Two South Florida businessmen turned into franchise entrepreneurs this past October when they were at the crossroads of their professional futures.
Franchising looks good for people who want to get off the corporate treadmill and create their own ladder of success, says Justin Smith, 30, of Lake Worth.
He knows because he made the career move from working for Philip Morris parent Altria Group to being the boss as a Rainbow International franchisee, providing residential and commercial restoration and cleaning in the north Broward County area.
It took a convergence of events — workforce reduction, a growing family and a desire to be more effective in his community — but the call for entrepreneurship was strong, he said.
Rege Braun, 62, saw franchising as a bridge to retirement, says the former Arby's executive.
After months of research, Braun became a Five Star Painting franchisee in the Sunrise area.
Both men are confident about their decisions, drawn to template models of successful sustainable operations, upfront support systems and mentoring.
They were attracted to the fact that there were no brick-and-mortar overhead costs that limit them geographically, and they did not want to be saddled with additional monthly bills for rent or electricity.
Smith wanted a change from selling a brand name to performing a service, and he likes getting out and meeting people.
"I'm that guy that likes to educate consumers about what I do, what our services are, and build on those relationships," he said.
Existing national accounts give him a jump start. Working on local projects, he meets property managers, insurance representatives and contractors, and gets new opportunities through word-of-mouth referrals.
Braun also sought something new; he did not want to go back into the food business.
Braun will develop teams of local painters for jobs he gets through a variety of sources, including corporate leads and Five Star's relationships with paint manufacturers.
Braun calculated his risks. "I know that small businesses fail at a rate of about 85 percent," he said. "But only about 15 percent of small franchise businesses fail."
He liked the margins of a relatively low initial investment for a high level of support: centrally, the company handles customer calls and schedules appointments, which enables Braun to focus on business development and customer service, he says. Painters he hires have their own trucks and equipment.
Smith, who specializes in water damage restoration, paid about twice the amount Braun did in franchise start-up fees. That's because Smith received equipment that makes him job-ready, with truck-mounted moisture extracting equipment, fans, dehumidifiers and other tools of the trade.
They both bring corporate lessons learned to their new careers.