Franchise Players

Franchise Players: Finding a Franchise With a 'Family' Feel

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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 ktaylor@entrepreneur.com.

DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen doesn't call its annual franchisee event a convention. Instead, the franchise holds a "reunion," a collaborative and friendly event that is closer to a family reunion than a business meet up.

Nathan Coombs had the chance to attend DreamMaker's annual reunion before accepting an offer to work at the franchise when he retired from the Air Force. The family atmosphere he encountered convinced him that working at a DreamMaker location would be the perfect way to transition to civilian life. Today, Coombs has been working with DreamMaker for seven years, and a franchisee for seven months. Here's what he's learned.

Name: Nathan Coombs               

Franchise owned: DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen in Ogden, Utah

How long have you owned a franchise?

I have been an actual owner for seven months. I have been the general manager for the past five years but had the opportunity to become an owner at the beginning of 2014.

Related: Franchise Players: Why Franchisees Have to Be Owners, Accountants, Janitors and Everything in Between

Why franchising?

Franchising offers the ability to discuss and learn from other peers that do exactly the same thing, but who are not necessarily competitors in our same market area. Franchising also offers great business training as well as developed and proven systems that if followed, can help make the company successful. DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen also offers regular business coaching from corporate – someone who has owned a successful franchise company in the past and can offer sound advice and guidance. 

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I have worked for DreamMaker Bath and Kitchen of Ogden for seven years. The first two were spent in the sales/design area. The last five have been in the general manager position. Today, I am still the general manager but as of January 1, 2014, I also became an owner.

Before DreamMaker, I was an officer in the United States Air Force where I was able to develop many beneficial management and leadership skills.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

This franchise is a partial family owned business. While in the Air Force I was offered a position to come work for this company with the expectation of being able to step into management and ownership roles in the future based upon my performance. Before leaving the Air Force and joining this company, I also had the opportunity to go to DreamMaker’s annual “reunion” (a national gathering of franchises), meet with other DreamMaker owners, discuss their opinions of the DreamMaker family, and experience the “family” atmosphere of this franchise. That ultimately helped me feel comfortable with my decision to leave the military and join this company.

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

The initial investors spent approximately $80,000 prior to opening the doors for business (including purchasing territory, training and equipment).

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

 It depends on what advice we are talking about. We get most of the business advice, systems, selling, etc., from corporate and our corporate coach. For marketing advice, we have done much of that on our own. We have spent numerous years trying different approaches and different areas of marketing to determine what works and what doesn’t. We also use a marketing company to do SEO for us.

Related: Franchise Players: The Confusing Realities of Regulation

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

 Marketing was probably the most difficult challenge. There was some guidance about what was expected to be done as far as marketing goes. However, some of that guidance did not work nor resulted in any business. Determining what type of marketing to do and what message to send to the consumer that spurred them into visiting with us was one of the more difficult challenges we faced upon opening the doors. 

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

Although franchising comes with advice and guidance, owning your own business is a lot of work and success will not come easily. It is important to follow proven systems and techniques that the franchisor has developed and proven successful (including providing great quality and customer service) if you want to see success in your business. 

What’s next for you and your business?

We are looking at expanding – both hiring more employees and expanding into new territory. We hope to increase sales, increase the territory we service and give increased opportunities for advancement to our dedicated employees.

Related: Franchise Players: Franchising Instead of 'Reinventing the Wheel'

Edition: December 2016

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