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 Dennis Rhodes worked in the home disaster restoration business, his favorite part of his job was seeing homeowners' faces when they returned to disaster sites to see them redone. As a Floor Coverings International franchisee, Rhodes now owns a business that allows him to help anyone in need of a new floor. Here's what he has learned.
Name: Dennis Rhodes
Franchise owned: Floor Coverings International of Western North Carolina
How long have you owned a franchise?
I’m in my fifth month.
I was in the process of opening my business before I ever considered buying a franchise. Through my research I found that Floor Coverings International was a very reputable and established company. I reached out to them for more information and was very impressed with what I found. Aside from the obvious manufacturer relationships already being in place, Floor Coverings International has an outstanding operations team that allows me to focus on providing top-level service to my customers. Floor Coverings International has among the highest customer satisfaction ratings in the industry, and that is what I want my customers to experience. Becoming a Floor Coverings International franchisee has been a great decision.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I was in the home disaster restoration business for several years. Before that, I was in banking and finance for 10-plus years.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
When I was in the restoration business I worked with homeowners and business owners who had experienced property damage due to flooding, water leaks, or fire. The best part of this type of work was seeing a homeowner’s face when they come home to find that things are new again. Having new, great looking floors was almost always a major factor in these folk’s happiness. My business gives me the opportunity to help anybody, not just people who have experienced property damage, feel the joy that new flooring can provide.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
It took approximately $100,000 to open for business. The majority of this went towards my legal fees, initial franchise fee and opening package. It was about $10,000 for things like securing the lease for my showroom, insurance of all types, sample boards, getting my mobile showroom set up, etc. I spent about $4,000 on office and showroom equipment, as well as equipment for moving flooring safely through my warehouse.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
I called on every resource at my disposal. I spoke with accountants, attorneys, current and former franchisees. I went around to potential B2B relationships and inquired about their need level for the services I would be offering. I mystery shopped the competition to assess opportunity for improvement. I thought people might become tired of speaking with me so often, but everyone was great and very willing to help me.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
Anytime you open a new business there are going to be challenges. My biggest challenge was finding a suitable location for my showroom. While most of my business is conducted with my mobile showroom, some customers feel more comfortable coming to the store. Finding a place in Asheville that is suitable, accessible, and convenient can be tricky. I was able to find a great location at a very reasonable price, which allows me to keep my overhead costs very low and pass that savings on to my customers.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
Find something that you can feel good about. Sometimes it takes a while to figure out what that might be, but it is far better to slowly make the right decision than to quickly make the wrong one.
What’s next for you and your business?
In five years, above all other things, I would like Floor Coverings International of Western North Carolina to be the market leader in customer and product satisfaction. If I can achieve this, I will consider the business to be successful.