Chris Drucquer, owner of CertaPro Painters of the Main Line (Bryn Mawr and Narberth, PA), began his career in franchising in 1992. He shared with Franchise Business Review how he plans to double his franchise’s current size, generate over $5 Million in gross annual revenue over the next five years, and what his franchising experience has been like.
What was it about the franchise that led you to purchase it? I knew the founder of CertaPro Painters, Charlie Chase, well and believed in him and his vision. I ran a College Pro Painting business for four years while at the University of Pennsylvania, so understood what the opportunity entailed. I knew there was plenty of money to be made in painting.
Would you share your gross revenue figures? In 2015 it was $2.3 Million. In 2016, I anticipate we will hit at least $2.6 Million with a “big goal” target of $3 Million.
Why did you decide to go into franchising? I like the idea of being in business for myself, but not by myself. I work hand-in-hand with other successful CertaPro owners and learn from them how to improve my company. Also, if you chose a great franchise system and “follow the program”, you’ll be successful.
What advice would you share with people considering investing in a franchise? Before you sign the franchise agreement, meet at least 10 people in the company both from the corporate office and franchisees to see if you fit their culture. See if they feel a similar way about the company, which if the feedback is positive is a good sign, or if they all have different stories. You want to hear that to be successful you just have to follow the program. Once you buy the franchise, my advice is to stick as close to the program as possible, listen to the corporate office, and find a mentor franchisee to give you occasional advice and encouragement.
What is your work/life balance? I am in my office or territory three to four days a week. Now that I have the right support staff in place, I don’t work “in” my business, I work “on” it. The best part is that I can choose when to work and when not to work and the work is fun and rewarding.
What is it that you like best about owning your franchise? I am fully in control of my life – when I work, what hours I work, how much money I make, etc. It is very empowering. And being part of a very successful franchise with a corporate office that is 100% behind your success is a rush!
What is the most challenging aspect of being a franchisee? At first it was finding great people. Eventually, it was growing as a leader so I could effectively grow my people. That part was challenging at first, but now is the most rewarding thing I do.
What kind of support did you most appreciate from your franchisor when you started and what do you most appreciate now? All the tools, programs, and support to get me off the ground were what I appreciated most initially. Now I appreciate the leadership training, mentoring I receive to mentor my people, programs designed to grow my people, recruiting resources that help me find and hire the best people, a marketing juggernaut that drives leads, and systems that continuously improve our service.
What kind of support do you get from fellow franchisees? I benefit from the great support and sharing of best practices we provide to each other. I am a member of a “flight group”, essentially a Board of Directors, made up of fellow franchisees and this group is indispensible. When my “flight group” gives me unanimous advice, I go back to my business and act on it without questioning it.
How long did it take to break even and be profitable? It really took just several months to break even. I was profitable the first year. You need to choose to either grow quickly and be profitable faster or to not work as hard and to have a better quality of life in the beginning. I chose to work very hard, and after five years I had it all.
How did you make ends meet until your business was profitable? I needed to make a profit the first year, so I made sure it happened. My advice to new owners is to be sure you know where you want to go and what you want to accomplish. I suggest sharing your profit goal with your franchisor and everyone else who impacts your success.
Where do you see your business in the next five years? We will be double our current size and over $5 Million in gross annual revenue with a general manager running the business. I’m confident we’ll get there as long as I follow the “CertaPro Path”, focus on where I want to be, and put in the necessary work.
To see how CertaPro Painters’ franchisees, including Chris, rate it in a variety of crucial areas including leadership, culture, training and support, financial outlook, and franchisee community, click here.