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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Southern California has long struggled with electricity production and distribution, and Mark Sudak felt he could help find a solution. His vehicle for change came through SuperGreen Solutions, a franchise dedicated to helping businesses and consumers make the right choices on energy-efficient and renewable products. Here's what he has learned as a franchisee dedicated to helping his community go green.
Name: Mark Sudak
Franchise owned: SuperGreen Solutions of Oceanside, Calif.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We opened our doors July 15, 2013
Being new to business ownership, I liked the idea of a business model and store concept in place to help guide the fledgling venture. Sean Cochrane, president of SuperGreen Solutions, made being a first time business owner much easier. The franchise model let me become a business owner but I always have support and I am not alone.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I’ve spent most of my adult life in the technology field in various positions, with minor stints as an auto mechanic, FAA flight instructor, and home loan advisor.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Southern California has been experiencing major problems with electricity production, consumption, and distribution over the last 8-10 years. Rolling brownouts and blackouts are common during the hottest times of the year due to high A/C use. The local nuclear power plant, San Onofre, was just retrofitted in an attempt to extend its life but was then denied a license to operate. This has further exacerbated the issues we are already experiencing. I looked at this as an opportunity to help with these issues. SuperGreen Solutions is able to provide the community with energy efficient products that can work to put an end to the issues Southern California has been experiencing.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
- Franchise Fee: $50,000
- Store fixtures and equipment: $86,000
- Automobile Wrap: $3,000
- Legal Expenses: $8,000
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Most of my sector research was done on the web, trying to determine who my competitors were, what people were most interested in, marketing tactics for the store, etc. I then utilized a family member as my test subject to see how my competitors sold and marketed their products.
The franchise provided training for how the business model works, the initial line of products to be offered, and some basics on business operation. The support from the franchise is really helpful when you are starting a new business.
Most of my business advice came from my father who owned and operated a successful engineering firm in SoCal that specialized in Reverse Osmosis on a utility scale.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
I was one of the first stores in the franchise and was excited to be a part of an evolving business model. Through experience and time we were able to perfect the business model that would work for Southern California. The most unexpected challenge of opening my franchise was finding the best way to adapt the business model for my location.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
First and foremost, make sure you understand yourself. What are your expectations from this venture, what are your strengths and weaknesses, and be honest about what you are willing to do. Vacations are few and far between in the initial stages, and family time is very limited. These are all things to keep in mind.
Do your homework regarding your local market. Ask yourself, who are your competitors? What is the demand for the product or service? Who are your perspective customers?
Also do your homework regarding any franchise you intend to work with. I had contemplated using other franchises, but after doing my due diligence, I had found that those other franchises weren’t necessarily a good fit me and my goals. SuperGreen Solutions goals lined up with mine and I am glad I did my homework because SuperGreen is the right fit.
What’s next for you and your business?
Next up is growth. Marketing to gain awareness in the local community is at the top of the list. Making sure my neighbors know that I won’t take advantage of them and they can rely on me as a reliable resource for any issue they may have is very important to me. My networking group has already started looking at my store in that way. Members will reach out to me asking about most anything related to energy conservation, renewable energy, and recycling unwanted items like cabinets and light fixtures after they have done some home updating. This is, after all, about reducing your carbon footprint.
I don’t intend on opening a second store but I would like to become a significant participant in my local market. The franchise has a wide variety of products and services that would lend themselves to having repeat customers for other products and services.