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Perfect Timing

What do you do when your company decides to go the franchising route? Join in on the fun, of course.

Jeff Hix and Harvard Whipple didn't have to go too far to find a franchise. Hix, a sales manager, and Whipple, a sales rep, had spent more than five years working for Dodson Group, a group-purchasing service in Indianapolis. In 2002, their employer started franchising its Save It Now! concept, which provides cost-saving solutions for small and midsize businesses."We had a longer look [at the opportunity] than most people who get into these types of ventures have," Hix says. "We had a chance to think through it while the program was being developed."

In January 2003, Hix and Whipple set up their Save It Now! franchise, purchasing seven territories in Atlanta and three in Charlotte and Asheville, North Carolina. By bringing together thousands of small to midsize businesses nationwide, Save It Now! offers its clients lower prices on various business supplies and services. Hix, 38, and Whipple, 30, run the franchise out of a home office and also rent space in an executive suite to gain access to conference rooms and a receptionist.

The partners spend most of their time in meetings with clients to discuss cost reductions on shipping, telecommunications and office supplies. "The beauty of what we do is [that] we offer services that are already being utilized by our clients. We're not selling them something they don't already have," Hix says.

The years they spent in sales helped the partners become familiar with the Save It Now! system, but Hix and Whipple understand it takes a lot more than a sales background to be successful in this franchise. "We might have a leg up in understanding the products and services, but that can be learned in two weeks," Hix says. "Knowledge of running a business is more valuable than knowing what our office products program is or what our overnight program entails."

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This article was originally published in the December 2003 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Perfect Timing.

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