Franchise Players is Entrepreneur's interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Before becoming a City Wide Maintenance franchisee, Darren Frerking served as the director of sales and business for City Wide corporate in Kansas City. He never planned on moving for work, or becoming a franchisee. However, when an opportunity presented itself for Frerking to take over a Houston City Wide location, he knew he couldn't turn down the chance to become a franchisee himself. Here's what he has learned.
Name: Darren Frerking
Franchise owned: City Wide Maintenance of Houston
How long have you owned a franchise?
I have owned my franchise for approximately 10 months.
Prior to assuming ownership of City Wide Maintenance of Houston, I served as the director of sales and business development for City Wide corporate in Kansas City. In my previous role, I never imagined I would one day relocate to Houston to purchase my own franchise. However, when the opportunity presented itself, it was a slam-dunk for me because I already had a chance to see “under the hood.” Unlike other prospective franchisees, I intimately knew the franchise system I was purchasing. I saw first-hand the support City Wide Corporate offered its franchisees and knew I would be in good hands while taking on this transition.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
I worked as a sales consultant and helped struggling businesses evaluate their sales plan and make the necessary changes to their personnel, processes, and performance to be successful. For this reason, I felt I had the skills and experience needed to succeed in business ownership.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
I love the recession-proof nature of the maintenance management industry. I was also drawn to the recurring revenue element of the model.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
This is not relevant in my case as I bought an existing location – I didn’t launch the business from scratch.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
While I had insight into the financials because of my prior position with City Wide Corporate, I made a point to call other franchisees within the system. I also consulted with my family and friends. As much as I learned from working at City Wide Corporate, I still needed to do my own due diligence to explore the business from the franchisee’s perspective.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
At City Wide, we streamline commercial facilities and maintenance management of more than 20 services through a collection of independent contractors and alliance partners, including floor care, window washing, janitorial supplies, parking lot maintenance, and many others. My most unexpected challenge is finding contractors who can accommodate the rapid expansion of our business.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
As soon as you can find a way – DO IT! Research it, know the numbers, and most importantly, be passionate about whatever you choose. I never in my wildest dreams thought it would be building maintenance, or that I would be moving out of Kansas City – but I absolutely love it.
What’s next for you and your business?
At our current growth rate, I hope to open a second Houston office within the next four years.