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.
Franchise owned: New Uses, in Maple Grove, MN; and Clothes Mentor locations in Maple Grove, St.Cloud, and Woodbury, MN. Both brands are under the umbrella of NTY Franchise Co., an upscale consignment/resale company.
How long have you owned a franchise?
[Mark responding] I’ve been a franchise owner since 2008. [New Uses dates back to June 2013.]
Both Barb and I are great copiers, but not great inventors. We bought into the fact that a person can take years to invent and perfect a model. Franchising takes years off the time, expense and risk that comes with opening a new business. Franchising also allows us the lifestyle of being in business for ourselves with a system in place to give us direction and accountability.
Finally, having our daughter and son involved and preparing them to take over one day is very rewarding. Our children are earning the right to take over the business, and that makes us very proud.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
Both Barb and I began our professional lives as independent contractors working as a distributor for Kirby Vacuum.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
We were already familiar with the parent franchisor, NTY Franchise Company. We had initially purchased three Clothes Mentor stores, another of their resale franchise brands, and were pleased with the model. We decided on a New Uses store because it offered the same proven system, with a different product base. We also wanted a new business for our son to grow into, since he was graduating from college.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The total cost was $224,000. The breakdown was: franchise fee, $20,000; buildout, $100,500; inventory, $40,000; deposit and rent: $13,500; labor, $10,500; advertising, $15,000; and miscellaneous, $24,500.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Mentors! My father, Carl -- for raising me with ethics and care. Gene Windfeldt, business owner and entrepreneur -- for work ethic, discipline, focus and big thinking. My wife -- for teaching me structure, honesty and follow-through.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Barb and I really didn’t have any unexpected challenges. We went into the business having done the research and understanding what we were getting into; and we had a comprehensive three-year business plan. There were some tweaks we had to work on, but not anything I would call a challenge.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Buying a franchise is not "buying a business"; it is buying an opportunity to own a business. Your actions, attitude and work ethic are what will make it a business. You are not a business until you are able to be paid and make a profit. Until that happens, it is only an expensive hobby.
What’s next for you and your business?
Winters in Florida!. Over the next five years, we will be working with our kids to help them to understand what entrepreneurship is, the lifestyle it creates and how to manage the two. Both Barb and I expect to be active in the business for years to come. Our business is like a child to us. You can't just kick it out of the house and never see it again. Years of both physical and emotional work will keep us connected in some capacity, even as we transition out of full-time operation.