Senior care and tutoring franchises are booming, says FranNet franchise consultant
Jim Gleason, 62, worked in sales, alcohol and drug counseling and career consulting before joining FranNet five years ago. The Indianapolis-based business covers almost the entire state of Indiana, save the Gary area near Chicago and the area just across the Ohio River from Louisville, home to our headquarters. A chance encounter with an old college buddy led him to franchise consulting.
How long have you been a FranNet consultant? What’s your professional background?
I joined FranNet about five years ago after a pretty varied career. I spent a number of years in sales for Burroughs, which used to be one of the biggest names in computing; I was selling computers in the early ‘70s, when most people didn’t even know what a computer was. I worked for a while as a stockbroker, then 17 years in alcohol and drug counseling … then I spent several years in career consulting, but I was still looking for a better opportunity.
How did you get into franchising? Why FranNet?
I was doing some executive coaching, and I saw (FranNet of MidAmerica owner) Thom Crimans coming out of a Chamber event here in Indianapolis — we were frat brothers at IU, and I hadn’t seen him in a couple of years. So he started telling me about FranNet and asking me if I knew anybody who might be a good fit for franchising in my area. He gave me some documents, said, “Hey, here’s list of what we’re looking for.” So I told him I’d keep an eye out. A couple of weeks later, I took a look at the stuff he’d given me — “Have you done outplacement work?” Yes. “Have you done coaching?” Yes. I called Thom up and said, “Hey, maybe we should talk.” I don’t believe in coincidence. God puts you where he wants you to be.
What are some of the best franchise opportunities in your territory, and have those changed in recent years?
We consistently see a lot of opportunities related to senior care, with the Baby Boomer statistics showing that 7,000 to 10,000 people every day are turning 65, and there’s a huge and growing population that’s going to need those services. I know, because I went through having to take care of my mother. We’ve placed a couple of people in commercial sign businesses; one client of mine is so busy, she can’t keep up with it. I think there’s a lot of opportunity in tutoring because of what’s going on in our public school systems, which are not really preparing kids for college, so parents are looking for other ways to educate their kids. That’s something I think will really pick up in the years to come.
Do people still have preconceptions about franchising?
Whenever I go talk to a group, I always ask, “What industry do you think of?” They always say McDonald’s or Subway, retail and fast food, and that’s simple because that’s what they see on the side of the road every day. They also think you’ve got to have a lot of money and a building, and that costs are prohibitive. Our job is to educate people about the diversity and affordability of franchise opportunities out there. There are all kinds of franchises that have nothing to do with fast food.
How do you educate them about the diversity?
Through seminars or by meeting people one-on-one. Last week was a good example. I had a half-hour meeting through a company called Business Professional Exchange with people who had been downsized, and most of them had the same preconceptions about franchising. I try to help people understand there are 90 different industries and 3,000 franchises, and there’s a lot more opportunity out there than people think.
What advice would you give someone thinking about buying a franchise business?
The most important thing for anybody is to understand themselves and their motivations. I see people who think because it’s a franchise and has systems in place, it’s going to be easy, but it’s still a startup business. Certainly, you have a better chance of success than you would with a regular startup — we have the statistics to prove it — but you still have to work really hard at it, and if the motivation isn’t there, you shouldn’t do it.
What kind of person makes a successful franchisee?
We see people who have all different kinds of backgrounds. I see people who have owned small businesses, people from corporate backgrounds, young people, retired people. You just need to be somebody who’s really motivated to go out there and do what you need to do. Franchisees learn during validation what they need to do to be successful. That’s a great thing about franchising: You can talk to people today about what you need to be doing tomorrow. To succeed, you need to have drive and motivation, good systems, and you need to be a good fit for the franchisor. We help with the systems and the fit, but the drive and motivation are up to them.
What are the benefits of franchise ownership?
You really mitigate your risks in franchising. By educating yourself, you make sure you’re a good fit for franchising. Then we fit a person to a business based on their motivations, experience, goals and values. Then by doing research, validation, due diligence, they learn how people succeed and fail, and once they get into it, they have systems in place, plus support from other franchisees and the franchisor. Those four things together, I think, greatly mitigate the risk.
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