Outsiders think that franchising is a quick and easy way to get big bucks--there's even a new book out that promises "instant success" in franchising. You know that's not true. It doesn't matter where you get in, there's a ton of work, and some fair amount of suffering as a franchisor or franchisee gets up to speed.
Take the case of Matt "Red" Boswell. He always had a different angle on business, starting somewhere in junior high, where he had a teacher who wanted her class to understand how business worked.
"Each of us would choose a 'job'--and I chose emptying the pencil sharpener. I only asked two questions: could I sit by the sharpener, and how often do you empy it? The answer was, the guy with the job determined how often it was emptied. Everyone thought I was an idiot, but I became the richest guy because I emptied it every time someone used it."
Later in life, Boswell worked as a salesman at a high-end car dealership, making very little, and determined to own his own business some day. Then he saw another illustration of the lesson he had worked out for himself.
"A guy comes in to clean the toilets, and I joked that the job stinks, and he says that he gets two bucks a toilet, does 200 a day, and doesn't get dirty. And he contracts out a bunch more and gets something for each one. I started doing the math."
Even so, he went through several businesses that didn't make it: websites, a coffee service, vending machines. In the end his girlfriend set him on the right path when she read a story in the Wall Street Journal about a woman in Chicago who was picking up dog poop for a living and doing pretty well.
"I was pretty offended that my girlfriend would think I would do something like that. But I went to a meeting of business friends and they challenged me to do it, saying it had everything I wanted--low cost, high demand, not seasonal, and I would get rid of my pride."
Boswell took the last $1,600 he had on a credit card and started marketing Pet Butler out of Dallas. Three months and no customers later, he just got mad and spent two more years doing guerilla marketing. It took three years for the potential to start to be realized. He learned there were hundreds of pooper-scooper services, and he took as his mentor at a distance Brian Scudamore of 1-800 Got Junk?
Franchising was the way he wanted to go. "We thought about licensing it, but you have so little control. I love the idea of helping people." And his franchisees are all buying or interested in multiple territories--a good sign of a fertile field.
And he is on his way to being the Kleenex or Chapstick of his industry. And as far as hes concerned, the jokes are great--he even has a place on his website for visitors to suggest good lines, like "What can you do for brown today?"
"I hope UPS sues us," he laughs. Great guerilla marketing. Entremanuring, he calls it. Oh, yes, he is the CEO--chief excremental officer. That comes from doing the job every day for six years.
Overnight success is never overnight.
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