The financial leap you take toward freedom depends mainly on your desires and experience. With my tenure as a franchise attorney, I knew franchising could be a wonderful way to get started down the path to entrepreneurship. I first realized this when I began meeting franchisees of the Pearle Vision Center chain as an attorney for the company. As an insider, I was entitled to review the financial performance of the chain. When I saw how much money the better franchisees were making, I was flabbergasted.
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Company founder Stanley Pearle was a pioneer in applying retail attributes to what was a pretty mundane medical practice, and customers flocked to Pearle Vision Centers with profitable results. For example, while a customer paid about $20 for scratch-resistant coating for a pair of glasses, the incremental cost to the franchisee was about 40 cents.
If you wear glasses, you really don't want to know what the margins are on those $200 frames, but suffice it to say, Stanley Pearle helped create a lot of millionaires. I witnessed a great many married couples living and succeeding together, both partners engaged in their mutual success and enjoying the freedom that being self-employed with extra money can bring. These franchisees were living the dream; they had their freedom, which was exactly what I wanted.
The search for a franchise we could afford took about six months, until we found a little company called Auto Exam that had just started franchising in our hometown of Dallas. Kathy and I loved the Auto Exam concept because it was homebased, we could afford the risk, and the business concept used intelligence, diligence and technology to help people distinguish the great used cars from the lemons. We knew customers would appreciate witnessing our ASE certified mechanic perform a 120-point check and use a handheld diagnostic computer to provide them with a written status report.