How One Man's Air Force Experience Led to Life as a Hydraulic Hose Franchisee
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.
Bill Lesswing was introduced to hydraulic hose repair at the age of 17 while serving in the U.S. Air Force as an aerospace ground equipment mechanic. Following his honorable discharge, Lesswing worked for Delta Airlines, in addition to several other jobs in the mechanical industry. He joined the hydraulic hose franchise PIRTEK in 1999 in the Dallas-Fort Worth area and is now opening the brand’s first Nashville store. Read on to see why he says franchising is “the best thing out there.”
Name: Bill Lesswing
Franchise owned: PIRTEK in Nashville
Q: How long have you owned a franchise?
I am opening my first franchise location this fall. I have been an employee with PIRTEK since 1999, so the beauty of opening my own store is that I am not just a businessman. I know everything there is to know about PIRTEK. I know all of the positions. So, when I go out and sell, I can sell stories from my experiences.
Q: Why franchising?
When you open a franchise, the business is almost like a marriage, because the corporate team takes care of things that I don’t want to or can’t. That gives me the time I need to concentrate on providing the best, most efficient service I can for my customers. I think franchising is the best thing out there.
Q: What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I joined the United States Air Force when I was 17-years-old and served for six years. I was an aerospace ground equipment mechanic and spent time in Germany and North Dakota during my service. I always wanted to work for an airline and moved to Dallas to join Delta Airlines after leaving the Air Force. I was unfortunately laid off after three years. I took a service representative job and also worked for City Garage in the Dallas-Fort Worth area before joining PIRTEK in 1999.
Q: Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I joined PIRTEK in 1999 after reading an ad in the newspaper. The location was the first franchise in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. Having done hydraulic repair in the past, I knew what an inconvenient process it was. I liked the way PIRTEK made it efficient.
Q: How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
PIRTEK is a completely turn-key business opportunity. The franchise includes a 3,000-4,000-square-foot industrial space as well as two to three office spaces and three on-site service vans. The total turn-key start costs generally average between $400,000 and $450,000, though the average owner’s out of pocket cost is usually around $150,000, with the balance offset by financing through things like U.S. Small Business Association loans. The start cost for me is a bit different because of the special circumstance I am in with the corporate team’s partnership to financially to launch the Nashville location.
Q: Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Most of my research comes from my experience as a PIRTEK employee for over a decade. It is very important to me that when clients use a PIRTEK in Nashville or New York or California, it will be the same experience and product. I am focused on uniformity.
Q: What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Site selection is difficult in a popular market like Nashville. When I toured Nashville I know it was a tight real estate market, but the room for growth is there.
Q: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Do your homework, love what you do and ask yourself: do you want to run a business or work in a business? Pick a franchise that has a great customer service department.
Q: What’s next for you and your business?
My goal is to open multiple franchises. I’ve learned that you can’t have enough PIRTEK locations in a city.Related: How Franchising Helped Me Find Work-Life Balance