By Jeff Young
Franchising is a business growth strategy, based on the principle that ‘bigger is better.’ The larger franchise systems have built sufficient brand recognition and marketing budgets to get noticed by many customers and prospective new franchisees, but they can be expensive to join, with few territories still available. So, in today’s market, many franchise seekers are actively looking for uncommon opportunities.
Looking for the ‘diamond in the rough’ may take more time, but you can be rewarded with a dream business that most others have overlooked. One approach to find these franchises that ‘fly under the radar’ is to use a franchise consultant who is familiar with uncommon, but proven, concepts. This service is usually free and the consultant can help keep you on track during your search.
A business in the basement
Art and Suzanne Dyck used a franchise consultant in 2006, when they decided to make major changes in their career. Art was a Mennonite minister in Lancaster, Pa., and Suzanne was a teacher’s aide at a local high school. Their franchise consultant verified they were ready, with both the financial resources and the talent to become successful in franchising.
They had experience managing employees, enjoyed meeting and talking to new people and could manage projects effectively. They also had previous business ownership experience, having run a sod farm and piano store in Alberta.
Moreover, the Dycks were ready for a radical change, including not only new careers, but also new schools for their three daughters, selling their house and returning to Canada after 20 years living, studying and working in the U.S. With family living in southern Ontario, they moved to the Kitchener-Waterloo area, which seemed like a good place to start a new business, with a diverse economy that had seen many years of solid growth.
After completing a thorough phone interview with their franchise consultant, the Dycks were introduced to three franchise opportunities. Then the research and due diligence began.
Through comparative analysis, a CertaPro Painters franchise quickly moved into the top position in the search. The Dycks were unfamiliar with the residential and commercial painting industry, however, so they discussed the issue further with their consultant.
“I don’t like to paint, but our consultant insisted that was a good thing,” says Art. “To be successful with this franchise, the owner shouldn’t be a painter, but instead has to be a business manager. Now, having been in business since 2007, I have 10 crews of painters—and that number will double later this year.”
At the beginning, however, the Dycks knew there would be many challenges associated with their new franchise business. Art relocated to Kitchener first to get their daughters situated in school, while Suzanne stayed in Lancaster working until their house sold. In January 2007, things came together as the house sold, they attended franchise training together and they opened their business.
One of the advantages of the franchise was its low overhead. Like most other CertaPro franchisees, the Dycks operate their business from home.