Steve Bowen knew how to handle a good paint job. But as an independent businessman he was stretched thin and was wearing many different hats as he tried to manage his own painting company.
"I was running a company for five years without structure," he says. "I was just spinning my wheels. I decided I could keep doing that and never get anywhere or I could develop the skills necessary to create a company I could be proud of and still have time to spend with my family."
He explored numerous options before deciding to purchase a Fresh Coat Painters franchise to service Woodbury, Minn., and the surrounding communities east of St. Paul. The franchise has given him the opportunity to focus his energies and grow his business.
Converting existing independent businesses into franchisees is a growing strategy within franchising that has benefits for both parties.
"I knew what had to be done. I just couldn't figure out how to do it," he says. "Fresh Coat gave me the guidance I needed. From the very beginning, I felt I had a great support system. I wasn't just out there on my own anymore."
Bernie Brozek, president of Fresh Coat, says helping franchise owners succeed is of paramount importance to the corporate team.
"Steve clearly has the drive and the vision," says Brozek. "What we provide are the marketing tools, top-notch training, and ongoing resources to help him focus that ambition, so that he uses his time and energies most effectively."
Bowen says the Fresh Coat business model immediately gave him that focus helping him to understand how he could commit most of his time to networking and to selling his workers' services.
"It was always easy for me to sell a job," he says, "but when it came to doing the job, I was using subcontractors. Often they didn't do the job right, and I'd end up having to fix their work. It was easier for me to do it myself, but then I would be frustrated because I knew I was missing out on jobs because I should be out selling the next job rather than painting."
He says that's just one thing that's great about being a Fresh Coat franchisee. "I hire my own employees. These are my employees, so I don't have to worry anymore, and neither do my clients." Bowen says he's already had repeat business from clients who are impressed by his professionalism as well as that of his workers.
"When I hire workers, they understand that it's about the basics of business," he says. "They know they have to show up on time, be clean and courteous, do the job well, and clean up the site afterward."
Brozek explains, "Our owners understand that running a painting business isn't about painting. It's about the client's entire experience from that first call to the job completion and beyond. It's about building a long-term relationship."
For Bowen, being part of a larger organization has brought a host of other perks to his business, including new marketing ideas and several client assistance programs, such as a 24/7 call center, Paint Now-Pay Later 12-months-same-as-cash financing, Automatic Touch-Up for businesses, and fund-raising opportunities for charities.
"When I told one of my business associates, a realtor, that we had same-as-cash financing, she jumped on it," says Bowen. "She told her boss, and his response was 'get him in here for a presentation to everybody' because painting helps houses sell, but often the owners are strapped for cash. By providing that option, Fresh Coat makes it possible to get work done and pay when the house sells."
Bowen also appreciates the ability to offer painting services as a fund-raising opportunity for his favorite charities - something he could not afford to do as an independent. He's already working with a neighborhood animal rescue organization and a local church planning a mission trip.
"By buying the Fresh Coat franchise, I feel I've planted a seed, and it's starting to grow," says Bowen.
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