Franchise Players: How a Newspaper Editor Developed an Entrepreneurial Mindset Through Franchising
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 email@example.com.
Chris Meyer knows the newspaper industry: he has nearly 30 years of experience in it, most recently as a deputy editor at the Orange Country Register. But as the newspaper business became plagued with layoffs, buyouts and bankruptcies, Meyer decided it was time to get out.
Meyer went on to buy an Expedia CruiseShipCenters franchise. Here's what this former editor has learned over the last two years in the franchise industry.
Name: Chris Meyer
Franchise owned: Expedia CruiseShipCenters in Laguna Hills, California
How long have you owned the franchise?
I bought the franchise in June 2011 and opened on January 2, 2012.
I was looking for a new opportunity as prospects diminished in the newspaper industry, where I had spent nearly 30 years. I was first attracted to the business concept marrying the power of a big online travel agency with personal service in a storefront. The franchise concept made sense for such a format, and I did not want to reinvent the wheel. So, I took the leap as an entrepreneur, knowing that I had a proven system but also a certain amount of freedom to adapt it to my specific market.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was deputy editor for local and business news for the Orange County Register, one of the largest newspapers in the United States. The newspaper industry was experiencing significant declining revenue and for several years we had been navigating bankruptcy and managing successive rounds of layoffs and buyouts.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
The business concept appealed to me. I was looking for a new opportunity. I had not even considered franchising or the travel business, even though I have a serious case of wanderlust.
I learned about Expedia CruiseShipCenters through a targeted ad on my LinkedIn profile. Here was a company that was developing diverse niches based on travelers' changing preferences, an internet company that was building a bricks-and-mortar presence to serve a market segment. That was the kind of forward-looking company with which I wanted to affiliate. The fact that it was a franchise was incidental at first, and I began to see it as an advantage as I learned more. The fact that it was in travel was a bonus.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The total estimated initial investment ranges between $79,500 and $149,500. This includes the following:
- Initial franchise fee
- On-site training
- Premises lease security deposit
- Utilities and telephone deposit
- Leasehold improvements
- Signage (interior and exterior)
- Computers and software
- Office furniture, equipment and office supplies
- Telephone equipment
- Professional fees
- Business license and/or permits
- Additional funds/ working capital for the first three months
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I had recently finished an executive MBA program with UC Irvine, and leaned heavily on relevant coursework. I also sought the counsel of friends who were longtime entrepreneurs. Additionally, I interviewed many existing franchise partners within the Expedia CruiseShipCenters system to learn about their experiences.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The biggest one was developing the entrepreneurial mindset. It took me a long time to get comfortable outside of a paycheck-every-other Friday job. I also was surprised at the time commitment necessary. I thought we had long hours in the news business, but this also requires a huge time commitment.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Check your gut. Franchising gives you a system and support, but at the end of the day it's up to you. You have to have a competitive mindset and an attitude that failure is not an option. The people you attract will make the difference. Focus on building a team of smart, driven people who can play well together. And devote lots of time to recruiting and developing your people.
What’s next for you and your business?
I want to continue the fast growth we have had for our first two and a half years. Recruitment and development of people will be the key. When I reach a certain cash flow position, I will consider how to expand.