Franchises are more than fast food with Stephanie Lewis

In this podcast, we interview Stephanie Lewis of the Entrepreneur’s Source to discuss he franchise model of business ownership. We discuss the pros and cons of running a franchise versus starting your own business, and we talk about the personality traits that work well for certain franchises.

Adam Lowe:                       So today I’m sitting here with Stephanie Lewis from the entrepreneur source. Stephanie, can you tell me a little bit about yourself and your journey to the Entrepreneur Source?

Stephanie Lewis:              Actually, I was thinking about this and I’ve taken a very kind of typical journey, Adam, because I worked with a lot of people who are what we call refugees from corporate America, want to have their own business but don’t know what they want to do. I spent 29 years in the pharmaceutical industry primarily in sales and marketing training and development, so I enjoyed 28, of my 29 years, but the last year I said I gotta do something different, but I didn’t know what. So I raised my hand and took the early retirement package, which was nice. I was very fortunate. They gave me some nice severance package so it was not financially too taxing, but they also gave me nine months of executive outplacement assistance, where I took all these tests and exams and they said, have you ever considered being an entrepreneur? I said, absolutely, but I can’t make drugs. I’ve got to come up with something else that I can make. I don’t know what I would do. That’s all I know. They said, well, let’s look at your transferable skills, and I actually met up with a person from the entrepreneur source and took a lot of tests and other things and found out that I had transferable skills, which ended up actually what I’d like to do most is coach and counsel and help people make the best fits for people and that’s why I’m really love what I do with the entrepreneur source. I like to match people up with the best opportunities based on their behavior profiles and what motivates them to do what they do.

Adam Lowe:                       So what is the entrepreneur source exactly?

Speaker 2:                           Well, funny enough, entrepreneur source actually is a franchise, most people wouldn’t think that that’s a franchise. You don’t think of that, but it is a franchise where they actually. We have hundreds of franchisers in our portfolio, but they give us all our training. We do weekly Webcasts, we have annual conferences, so we have a lot of education and things that the franchiser supports and gives us. Plus I had mentors all across the country too. That really helped me get up and start it.

Adam Lowe:                       So it doesn’t sound like a normal franchise when you think of the word franchise.

Stephanie Lewis:              No, I always laugh because when I do presentations to let it out, placement groups and I say, what do you guys think of when you think of franchise? Uh, they raised their hand and say McDonald’s, subway food is only about 15 percent of franchises.

Adam Lowe:                       Can you tell me about some of the other types?

Stephanie Lewis:              Well, I mean, have you guys watched the ServPro commercials with the little green cars? Yeah, that’s the franchise that does the restoration business. That’s a business consumer business to business. Other ones you may not be as familiar with, but I’m like all these hair salons, like 18, eight fine hair salons. Fantastic. Sam’s, Great clips, those are all franchises.

Adam Lowe:                       So what is a franchise?

Stephanie Lewis:              Essentially what a franchise does is it gives you a system to be successful. It gives you trademark a brand and a lot of marketing assistance. So instead of you having to remake the wheel to come up with a concept that’s a good fit for you, they help you along the way to sure that you’re successful. I always tell the story about a person that wanted to start this one business. She actually, um, opened up Kid to Kid that’s over on Bowling Brook Parkway, she’s very successful, but she said, I’m going to go to training and tell them all these ways they should be changing the business and doing it better. When she got out there, they said, well, we tried that. Let me tell you what happens. And so after about the third time, she says, maybe I should just follow their system to be successful. And she’s number six in the country now for them. It’s incredible. She’s incredible. She’s doing fabulous.

Adam Lowe:                       So you mentioned that there are different types of franchises. There’s a B2B, B2C, there is absentee, semi absentee. You just kind of run through what all of that means? That’s lots of words

