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.
Mike Keeney had spent more than two decades managing hotels. When he became a father, however, he couldn’t find decent child care for his daughter. He used the customer service skills and business acumen he’d acquired to open a Discovery Point Child Development Center in Florida. Read on to hear more about his experience.
Name: Mike Keeney
Franchise owned: Discovery Point Child Development Centers, Wesley Chapel, Fla.
Q: How long have you owned a franchise?
I’ll celebrate my 10th anniversary with Discovery Point Child Development Centers in May of 2016.
Q: Why franchising?
I really liked the idea of using the franchisor’s expertise in securing the land deal, building my location and providing a turnkey operation. I got to concentrate on training and operations to run my location. I also like to have ongoing support when needed.
Q: What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was in the hotel business for the previous 23 years. The last 17 years of that I was general manager for several brands including Marriott and Hilton.
Q: Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I was referred to Discovery Point by a former colleague who worked for the Clarks, the founders of the system.
Q: How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Franchise fee: $50,000
Pre-Opening labor: $5,000
Office/operating supplies: $1,000
Q: Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I addressed most of my child care questions directly to Discovery Point, my franchisor. Then I borrowed on my own extensive experience in opening businesses from the ground floor up. I had opened four hotels as a General Manager, and those skills were very beneficial.
Q: What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Some of the last-minute items to any business can feel unexpected in the excitement to open. In this case with Discovery Point, I can remember the rush of assembling cribs, putting all the toys in place, and making my business a welcoming environment from the minute people walked in the front door.
Q: What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Make sure that you have the skill set needed for that particular franchise. Be honest about your experience and your strengths and weaknesses. Most importantly though is the adage, location, location, location!
Q: What’s next for you and your business?
I would like to open a second center in the next 24 months.