Truly Nolen Franchisee, James Bess, Jr. shares his insights on what it’s like to be a Truly Nolen multi-unit franchise owner.
Name: James Bess, Jr.
Franchise Locations: Winston Salem NC
Number of Franchises: 3
Number of Employees: 3+
Franchise Owner Since April 2020
How many units do you own? Do you have plans to expand someday?
I currently own three Truly Nolen franchises. At this point, I do not have plans to buy more as I have plenty of territory for expansion.
Did you have prior experience in the same field of work?
I have been in sales and marketing for most of my life, and I spent about eight years working for both Orkin and Terminix. However, I did not have any experience running a business before opening my franchise.
What were your top criteria when comparing franchises?
Because I have never run a business before, it was important to find a franchise where I could get support 24/7 if needed. I looked at startup cost, procedures to start up, and brand recognition and I also wanted to be ensured that I had territory exclusivity.
During your research, did you view the FBR Franchisee Satisfaction Survey results and Top Franchise awards?
I tried to do as much research as possible, including FBR’s Franchisee Satisfaction Survey and franchise reviews as well as research on the BBB, just to mention a few. I wanted to see both the positive and negative reviews of the companies that interested me.
How did your friends and family feel about your decision to start your own business?
In the beginning, we kept sharing the idea of opening a business to just a few friends and family members, as I really wanted to be surrounded with positivity! I did and do have full support from my spouse! My family helps occasionally, and my oldest son is a registered technician. But they all have full-time jobs.
I have a great mentor. My mentor, Vic Hainline, was my branch manager at Orkin. He opened a Truly Nolen franchise several years ago and was instrumental in helping me plan and open my own franchise.
What convinced you that Truly Nolen was the right brand for you?
Vic Hainline was the biggest driving force behind me opening a Truly Nolen Franchise, as he had done the research on his end before opening his own franchise. The biggest thing for me is that I had not run a business before and this one was a “Franchise in a Box” concept that Lance Washington promotes. Everything that I would need was made available to me from the start so I did not have to reinvent the wheel. Also, Truly Nolen has been around since 1938 and is still family-owned, which says a lot about the brand.
What was your experience like when you first began speaking with the Truly Nolen corporate team?
Bill McDole was my first contact with Truly Nolen, and he was full of experience and knowledge. Truly Nolen has a Discovery Day, where we went to Florida and were able to spend the day meeting with the entire Truly Nolen team, which helped cement my decision to open a franchise.
Did you speak with or meet with other Truly Nolen franchisees?
I was able to talk with and meet other franchise owners. I was mainly interested in speaking with the two franchise owners who were in North Carolina. All of the feedback was very positive.
Is Truly Nolen a full-time or part-time business for you? What’s a typical day like?
I was fortunate to have a weekend job when I opened my first franchise. That helped pay the bills and took some stress off me during the startup period until I was able to transition to full-time. Every day is different. While I have a full-time technician running services. I do the scheduling, running sales appointments, general pest and single-time services, and anything else that crops up during the day. After that, there is the business side that needs to be tended to.
How does Truly Nolen support you and your success?
Truly Nolen’s “Franchise in a Box”, means that everything critical for a new owner to get their franchise up and running smoothly was provided at once, from the start. They either provided or got me access to websites, vehicles, marketing materials and so much more. They also enabled me to go out into the field and work with technicians in Florida which allowed me to see firsthand what Truly Nolen was all about.
Do you currently participate in the Franchisee Satisfaction Surveys?
Yes, I participate in the FBR Franchisee Satisfaction Surveys. I do feel that my feedback is heard by the franchise.
What sets Truly Nolen apart from the competition?
Truly Nolen is a family-owned and operated company with great core values and that is what really sets them apart from their competitors.
Would you recommend Truly Nolen to others and why?
I highly recommend Truly Nolen to others, and I am one of the points of contact for people that are looking to purchase or are wanting more information about the company. Pest control is a needed profession and with the right mindset and support, you can be successful.
Thinking back to the first year or two in business, what were your biggest challenges?
My first challenge was obtaining my state license and not having to work under someone else’s license. The next challenge was that I opened my business in April of 2022, which is the month that Covid started shutting down the country. I had to figure out how to market myself and the company, outside of the traditional ways, and I was the first franchise to do a ribbon cutting on zoom, which turned out great! Then there are the challenges of finding good and quality help.
How does your business engage with the local community?
We try to be very involved with the community. We are members of four chambers of commerce, BNI, the Rotary, and the BBB. We also sponsor several of our customers in different fundraisers.
If you were presenting to a group of potential franchisees, what advice would you give them?
I jokingly say, “running a business is like riding a roller coaster at night that never stops.” Owning a business can be very overwhelming. But the joy and satisfaction of helping people and being able to do things to increase your success are all wonderful aspects of owning the business. Make sure that you do your research before jumping into something and make sure that you take time out for your family.
What are you most proud of and why?
I am proud that I was able to step outside of the box and open my own business. Even with Covid shutting everything down, we were able to succeed and grow. Six months after opening, we were able to purchase the two franchises next to me, expanding my territory. In our first full year in business, we had almost 300% growth and were awarded the Rookie Franchise of the Year.
For more information on Truly Nolen franchise opportunities:
Call: (855) 534-9139