Franchise Players: From Customer to Franchisee at an Automotive Franchise
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
In November, Eddie Warren will celebrate his 13th anniversary as a Matco Tools franchisee. But, the journey to entrepreneurship hasn't always been easy for Warren. Warren's path to franchising started when he woke up one day and found he no longer had a job as a serviceman for a truck leasing company. Fortunately, his former career had given him the skills and love for cars necessary to make it as an aftermarket automotive franchisee. Here's what he's learned over the last 13 years.
Name: Eddie Warren
Franchise owned: Matco Tools, in Denham Springs, Louisiana (near Baton Rouge)
How long have you owned a franchise?
It will be 13 years this coming November.
Basically, I woke up one day and was unemployed. I have a background working with automotive tools, and knew I wanted to venture into that business. I had actually worked with Matco previously, and things kind of fell into place from there.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was a serviceman for a truck leasing company.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I had been a customer with Matco in the past, and knew some people who were distributors. Having worked with them before, I felt like I understood the company well. Plus, there is a familiarity of knowing the type of products and service they provide. I wasn’t going to become a franchisee in a business or with a company that I didn’t know much about.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I would say about $3,000 to $4,000, the majority of it for the truck rental (Matco is essentially a tool store on wheels). However, I did participate in Matco’s in-house financing program. Through it, my initial start-up tool inventory costs were covered.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Really it was through word of mouth, especially talking to other guys I knew that were Matco distributors. They gave me more solid information about the program, routes and financing.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
It was probably getting familiar and used to my territory, traveling to the auto shops and establishing a relationship with the guys there. But building up my customer base was probably the greatest challenge. I had to really work hard the first few years in doing so.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
It’s a great business, Matco especially. It’s not easy to own a business or franchise like a lot of people think. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and time to build a successful foundation. It’s definitely not going to be handed to you on a silver platter. But you can be profitable and see great results if you are willing to work at it. I really couldn’t picture doing anything else. Working for myself means no limits. It’s very liberating to have complete control over your own work hours and income. Although, sometimes you find that you can be harder on yourself than another boss would be.
What’s next for you and your business?
Most importantly, I’d love to be the go-to guy in this area with the best service for my customers, and possibly build that reputation so I’m the one that shops turn to when they need tools. I want to continue contributing to the great reputation that Matco has in the automotive tools market while working on my business. Ultimately, I’d like to keep growing by customer base, be profitable and work towards being debt-free.