Franchise Business Review recently spoke with Michael Consoli of Cruise Planners franchise to gain insight into what it’s like to be a franchise owner.
Name: Michael Consoli
Location: Atlanta, GA
Franchise Owner Since: 2001
Franchise Business Review recently spoke with Michael Consoli of Cruise Planners to gain insight into what it’s like to be a franchise owner.
What is the most exotic trip you have taken?
Antarctica! It’s one of my favorite destinations!
Is there a destination on your wish list that you have yet to experience?
Yes. Australia and New Zealand.
What’s the most unusual food you’ve tried while traveling?
Donkey burger in China.
If you can only have one kind for the rest of your life: Hot & Spicy or Sweet and Savory Chicken Wings?
Sweet & Savory
Did you review the Franchisee Satisfaction Survey Results and Top Franchise Lists during your research?
When I started, these tools weren’t available. But if I were starting now, it would be imperative to my research. The Franchisee Satisfaction Survey results and Top Franchise awards are an indispensable benchmark for predicting the success you’ll have with a company. Reading the reviews and seeing what other franchisees have to say gives you an overall sense of company culture and its strengths and weaknesses. Cruise Planners is #3 overall this year on FBR’s Top 200 Franchises List! I’m incredibly proud to be a part of this company.
Do you currently participate in the Franchisee Satisfaction Surveys? Do you feel your feedback is heard?
Yes, I do. I think it’s important, to be honest, and to share your thoughts. Yes, Cruise Planners definitely listens.
Was Cruise Planners the brand you started exploring initially or were there other brands or industries you were interested in?
I did my due diligence and considered the other options before making the investment. The technology was leaps and bounds ahead of the others, which was one of the deciding factors for me. I owned a tech company before making the switch to travel so from that perspective, I knew Cruise Planners would be a good fit for me.
What made you decide to transition into franchising with Cruise Planners? Was it for the love of travel or the interest in owning your own business?
I didn’t really have any travel experience when I started. I came from a tech sales and customer service background but had run a very successful technology business in the past. I knew Cruise Planners had the reputation and tools that would help me grow my business. I didn’t have to start from scratch and they had marketing tools and technology that helped me stay organized.
Is Cruise Planners a full-time business for you? What might a typical day be like?
Yes, it is full-time. I typically work from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day. The first two hours of my day are the most productive before the phone starts ringing at 9 a.m. Then I spend the majority of my time on the phone with clients helping them plan their trips, answering questions, and fielding issues.
Did you have prior experience running a business? Did you leave a career to own your business?
I did not really have any travel experience when I started. I came from a tech sales and customer service-centered background but had run a very successful technology business in the past. I traveled on a cruise and loved the experience and just wanted to try selling travel while running my other business. Soon after, I decided to sell my technology business and run the travel business full time.
What convinced you that this was the right brand for you?
Cruise Planners had a great reputation and I just loved the “cruisitude” that came with the company and the incredible support. I think when you’re starting a new venture, to have a company walk with you every step of the way to encourage your success is paramount to any business and I felt that with Cruise Planners.
How does Cruise Planners support you and your success?
Cruise Planners is my back office team and I am very lucky to have been with them for so long. I consider them as family. If I ever need help in any way, I can call the Home Office and the response to my requests is immediate and I appreciate it. I know my success is their success, and they’ve always championed me and my successes.
Looking back now, is there anything you would have done differently? Any lessons learned that you want to share?
I would have joined Cruise Planners earlier and started this franchise sooner. I know I made the BEST choice!
What was your biggest challenge when you think back to the first year or two in business?
How to get clients and build my client base. It is not easy — but back then we did not have the amazing tools we have now with our CP software and the tools it provides.
How have you connected with your local community? Have you joined any local groups or Chamber of Commerce organizations?
Yes, I am a member of our local small business association and a networking club. But I find that participation in charity and giving back to my community is most satisfying while inadvertently also, organically, helping me grow my business.
If you were presenting to a group of potential franchisees what insights would you share with them?
I would tell them to go to the company that has proven systems, great reviews, and awards that substantiate their claims of being #1 in the business. And that’s Cruise Planners. Time and again they have proven to be exceptional when it comes to support, technology, and marketing. I’ve relied on them heavily to do the back-end work so I can focus on doing what I do best—selling travel. I would recommend that potential buyers do their homework and to pick something they’re passionate about. It will show.
For more information on Cruise Planners franchise opportunities:
Call: (888) 582-2150