Tim Yocum and Wes Hallberg were looking for a deal, not anyone's approval. So, after operating, then selling, a successful Midwest-based independent oil operation that included ten franchised Holiday Stationstores -- a convenience store chain -- the partners looked for opportunities in the Minnesota Twin Cities area. What they decided on was, um, not exactly predictable: They purchased the rights to open ten Waxing the City Studios in the North Star State. Call it a new trend: men transitioning (smoothly!) out of male-dominated businesses into those with the female touch -- literally.
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.
Names: Tim Yocum and Wes Hallberg
Franchise owned: Waxing the City -- Minneapolis/St. Paul Market
How long have you owned a franchise?
We were franchisees in the C&G (convenience and gas) market, dating back to 2002, and are in our first year with Waxing the City.
We are making a significant investment in the Minneapolis/St. Paul market, and we asked ourselves if we wanted or needed to go through a franchisor. Quite simply, we love the market and we can deploy our expertise in personnel development, local marketing, finance and tactical execution in a way that will complement what the franchisor is doing with a proven concept, infrastructure that is already built and a team that is equally committed to the franchisee and building the brand.
What were you doing before you became franchise owners?
Tim was the CEO and one of the principals of Yocum Oil Company, a third-generation family business with a tremendous track record for customer service and innovation. After years of significant growth and a successful sale of the company in 2014, he was looking for direct investments to balance his portfolio. Wes helped operate Yocum Oil Company, and along with Tim, had been a franchisee in the C&G market since 2002.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
First and foremost, we looked at the track record of the franchisor and how they approach franchising. Because of their global success [in partnership] with Anytime Fitness, we became interested in what might be next for them. Then, we looked at the industry and whether the concept solved a problem that exists in the marketplace, and has holding power versus just a short-term trend.
Last, we needed to find out if we could execute the plan and get our desired return on the investment. As we went through the due diligence period, we became convinced that the team at Waxing the City is both competent and committed to capturing the opportunity that exists, in a way that we couldn’t do as an independent chain.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
We are continuing to invest in this business and will continue to do so. Our approach is marketing the brand as much as the larger geography, so this may not compare well to a single unit franchise. Also, our spend on training prior to opening exceeds what may be typical.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
In our search of various businesses to invest in, we spoke with a number of individuals that have been significant players in both the franchisor and franchisee worlds. They were able to give great advice on what to look for as well as what to look out for. For specific industry knowledge, we visited numerous salons and institutional licensing schools, asked a lot of questions and just asked questions every time we visited the salons. We even found out that one such person told her manager after our visit that she felt like she was being interviewed. Well, she was!
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
It's always the regulators. You can plan and expect the worst, and they still seem to surprise you with how mismatched they are with the needs of a business to get it right, as time is of the essence. We were also surprised at how slow some of the institutional landlords were to respond to getting a deal done. As people eager to pay them to occupy a vacant space, we expected a little more urgency.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Remember that it is like getting married: You get the whole family. So, make sure that the franchisor has your best interests in mind and that you have your customers' in mind. The economy and the market will go through cycles, so you want to make sure that the franchise concept and the franchisor have the necessary capabilities to navigate both the short- and long-term cycles.
What’s next for you and your business?
Our entire focus is ensuring that we get the customer experience right. Putting together the training and development plans for our entire team will provide that consistent level of execution and allow us to continue to build out the markets in the Twin Cities, Rochester and Mankato. We will continue to look for additional opportunities within the idea that people want to take care of themselves better, longer.