A story about leaving the Corporate Rat Race for the American Dream by MyPerfectFranchise.net
Over the years of being an entrepreneur, my story seems so familiar to so many, and I feel like many of you are/were in my shoes as well. So, today I will walk you all through my journey to franchise ownership and a little about what it’s like now.
Please don’t take this as a “Look at Me” post but more of an insight into what exiting corporate America for franchise ownership feels like.
So here we go….
My Corporate Career
First of all, I was an awful student. And my parents would tell you that is putting it mildly. So, when I graduated with a cool 2.56 GPA from College (BS in Marketing), I went to my dad and asked for some career advice…. he said, “Son, you’re going to be a salesman”… and off I went.
That was in 1998.
From 1998 to 2006, I traveled anywhere in the Southeast to take promotions in sales roles. I lived in Atlanta, Destin, Tampa, Jacksonville, Northern KY – finally getting an opportunity to run a new division (On Demand / Photo) of a Belgium-based company called Unibind in 2006. I didn’t know jack about On Demand or Photo at the time, btw.
That’s when my income and career skyrocketed. We landed all the big accounts in the photo space. You name them… Apple, Kodak, Shutterfly, Wal-Mart, Target, CVS, Walgreens.
We slayed it! I was loving life, living single in Atlanta (where I grew up).
I was traveling all over the world, getting upgraded to first class, free drinks, free flights for vacation – those also in first-class (btw, it’s funny now knowing how many of those folks in first class didn’t actually pay for it). Life was awesome; I was single and making really good money for a single dude without much more than an apartment rent bill each month.
Then I got married…. the first two years of our marriage, I traveled 80% of the time. It was still palatable because I was making good money, we bought a really nice first house, and we were still living ‘single’ hours.
Our first child was born two years later, and almost instantly, my world changed completely. Man, I never realized how precious ‘me time’ was until then. My life consisted of constant travel, and when I wasn’t traveling, I was leaving for the office before 7 am and coming home after 7 pm – I never saw my wife or son.
I felt like an absent husband and father, and it just wasn’t enjoyable to sacrifice the money for the quality of life I had.
That’s when I decided to figure out a new way. I just had zero clue what it was. That’s when I saw a banner ad saying something like ‘Interested in Franchise Opportunities.’ I didn’t know much about franchises just knew I didn’t want fast food. I filled out a form, and that’s when everything changed.
After filling out that form, my phone rang off the hook, and I probably had 20 different franchisors call me. Then I had this one franchise consultant who told me he could match me up with a business based on my skill sets and the business characteristics I was looking for in an opportunity. I had never heard of a franchise consultant, but the guy was older, he sent me his bio, and I felt like I could trust him.
So, I went through a consultation where I told him I was looking for a business with the 5 R’s:
- Rewarding – Personally and Financially
- Relationships/Networking was a key to growing the business
- Referrals drove the lead flow, not cold calling
- Resistant to tech (Amazon Proof)
I had also told him my wife was a Nurse Practitioner, I had been a pharma sales rep early in my career, and I had taken care of my mother when she had terminal cancer.
I was matched up with three businesses… one of them was Synergy HomeCare….and when I heard about Synergy HomeCare, I knew this was a perfect match right away. I understood the need and excelled in that sales model, and my wife had a very clinical background.
We ended up buying the master franchise (called Regional Developer – and more on that model at a later date) for the Floribama region. This allowed me to run my own agency while also getting compensated for the other agencies in the region.
The American Dream is Born
We sold our house in Atlanta and started a new life in Fairhope, AL. My wife and I had looked at areas across the Southeast and honed in on Fairhope due to the amazing quality of life that jumps out at you when visiting. Fairhope is an amazing little town on the Mobile Bay with great schools and a great family atmosphere.
When we moved to Fairhope, we told ourselves we would need to live on a ‘Ramen noodle’ diet, so to speak. We drank box wine (Bota Box wasn’t all that bad, and you can hide how much you really drink if need be!) and didn’t eat out much.
I opened the agency in October of 2013 and remembered those first few months like yesterday.
Struggle bus city!!! We made a whopping $2,000 in net profit in year one, with me not pulling any salary. One day, I had a buddy tell me that it sounded like I had just bought myself a crappy sales job. And I started to believe him…. then the light switch clicked for my business. The perfect storm of delivering great customer service, creating impactful relationships, and differentiating ourselves from competition had us hit our stride in year two. We grossed almost 1 million in that 2nd year, with me making over six figures. My business and income have grown every year since. Last year we did over $2.4MM and ranked #17 of 153 agencies in our system.
My income has allowed me to diversify and buy other businesses; this income potential I never thought I could realize was done in this small town of Fairhope, AL.
Most recently, I bought a dumpster company called Big Red. Check us out at www.rentbigred.com, as this is my first venture into creating my brand. We have 260 dumpsters, 6 Mack Trucks, 150 Red Head Porta Potties, and Buster (the dumpster trash crusher). I will say the site went live and still needs some tweaks… and I’d love anyone’s feedback as I don’t have the support of a franchise system to lean on for anything we do here… but man, is the dumpster business fun (and profitable)!!!!
Just as important as the money I have made; is the quality of life it has afforded my family and me.
We have unlimited PTO. I have been insulated from the day-to-day in all my businesses and can work from anywhere. This summer, it will be back to Telluride for three weeks while it’s sweltering in Fairhope. My schedule is super flexible. While I have an office at Big Red and Synergy, I am rarely there. I work from home most days and have the time and ability to coach my kids’ teams (until they have complained too much about my coaching); I can take them to school, eat lunch with them (in non-Covid years). I play tennis 2-3 times during the week at 8 am. I don’t ever ‘work’ past 5 pm. I use ‘work’ in quotes as once you own your own businesses, it definitely doesn’t feel like real work!
To say I have a great quality of life is putting it mildly!
So that’s my journey to franchise ownership and the American Dream. The only thing I miss is the free drinks, flights, and status on airlines…. but I’ll take the trade-off 24/7/365!
If you or anyone you know would like to learn more about business ownership or franchise opportunities, schedule a call with me.