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.
When Brenda Gross received an inheritance from her late grandmother, this mother of two decided to live out her dream of owning her own business and following in the footsteps of her father and grandfather who both had been entrepreneurs. Ultimately, Gross decided on a franchise that would both suit her lifestyle and honor the grandmother who had made her dream possible. Today, she operates Griswold Home Care, a franchise dedicated to providing nonmedical in-home care to senior citizens. Based in Houston and Galveston, Gross is a third-generation entrepreneur making the most of her grandmother's gift by helping seniors keep their independence.
Name: Brenda Gross
Franchise owned: Griswold Home Care, in Southeast Houston and Galveston, Texas
How long have you owned a franchise?
We opened in October 2013.
Franchising allows me to run my own business and be my own boss with the support of an organization, in terms of marketing, process, procedures and compliance issues. It’s not as scary being a small business owner when you are working within a proven business model while enjoying the support of other franchise owners that have been successful. I love having other franchisees to confer with and share ideas. With Griswold Home Care, I am part of a team.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was a stay-at-home mom with my two sons for four years.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Initially, I tried to search for franchises on the Internet, but soon became overwhelmed at the many possibilities. Then, I contacted franchise business consultant Jim Judy, from FranChoice. He showed me a variety of franchises that were a good match for my skill set. We chose Griswold Home Care for its proven business model, the great support provided by the franchisor and the fact that the company has been in business since 1982. Plus, I had seven years of experience working in healthcare, and since we were using money I inherited from my grandmother to purchase the franchise, doing something to help seniors seemed like an appropriate investment.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
$153,000, total, which included $40,000 in working capital; $10,000 for furniture and computer/office set-up; $12,500 for initial advertising and marketing material; $2,500 for training; and $88,000 for the franchise fee covering two territories.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I have friends that had been involved in franchising for some time. They suggested I work with a franchise consultant, which is how I ended up with Jim Judy. He did most of the research for me. We went through a discovery phase with three different franchises before selecting Griswold Home Care.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Both my father and grandfather were business owners, so I was prepared for the long hours that came with being an entrepreneur. However, the door-to-door sales calls were certainly challenging. It really does take time and patience. My husband taught me that if people liked me, that would be most of the battle. I had to learn how to "sell" myself.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Make sure you choose a franchise with a terrific, proven model of success. Griswold Home Care offered exceptional franchisor support, along with access to the other franchisees for help. In many ways it feels like the security of an employer, with all the perks of being your own boss. [My advice is], when doing sales for your business, be persistent. I assumed people I’d spoken with once or twice before knew what my company was about, but with so many marketing messages bombarding them daily, they often needed refreshers.
Stand out with customers by doing the little things, like leaving a hand-written note if you miss them -- with what I call a “candy bump.” Everyone opens a card with a bump in it! Financially, have enough money to survive on with no profit for at least one-and-a-half years. You can’t count on making an immediate profit, and if you do, you’ll probably want to reinvest it in your business. Finally, if you find the process of searching for a franchise overwhelming, look into using a franchise consultant.
What’s next for you and your business?
My goal is to be the largest home care company in our territory. We are well on our way!