Franchise Players: Why You Need to Find a Mentor

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Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email

Every entrepreneur needs a mentor. However, few industries are as well equipped to provide mentors as franchising. In any franchise, more experienced franchisees have already faced the exact challenges that rookie franchisees are battling and have a vested interest in helping other franchisees succeed. For Jasen Lawrence at City Wide Maintenance, this type of mentorship is just what he needed to make it as an entrepreneur. Here is what he's learned.

Name: Jasen Lawrence

Franchise owned (location): City Wide Maintenance of Washington, LLC in Seattle

How long have you owned a franchise?

Since July 2012

Related: Franchise Players: A Dad Finds Flexibility in Franchising

Why franchising?

Franchising was a great opportunity for me to jump on board and run my own business. I have always seen the value of having mentors. Choosing the right franchise meant I would have access to great mentors who would not only want me to succeed, but also be able to share their experience and expertise in order to ensure I get there.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

Before becoming a franchisee I was a uniform sales representative for Cintas Corporation. After five years at Cintas working as a sales associate, facility services sales representative, sales team captain, regional sales team captain, and through managing marketing program efforts, I wanted more. City Wide was able to offer me that opportunity.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

There were several reasons why I chose City Wide. First, God is the foundation for all their values; as my relationship with God is very important to me, it is wonderful I am able to incorporate God into both my personal and professional life. Second, my business partners, John Suranyi and Scott Brown, are amazing people and are invested in other City Wide locations, which gives me access to additional mentors. Third, the strength of the City Wide network means there are numerous franchisees across the country who are successful and excited about City Wide. That meant a lot to me. Fourth, it is an industry I was familiar with. My clientele now is very similar to those I had while working for Cintas.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

Standard start-up costs for a territory of our size are around $116,500, which breaks down to $50,000 for the franchise fee, $25,000 for the territory fee, $16,500 for the technology package and $25,000 for other miscellaneous costs.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

I relied heavily on other City Wide franchisees. I spoke with Doug Brown, who runs a great operation in Denver. I spoke with Karen Sommers, who runs an amazing operation in Boston, as well as Dustin Landes, Barry Stephenson, and Greg Mansfield who run the San Antonio, Dallas and Minnesota locations, respectively. I also looked at the market in order to identify costs with the basic necessities (payroll, rent, other costs). I researched every aspect of the business – this was a life-changing decision, and I wanted to be prepared.

Related: Franchise Players: Never Let a Customer Leave Unhappy

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

The learning curve. No matter how much research you perform, none of it compares to real life experience. I always want to improve, be more efficient and raise the bar. That is something that is tough to do before you are a truly experienced business professional.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?  

Find a mentor. Find someone who is where you want to be and is willing to help you get there. This doesn’t have to be someone who is in your same industry or even your same circle of friends, but there is definite value in having a mentor.

What’s next for you and your business?

This past year we were excited to finish fifth in overall growth in the country of 36 locations. Moving forward, we want to be number one. We have grown by almost 100 percent in the last 22 months and are excited for what the future holds!

Related: Franchise Players: Creating Collaboration, Not Competition, Within a Franchise

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