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This Franchisee All-Star Continued Working as She Battled Cancer Linda Saavedra continued her work as a Showhomes franchisee while being treated for breast cancer, ultimately winning Franchisee of the Year.

By Kate Taylor

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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 ktaylor@entrepreneur.com.

A few days before her 45th birthday, Linda Saavedra was diagnosed with breast cancer. Saavedra – who had only recently become a Showhomes franchisee – decided to continue to work with the home staging franchise throughout her treatment. In 2010, she became the youngest Showhomes franchisee to be awarded Franchise of the Year. Since then, the sky has been the limit for Saavedra. Here's what she has learned.

Name: Linda Saavedra

Franchise owned: Showhomes, in Tampa, Fla.

How long have you owned a franchise?

For six years -- the franchise opened 2009.

Related: Running a 'Toddler' and 'Infant' Massage Franchise

Why franchising?

Franchising has the greatest chance for success and provides the support tools, technology, updates and marketing that would be difficult to do as an independent business owner.

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

I was lounging on the beach—after all, this is Florida!

Just kidding. I worked in the corporate world and owned another (non-franchised) business.

Why did you choose this particular franchise?

I think the business model is fantastic—definitely a need in the market. I loved the idea of a service-based business that included doing what I love (design and decorating) and had a tremendous positive impact on the community. The Tampa market was open, so I bought it and the adventure began!

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

I spent approximately $50,000 for the franchise fee plus training, travel, marketing, setting up my business, etc. Breakdown was:

Franchise Fee: $34,900

Training/Travel: $2,500

Business Insurance/Licenses: $2,000

LLC Corp Set Up/Accounting/Legal: $2,000

Marketing Materials: $2,500

Computer/phones/office supplies: $2,500

Other: $4,000

Total: $50,000

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?

I researched the business and the industry online. I also talked to other franchisees. I quickly realized the value of a mentor and was fortunate to connect with a couple of franchisees who patiently answered my constant calls and helped me get my bearings as a newbie!

Related: How VETFRAN Helped Me Become a Franchisee After 20 Years in the Military

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?

The unpredictability of the market and how the real estate market affects our industry (which we have no control over). Also, the "old school" ways of some real estate professionals was, and at times, still is a challenge.

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

Follow the model, but ramp up all the processes that are provided. Don't be afraid to step outside the norm to make it rain. Understand you have to continually invest in your business and your team to build success. Until your business is raining profits, you have to keep working it and keep investing, even when it's painful.

What's next for you and your business?

This year marks the year that we take things to the next level. We are introducing a new line of services (home makeovers and updates) that will help our clients enjoy an easier and stress free home transformation. We'll handle multiple projects and improvements for them as a one-stop shop, making their path to a successful home sale much more affordable, effective and without the headaches. For us, it broadens our revenue streams and allows us to offer a larger menu of services for our clients. Win-win for everyone!

Related: Instead of Spending $100K on College, This Entrepreneur Took Out a Loan to Open Her Own Business

Kate Taylor


Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor. 

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