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.
After graduating from college, Alex Lamkin's first job as a certified phlebotomist was serving as a medical assistant and front desk staffer at an Any Lab Test Now location in Plymouth, Minn. Less than three years later, he was the owner of the very same location. Here's how Lamkin worked his way up the ranks, all before the age of 30.
Name: Alex Lamkin
Franchise owned: Any Lab Test Now, in Plymouth, Minn.
How long have you owned a franchise?
When you choose franchising, you have access to a lot more resources from the franchisor than you would start a new business from the ground level. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time you want to put a marketing plan together. They set up a lot of different vendors for you, which makes you able to actually focus on the business.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was working at the Any Lab Test Now location that I currently own. I started out as the front desk staff/phlebotomist, then moved up to the site manager and then got promoted to the outside sales position. Eventually, I was able to purchase this location from the previous owner.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
The former owner offered to sell the Any Lab Test Now location to me and I jumped on the chance. I always wanted to have my own business, but never thought it would happen before my 30th birthday. Also, I developed a very good relationship with the franchisor while I was working for the previous owner, so I knew how much they would help me grow the business.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
I did not buy into this franchise and have to open a new store at the same time. So, my costs were really nonexistent prior to the closing on this business.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
The former owner really took me under his wing. While I worked for him, I learned the ins and outs of daily operations. I attended Any Lab Test Now boot camps. I became very familiar with the Any Lab Test Now business model and the resources the franchise provided to help make day to day operations much easier.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
It is easy for an employee to become an owner because they know the business. The hard part for me involved some of the legal and financial aspects of the purchase, the paperwork you don’t think about, like payroll taxes or business insurance. The biggest lesson I learned: Make sure you know everything. If you don’t, make sure you have someone who you trust to get questions answered.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
It is not easy, but it is fun. Focusing on getting to know your customers and how to retain your customer base. Location is everything. My Any Lab Test Now location is in a grocery store anchored strip mall. The rent is not cheap, but it is worth every penny. I consider my rent a marketing tool. It is also very important to reward your employees.
What’s next for you and your business?
I am already hitting my short term goal of $30,000 revenue monthly. I’d like to open a second location within the next five years.