Are you cruising along in a job that you can do with your eyes closed, maybe even with your hands tied behind your back? Everything is humming, and your industry seems solid.
Then, bam! Something happens that shatters all your old assumptions and you start to wonder, what are my options?
That’s what happened to Dennis Clouser, of Tampa, Fla., who, as a mechanical engineer, had spent 30 years in the electrical connector industry.
His last job with the billion-dollar company ITT Corp. ended abruptly after his division’s largest customer, a military contractor, pulled its business once the federal government imposed massive across-the board cuts as part of “deficit reduction sequestration” in early 2013.
At the age of 51, Clouser received a six-month severance package, and the company made classes available to him to help him figure out his next stage. One of those classes introduced him to the option of a franchise.
Before long, Clouser lined up another job doing exactly what he had been doing for 30 years. But doubts soon started creeping into his mind.
“I thought, is this it?” Clouser recounted. “The hell with it. I’ll take a chance on myself for once instead of doing what I’ve been doing until I die. Maybe I can do something different.”
He had a couple of friends with franchises, and he thought, well, if they can do it, maybe he could, too.
With the help of a franchise coach, he started doing his research.
“101 Mobility really grabbed me,” he said, referring to the franchise that sells mobility equipment, such as stair lifts, auto lifts and ramps to help people with disabilities stay in their homes. “I could help people instead of making bombs to blow them up.”
Clousen felt a personal connection to the mission of helping people deal with their mobility issues around the house since two members of his family had suffered amputations that resulted from complications from Diabetes.
While Clausen was confident about his mechanical abilities — “I can put anything together” —when it came to the other aspects of running a business, from bookkeeping to managing payroll and benefits, he felt less sure of himself. That’s where the franchise company’s support really came in handy.
“101 is fanatical about opening steps,” he said. “There are biweekly meetings with people in corporate” where they discuss everything from finding a location, negotiating a lease to paying taxes.
“They manage you every step of the way,” he said. “I wouldn’t have been able to open without learning what I learned from them.”
As part of the preparation process, he talked to franchisees, some of whom were more helpful than others, but he finds the idea of sharing one’s experiences one of the most compelling aspects of having a franchise.
For example, he particularly likes the franchise’s new program, “Talk to a Franchise,” where he, now as an existing franchisee, talks to three or four potential franchisees on the phone, and they get the opportunity to ask him whatever questions come to mind.
“I’m really blunt with them,” he said. For starters, he tells them starting up a franchise is a lot of work.
After two years with his new business, while he acknowledged making some mistakes along the way, he would definitely do it again.
The difference is now he’s got total control of his life. And while he knows he may be working until 9 p.m. doing an evaluation of someone’s home, if the water sparkles particularly bright one sunny day, and an empty parking space beckons from St. Pete’s beach, he knows he can take an hour for a swim if he feels like it.
Not a bad living. Not bad at all.
About the author
Ready to make your dream of becoming an entrepreneur come true? Get your free evaluation today! Contact Dan Citrenbaum to help you create the career you’ve always wanted. As a business coach, Dan brings years of experience helping people select and buy a franchise or existing business. You can reach Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (484) 278-5489.
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