Franchise Players

A Step Into the Unknown Pays Off for Franchising Couple

A Step Into the Unknown Pays Off for Franchising Couple

Heidi and Paul Ferguson

Image credit: Violet Light Photography | Heidi Anne Prins

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

Betting their last dollar on their first foray into franchising, the Fergusons call their gamble on Pillar To Post the best decision they've ever made. After flipping houses for a living, they took the advice of a relative and the made the easy transition to home inspections. The rest, Paul Ferguson says, is history. 

Name: Heidi and Paul Ferguson

Franchise owned (location): Pillar To Post Home Inspectors of North Central Ohio

How long have you owned a franchise?

We opened in 1999.

Why franchising?

My uncle purchased a Pillar To Post franchise and then began telling me all about it. They were doing very well; I was very interested; and the rest is history.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I was a landlord and flipped houses for a living. It got to the point where I simply couldn't keep up with the number of properties I had. We were broke and still owed a lot of people money. We had to leave our home and move into my wife’s sister’s basement. Heidi and I spent our last dollar on starting our Pillar To Post business. It was the best decision we could’ve made.

Related: How My Franchise Went From a Side Gig to a Fulltime Career When I Lost My Job

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

Not only was it a natural transition from my days in construction and real estate, but also, Pillar To Post is a growing business. There's no cap to how big we can get. Knowing that we'll see all our hard work pay off is very encouraging and keeps us going.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business? 

We spent about $30,000 for the franchise, training and start-up materials.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

Having both my uncle -- who bought a franchise the year before we did -- and the Pillar To Post corporate team guide us through the whole process was extremely helpful, and it made us feel very confident that we had a strong team around us.

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

I thought this was a new concept -- I didn't realize how late we were to the dance! But as they say, better late than never.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

Be prepared to live tight on money for the first year or two. It takes time to build relationships, but hold on. You'll make it; just stick to the plan.

What’s next for you and your business?

Grow, grow, grow!

Related: Why Franchisees Need to Remember to Think Like True Entrepreneurs