Mark Chasteen was nominated by the Fibrenew franchise leadership team in the Millennials category for a 2021 Franchise Rock Star Award. He was chosen by Franchise Business Review from among 200 nominations for his outstanding achievements as a Fibrenew franchise owner in Nashville, TN.
What advice do you have for someone considering investing in a franchise?
Trust in the model you’re investing in and know that it’s franchising done right. Understand the depth of support, the quality of the products and the strength of the overall system. There are a lot of franchises out there but the ones that offer the most help to its owners are the ones that have the most successful franchisees.
With Fibrenew the groundwork was laid out for me, including how to do the repairs. All I had to do was learn it and run with it. When starting your own business you have to do everything on your own and create the systems to follow. I chose franchising because it’s something you can jump right into and start cash flowing. From the head office to the network of franchisees, they’re all there to help and assist as needed.
What is one of the biggest mistakes you made when you were first starting your business? What was your biggest takeaway from it?
My biggest mistake was not hiring an administrative assistant sooner. Two of the other Nashville area Fibrenew franchise owners and I decided to split the cost of two assistants to help us answer phones and schedule appointments.
I was advised to hire an administrator first, but I was eager to get started and I thought I could handle doing it all on my own. It took us about 2-3 years to hire an administrator. I would’ve grown a lot faster in year one with someone handling the calls, rather than trying to juggle the jobs, phones and scheduling. Now we’re in the process of building out a commission-based program for our administrative employees, so they help with sales. Although the majority of the time, inbound calls are coming in versus having to focus on outward sale calls.
Is there a book or podcast you’ve read/listened to that has helped you in starting or building your business?
The most business-related podcast I listen to is called “Real Business Owners” by two serial entrepreneurs, Trevor Cowley and Kale Goodman. I turned it on to the other Nashville owners as well, and we all listen to it and build out new ideas together. I also listen to “The WealthAbility Show” with Tom Wheelwright, where he shares how to do the books for any business and “The Rich Dad Radio Show” with Robert Kiyosaki.
What are you most proud of when it comes to your career in franchising?
My healthy sales and P&L that reflect the hard work I’ve put into this business. I was never a salesperson. Being in emergency services my whole life, it was a huge transition to sales. Yet, my word-of-mouth referrals continue to flood in and my name is well-known within the community for the quality work I do.
Why do you think franchising is a good option for millennials?
Millennials want to work when they want and determine how hard they want to work. That’s exactly what Fibrenew is. I make my own schedule, pick the type of jobs I want to focus on and I’m not stuck with the 9-5 life. With franchising, millennials don’t have to repeat what their parents did with the strict M-F work schedule. We’re able to make as much money as we want to work for and there’s freedom in franchising.
How do you think the Millennial Generation will change the future of business?
The workplace will become more flexible in general to meet the needs of Millennials. This generation doesn’t fit in that 9-5 mold, clocking in and clocking out. We want that freedom to take time off when we need it, especially those who have kids.
The millennial workforce is more centered on productivity and getting work done within that 40-hour work week, then the exact same hours every day. Being with family is more important than showing up for that 9-5 schedule. And companies will start to understand that and adjust as needed. The culture is changing.
What was your career path before you entered franchising?
I’ve done legal studies, emergency services and firefighting. I originally thought I was going to be an attorney but realized it wasn’t for me. I’m still employed by the fire department but hope to grow and build up my Fibrenew, which will require me to retire from the firefighter gig. I found Fibrenew through a franchise consultant, as they understood I was looking for a franchise opportunity that provided more flexibility and allowed me to create my own schedule.
What are the biggest work-related challenges you faced during the pandemic? What have you done to address them?
The pandemic taught us to take the changes and adapt accordingly. We added the masks, respected social distancing mandates and slightly changed the model to operate with a hands-off, less-contact approach with curbside. I had to put more money toward internet sales but leads were still coming in. I had people drop furniture off by my shop to alleviate on-site work with house calls and I’d pick items up.
We continued to grow throughout the pandemic, especially as people were home more and saw their furniture up close. Any eyesores or damage identified they wanted to see fixed, and repairing is more affordable than purchasing brand new.