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.
Randy Vlasic and Alex Veinot have been best friends since high school. After college, the pair ended up working together as sales executives for the same company. However, the duo longed to open their own business. Here is how they decided that BlueGrace Logistics was the perfect vehicle for their entrepreneurial drive.
Name: Randy Vlasic and Alex Veinot
Franchise owned: BlueGrace Logistics in Bloomingdale, Ill.
How long have you owned a franchise?
We signed our franchise agreement in November of 2013. Recently having our one year anniversary, we are more excited than ever about where our business is going.
Franchising provided us a turnkey system that was proven to work. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, we bought into a company that has shown unbelievable growth, with a revolutionary approach to an already familiar industry. Branded as a national leader in logistics, we were able to bring immediate value to our customers and grow substantially faster than if we had started a company from scratch. The benefits of having all facets of a business already designed and ready to be implemented was a major factor in our decision to move forward with the franchise. As new entrepreneurs we knew our time would stretch thin, so having everything in place was critical in giving us the ability to focus on what mattered most: Growing our business.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Best friends since high school, we had always dreamed of opening a business together. Immediately after high school, both of us worked in various sales positions while we focused on our college education. Staying in touch throughout the years, we ended up as sales executives with a third party logistics provider. Quickly advancing to the top two sales executives in our company, we were forced to look for other avenues as our company began to cut back.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
BlueGrace Logistics offered two things that we really liked about their company. The first was their laundry list of accolades associated with their tremendous track record of growth and success. The second was a culture unlike any we were familiar with. Their team was excited about the vision and the successes they shared. Employees seemed excited to come in every day, and each person was engaged in their role, with recognition flowing with each achievement. Teammates were promoted within, and coached by leaders that believed in helping individuals succeed not only in their career, but in their personal lives as well. We could immediately understand why the company was growing so quickly. Getting to know the executives, we knew it was a company we wanted to be a part of.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Franchise fee: $50,000
Office space: $750
Furniture and equipment: $6,500
Professional fees: $2,000
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Most of our research and advice came from family and friends that we knew as successful business owners and entrepreneurs. They helped us understand the business side and what it really took to establish and run a company. We also hired an attorney and a CPA to help aid in contract negotiation and the inception of our company. The rest of our research was generally done on the web researching franchise opportunities and getting involved in forums for small business owners and franchise owners.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
We don’t feel we really had many unexpected challenges opening our new business. The main challenge for us was putting everything we had on the line to take a chance at our new company. We knew opening our company would be difficult and we really didn’t know how fast we would grow. We did our best to construct a business plan and low to high projections based on some of the success we had in the past. From day one we dealt with issues such as managing cash flow, and generating new business, but any new business owner will have that. The main benefit we had to having to deal with those types of challenges, was the franchise support group in our home office. Our franchisor helped us through the everyday challenges and with a vested interest in our company truly helped us ensure our success.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
We think owning a franchise is such a great opportunity for not only the franchisee, but franchisors as well. The franchisor's ability to draw individuals with entrepreneurial mindsets and help them grow a company benefits both parties.
For anyone looking to purchase a franchise, take your time and really get to understand the business you are looking into. Use any resources available such as family and friends, but get some resources from the franchisor as well. Get in touch with people who already own franchises in that company and ask them about some of their successes and their failures. Then, when you find the opportunity you like, take your time creating a business plan and involve your franchisor. Understanding other successful franchises and how they got there can really take some of the headaches out of your first year in business.
What’s next for you and your business?
Heading into year two we are just as excited as the day we opened. As the fastest growing franchise in BlueGrace Logistics, we continue to set new levels of accomplishment for our peers, and lead in our channel. In 2015 we will double our business, and by the end of 2017 we will be a $100,000,000 company.