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.
One of the best tools franchisees have in their arsenal is marketing their individual location -- constantly. That means always being on the lookout for new and creative ways to get the word out.
Nikhil and Purvi Parekh know how to market. Since opening up their Men In Kilts franchise, they have been on a constant search for new clients. And, prospective clients are even more likely to ask the Parekhs what they're up to when they see the pair wearing the franchise's signature kilts.
Here's what they can teach you about marketing your franchise.
Name: Nikhil and Purvi Parekh
Franchise owned: Men In Kilts, in Raleigh, N.C.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We have owned it since May 5, 2014.
Franchising offers a great way to get a business up and running quickly. There is an established brand, proven processes, comprehensive training and a support system in place for growing the business. You essentially don't have to reinvent the wheel and learn things the hard way. The other advantage of franchising is you can venture into an industry you don't necessarily know a lot about. With a franchise like Men In Kilts, you still have a lot of flexibility to be creative in terms of how you market and grow your business and you don't have your hands tied with rigid rules.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
We were both professionals working in the IT and health care industry with a combined experience of 25 years. We also had a successful real estate investment business we were involved in for over five years.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
The brand and the concept! As we were researching various franchise options, Men In Kilts stood out and we kept coming back to it. It is such a unique, fun and memorable brand. We also liked the fact that Men In Kilts' biggest focus was customer service. In this industry, you run into a lot of small one or two person operations which are often unreliable, hard to reach and lack good customer service. We saw a void and Men In Kilts was the perfect opportunity to fill it.
People are always intrigued and delighted to see our technicians in kilts and it really does make marketing easier. Once someone sees our technicians in kilts, they are likely to tell their friends and family and post pictures on social media. The brand really sticks!
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Initial Franchise Fees: $62,500
Legal Fees: $2,000
Tools and Equipment: $3,000
Vehicle and Wrapping: $3,000
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We looked at the industry and the landscape of competition in our area. We also talked to owners of several other franchises in our network and got advice on dos and don’ts as well as gaining an understanding of their challenges and accomplishments.
We also spent a lot of time doing research online to understand the market, the industry, franchising and specific research on Men In Kilts. We read reviews from customers from other Men In Kilts locations and media coverage of the company.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
One of the things we struggled with was finding reasonably priced liability insurance and workers compensation coverage. Given that we were a brand new business and that when you get on ladders and roofs there is always risk involved, not a lot of insurance companies were willing to provide us with coverage that wouldn't break the bank. It took some time for us to understand North Carolina specific rules and regulations and how the insurance industry works here. But, we worked through it and were able to get coverage for a good price in time for our opening.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Market! Never stop marketing! With any business you would do marketing that is traditional to your industry. But people often miss the small opportunities to market your business that often turn into big opportunities. Things like social media, volunteering, silent auctions, parades and community events go a long way. We often go coffee shops, grocery stores and restaurants even when we are not working to market and I can't tell you how often people strike up conversations and want to learn more about what we do!
What’s next for you and your business?
We have had a good start with our business so far with a small crew. We are looking to grow our crew, expand our commercial business, grow our marketing to a bigger focus area and really become the brand known for exterior cleaning.