New Speaker:                    B2C, which is business to consumer. I’m sure you guys are probably seeing, you know, five star painting, molly maids, those little cars with everything around on them, you know, Window Genie, all of those, those are business consumer, those are great for people that have a limited amount of money to spend but are also good in terms of um, organizing teams of people so they’re good at operations and also you got a lot of your leads from the Internet so you don’t have to be a person that really likes to go out and meet people and talk to people constantly for business. And when you do a good job like the window cleaning they generally have you come back the next year and clean your windows again. So you get a lot of repeat business which makes it a little bit easier. So that’s the B2B which is business to business. You really have to have people like to network, constantly hunting for new clients. Uh, you know, this is the business. I’m trying to think of some of the ones you, you put the problem is the business. The business are the ones that most people don’t even know of or think of like you have expense reduction analysts that say, is it a business franchise? So you go in there, Filta that does the environmental kitchen’s clean kitchens, oils, that’s more of a B2B because you’re working with business owners. So those require a lot more networking and continual and some people’s behavior profiles. That’s a terrible fit for them. And then you have things that are more semi absentee absentee and those are great for a couple of different types of people. People are starting to retire at 65, meaning they don’t want to do corporate, but they don’t want to be totally doing nothing, playing golf full time. Maybe a good idea for the first six months. Then they get bored and they’d like to have a little supplement to their retirement. So they’ll do things that are more the semi absentee vein. Um, those are.

Adam Lowe:                       So basically they make money by doing nothing.

Stephanie Lewis:              I tell people, you know, the first six, eight months you have to do a lot of work. That’s no fun. I’m sorry. The first six, eight months, you still have to do a lot of work to get the business up and running, but uh, after that you can get it down to, you know, maybe 15 hours a week, you know, that you’re running the business. So a lot of like there’s franchise laundromats, like wait next laundry mat, which is like six hours a week really absentee, but even the hair salons are absentee things, like I’m trying to get the other ones, a lot of the gyms, like kickboxing, these other ones, those are the options. So they’re good for two, two type of people, retirees and also maybe somebody has a spouse, it’s been at home and the kids are older and they want to go back to work, but they’ve been out of the workforce for awhile so they won’t have the skills up to date, but they don’t want to go work for at Nordstrom’s for and worked nights and weekends. So many times they’ll start a business to be a supplement and then also the full-time working spouse goes, what if you get this going really, really well? Maybe we can expand and I can quit corporate. So it’s a nice combination between partners to do it that way. Also.

Adam Lowe:                       So you mentioned different personality types and how um, you do assessments to understand them and see what kinds of, what kinds of franchises they’d fit best with. Can you tell me more about that process?

Stephanie Lewis:              What I do primarily we have a bunch of different tools, but I think when I was the director of training and development at Glaxo, I had every emotional intelligence strengths finders every test you to take in the Myers-Briggs, but I find the disc profile is the driver influencers steadiness compliance. And then the kind of pointing to that one is the values inventory. Those two together, one tells your natural behaviors and the other one tells you what motivates you to do what you do. So, um, like for instance, I’m a driver influencer, so I can do b2b economic, different types, but if you have somebody that’s more of a stability and compliance, they don’t want to rock the boat. They don’t like going out and promoting themselves. I have to lend those types of people to things where most of the businesses coming either from the internet or from a core group of people, they get a lot of repeat business or something that’s a retail brand, not food generally. So something other than food.

Adam Lowe:                       Gotcha. So what happened when people come to you and they say, I really want to buy a franchise x, Y, or z and it’s not necessarily a great fit for them. Uh, what’s, what’s your process of working with them?

Stephanie Lewis:              Most people come to me telling me they want to start one kind of business. Not necessarily a franchise, but it’s fun. Have you made a business plan? Have you looked at if you can make money doing this because I tell everybody you can do it, but if you’re doing something and you’re not making money, I’m totally chill with that. But then that’s a hobby. It’s not a career. So it’s not a business which is OK if you want to make it a hobby or an avocation. But um,  I tell them that when they work with me, they don’t pay me. I get paid by the business if they choose to buy business through me. So I tell everybody there’s little bit of rules before you work with me. You have to be open-minded because you don’t know what you don’t know and I tell everybody I’m going to do this behavior tests and they do the values inventory. We’re going to have a tell us more about your. I spent a lot of time talking about yourself and what you like, what you don’t like, and I’m going to give you some options that you may not even consider. A matter of fact, 95 percent of the time people choose something that they would never chosen. Um, there’s a person that was a minister for over 30 years and wanted to own these two types of businesses. I said, fine, you look at those two. I want to let you look at these other two. And he said, no, I really don’t want to look at that one of those. So now remember our pact at the beginning, you’re going to look at that business. And six weeks later he came back to me and rather sheepishly says, you’re not going to believe this, I go what, the one I didn’t want to even look at, that’s the best fit for me. And he’s very successful. What is he number four, number six in the country, uh, in, in that business. And people say, how did you extrapolate that? I like to connect, connect people things. But you know, there’s a percentage of the time people come to me and say, I’m only looking at business because I can’t get a job. I said, please don’t do this.

