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.
Becky Edgren grew up working in a male-dominated industry, at her father's tooling and machine company. After leaving the family business, Edgren decided to enter another field dominated by men when she purchased a PuroClean emergency restoration franchise. Throughout her career, she's never allowed others' assumptions about how her gender affects her work to negatively impact her. In fact, today half of Edgren's employees are women, including three of her daughters. Here's what she has learned as a franchisee and entrepreneur.
Name: Becky Edgren
Franchise owned: PuroClean in Dayton, O.H.
How long have you owned a franchise?
I’ve been a franchise owner with PuroClean since August 2008.
It was very important for me to start a business that could grow into a family business with my husband and my daughters. I knew I wanted to operate something in the service industry, and when I learned about the emergency restoration business, I fell in love with all of it. Because I had no previous experience with mitigation, I researched and explored my options and found that a franchise offered the best opportunity for success, and for my family to be trained and experienced in all of the aspects needed.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Prior to opening PuroClean, I grew up with a manufacturing background. In fact, I was part owner in a family tooling and machining company my father established in 1947, and I worked there right up until I shifted gears with PuroClean.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Like most franchisees, I looked at several of PuroClean’s competitors and their business models. However, I was very specific about the territory I wanted to serve and I firmly believe that the company culture is critical to the success of a business. Additionally, I wanted to build my company from the ground up. PuroClean fulfilled all the requirements I had established for my new endeavor.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I purchased two PuroClean franchises, which is not very common within their system, so my startup costs were significantly higher than most new owners. I realized this was a very competitive industry and I wanted to ensure that we had enough room to grow to a level large enough to support four families, which is ultimately why I purchased two locations. In addition to the initial franchise investment, I spent approximately $60,000 for equipment, $20,000 for my first van and approximately $15,000 in additional small tools and miscellaneous items. My total investment for both locations was just under $200,000.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Quite honestly, most of my research was done on my own, but I definitely still took extra steps and spoke with respected business owners in the industry to gain a different perspective on everything. I also relied on input from my brothers who were previously business partners in our family manufacturing company. Bill Matthews, who has worked for a Fortune 500 company and written several books, also reviewed my business plan and provided me with valuable feedback to review.
Has being a woman in a male-dominated industry presented any challenges or opportunities for you?
Manufacturing, my previous business focus, is also very male dominated, so this industry did not intimidate me. The advantage I have with PuroClean is that I am personally certified in all our service areas and I can do a job if needed. I rarely get involved in the day-to-day details anymore, but I have the knowledge and skill necessary to go out on my own and take care of tasks. This provides me with ability to speak logically with agents, adjusters, clients, contractors and my employees.
Additionally, I want to add that many times, men think women don’t have the knowledge or physical ability to do the “dirty” or “rough” kind of work typically seen in male dominated industries. However, half of the people I employ are women, and many of them are certified to do just that kind of work. It’s wonderful to see men quickly change their assumptions once they realize for themselves that we are just as knowledgeable and capable of executing a job successfully.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
When I first opened, I found trying to schedule employees and jobs in a manner that was cost effective to be a bit challenging. Our industry is not one in which there is a backlog of work to complete. Every time the phone rings, we need to be on site and ready in two hours or less. Some days the phone will ring less. On other days we confirm five jobs. Scheduling continues to be an area in which we are consistently improving and finding better solutions.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Do your homework researching competitors and understanding the market you will be entering. I see too many owners fail because they think all they need to do is open an office and the work will start flowing. Being successful in the corporate world doesn’t guarantee success as an entrepreneur. It’s also important to understand the risk you will be taking. Statistics say you have a greater chance of failing than succeeding. However, in franchise systems, risk can be significantly lower due to corporate support in various aspects. Be sure you’re willing to go “all in.” Otherwise, rethink your options.
Also, anybody who has a dream or desire to go into any field needs to realize that the opportunity is there and you just have to work at it. I firmly believe that you become what you have the desire and drive to become. Nothing is easy, and it’s important to realize that you have to work at it and have the drive and passion to create your own success.
What’s next for you and your business?
Right now, we are actually putting together our next five year plan. We surely want to continue to grow and improve our processes, and continue to build our in-house training. I am a strong advocate of continuous improvement and I believe focusing on our people is the key. It is not my goal to be the biggest, simply the best.