Bart came to us already knowing he wanted to buy a franchise. He had owned his own CPA business for a few years about 10 years ago so he knew he could do it again. He was interested in the home improvement category and wanted something where he could still be pretty hands-on in the business. He ended up purchasing Five Star Painting in Gilbert, AZ.
In this video Bart shares about how he landed on Five Star Painting. He explains the challenges he had previously when owning his own small business and why he knew a franchise would be a good fit for him. He also talks about his experience with Kevin and Charista and how utilizing a franchise broker is the way to go.
Here is a shortened version of some of the answers Bart gives in the video.
Q: What is your background?
A: I am 51 years old. I started out in banking, became a CPA and did accounting. In 2008 I started working on my own until about 2013 doing CPA work, auditing and bookkeeping. I went back into the corporate industry because I was working a lot of hours. I’ve been at Dignity Health in the accounting department, and my final role there was Finance Manager for one of our larger hospitals here in Arizona.
Q: Why were you looking for a franchise?
A: I started thinking about doing something on my own again. At my age I felt like I still had enough time to build something. For me, considering different options and already having worked for myself, I wasn’t as picky.
Q: How did you find Thoughtful Franchise Brokers?
A: When I started looking at franchises, I first started with the standard fast food options. I put some feelers out and put my information out there on a few websites and talked with a guy, but he couldn’t help me out so he passed me along to Kevin. At first I was like “well I don’t even know who you are” and he explained what he did and it felt like a good fit for me. I kinda had sold myself on doing something in franchising already. I wasn’t looking for a specific franchise, maybe other people have an idea, but I was looking for something in home improvement. Kevin and Charista helped me work through that, I made my own decision, but they did some personality testing and find out what my risk tolerance was in terms of investment.
Q: Can you talk about your thought process while you were evaluating options?
A: Being an accounting/finance guy I was more looking at what I could afford, what I could do time wise and flexibility wise and where I could find a franchise that I thought I could grow. So we had gone through a number of home improvement franchises. One of those was pest control, but first they gave me options of five that they felt fit me. And all five did pretty much for what I was wanting. They went pretty in depth into personality and where I was at with my monetary risk. So they found me those five, between those I whittled it down to three and started talking to them. Where Kevin and Charista really helped out was to get me to that point. It was a lot easier than if I was trying to do that all on my own. It was a process but I was happy with the direction that it took and I feel like I made the right choice in the end.
Q: Do you feel like the Zorakle personality testing was helpful in showing you any blind spots you may have?
A: You have to try to answer that test as honestly as you can if you want to get the help you need. There were a couple of surprises, but through that, when I was telling them the kind of work I would like to do, and then through the personality test, they looked at my traits and what I would like to do and found industries that would fit that.
Q: How did you ultimately decide to go with Five Star Painting?
A: With my personality I knew that I’d rather be doing a lot of the work because it’s a little more secure. I’m not depending on other people to show up and do their job. So I was stepping out of my comfort zone a little bit with pursuing a franchise. When I finally went with Five Star it was still a mixture of both. I will be supervising paint crews but I wasn’t totally removed because I am still doing the estimating and project management. I’m still doing a lot of the work and just as an owner I know this was going to be where I would spend a lot of time getting it set up, getting insurance, and I was ok with that because I’ve done it before.
Two of the other ones I was looking at were home inspection and pest control. With those, I would be doing a lot more of the actual hands-on work, which in a way was more secure for me because I could depend on myself and make sure I would get to the job. But I didn’t think there was as much upside with those because if you are doing a lot of the work it’s hard to grow a business. And that was ultimately what I wanted to do. I’d rather be able to grow this in a 10 year period. I looked at scalability and that’s where I got to my decision. Where I’m still involved and have control over the business, but I can grow it.
It almost came down to the pest control and the painting. Five Star was a little bit quicker with moving things along. It’s already a long process as it is, and for the funding that I was going to use, I had already decided to leave where I was working. Luckily I could do some accounting work on the side and I was able to withstand that. That would be where I would say people underestimate the time it takes to work through this process. They have a good training program, call center and vendors set up, so with Five Star what I paid for is that support. Where I was lacking was that marketing side. When I was working on my own I did a lot of word of mouth so I didn’t need to market. With a business like this, I have to learn the marketing side and Five Star is really good at that.
Q: Why was now the right time for you to buy a franchise?
A: When I owned my own accounting business I was probably working 60-70 hours a week and really you get paid for 30-40. I could do all the minutia but I didn’t realize all that was involved with that. I was running myself ragged at that time and so it was “easier” for me to just go back to working for someone else. We’re in a different situation now. My kids are older, my wife is working, and with the money we have saved I’m able to still be more flexible. I have more support, that I’m paying for, but it’s more than I had working on my own.
Q: What’s been most beneficial working with TFB?
A: Kevin gave me a few names of people he’s worked with in the past and talking to them about their experience was helpful. The assurance that if you’re willing to work and you’re patient enough, it’ll work out. He showed me things to look out for. You have to put some trust in Kevin and Charista but just talking to them and hearing how to go through the legal stuff, I felt like they were more on my side and that they were looking out for me.
Q: What is something you’ve been impressed with?
A: I think Five Star is strong where I am weakest. You can’t really run a business if you aren’t getting business so that’s why their strength is getting those leads. I can do all the minutia so I had a strength that some may not have but I think the marketing people have that advantage already and I’m not one of those.
Q: Have there been any surprises or challenges with your business so far?
A: How much really goes into marketing. I knew that I was lacking on that but didn’t realize how important that was.
Q: What would you say to someone who is considering the franchise buying experience and utilizing a franchise broker?
A: You have to be sold on wanting to do this first. If you’re not, then I don’t know that someone’s going to be able to sell you on it. You have to know that you’re going to be your own boss, and here are the benefits of doing this. It’s not going to be easy, it’s still going to be work, but if you can build something for yourself it’s a little more satisfying doing your own thing. If I didn’t already have myself prepared to do this, I don’t know that Kevin could have sold me. You have to decide this is something you want to do. Secondly, I would suggest going through Kevin and Charista because there’s different franchises in every industry. Have them talk to you, they may pull out info about you that you don’t even know. They are going to be able to fit you into a franchise. If you have one in mind they will be able to tell you if you’re going to be a good fit. But they may also give you some opportunities you have never even thought about. I’m glad we found each other and I was able to go through the process with them. They’ve got all of the names and can whittle it down to the ones that are reputable to help you not make a bad decision.
Q: What are your goals?
A: My goal is to eventually build it up to a point where I can sell it. That’s really what my goal is to do.
Q: Any closing thoughts?
A: The process was a little slower than what I expected. That didn’t have anything to do with TFB, but it had to do with the Arizona licensing side that I wasn’t expecting. I kept in contact with Kevin and Charista between February and April and they were both a good ear when I had questions. I was always able to get a hold of them and they got right back to me so having that assurance of someone to talk to when you’re going through due diligence is important. Even just to talk to someone so you can hear yourself out loud and to have them give little nuggets of information of things to ask or consider is a big benefit.