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.

Michael Ramdial had always dreamed of owning a company. After three years of working at a travel agency, where he found fulfillment in helping people book vacations, he decided to combine his passions and become a CruiseOne franchisee. Here's his story, plus his top five tips for those who want to open their own franchise.

Name: Michael Ramdial

Franchise owned: CruiseOne in Orlando, Fla.

How long have you owned the franchise?

I have been a CruiseOne franchise owner for one and a half years.

Why franchising?

I have always reveled in the dreams of owning my own company. Becoming a franchise owner allowed me to do it with a recipe written for success. I love what I do and I do what I love! The guess work is taken out so I can eliminate common mistakes a lot of new business owners face and avoid the heartache of building a mom and pop store that may face lots of disappointment as it grows. Why reinvent the wheel when there is a formula for success already written and waiting for me to take advantage of it?

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What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Before I invested in a CruiseOne franchise, I was working for a travel agency (World Travel Holdings) for about three years as a Customer Sales and Service Representative. With hard work and dedication, I quickly became a Team Lead. It was the first time I was exposed to the travel industry and I instantly fell in love with helping make my clients’ vacation dreams become a reality while learning about travel, excursions and the art of building an enjoyable vacation one question at a time.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

In my experience as a Sales Representative and Team Lead for World Travel Holdings, helping others to plan their dream vacations and work within a budget, I realized there is always a way to make it work. The available options and itineraries are plentiful. During this time, I was intrigued by turning my employment into an opportunity to fulfill a dream I have always had —becoming my own boss by owning a franchise Everyone needs and wants to go on a vacation. Cruising is a one-stop-shop for an already built and ready-to-go vacation package. I loved the idea of selling smiles, vacations, memories and helping others to be well versed in travel by visiting a buffet of destinations in a select period of time. It was clear this was my “calling,” the opportunity knocking on my door… the American Dream!

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

Franchising Fee (experience travel agent pricing): $3,600

Equipment (computer, printer, fax, camera): $1,000

Office Setup (furniture, literature, software): $500

Miscellaneous Expenses (seminars, marketing): $1,200

Total expenses prior to launch: $6,300

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

I was able to research the CruiseOne franchise model extensively while working for World Travel Holdings, CruiseOne’s parent company. I was also able to speak with several current CruiseOne franchise owners to get a real feel for what it means to operate and run a travel agency independently and I was extremely pleased by the information I was provided.

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What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

The most unexpected challenge in opening my franchise was generating business. Coming from working for a travel agency where leads are provided to me was a big change. I knew it would be tough at first but I never realized how tough it would be in the end. During the first few months it was a struggle advertising my franchise and generating solid leads into sales. After a few months, I realized that I had to change my marketing strategies and I had to utilize the materials that CruiseOne provided me to get my name out to my local community. I also learned that I needed to be ready to promote my franchise at all times to potential clients.

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

  • Be passionate about the industry you choose.
  • Be prepared to endure a lot of hard work and give 110 percent of your time always.
  • Create a business plan, setting goals and expectations for at least five years out.
  • Have commitment and drive to persevere through the hard times, even when the going gets tough.
  • Picture yourself successful, continue to love what you do and learn about everything in that industry and success will follow.

What’s next for you and your business?

I am excited for the upcoming expansion and changes I foresee and am planning for my franchise. I intend to add a couple of experienced travel agents to my team, secure stability and build lasting relationships with my current and future clients by increasing my company’s profile and worth. I am launching a new ad campaign, revamping my marketing strategy to foster lasting impressions and branding my franchise to solidify a solid foundation for many years of success. I will be attaining memberships, attending tradeshows, and industry conferences and seminars to keep abreast with the ever changing, new waves of advance technology, destinations and fleet of ships. The possibilities for my CruiseOne franchise are endless and I look forward to seeing my lifelong dream continue to grow.

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