Starting From Scratch After 15 Years in the Workforce
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.
Before becoming a franchisee, Eric Silver spent years piecing together what entrepreneurship meant for him. He worked at businesses small and large while he tried to think of an idea that could spark his career as a business owner. Today, as a franchisee, he has realized that his passion isn't a product: it is the act of running a business. Here's what Silver has learned as a Fish Window Cleaning franchisee.
Name: Eric Silver
Franchise owned: Fish Window Cleaning, with three locations in Denton, Fort Worth and North Arlington, Texas.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Six years. We opened the Denton location in 2008. We purchased Fort Worth in 2012 and we purchased North Arlington in 2014.
I have always wanted to own my own business, but for years I struggled with what made sense. I liked doing a lot of things, but I wasn’t passionate about anything I could produce that people would buy. Turns out I was passionate about running a successful business.
I was taking a class on entrepreneurship at the University of Dallas while pursuing an MBA. We discussed franchising as part of the course. It was at this time where I really started to see the benefits of owning and operating a franchise. When I was ready to make the leap, my wife and I had just had our son. He was one month old at the time and I knew that I needed to do something that gave myself the best chance of success possible. I saw the relationship with the franchisor as a positive since they have a tremendous amount of interest in your success. For me, franchising at that point in my life and without having any other real business ownership experience made a ton of sense.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I had been in sales for several years. Directly prior to opening the first franchise location I was a district sales manager for a major yellow page publisher. At that point I had worked for a small business, a medium-sized business and a large corporation. I didn’t really feel comfortable and any of them.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
There were really three things I liked:
- Low investment/Quick ROI
- Focus on commercial accounts
- Family-friendly environment and work schedule
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I spent about $30,000 on the initial franchise purchase, about $5,000 on equipment, and about $2,000 for training and first month lease payment.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I did a lot of research online. I also talked to business owners in the community where I was planning to open the business to get their take on the need for this type of service. I asked some of the other small business owners I knew through work.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Managing cash flow and employment. Everything I read said that cash is the lifeblood of your business. Makes sense, right? Well, when it all rests on your shoulders, you're trying to sell more accounts, service them, find employees, hire employees, train employees and be the “everything” to your business it is challenging. I learned a lot about business in my first 15 years in the workforce and in my pursuit of an MBA. However, the rubber really hit the road when I invested nearly everything my wife and I had in a business and started from scratch.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
It can be very daunting in the beginning. You are now your own boss. It is truly up to you. You find out very quickly whether you are up to it. My recommendations are:
- Always be focused on revenue generating activities such as sales and marketing. Never put these off.
- Watch your money and accounts receivable. You earned this money. It is yours. Don’t let anyone make you feel guilty for attempting to collect what is owed to you.
- When in doubt, put your head down and work harder. It’s easy to get discouraged. It’s rewarding to power through. My experience has been people get discouraged too easily. Call another franchisee. Ask them what they did to get through this patch. Call your franchisor and ask for help. Don’t sit and stew. Just don’t stop moving forward. The minute you stop and think you can’t do it you will find out you are right.
What’s next for you and your business?
We bought our third location this past summer. We are constantly focused on growth and opportunity. We are always looking to get better and become the best at what we do.
Related: My Franchise Is Like My Second Child