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.
Are franchisees small business owners? Most people would say yes: they handle daily operations, provide local employment and are generally a part of a town or city's business and social community.
However, Kassandra Boltman argues that opening up a franchise is very different than opening a 'mom and pop' business. With increased support, a national brand and tested education, franchising can provide the keys to setting your business apart from the competition. Here's why this franchisee quit her job at a mom and pop property management company and opened her own Real Property Management franchise.
Name: Kassandra Boltman
Franchise owned: Real Property Management in Anchorage, Alaska
How long have you owned a franchise?
We bought our franchise in June 2012.
I worked for a “mom and pop” property management company for six years and the level of service that was provided was nowhere near the quality that can be provided with the support of a franchise. There are so many things that are simply better, brand, technology, education and more. The assistance and support from the franchise allows us to be light years better than the competition.
The best part is I get to work with other franchise owners and like-minded individuals that understand and can help collaborate and make something better than the local mom and pop competitors. When we opened our franchise, we grew so fast that the local competition noticed and they started to try and step it up, but they still wasn’t able to keep up with our speed and level of quality.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was an insurance agent for five years and then a property manager for a local mom and pop company for six years. My husband, Erik Boltman, had just left the Air National Guard July 1, 2014 as a commissioned officer after 10 years in the service. Since he has joined the company, we signed up a handful of new customers, more than normal.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
The Real Property Management brand, their reputation, and multiple industry and franchising awards, and their mission and values were in line with our personal goals.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The franchise fee was just $30,000. Office supplies, desk, phones, etc. were another $10,000. The first year we spent some additional cash to help with marketing, advertising and other expenses that come up. So I would say in total we spent about $50-$60,000.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
We are investors that have properties in other states. We decided to have Real Property Management take over managing those properties to test out the company for a year. We were so happy with them, we knew we had to buy a franchise in our location in Alaska before someone else did.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
There weren’t too many surprises. We knew we had to work hard, we knew we had to learn as much as we could. The only challenge we had is that we grew so fast in the beginning and had to learn how to manage growth.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
If your goal is to be something “more” than the mom and pop in your industry, area of expertise or a field that interests you, then franchising is the only way to go.
What’s next for you and your business?
Currently we are focused on quality growth, building relationships in the community, work on some personal investments, attend our franchise’s semi-annual educational conference, and travel to see family and friends.