Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. This week, in celebration of spring, we're profiling down-to-earth franchisees in the "spring cleaning" business. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email email@example.com.
David Ondieki has been on the path to his current success as a Rainbow International franchisee since he arrived in the U.S. from Kenya at age 19. Within a year of arriving, Ondieki started his own floor cleaning service. Ten years later, he joined the Rainbow International franchise. Today, he is one of the company's top franchisees, as well as a brand ambassador. Here's what he's learned on his journey.
Name: David R. Ondieki
Franchise owned (location): I own a Rainbow International Restoration cleaning franchise in Tarrant County and South Dallas County, Texas.
How long have you owned the franchise?
I have owned this franchise since 2003.
Early 2003, I realized I needed to expand my business into the restoration side. At the time though I didn't know much about restoration. At the same time, I needed to keep and grow a business that I would eventually sell or leave to my children, which is where I got the idea for franchising.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I started my business as a carpet cleaner in 1987 while I was going to college. Once I graduated in 1991, I decided this was something I wanted to pursue full time, so I incorporated my business in 1996.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I requested information from the usual suspects: Servpro, Service Master and Rainbow International. After looking at the offers, I was not impressed with size of territories offered by the other two so I decided to visit with Rainbow in Waco. The experience was awesome; I learned about their Christian values which was important to me. As this was going to be a long-term commitment, I needed to make sure it was right.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
My situation was a little unique in the sense I was already in the industry therefore I already had a lot of the required equipment. I will say I spent an additional $50,000 including franchise fees. The rest was financed by The Dwyer Group.
$20-$25,000 in franchise fee down payment, $20-25,000 in equipment purchase in my case. But as a start-up, equipment package could run up to $150,000 and any additional operating cash flow.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
My advice was just from my own experience and any information I got from Rainbow.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The biggest challenge is always cash flow because of the nature of the industry. Payments are sometimes 90 days out. Hiring and maintaining qualified employees can be difficult, as it takes a while to train and then they leave, but that's an ongoing problem. There's the problem of competition all around you to deal with, also.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Franchising is a good way to establish a business without relying solely on your own experience and image. Be very careful and do a lot of research. Talk to other franchisees in the concept—both those that have made it and those that didn't to get the full picture. This is going to be your life for a while so make sure you will enjoy what you are about to start.
What’s next for you and your business?
We are planning to keep expanding our services and possibly purchasing another franchise with related services.