Creating Family Time by Switching from Restaurants to a Service Brand
Name: Matt Pendleton
Years in Franchising: 7
Why did you choose to franchise with a service brand?
When I began looking to make a pivot in my career and go the franchising route, I wanted to be sure that I could control my own schedule. In my past life, I was a regional manager for In-N-Out Burger, where my father was a higher-up for many years. As I continued to go through training that would allow me to advance in the company, I began to have awful panic attacks: 60-hour work weeks became the norm, and with the recent arrival of my newborn daughter, the stress I put on myself caused me to hit a breaking point.
Becoming a franchise owner with Screenmobile has allowed me to take control of my schedule, and because of this I am able to be around my family more often than not. Family is at the core of Screenmobile’s values, and I learned early on that in addition to helping me run a smooth business operation, they’d make sure I’d have the ability to take care of my family. Many of the brand’s locations across the country are owned and operated by families, and in the service industry this plays a key role in developing relationships with the customer base in your local communities.
How did you choose the sector and brand you did?
Following my departure from In-N-Out Burger, Scott Walker, Screenmobile’s CEO and my wife’s uncle, got on the phone with me to discuss potential opportunities with the brand. As our conversations progressed, one of the key elements of the business that stood out to me was that there are not many companies completing the work that Screenmobile has in its arsenal. From sun control products, to three-season rooms, to retractable awnings, Scott and his family developed a business in a niche that supplies the in-depth service customers seek.
Like mine, there are many locations that stand as the only screen repair and installation company in their regions. Not to mention being a mobile company that executes the work directly at the customer’s residence or business is a sizeable advantage over any competition. This made Screenmobile an even more attractive opportunity for someone like me, getting into franchising in the service industry for the first time.
What different skill sets are required for service brand franchising? Are they different from operating a restaurant brand?
Scott and Monty (Walker) always say that as a Screenmobile owner and operator you need to put your different hats on, along with your business suit. To be successful it’s not only important to be versatile, but to also recognize what areas you have weaknesses in. For example, I am not the most tech-savvy, so it was important for me to hire someone who is capable to assist with any technology problems.
Although the work requires you to have a mechanical mindset, Screenmobile provides wonderful tools and resources to help when needed. When you begin with the company, you are required to enter Screen School, its extensive training program that covers all facets of the business. This includes lessons around product installation, daily operations, and business management. Even after completion of Screen School, the franchisor stays by your side and doesn’t leave you on an island out to dry, and makes sure you and your business are well equipped for whatever challenges and obstacles are thrown your way.
How is operating your service brand franchise different from a restaurant?
In the restaurant industry, you rely heavily on the team you put together to achieve success day in and day out. Screenmobile is unique in that sense because you can control your location’s destiny, which in my 7 years with the company has been extremely fulfilling as I continue to grow professionally as a business owner.
Being a mobile company, Screenmobile owners like me have the luxury of going to a different office each time we clock into work. Customers are appreciative of the convenience we provide by doing the job on-site at their homes or businesses, as it removes the hassle of going back and forth to a store. This accommodation alone has allowed our business to thrive amid the pandemic, where many other concepts, like restaurant brands, struggled to accomplish what they set out to achieve at the beginning of the year.
What are the advantages to operating a service brand vs. a restaurant brand?
In the service industry, it is incredibly difficult to start a business from scratch and on your own. Having a credible brand behind you for support allows you to immediately have recognition in your community. Screenmobile’s name and logo are recognized for efficiency, variety of capabilities, and convenience in many pockets across the country.
Also, having the opportunity to go to multiple homes throughout the work week and enhance the conditions of their living spaces is rewarding. We feel ingrained in the communities we serve, and customers want to hire us because they feel the same. One of the things we like to say is, “Any Need… Any Place… Any Screen” because we truly do it all, and it’s refreshing to be the authority in the region that people trust to call for expert services.
How does having a service brand benefit/complement your other brand(s)?
Currently, I do not work with any additional brands, but I know of other franchisees in the system who reap the benefits from the complementary services their other businesses provide to their Screenmobile location, and vice versa. The plethora of services opens opportunities for added companies that may focus on window repair or outdoor renovations. At the moment I am focused on the operation of my three locations, but I know headquarters is fully supportive of franchisees using their other ventures to help drive the growth of the customer bases in our regions.
What would you recommend to anyone considering a service brand?
When considering a service brand, I highly recommend analyzing how the headquarters office communicates with its franchisees, and how frequently. Without a boss watching over you, it is imperative to find the self-motivation to get the job done well, and in an appropriate amount of time. The consistent communication Screenmobile prioritizes with its franchisees gives you, as a business owner and operator, the encouragement to not only reach the goals you set at the beginning of a month or quarter, but to also keep pushing and exceed initial expectations.
Being based in Southern California myself, the headquarters office is easily accessible if I ever need to go in to talk with the team about the state of my three locations in the Greater Los Angeles region. In fact, there have been multiple times where Monty Walker, the vice president of the company, has come out in the field to work on a project with me. This communication and approachability continues to inspire me to strive toward being the greatest business owner I can be.
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