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Smooth Moves

This franchisee got his big break when an opportunity showed up on his doorstep.

Mike Moran wasn't looking to start his own business when opportunity came knocking on his front door-literally. Moran had been working in the freight industry for 12 years and was wondering how he could break into a new field, when his former college roommate, Andy Hoiland, showed up on his doorstep offering the perfect solution: an existing Jet-Black franchise for sale in Moran's hometown of St. Paul, Minneapolis. Nine years earlier, in 1988, Hoiland and his brother, Doug, had co-founded Jet-Black, a niche business specializing in driveway sealcoating and repair.

"When Andy came to my door, I really wasn't in a position to [invest in a business], but I did it anyway. It was a no-brainer," says Moran. After witnessing Jet-Black's nine years of growth, Moran couldn't let the opportunity pass him by. "I already saw the success Andy and Doug had. I knew that if I just followed their system, I would have great success with it as well."

Not wanting to take on too much risk at once, Moran, 40, started his Jet-Black franchise in 1997 while working days as a manager at FedEx. After two years of working double duty, he quit his FedEx job to focus on his growing Jet-Black franchise."What I saw [in Jet-Black] was an opportunity to improve my quality of life. Instead of being married to a job, I'm dedicated to my business," says Moran.

He learned a great truth about being a successful franchisee: "Sometimes, [good business] means going way out of your way for a customer," says Moran, who has done everything from moving rocks to washing driveways after a rain shower so sealcoating doesn't stick to customers' shoes.

That dedication to detail and commitment to making sure every customer is 100 percent satisfied has paid off. In the six years since he started, Moran's sales have tripled; he expects this year's sales to reach $200,000.

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This article was originally published in the October 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur's StartUps with the headline: Smooth Moves.

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