When she joined the FranNet network in 1996, Stacy Swift already was a seasoned entrepreneur, saleswoman, manager and franchise owner. She had several successful ventures under her belt — a catering company, two hair salons and a handyman service.
Swift felt instantly at home at FranNet because it was a place she could apply her accumulated knowledge and help others succeed at the same time.
“I absolutely love consulting with potential new business owners and others exploring self employment,” Swift says. “There’s no greater feeling than to see them achieve the same dream I’ve been able to create in my own life.”
Life as a FranNet consultant has allowed Swift to lead a balanced and rewarding life. She’s also a community leader. She’s a longtime volunteer with Denver Kids, Inc., a mentoring group for at-risk kids, and an active member of the Downtown Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce. Swift is also a leader at FranNet and is a member of our board of directors and chairman of the FranNet Franchisee Advisory Council.
Q: What is your professional background?
A: I have a bachelor’s degree in business administration and have been self-employed for more than 22 years.
Q: How long have you been a FranNet consultant and how did you decide to get into this kind of business?
A: I am celebrating 15 years with FranNet. I actually came to the Denver FranNet office in 1996 as a client—I had just sold my last businesses (two Fantastic Sam’s franchises) and I was looking for another franchise opportunity. Long story short? I bought the FranNet office covering Colorado, Wyoming and Montana from the gentleman who was working with me.
I didn’t necessarily plan to go into this business—it kind of fell into my lap. I was attracted to it immediately because I had already owned a couple of successful businesses. I loved the idea of being able to work with a wide variety of franchises and help others live the same dream that I was living.
Q: Can you give a couple of examples of your success stories?
A: In 2002 I helped an executive who was downsized from Siemans International invest in a master franchise for a commercial janitorial company. He owns all of Denver and northern Colorado. At last count, he and his wife had over 150 franchise units operating in their territory.
In June 2010, I helped another downsized executive invest in an Internet marketing franchise. The franchise has grown very quickly and he added both his wife and daughter to the business several months ago to help handle the growing accounts. In addition, he has just grown his investment by committing to more territory for his franchise.
Q: Do you see an increase in family-owned businesses?
A: I’m seeing quite a few of the husband/wife teams. In fact, I just helped a terrific couple invest in a sign company business.
Q: Did you know much about franchising when you started?
A: Not really. I had actually had a bad experience with a franchise that I owned, but I understood clearly that it was that particular business, not the industry. I liked, and believed in, the franchise model from the beginning. Why reinvent the wheel?
Q: Do people still have preconceptions about franchising? How do you educate them about the diversity?
A: Absolutely! It’s all about French fries and it costs a million dollars….right? And, oh, it’s a franchise so it can’t fail…right? I deal with this kind of mindset every day. That’s why the education component of what we do is so important because of course the opportunities in franchising are exciting, especially in the service sector. The education I provide comes primarily through local seminars and face-to-face meetings with my clients. No question is off limits—I actually enjoy debunking many of the crazy myths.
Q: Who makes a successful franchisee?
A: Without question, a team player. Someone who is not afraid to trust the system and follow it. Someone with some, any, or all of the following: good general business skills, communication skills, people skills, sales skills, operations skills, a positive attitude and a desire to be successful.
Q: What are the benefits of franchise ownership?
A: It’s the most over-used phrase in our industry, but I’ll repeat it because it says it best: You are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. That’s what a franchise is all about. As I said before, why reinvent the wheel? Follow a proven system of success and you’ll give yourself the best chance of success.
Q: At what price point do most people buy into franchising? What investment range seems to be the most popular?
A: Under $200,000 (total investment) for most of the people I work with. Of the total investment amount, they will need to come to the table with 25 to 50 percent of that number. That means most of my clients have $50,000 to $100,000 in liquid capital to invest. They can then qualify for additional financing for the balance of the investment.
Q: How has your 2011 gone, compared to 2010?
A: My first six months of 2011 have been better than 2010. I expect it to continue from what I’m seeing in my office.
Q: What’s in the future for the franchising industry?
A: The sky is the limit. It’s the best way for first-time entrepreneurs to get into business. As the old-fashioned “corporate world” continues to disintegrate, more and more people are taking control of their own destinies and going into business for themselves. There’s simply no security anymore with traditional jobs and, according to ExecuNet, the average tenure for middle to upper level positions is less than three years. It’s a revolving door that many just want to get away from.