What It Feels Like to Run a Startup and a Franchise
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.
Not many people can offer a direct comparison between founding an independent startup and opening a franchise. There are, however, two who can: Julie and Kevin McAdoo. The veteran franchisees launched a house cleaning startup soon after leaving the Air Force. Not long after that, they opened up an Office Pride location. Here's what they've learned.
Name: Julie and Kevin McAdoo
Franchise owned: Tampa, Fla.
How long have you owned a franchise?
For 19 months.
Franchising is a fantastic way to get into business. Having also gone the start-up route, I know how challenging it is to build a business from the ground up. With the franchise, we have received excellent support and training on the day to day operations as well as the strategies for developing our market and our business. I can’t leave out the value of joining a well-developed brand with advertising and marketing already in place.
We also love it because of our military background. In the military, we were trained in a system that worked very well and had been tested. Our franchise is like that, and also offers the flexibility to mold it into the business that suits our style. We also draw upon the experiences of many of the other franchises who have gone before us, and that is invaluable.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Both my husband and I served in the US Air Force as a C-130 pilot and navigator respectively. In 2012, we launched a house cleaning startup that we still operate alongside our Office Pride franchise.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
It chose us! But once we looked into it, and did our research, we chose it back. When I did my research, I stumbled upon a franchising magazine that compared a few of the commercial cleaning franchises. The others had gone on endlessly about how they could teach us to sell, sell, sell! Clearly that is very important, but Office Pride also promised to teach us how to take excellent care of our customers and provide them the best possible service.
Because of my business experience, I already held the belief that having an excellent product or service was the best place to start. Anyone can sell. It’s the company that can back up the sales with a quality product or service that will keep its doors open and build a viable business, one that sells itself, retains customers, and gets referral business. I wanted a company built on values like integrity, trust, quality, service, and that is what we are trained to do at Office Pride.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The franchise fee was $26,900 with the military discount. We also spent $4,495 to hire Guidant Financial to help us convert our military Thrift Savings Plans into a 401K to fund our franchise purchase and start-up expenses. We also invested in a new computer and software to the tune of about $1,800.
So all told, before opening doors to serve our first customer, we spent about $33,195. All of it was necessary and worth it! We received excellent training, support, equipment, and supplies from Office Pride. Guidant set up our corporation and enabled us to use our hard earned Thrift Savings Plans to invest in our business.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I researched the reputation of Office Pride primarily on the internet and even used LinkedIn to find both current and former franchise owners. I then talked with current and former owners about their experiences and if they would do it all over again if given the same opportunity.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Managing growth! We had had the house cleaning start-up for a year and a half already when we opened our Office Pride franchise. We were accustomed to many aspects of business operations, but the commercial business grew far faster than we were used to with our house cleaning business. So, managing a steeper growth model was our biggest challenge.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
I love both my start-up and my franchise. If I had it all to do over again, I would have started with the franchise. In my experience, a great franchise will teach you a great deal about successfully opening, operating and growing a business. That saves you a great deal of time and resources in trying to re-invent the wheel as many of us do in our start-ups. It has been worth every penny.
What’s next for you and your business?
Right now we are focused on growing our business to the first million dollar revenue point and beyond. Long term, we are building a business that will support us through retirement and that we can pass on to our children.
Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor.