The Olympics are upon us. All eyes are on the games, the athletes, and the medals. In franchising the focus is on the business model, the franchise owners, and the financial and lifestyle rewards. There are similarities, most notably, being a part of a winning team. When evaluating a franchise, talk with owners and make sure they are like-minded in their desire to succeed. Yes, you will own your own business, but a winning franchise is a team effort.
Meet forty-five-year old, Joe Zeliger, Mr. Handyman of Greater Newton (MA), who launched his business in May 2010 after more than twenty years in IT-related sales. Not one to make a careless decision, “I threatened to quit the corporate world for years,” his entrepreneurial urgings were passed down from his father. Joe was born in Rockland County, NY, 15 miles northwest of Manhattan. He graduated from Boston University. Joe and his wife, Christine, have two children. As a new owner who opened during tough economic times, we wanted to know how he’s managing to record impressive sales.
Mr. Handyman: Weren’t you concerned about the economy when you opened in 2010?
HM: How is business? Joe Zeliger: I really wasn’t all that focused on the state of the economy. I believed that this business could succeed in a down economy because more people were focused on home improvements and basic repairs than moving. I borrowed a lot of money to buy the business, and I can’t afford to fail. This isn’t a hobby, the business supports my family. As far as the economy, it’s noise, and I tune-out noise. I focus on what’s good and what I can control.
JZ: Our business is up 60% over our first full year.
HM: What’s driving your growth?
JZ: I came from a sales background. My priority every day is keeping my three—going on four—service techs busy. Every hour that goes by that I don’t have booked is an hour that I can’t get back, and that’s lost money.
HM: Why did you choose to join Mr. Handyman?
JZ: I always wanted to own my own business. I looked for a business that I had an interest in and that I could support my family. The territory that I have fits the business model perfectly.
HM: What makes your Mr. Handyman superior to the competition?
JZ: Our level of professionalism. The manner in which we conduct ourselves: following up with clients, confirming schedules and appointments, keeping clients in the loop. People aren’t used to it. That’s what we hear back.
HM: What do you like best about what you do?
JZ: Answering to myself—it’s my ship and I’m steering it.
HM: Last question. Do you have a favorite quote?
JZ: When I was in my late teens, my father shared an adage that stirs me every day: “It’s not how much money you make; it’s how much money you keep.”
When you talk with Mr. Handyman owners, you’ll find that they are in a hurry to succeed.