TruBlue House Care offers everything from cleaning services and handyman repairs to yard work and special projects for busy homeowners and seniors.
We recently checked in with Brian Rowland, owner of a TruBlue House Care franchise in Virginia Beach, Va. to learn how he navigated the franchising process. Here's what he had to say:When did you open for business?
Were you ever a business owner prior to owning your franchise?
No, I was a submarine guy in the Navy.
What made you want to become a business owner?
I like the ability to control my own destiny.
Did you seek out a specific franchise or research several before making your decision?
I researched several online and through periodicals.
How did you find this particular opportunity and what compelled you to ultimately purchase it?
I found it through an online search using franchise search engines - franchises under X amount of dollars. I was waiting for something with a lower startup. Really what made my decision to purchase this is that I could work with my spouse and it was also something that I enjoy doing. I didn't mind turning what used to be a hobby into a profession. I also liked that I could go in there selling the services with a lot of conviction because I knew I could help the people. This franchise played best to my strengths.
Did you have prior experience working in the same industry?
I would say I had some experience - I've been working on my own house for years and years.
Did you speak with other current franchisees about their experiences before making your decision?
Yes. They were vital. The first conversation we had was with the owner of a neighboring franchise who was just 20 minutes away. That was a big part of it. They helped us analyze the market and helped tailor what we would pay for our franchise. We wanted to make sure that our expectations matched their experiences.
What was your experience like working with the franchisor during the decision making process?
I felt that they were very informative. Very open and honest. Where they had holes in the systems and things, they were at least honest about it. It made me more comfortable evaluating what the pitfalls and struggles would be - I didn't want just a sales pitch.
How would you rate the training and support offered by the franchisor?
I think it's still developing. What they have now is good. I think that there's definitely room to grow using technology.
Did you employ the services of an accountant and/or franchise attorney and if so, how important were they in the decision making process?
I did not get a franchise attorney. I have used an accountant and am still using one. They understand that franchise. I think that's critical unless you have a background in accounting.
I wish I would've used the franchisor's accountant. I used one who might have been a little bit cheaper, but in the long run in just caused a big headache.
What is the best part about being a franchise owner?
There are other people invested in my business, even though they're not working day to day in my business.
I use this analogy. A baseball player goes to pitch or goes to swing and gets into slump. The franchise thing - what I liked about is if you go into a slump you can go to your coach and they can advise you on what might be causing the slump. They have invested interest, but they're not telling you how to run business.
The handyman industry has no college, no industry, no specific way to do repairs. The cool thing about that is, with this franchise it leaves a lot of room for creativity to figure out how you want to do things with the safety net of the franchise.
What has been the most difficult aspect of owning a franchise?
Hiring employees. Good help is hard to find. It takes trial and error to find people's weaknesses.
What advice do you have for someone thinking about purchasing a franchise?
Make sure that they have the creative room that they need. Some people want a McDonald's, but there's no creative room in McDonald's - you have to make a Big Mac exactly how they want it. Make sure it fits with what you want.
What was the most important step during the exploration process in your opinion?
Spousal buy-in would be huge. If you're married you need to make sure your spouse has 100 percent buy-in, that if you don't have spousal support, you're going to fail.
Return on investment was a big one for me. A lot of time with lower-cost franchises, a lot of people don't have a ton of money to drop into investing. I wanted to make sure that if I was going to take the risk of incurring debt, that I was going to have a reasonable time making a return on the investment. I can't live off it yet, but I'm profitable.
Looking back, is there anything about the exploration process you wish you had done differently?
The exploration process was pretty good. All the information was available.
Is there anything else you would you like to tell us about your experience becoming a franchise owner?
Because of the field that I'm in, it's really good to have the credibility you gain by using the franchise versus being an independent business. There's a benefit and value that customers are interested in and it makes them more inclined to use you.
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