Chris Beer purchased his Our Town America franchise, which assists local business owners by reaching new movers in their area with enticing direct mail offers, in Atlanta in 1999. He shares insight into his franchising experiences and suggestions regarding how to strategically invest in a franchise with Franchise Business Review.
How is it that you entered franchising?
I had been working in the corporate environment for nearly 15 years and decided I wanted to own a business of my own.
“It is important to not let the excitement related to possibly owning your own business take over before you take the necessary steps to ensure you are taking the correct course of action.”
What advice would you share with people considering investing in a franchise?
Purchasing a franchise is a major decision and will result in a life changing experience. It is important to not let the excitement related to possibly owning your own business take over before you take the necessary steps to ensure you are taking the correct course of action.
I highly recommend conducting validation calls with current franchisees within the organization you are considering. Discuss in depth their experiences, return on investment, how your background meshes with the rigors of the business, support given from corporate, earning potential, sustainability of service or product, and the balance of time. It is important to also align one’s self with a good accountant and business lawyer in an effort to discuss accounting and legal aspects of owning the franchise.
Why did you select the franchise you did?
I was impressed with the overall Our Town America business model, the industry, ability to ramp up quickly in terms of earnings, the support reflected from the corporate office, and the potential for long-term business health and success. My background was related to sales and marketing so the opportunity that owning an Our Town Franchise presented seemed perfect for me.
What have you found particularly beneficial about being a franchisee vs. if you had started a business from scratch?
A model for success was already in place and the support shared from our corporate office has proven to be extremely valuable in terms of ongoing assistance and creating plans for growth.
What advice would you share with a franchisee in his or her first year of business?
Be prepared to hit the ground running and maintain a positive attitude. The first several years of owning a business requires a lot of hard work but can be invigorating if you keep the long-term goals top of mind. Surround yourself with positive people who represent a skill set that will allow you to spend time in areas where you exhibit strength.
“I have the ability to manage my own schedule and reap the benefits related to effort exerted.”
What is your work/life balance?
A key reason for purchasing a franchise for me was to take ownership in balancing work, family, and life. I have the ability to manage my own schedule and reap the benefits related to effort exerted. I have more flexibility to respond to family needs, family time, in turn helping me to keep life in balance.
There was a ramp up period related to the franchise I purchased, but from day one there was more freedom to move in the direction I desired versus the corporate environment I came from. Working hard initially is key and then remaining consistent over time is important with regard to maintaining business health. Goals vary from one individual to another and work schedule/productivity ought to mesh with the quality of life you desire.
What is the most challenging aspect of owning your own business?
You are ultimately responsible for the success or failure of the business. There is a tremendous amount of accountability, which can be exciting but can cause a level of fear at times. It is important to continually develop short-term goals that point you in the direction of attaining your long-term goals.
“Our Town America has developed a “family” atmosphere and the entire organization truly cares about each individual franchisee’s success and how they are doing personally.”
What kind of support do you most appreciate from your franchisor?
The initial training was very beneficial. It helped me set the pattern for success. The corporate office staff is always there to provide ongoing support or just lend a listening ear. Our Town America has developed a “family” atmosphere and the entire organization truly cares about each individual franchisee’s success and how they are doing personally.
Do you interact with fellow franchisees?
Open communication has always been present amongst franchisees at Our Town America. There are also conference calls, mentoring programs, and corporate meetings that initiate a lot of sharing of information. The company culture is to help one another succeed in the field.
Would you share your gross revenue?
In 2016 it was $350,000. I project it will be $400,000 in 2017.
For more information about franchising with Our Town America, call (800) 497-8360 Toll Free or visit https://www.ourtownamerica.com/franchise/