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.
Jovanny Galarza was selling used cars two years ago when he found the way to realize his dream of starting a construction business: His best friend was a franchisee in Canada with Restoration 1 -- which specializes in emergency mitigation, restoration and reconstruction for properties damaged by fire, mold and natural disasters. And Galarza wanted in. Construction, after all, was what he'd loved to do since boyhood, when he used to follow his dad around the house, assisting with remodeling projects. "I was always his little helper, his righthand man," Galarza remembers. Today, he's back to remodeling and reconstructing -- only on a much bigger stage.
Name: Jovanny Galarza
Franchise owned: Restoration 1, in Hunterdon County, New Jersey.
How long have you owned a franchise?
Buying a franchise can be a life-changing experience; it provides you with an opportunity to earn a high income but still have the support, guidance and backup of the franchisor. Starting any new business carries a risk, but franchising has been consistently proven as a great way to lessen that risk. Forming a partnership with an existing organization that has proven systems and brand awareness, coupled with an individual’s drive to run their own business, is a recipe for success.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was a used car salesman for 13 years. This helped me develop my customer service, sales and leadership skills. Being a quick thinker and having an upbeat positive attitude made any obstacle I came across manageable.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I’ve always had a passion for building and construction. Some of my fondest childhood memories are helping my father with various remodeling projects around the house. I was always his little helper, his righthand man, and I enjoyed every second of it.
Nights and weekends were spent tearing down rooms in our home, then rebuilding them, making improvements to every little thing. I always knew that one day I would make a transition into the construction industry, in the form of business ownership. That transition began when I was first introduced to Restoration 1. My best friend owned a Restoration 1 franchise in Canada, and I saw firsthand how profitable and successful it was. Regardless of the state of the economy, pipes break and natural disasters happen all the time. There's nothing more appealing than a recession-proof business. It made me feel secure knowing that I would always have customers.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
The franchise fee was $35,000; and I spent $25,000 for training costs, certification costs and living expenses.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I made it a point to speak with as many of Restoration 1’s existing franchisees as possible. Every single one of them was more than happy to share their experiences with me. This guidance and willingness to share convinced me that this was a great business to get into. I also received a lot of guidance from Restoration 1 Corporate, especially Andor Kovacs, the founder. He made sure that I understood how the business works and instilled in me the values and principles that they operate with.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
An unexpected challenge was really learning my market area and what works best for it. I quickly learned that you can’t look for success. You have to create it!
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
I think the most important thing is doing your research and really putting time and effort into learning about the company and industry you are getting into. Also, being extremely inquisitive and not being afraid to ask questions, for that is the only way to really find all the information you need when starting your own business. And last, but definitely not least, when you find that company you can trust, fly with it and have faith that as long as you give it 100 percent, it will take off and you will reap the benefits later on.
What’s next for you and your business?
There are plenty of opportunities to grow, and I am constantly looking for ways to improve every aspect of my business. I really want to focus on providing each and every customer the best service and making a positive impact in my community.