Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Neil Kent says that nearly every great thing that has happened in his life is somehow related to Apple. So, for him, becoming an Experimac franchisee was a natural fit. Experimac is one of United Franchise Group's brands, dedicated to repairing, selling and upgrading Apple products. Here's what Kent has learned as a franchisee.
Name: Neil Kent
Franchise owned: Experimac in Sandy Springs, Ga.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Since April 2015.
The support and knowledgebase that comes from working with an established franchise group gives me peace of mind that I am not in this alone and I have the resources I need to build a successful business.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was an event manager for nearly 30 years. I worked with corporations, non-profits and small businesses either producing events (internally), or consulting to help companies get the most out of participating in events, conferences and trade shows.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
It was Apple! Nearly everything good that ever happened in my life was somehow related to Apple. There is no better business suited to my love and passion than owning my own Apple store! Had it not been a store that focused on Apple products, I probably would not have purchased a franchise.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
Franchise Fee: $49,500
Schedule A: 78,000
Legal Fees and Licenses: $2,500
SBA and financing: $7,500.
Miscellaneous office supplies (locks, phone system, security, etc.) $3,000
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
My regional vice president, Michael White, was extremely helpful. Researching United Franchise Group was primarily done through the web and talking to a few franchisees under the UFG umbrella.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Finding a location was much harder than expected. Other than that things ran pretty smoothly, largely in part due to the help of UFG. The challenge now that our doors are open is, of course, marketing and getting the word out that we are open for business.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
I think understanding the role of your franchise group. Your franchise group exists to come up with a viable business model and sell it. Period. Whoever your franchise group is, they are not going to run your business for you. They will not make people beat down your door and beg for you to sell to them. That is your job, plain and simple.
Understand that in the process of opening your business, there will be things that are out of your (and your franchise group’s) control and they are likely to cause delays and unexpected expenses. Permits from your city and county are a good example.
When you think you have decided on a business you want, talk to many, many other franchisees to ask about their experience, not just the franchisees that the group takes you to.
The hours are long, so pick something you are passionate about.
Budget that you will not be paid anytime in the near future. If you are under-funded, you will not be happy and you will be distracted from making good decisions for your business.
What’s next for you and your business?
Marketing, marketing and more marketing. As a small, start-up business all efforts are geared towards bringing people in our door. We’re already exercising traditional routes (clipper magazines, sign twirlers, Chamber of Commerce events and business mixers, Google AdWords, Social Media, etc.). We’re now partnering with industries (primarily software) whose hardware needs focus on Apple products to do in store events that feature their solutions and our offerings.