What was it about the franchise model and/or leadership that led you to purchase it?
I was looking for a local business opportunity that would help me establish deeper relationships in Sonoma County (I had moved here about four years earlier and was commuting to San Francisco). I found the franchise model generally attractive because of access to established systems, a respected brand, and a network of support. I was also looking for an established business, and a FASTSIGNS franchise happened to come on the market. My due diligence confirmed for me that FASTSIGNS offered the best of what a franchise model could be (and spoke to my creative side), making the decision an easy one.
What type of business experience, education, and/or skills did you have prior to becoming a franchisee that you have found particularly helpful?
I spent 25 years in banking (credit analysis and operations management), followed by nearly 5 years as deputy executive director of a national nonprofit, responsibility for programs, HR, training, conference management, and finance. The breadth of my work experience gave me confidence in taking on a role as a small business owner (with franchise support).
What do you like most about your job/owning a franchise?
I enjoy problem solving for clients. I have enjoyed learning about the opportunities that we have to help businesses be more successful through visual graphics. I enjoy building relationships in the community where I live that results in everyone being more successful.
How did you fund your franchise? Did you receive any discounts/incentives?
I leveraged by 401K fund to finance the acquisition of my franchise, in combination with an SBA loan.
What advice do you have for prospective franchise buyers? What do you wish you had known prior to going into franchising?
I believe that the franchise model, and FASTSIGNS in particular, provides a solid foundation for success. AND, there is a LOT of information to absorb (ie. drinking from a fire hose) for being successful. I probably would have moved a bit slower in making an investment decision (I purchased an existing franchise and opened a second within 9 months). That said, I will say that being willing to ask for help from the system is an opportunity that you should not ignore. The community of resources from staff and fellow franchisees is invaluable.
What did we miss?
The reward in owning your own business, while still being connected to a supportive network cannot be discounted. What is important to me? I have created jobs for people who contribute to our community and support their families. I have developed relationships with professionals who make a difference in the lives of our neighbors each and every day. I am able to support programs that matter - Sonoma County Pride, Next Gen Academy, and many more - that add value to our community by contributing product and expertise.
Joel Wilder, of DeBary, Florida opened his Cruise Planners franchise in 2005. “Business is Great!” says Wilder having no regrets opening up his franchise business and leaving a long term career as an RN.