Franchise Players: I Became a Franchisee Fresh Out of College
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.
Chris Drucquer became a CertaPro Painters franchisee fresh out of college. After paying tuition at the University of Pennsylvania by running a College Pro Painters franchise location, Drucquer knew plenty about painting. However, it took him a little while longer to learn how to hire the right employees at his own franchise. Twenty-two years later, he’s got it all figured out – even if he says he’s nowhere close to finished growing. Here’s what Drucquer has learned in the last 22 years.
Name: Chris Drucquer
Franchise owned: CertaPro Painters of the Main Line in Pennsylvania
How long have you owned a franchise?
Because I can spend 90 percent of my time focused on tactics that are proven to drive bottom line, growth and great customer experience, but still spend 10 percent of my time innovating. In addition to that, I am surrounded by high performers who motivate me and I learn from on a daily basis. Plus, the economics of scale with a dedicated call center, co-op marketing, supplier discounts, learning and development, etc. more than cover the franchise royalties.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was a student at the University of Pennsylvania and waited tables at our family restaurant in the New Hope area (The Stockton Inn) before running a College Pro Painters business for four years (hired college students to paint houses). This college painting business allowed me to pay my tuition in full.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I knew the founder of CertaPro Painters (Charlie Chase) through my time with College Pro Painters, and I believed in him. I also knew that there were excellent margins in painting and professionally managed painting companies are few and far between. CertaPro’s focus on delivering an extraordinary painting experience at a fair price resonated with me.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
This was the VERY early days (I was the third person to sign a contract with CertaPro Painters), and I was fresh out of college.
$15,000 franchise fee
$10,000 initial marketing
$5,000 painting equipment
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
These were the early years and I was young. I went with my gut – do I trust the individuals that founded the company to help me grow my business quickly and profitably? – and have my best interests at heart. My instincts were right, and then some.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
At first it was VERY hard to find quality employees/painters and I was not prepared to manage a blue-collar labor force. With help from the franchisor and other franchisees, we have found our way and this is now a strength of our business. Not a day goes by without hearing from someone, “your guys are GREAT!”
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Talk to as many franchisees as you can and get to the root these two questions:
Does the franchisor have your best interests at heart?
If you follow the program, what are your chances of success?
What’s next for you and your business?
We’re just getting started! We’ve tripled our business in the last four years, and we are going to that again in the next five. We are following the “CertaPro path” which includes adding a full time employee every year and growing $400,000-plus each year, while still being the market leader in service.