Taking the Next Step

Making the leap from employee to franchise entrepreneur
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This story appears in the March 2010 issue of Startups. Subscribe »

After working as a national operations manager for Dunkin' Brands (the culmination of 15 years spent working up the Baskin-Robbins corporate ladder), followed by a stint as the general manager of a San Diego restaurant, David Granger decided to take the next logical career step: purchase a franchise.

"I knew that I wanted a business that was fairly recession-proof, and I wanted to be in a trade that would require me to be out in the field instead of being in an office," Granger says. "I didn't want to become a plumber or electrician, but I knew I could clean. So I started researching different companies, and I came across Jani-King. I met with Jani-King, and I had a good feeling about them."

In 2004, Granger purchased a Jani-King franchise unit in San Diego. Before becoming a franchisee for the commercial-cleaning juggernaut, Granger put money aside so he could focus on running the franchise full time without worrying about how to support himself.

"I felt that focusing on the franchise full time was the only way I was really going to be able to do a good job," he says. "A lot of franchisees, especially in Jani-King, have a full-time job during the day, and then they do their cleaning on nights and weekends. But I couldn't see myself doing that."

At first, Granger worked alone, which presented a set of challenges.

"I had to learn how to do floor work, like stripping and refinishing floors, on my own through trial and error," he says.

The hard work paid off, though: Granger began acquiring clients, and by the end of the franchise unit's first year of operation, he was able to add his first employee. Today, with 17 employees, Granger's franchise serves a variety of clients in the San Diego area, and the franchise continues to expand.

Granger also has advice for those looking to purchase a franchise: Focus on the franchise full time, and create a financial plan in advance that makes a full-time focus on the franchise possible.

"If you work for your client at night, and the next day you're at your full-time job when your client needs you, you can't say, 'Sorry, I'm at my full-time job. I can't help you,'" he says. "If you're going to do it, you've got to give it your all."

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