Finding Silver Linings in Dark Times as Franchisees
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 email@example.com.
Last year was not an easy one for Gary and Jeanne Bracken. Jeanne was battling breast cancer, while Gary lost his job as a corporate communications director. However, the duo was determined to make a difficult situation work for them. So, they decided to look into franchising, as a way to support their family as entrepreneurs. They found the perfect fit with CertaPro Painters, and named their governing corporation Silver Linings of Parmadise. Here's what the Brackens have learned about sticking it out as entrepreneurs through the good times and the bad.
Name: Gary and Jeanne Bracken
Franchise owned: CertaPro Painters in Rochester, N.Y.
How long have you owned a franchise?
After being “downsized” from a corporate executive position, it seemed that the more secure way to insure our future was to put our efforts and hard work into something we owned. The franchise model, especially with CertaPro Painters, seemed like a solid and smart investment that we could turn into a future for our family.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I am a retired military officer and then worked in various corporate communications positions in direct support of federal government clients (USCG, CBP) and then on corporate staff. Jeanne is a former military officer and most recently was a stay-at-home mom spending a lot of time volunteering in our four kids’ schools.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We did a lot of research into various opportunities. In the end, the business support provided and the core values of CertaPro won us over. Their values match our own from our years in the military. They also provide a lot of training not only on the business operations but the foundational part of the company, painting. There is also a great network of other owners that we can access and have found most to be very responsive to questions, requests for advice or just being a sounding board for those less than great days.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I would estimate approximately $100,000. This is considering the initial franchise fee, costs for executing the funding (using a 401K plan), marketing efforts (including a wrapping vehicle, a trade show three days after being an official franchise and uniforms), training trips, office set up, a computer and software license.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
My first point of reference for taking this direction was a great person who worked for franchise consultation resource The You Network. She initially contacted me after seeing my resume out on the net, then spent countless hours working with me to help identify the correct "short list" of opportunities. She was there throughout the process whenever I had questions or needed more information. Then, of course, the validation process of speaking with current and former franchisees in the various systems was helpful as well.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Some of the New York state tax and insurance regulations, as well as the identification and onboarding of talented, customer-focused team members (in our case, supervisors and painters), were challenges at first. We continue to spend a lot of time working through these challenges while also staying focused on the growth of our company.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Really listen to the information as you research the opportunities and match what you are hearing to your desired way of life. Think through all of the "moving parts" to be sure you are ready to accept changes to your way of life that are acceptable or to identify others that just won’t work for you and your family. You should also be prepared for some significant emotional ups and downs as you navigate the many changes to your life and the many new things you have to learn.
What’s next for you and your business?
This is our inaugural year and we are preparing for the rapid growth of our company. We look forward to providing some extraordinary experiences for our clients as well as the crews that we partner with. There will likely be some more cycles of up and down, but we are ready to work through these and make our business well-known and successful in the Rochester market.