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How One Couple Became Multi-Unit, Multi-Brand Franchise Owners When Matt and Anne Evers took the leap to buy a franchise, they never imagined they'd grow to 13 locations across two brands just eight years later.

By Tracy Stapp Herold Edited by Carl Stoffers

Matt and Anne Evers had always dreamed of business ownership, and when their search for childcare introduced them to Primrose Schools, they decided to acquire an existing school in Houston in 2015. Today they own five Primrose locations, along with eight Drybars. Here's how it happened:

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

What did you do before becoming franchisees?
Matt: Out of college, Anne and I both went to work for a large corporation. That's actually where we met. We were there for 11 or 12 years and both had high-level positions, but we had always wanted to own our own business. Then when we got pregnant and started looking for preschool options, we came across Primrose, and that eventually led to us purchasing our own school.

What led you to franchise with Primrose?
Anne: You could not get into any Primrose here. There was a waitlist, there was such high demand. So I said, "Well, what if we just opened one?" That set in motion the series of small steps that led to acquiring our first location.
Matt: The franchising model attracted us. We had never owned our own business before, so it was a nice crutch. We met with multiple brands, but after doing our research, we felt like Primrose was the premium brand, and if you're going to be in business, you want to be with the best.
So we purchased our first school—an existing Primrose location-- in 2015, and we had a real debate about who was going to quit their job first to take on running it. Anne got a great opportunity with another corporation, so I left my job. Then we opened our second one in 2016, our third in 2018, and the fourth and fifth in 2022 and 2023. All acquisitions except the last one, which we built.

Did you have multi-unit ownership in mind from the start?
Matt: When you take that leap of faith to buy a business, initially you're just focused on doing a great job. It was such a culture shock. I went from negotiating contracts in a boardroom to driving a bus to drop children off at elementary school. But then around six months in, something clicks, and you go, 'Okay, this is fun. This is a good fit. I like this business.' So when the opportunity came along to buy a second location, it was much less scary than the first one. And then once we got that set up and running successfully, the third opportunity came along and it just seemed like a natural fit. Once you go through that transition, you're kind of always looking for that next opportunity. Each location we add on gets a little bit easier, because you've done it before.
Anne: Ten years ago if you said we would have 13 locations of two incredibly well-known brands, I think we would have laughed at you, but it's something that happened through a lot of hard work and smart risks. And there's a lot of satisfaction in adding to the community by way of jobs and growth.

Related: Is Franchising Right For You? Ask Yourself These 9 Questions to Find Out.

How did Drybar come into the picture?

Anne: We wanted to diversify our portfolio, and as I was traveling all over the country for work, I was a very loyal customer of Drybar. So we began to look into their franchise opportunity. An opportunity came up to join the system through a partnership in the Minneapolis market. Then the parent company, WellBiz Brands, began refranchising—selling corporate-owned shops—so we purchased some in the Houston and Austin markets. We now have eight DryBars open.

What are some challenges of being not just multi-unit, but multi-brand owners?
Anne: Getting really deep knowledge on both industries can be a challenge, and that's why the support of the franchisors is really critical. And I don't think we could have grown as fast as we did in either concept without the incredible team members we have.
Matt: Absolutely. We're really blessed to have people we can put out trust in, which allows us to focus on growth and bigger picture items. At this point we have a really talented group of people working for us—almost 350 employees. The biggest challenge is getting over that hump of going from spending 100% of your time at a single location to more of a structure—and I think our corporate background and experience managing people helped us with that.

How do you work together as a husband-and-wife team?
Matt: I focus on the Primrose side and Anne runs the Drybar side, but we share resources in areas of overlap, like HR, maintenance, and marketing. There's definitely challenges to a husband and wife running a bunch of businesses together, but at the same time it's neat after the kids go to bed to bounce ideas off each other. I know the headaches she's facing because I face them, too, and that's a really neat part of this journey we've been on.

Related: The 4 Biggest Myths About Franchising

What advice would you give someone considering franchise ownership?
Anne: Matt and I didn't come into this having it all figured out. Being an entrepreneur is possible for anybody that wants to put in hard work and dedication. A lot of people at first were questioning our sanity. It was hard for them to understand leaving a corporate job to open a preschool. But now they see that you can both have a successful career and be a much happier person, and they're asking, "How can I get involved?"
Matt: Yeah. Who doesn't love high-fiving 750 kids a week?

Tracy Stapp Herold

Entrepreneur Staff

Tracy Stapp Herold is the special projects editor at Entrepreneur magazine. She works on franchise and business opportunity stories and listings, including the annual Franchise 500.

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