Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email ktaylor@entrepreneur.com.

Steve Folk and Clint Sumrall had years of experience in the contracting world prior to becoming Ram Jack foundation repair franchisees. Folk had experience with franchising, as a paint company franchisee, while Sumrall had founded a commercial contracting and construction management firm. After years of dealing with foundation-damaging expansive soils in their area, the pair decided to collaborate on a new venture. Six months in, here’s what they’ve learned.

Name: Steve Folk and Clint Sumrall

Franchise Owned:  Ram Jack, in Jackson, Miss.

How long have you owned the franchise?

Six months.

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Why franchising?

The support system, scalability and business model of Ram Jack’s corporate team is what led us to purchase the business.  We feel a franchise will provide the tools that we need to successfully grow the business, as well as give us continued developmental support in the future.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner? 

Steve owned another franchisee paint company that performed residential and commercial paint work.  Clint founded and still owns a commercial contracting and construction management firm that focuses on commercial TI work as well as construction of industrial facilities. 

Why did you choose this particular franchise? 

Knowing the challenges we face in our area with expansive soils and having dealt with it for years in the contracting world we both felt like the products and service provided by Ram Jack are head and shoulders above what other companies in our area are able to provide.  With a strong, 40-plus year track record, numerous patented products and the continued support of the corporate office we felt like this franchise was a good fit for us and the community.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business? 

Opening cost for us has been between $150,000 and $175,000.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research? 

A lot of our research was done through the internet.  We also spoke with multiple other Ram Jack franchisees to see how their experience has been with the company.  Our local engineers were also a good source of information.  Ultimately, it took us about nine months to make our final decision.

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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise? 

One of the hardest parts of starting the Ram Jack franchise in our location was getting our brand name out to the public.  We have a strong marketing campaign through various media outlets.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise? 

Obviously, starting capital is essential to your initial success.  A lot of businesses fail due to under planning and under funding.  For us, we built business plans and expected cash flow models to show us the goals we need to strive to exceed each month.  Committing to a franchise is a big step in anyone’s career, so research everything you can about the company you are getting in bed with.  Visit their facilities and look at their operations as well as talk to the current employee’s, both old and new. 

What’s next for you and your business? 

We will continue to market heavily in the area and give our customers excellent customer service and products.  We want to scale our company quickly by adding more crews and salesmen as the market dictates.  With our superior products and customer centered business model we feel like Ram Jack Mississippi will be the leading foundation solutions company in the Jackson Metro market within a year.  

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