How Franchising Gave This Former Marine a Way to Help Other Veterans
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.
As a former Marine, opening a business that allowed him to make a difference in his hometown was a big deal for Pete Wilson. Wilson's entrepreneurial dreams were driven by a desire to give back, both by providing a service and by creating more jobs in his community. Window Genie allowed him to do just that. Here's what he has learned.
Name: Pete Wilson
Franchise owned: Window Genie of West Chester, Ohio
How long have you owned a franchise?
Since May 2015.
I’ve wanted to own a business for many years, but didn’t want to start completely from scratch. Buying into a franchise allows you to follow a proven business model, and with the right franchise like Window Genie, have the appropriate franchisor support to be a force multiplier for success. Franchising was definitely the right choice because as my own boss I’m given the freedom to make my own choices and be responsible for my own success, but I’ll always have peers and a support team to gauge that success and to offer guidance and advice moving forward.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was an active duty U.S. Marine Officer for 11 years. After my time in the military I went back to my alma mater, Miami University and got my MBA. In corporate America I worked in strategic sourcing and operations management before leaving that to pursue my dream of business ownership.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
This business will allow me to make a difference in my hometown on a regular basis through providing services that improve the look and value of homes and small businesses, but also through giving back and providing jobs. I chose Window Genie for several reasons. First, the initial franchisee costs are relatively modest, there is low overhead, and multiple revenue streams built in to the model. Second, the Window Genie culture matches my personality, in that we believe in taking care of our customers, working hard, and yet not taking ourselves too seriously. Finally, I believe in giving back to the community and Window Genie has this engrained in their ethos through the Windows 4 Wishes Program. Through this program, I will be providing free Window Genie services to local military veterans on a monthly basis.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
- Franchise Fee: $57,000
- Start up package: $25,000
- Misc admin costs: $15,000
- Total: $97,000
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I worked exclusively with a franchise coach, Beth Veach, who is with The Entrepreneur’s Source. I also read twenty or more books on franchising, and talked with as many people as possible during a two year research period including Window Genie’s CEO Rik Nonelle, the entire corporate staff and existing franchise partners across the country. The existing owners were honest and willing to let me in on their point of view of what it was like to run the business every day. It helped me envision myself as an owner and confirmed for me that my goals were attainable.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
The most immediate challenge has been finding the right people to hire. I’m working to hire veterans as quickly as possible, and I have good help in that search, but it’s still more challenging than I anticipated.
The other unexpected challenge, some would say this is a good problem to have, is how quickly I’ve seen the business take off. I’m humbled by the outpouring of community support.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Certainly do your homework, enlist a franchise coach to help navigate the many opportunities, trust your instincts and go for it.
What’s next for you and your business?
We are growing quickly in our assigned territory. My goal is to continue growing the business, hire and mentor a great team of veterans, grow the brand image, and imbed ourselves in the local community through charitable outreach activities.