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.
Vincent Stoakley lived in countries including Japan, South Korea and Afghanistan during his 20 years of service in the U.S. Army. Little did he know at the time, as he traveled around the globe, he was inadvertently gaining the skills necessary to be a home inspector. After leaving the military, Stoakley became a Pillar To Post franchisee. Here's how he has applied his military knowledge in the field of home inspection.
Name: Vincent Stoakley
Franchise owned (location): Pillar To Post Home Inspectors, in Richmond, Texas.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Since March 2013.
Franchising allowed me to become a business owner without having to focus on inventing a brand. The Pillar To Post brand has proven its success for decades. There are systems in place that assist the franchisee with daily business operations and marketing. It is comforting knowing that you have a network and structure in place that will work with you every step of the way towards success.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Prior to being a franchise owner, I was in the U.S. Army for over 20 years, serving everywhere from upstate New York to Japan, South Korea and Afghanistan. I retired from service in 2012.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I chose Pillar To Post because it is one of the most veteran friendly franchises. They also have a low buy in cost, and offer a veterans discount.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Franchise fee: $14,400
Travel for training: $600
State required education and training: $3,600
Tools, office equipment, and computers: $7,600
Startup marketing package: $1,400
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I conducted my due diligence through VetFran, internet research and contacting Pillar To Post veteran franchisees.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
After serving in the Army for two decades, I was surprised to find that cold calling was an unexpected challenge for me. However, I realized that it was the process that I had to go through to build relationships.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Research the franchise of their choice, and their strongest competitor. Speak with the franchise about what services they offer to new franchisees. Talk with franchisees in your local area to get a feel for the organization’s culture. Have a good realistic business plan and stick to it.
What’s next for you and your business?
I will be adding additional services in 2015, such as pool and spa inspections. I will continue to build relationships with clients, realtors, lenders, and title companies. Also, I plan to bring on my first inspector employee in 2015.