Stephanie Lewis:              You have to have. You don’t have to know what you want to do, but you have to have an entrepreneurial spark. And the other time is if people financially don’t have enough money to rub together to at least pay themselves for nine months so they can put enough money and time and effort into the business. Those two things together are really strongly discouraged people from looking at a business, if not necessarily not ever, but certainly not now.

Adam Lowe:                       So the financial part of it’s a pretty big. And I’m assuming that depending on the type of franchise you buy into that, uh, the costs are going to vary pretty wildly. Generally speaking, if somebody wants to, wants to get into a franchise, what are they looking at from a financial commitment?

Stephanie Lewis:              If you’re looking at a business consumer that doesn’t require retail space, doesn’t require Class A reality all. And I don’t just use. I love it when you say these franchise show, you can have a franchise for $19,000 a year. Well that might be the franchise fee. That also gives you the training, but that’s not what the all in cost are. I tell people, I’m giving you all in cost the first year. So if you’re looking at a business consumer about $75,000 to $80,000, if you’re looking at a small retail, I’m like the cell phone repair store, as you begin to fix itself and repairs, those are about a hundred or hundred and ten. Your UPS Stores are about a hundred to hundred and fifty thousand. But there’s the SBA has loosened up money dramatically. So there are ways to be able to get money. If you have a decent credit score, something I always tell people too, if you think you want to start a business, going to go look for money to quick things, don’t close any credit cards and don’t have one credit card over 50 percent maxed out. Try to spread the among the different cards so it doesn’t look like you’re overextended on one credit card. My husband likes to put everything on the one card because he wants those airline miles, I’m like, no, let’s spread it a little bit because if you go to get money or loans or anything like that, they do look at that.

Adam Lowe:                       Um, and then you mentioned making sure that you have money for about nine months worth of savings in the bank. You know, we all know businesses typically aren’t profitable in their first years. Is that any different for a franchise? Than it would be for a normal business starting up?

Stephanie Lewis:              Yes. Generally franchises will ramp up quicker because they have the system. You don’t. I’m always, always impressed by people start their independent businesses and are successful because it’s a lot of trial and error. Then people say you don’t like independent because I’m like no, independent businesses, once they get a system in place that they can sell, make great franchises, so I liked that part of it, but it takes a lot more trial and error and if you have somebody, let’s face it, a gallop organization does a poll. 56% of the people want to be independent and have their own business. Can you guess what percentage actually do it?

Adam Lowe:                       Maybe 10%?

Stephanie Lewis:              Five, five percent of the people actually successful. So when somebody has a business and they’re successful and they’re making money, I absolutely never begrudge them an ounce of it because they work to get it.

Adam Lowe:                       So you had mentioned when we were talking before, a little bit of a horror story about somebody that I’d considered buying a franchise and then decided they were going to go at it alone. Can you kind of talk me through what that was all about?

Stephanie Lewis:              Well, I mean I don’t want to give too many particulars to put this person on the spot, but a person came to me and wanted to buy just one type of business which is going to be totally absentee and you can either go to the distributor and the distributor will sell you what you need for the business. They’ll do the build out of the business for you. However, they just want to sell as many machines as they possibly can and once they’re done, they’re hands are washed free of you. As long as you. They’ve sold it, you had the financing, they walk away. With a franchise, It’s for them to be successful. They have to make sure their franchisees are happy because you’re not going to get more franchisees. It translates using the system if they’re not happy. After that, making money. We had this document called a franchise disclosure document, which has many of them have an item nineteen that talks about the gross income of the top third, the middle third, bottom third, and everybody that’s owned a franchise in the past five years, even if they’ve left contact information is in the back, so somebody goes and wants to buy that franchise.  They’re going to call. I tell people call random, not just to the franchisor tells you, but I’ll tell the franchisor or given people in the top and then we’ll the bottle because I want to see if they’re clever enough to figure out if they identify with the owner at the top. It can be happy with the owner and the middle’s results, but they feel pretty confident they’re not going to make the mistakes. The person on the bottom is done and that is really. That’s the first thing I tell people is can you see yourself in the role as the owner of that business? Can you see yourself in that role? If you can’t see yourself in that role, then we’ll look at something else.

