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I have a personal connection with the company because it was founded by my family, but I chose to invest in Two Men and a Truck as a franchisee because I saw the success firsthand. Most importantly, it is a brand that is known for excellent customer service. And the tools and people are in place to support your success as a franchisee.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The start-up cost was roughly $300,000, including the $50,000 franchise fee, $170,000 in trucks and equipment, $60,000 in working capital, $10,000 in office equipment and computers, $5,000 in licensing and legal costs, and $7,000 in worker’s compensation insurance down-payment.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I learned a lot from growing up in an entrepreneurial family and I got most of my advice from my mom, dad and grandma, who have always shared their business experiences with me. I also sought advice from a handful of franchisees who successfully launched in similar situations. We performed local market research and used similar franchises’ performance history and budgets for planning purposes. But ultimately, I think my three years working in a Two Men and a Truck start-up environment was the best insight I could get.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
From a marketing perspective, the lack of brand awareness in this part of the country was a bigger challenge than I anticipated. Also, although California is known for being a difficult state for business, worker’s compensation insurance costs were even higher than we expected and can be cost-prohibitive for new businesses.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Don’t overlook an opportunity simply because you didn’t picture yourself in that industry. Look for a franchisor who you think will be a good partner, and see how you can apply your skillset within the model. And ask successful franchisees to share their story and advice.
What’s next for you and your business?
We’re excited for growth and expansion. We spent our first year and half in business building a strong operational foundation and investing heavily in marketing. To borrow from Jim Collins, the flywheel is gathering momentum. We are planning to open our next location around this time next year and we will continue adding to our fleet in the meantime. To make that happen, we need to stay focused on providing excellent customer service and pushing sales.
Tomorrow we'll have a Franchise Players piece with another woman of Two Men and a Truck -- Melanie Bergeron, Gallego's aunt.