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.

When Craig and Patricia Merrills heard the core theory behind Wow 1 Day Painting, a company that offers one-day painting services to homeowners and businesses, they were sold. Now, as franchisees, their goal is to inform others of the brand's unique concept. After that, it's just a matter of pleasing customers and letting them do the word-of-mouth advertising themselves.

Here's how the husband-wife duo have spread the word during their first year in franchising.

Name: Craig and Patricia Merrills.

Franchise owned: Wow 1 Day Painting, primarily in Washington, D.C., also serving Virginia and Maryland.

How long have you owned a franchise?

We painted our first home February 27, 2013.

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Why franchising?

I love being an entrepreneur, and everything about running and growing a business.  However, I feel that I’m not necessarily good at inventing a concept, developing systems, coming up with branding and all the other things that are necessary to launch a successful business. Franchising offers the ability to open a business that already has all of those elements. In my search for the right opportunity, I also looked for a franchise with a passionate support team in place who are dedicated to making sure that I am successful.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner? 

I have owned and operated restaurants in Washington D.C. and the surrounding areas for the past 20 years.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

I wanted to be part of a brand that was unique, focused on the customer experience and profitable.  Wow 1 Day Painting had all of those qualities and because it was a new concept, I was able to get in on the ground-floor. I loved their promise of painting a home in a single day. No other painting company out there offers that.

I was also looking to become part of a company with a winning culture. I was very aware of Brian Scudamore’s success with 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and when I saw that he was bringing the same proven strategy to the painting industry, I immediately became determined to become a franchise partner with Wow 1 Day Painting.

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

Initial franchise fees - $49,000

Licensing and legal fees - $4,000

Vehicles including wrap and roof rack - $55,000

Tools, equipment and supplies - $15,000

Operating capital - $30,000

Initial marketing - $5,000

Uniforms and apparel - $1,500

Total - $159,500

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

I spent a lot of time doing a preliminary study that helped me understand the painting market in our area. I also talked to many fellow entrepreneurs that have lots of experience in franchising. Being a member of Entrepreneurs Organization (EO), I leaned heavily on others and asked for them to share their experiences in starting a new business and also what they liked and didn’t like about franchises. Lastly, I spent hours researching online about Wow 1 Day Painting and read anything I could about the brand and other similar companies.

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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

Getting enough painters to handle all the work we’ve got on the schedule! The response to our concept in D.C. was overwhelming and making sure we had enough painters was challenging at first. We were also very picky about who we were hiring. I was only bringing on painters that I felt were committed to providing exceptional customer service and that were excited to help us disrupt the painting industry. Over this first year, we have managed to develop a solid roster of painters that are reliable and very good at what they do.

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

My first piece of advice is to invest heavily in marketing in your first year, get the word out about your service as quickly as possible. My second piece is no matter what business you are in, never let a customer go away unhappy. Our clients are the most valuable source of advertising that we have. If we do not treat them like gold, they will not talk about us with their family or friends. 

What’s next for you and your business?

For our first year we’ve had one crew and one van operating in our market. Right now we’re developing a second crew and I plan on adding a second van. We’ll be able to double the amount of work we can have on the schedule, helping us cross that million dollar mark.

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