Speaker 1:                           You’re making franchises a like a no brainer, what’s what’s some of the downsides of owning a franchise?

Stephanie Lewis:              You have to follow a system and if you’re a person who can’t follow the system and more of a maverick, it’s probably not going to be right for you because people will say, oh, I wasn’t successful because the franchise, I will tell you that 95 percent of the time it’s because they didn’t follow the system, what they need to be successful or they followed half of what they needed to be successful, so if you’re not a person that can follow system, doesn’t like phone system. You can do all those things and do things later, but I tell everybody the first year pretty much go by the book. Don’t do no dazzle us with your, you know, great marketing minds. Do what they tell you the first year to get a good foundation. Then you can branch off from there. Once you get your feet wet and understand the business.

Adam Lowe:                       Anything else that you want to share with me about the franchises?

Stephanie Lewis:              No. I just tell. I just tell people it’s not McDonald’s. It’s not all subways. There’s many other different types out there. It’s great for people that want to start a business but are too scared and a lot of people come to me. I don’t know if you can help me because I don’t know what I want to do. I’m like, I love people like you. People that come with an open mind and let me say, let us see if we can find something that’s going to be the best fit for you because what makes me the happiest is for people to be extremely successful and happy and healthy. That’s what makes me happy.

Adam Lowe:                       That’s great. So I have a few, a few lightning round questions and um,

Stephanie Lewis:              OK.

Adam Lowe:                       All right, let’s see how we do here. So if you could give one book or one resource, uh, to everyone that you come in contact with, what would it be?

Stephanie Lewis:              I think everybody should just go to the Tony Robbins site and do the disc analysis. It’s free you go to Tony Robbins dot come. It’s OK if I promote one, it’s free. Uh, I used to pay $30, dollars we haven’t done. And I. Somebody said to me, why don’t you use the Tony Robbins site, but when you read that, it’s very eye opening because it not only helps me with looking at people for businesses, but it really helps you with your interpersonal relationships and everything else too. So I tell people it’s a good thing to do. Helps you understand your significant others or children in my family, I’m the only High D, everybody else is a C, so when I get frustrated because I get very excited and enthusiastic and they look at me with blank stares. I’m just like, it’s OK. It’s going to take them awhile to, to, for me to convince them to do something, but you can use it not only in business but in your personal life.

Adam Lowe:                       You definitely prefer that over or something like Myers Briggs?

Stephanie Lewis:              Myers Briggs previous is personality and it’s kind of hard and they don’t give you your strengths and weaknesses and things to be mindful of based on that. So I just think it’s much more. I liked the myers-briggs, but I think it much more usable. Another good book is discover your strengths, uh, by Marcus Buckingham. I think it’s Marcus Buckingham, I always get that mixed up so I to say it’s not Lindsey Buckingham was part of the fleetwood Mac, but as far as funding, uh, and uh, they have a strength finder is which is very similar to disc love that. I love that. And I like the strength finders two and kind of scares me because my strength finders and my desk and my two may all along so well and it’s kind of scary because the number, my number one for a strengthsfinders is significance. I don’t want to do anything unless I make a difference. And my number one motivator for my values inventory is altruism. I won’t do something unless it makes a difference. That’s probably why I left corporate too many long corporate meetings that I felt were wasting my time.

Adam Lowe:                       Great. Um, OK. So number two is what’s the biggest mistake that you see people in business make?

Stephanie Lewis:              I think the biggest mistake when people go into business is that they don’t have a solid business plan and they don’t follow it and they kind of do it by the seat of their pants. They don’t market where they should market or they don’t market enough. I’m wrong place market enough and that’s the one thing about the franchisor because it is that also includes marketing and SEO and they know where they’re going to be successful. So people say, well, am I paying royalties for, that’s what you’re paying world is for us. But given the independent, because I’ve said that a lot of people have said was businesses, but they never end up making more than 20, $30,000 a year. And that’s the biggest mistake I think.

