Gregg Prescott worked with Motorola for 10 years, five years designing and selling two-way radio systems, then five years distributing the company's products. During that time, Prescott, 37, and his partner, Steve Brodack, 37, were looking for a business of their own and found the ideal opportunity in commercial cleaner Jan-Pro's master franchisee program. As master franchisees, they're responsible for selling individual franchises, coordinating training and providing support services to franchises in a specific geographic territory. The partners currently have about 80 franchisees in their Delaware Valley system, which covers southern New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania.
We spoke with Prescott about what it takes to be a master franchisee and why he loves it.
Franchise Zone: Why did you want to be a master franchisee?
George Prescott: We were looking for a service business that was sales- and marketing-driven, as both of us primarily have sales experience. The Jan-Pro master program was exactly what we were looking for.
What does being a master franchisee entail?
Basically, we divide [responsibility] into two parts--my partner handles outside sales and oversees our sales department, and I handle franchise sales and the daily operation of the business. We secure contracts for [our franchisees], and train them on handling those contracts and performing the actual services. Then we help manage and follow up with them and their customers to make sure everything is going the way it's supposed to and [that] the customers and franchisees are satisfied.
What were some challenges in starting up the business?
Our biggest challenge was that we didn't know too much about the janitorial business and franchising when we started, which is why we went to a master franchise type of plan. Jan-Pro provided all that information for us, so we could just focus on growing the business. Our challenge was just [facing] the unknown [of] when you start a new business and aren't exactly sure what to expect, but it's been strong since we started and it continues to be so.
Do you have any prior managerial experience that helps you as a master franchisee?
Absolutely. I have a background in sales management and general management. That definitely helps, from an administrative standpoint. The main focus of the business is sales, selling franchises to people who want to own their own business.
For you, what are some of the highlights of being a master franchisee?
The biggest reward is really getting to have an impact on people's lives. We are able to take somebody who would not necessarily be able to get into their own business, and make them successful with our program. We've done that time and time again with people who have limited capital and working knowledge of how to operate a business, but have the desire to own their own business. You can take people like that and really help them grow a good-sized business that supports their family. That's the best part of this business.
What do you do in a typical day?
I meet with franchise owners--either existing franchise owners or prospective franchise owners--follow up with customers and just take care of the business, making sure the bills are paid and people are where they're supposed to be.
Getting Franchisees Involved
Franchise Zone: How do franchisees find out about you?
Through our Web site or through direct advertising. We advertise in our local papers for franchisees. And, since we've been established for a few years, we get a lot of referrals from existing franchisees.
Do you select your franchisees independently, or does Jan-Pro help with that?
We do all that on a local level. Corporate really has no involvement in who the unit franchisees are. We do everything here--set up interviews, meet with prospective franchise owners and then take them through the whole process of becoming a franchisee.
You handle all the training?
Correct. We put them through a five-week training program, which covers stripping and waxing floors, shampooing carpets, buying supplies and chemicals, how to bid accounts. It gives them a good overview of what the business is all about.
Did you and your partner develop your training program?
That's actually supplied by corporate, [but] we do customize it a bit. We try to make sure our training program is very hands-on, so if there's equipment to be used, every franchisee has personally used that equipment. That way, they get a better value out of [training].
After they start their franchise, what kind of service do you offer your franchisees?
Once they start up, what typically happens is they meet a prospective customer we've signed a contract with and the franchisee and the customer pick a start date. Our operations manager will go out and work with them for a few days on the account to make sure they're comfortable with what they're doing. After that, the operations manager is in pretty consistent contact with the franchisee. Out of our office, we bill the customers, collect from the customers, make sure the franchisees are paid every 30 days and just take care of administrative things. That allows the franchisee to focus on the business at hand, which is making sure the customer is satisfied.
What kind of person do you think a master franchise program is ideal for?
Certainly somebody with a sales and management background. It really is a sales-driven business, so you have to know how to manage a sales force and/or have sales experience. Management experience helps with the overall business aspect.
What should people consider when they're looking into being a master franchisee?
They should look at their territory and make sure the population is sufficient to support it, and look at what their competitors are doing in that given territory. And they really need to look at themselves, see what they want to do for a living and what their goals are as far as their own professional development. The business works real well--it's just a matter of making sure you have enough territory and [that] this is what you want to do.
How long do you plan to run your master franchise?
I would expect to run it for quite a number of years. One of our goals is to open outlets in other cities. Once that happens, we would have a manager run the day-to-day business here to free us up to pursue other markets.
Jan-Pro (master franchisee)