Adam Lowe:                       Yeah, that’s huge. Huge, huge. The SBA says that, um, a typical business should be spending somewhere around 10 percent of their average revenue on marketing. So, you know, if you’re looking at a franchise that’s taking some sort of royalty and that’s going into marketing for you, then you don’t have to do all the trial and error and all the things that I do to help you find the right places with your marketing.

Stephanie Lewis:              They do this to expand like other expansions, so opportunities to use other things, but at least you know, you’re getting the, at least what you have to do. You can bring other things, do the nicer, do to bring in exponential business, but doing the things that you have to do during the business in.

Adam Lowe:                       So what’s one tool or piece of technology or system or something like that we already talked about that you couldn’t live without? Personally,

Stephanie Lewis:              Can I say my cell phone?

Adam Lowe:                       You are not the first person to say that, but yeah,

Stephanie Lewis:              I’m thinking what can I do? I cannot do without. I would have to say I think just even 10, 15 years ago. Yeah. How did we live without this? I know I got things done. I mean between texting people or you know, uh, posting things on facebook and now with the environment are BNI groups that you do your follow-up with your meetings on this and it’s like, it’s just allows me so much more free time.  Yeah. Because I remember when I was in, could work from anywhere when I was the district manager the first time around  at home every evening on the phone with representatives and now it’s like, no, you don’t have to talk to me during the day, buzz me and talk to me at night. Just buzz me during the day. A great time saver.

Adam Lowe:                       Um, and then if you could have lunch with anybody dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Stephanie Lewis:              It’s funny because some people say it’s too hard when I have a lot of people I would like, but the one person really came to the top of mind quickly. It was after I went to South Africa and learned more about it and really read a lot of books would have to be Nelson Mandela. I don’t think you get a man of such elegance, intellect and caring and empathy of doing what is right for everyone and just how a, he was in managing people in events. So I would have to say, I would like to get some of the wisdom from Nelson Mandela.

Adam Lowe:                       And if he were sitting here right now, what are you, what kind of wisdom would you think that he would impart on you?

Stephanie Lewis:              Um, probably how to work with people and get people to grow and to be successful without feeling you have to manipulate them.

Adam Lowe:                       That’s a, that’s a rare thing these days.

Stephanie Lewis:              That’s, you know, by having them bring around to your side based on facts and data and just wanting to do the right thing.

Adam Lowe:                       And then last but not least, tell me a fun fact about yourself that people don’t know.

Stephanie Lewis:              Oh Gosh, my husband’s family has lots of fun facts. I don’t have a lot of fun facts. I think the one thing that people don’t maybe don’t know is that, um, I started out as a music major and I switched to chemistry because I grew up without a lot of money. I quickly realized I wasn’t talented enough to be a professional performer and be able to support myself. So I switched to chemistry, which is actually the same side of the brain. Most people don’t realize that, uh, but I used to perform with abandoned college and I still like to sing and you can get me up in front of Karaoke on many occasions. So I will go out and sing.

Speaker 1:                           I think we need to make that happen. We need to make. All right, so where do you see yourself and your, uh, business, uh, in the next 12 months?

Stephanie Lewis:              I think what I want to see is the people that are already putting the business continued to grow and be successful. But I think the other part of it is that I’d like to get the word out that somebody like me actually exists. I know the two thirds of the people I work with aren’t going to go into business. But um, my dad died when I was seven and my mom to things she taught me. One thing was she said to me, you don’t want to go into your life with you would’ve, could’ve, should’ve. So if you’ve thought about it, don’t have, could have, should have each had a resource like me to help you. And then secondly is just to continue to find opportunities to do the volunteer work and things that I do, not just my business. People know I’m a little crazy about rescuing dogs. So I’d like to be able to get more dogs homes and help in that way also.

Speaker 1:                           Well, OK, so, so now you have to only plug entrepreneur source and how they can find you there. But you also need to plug the rest of us out there.

Stephanie Lewis:              PAW rescue its paw, hyphen, rescue.org. Um, they’re really grass-root type of folks and they need help with fostering temporary fostering, helping during the shows, even helping the dogs that we have to keep in Kennels to go walk them that they get some activity and our walk and get some socializing. So, um, too many dogs, millions are put to sleep every year. And I have to tell you of all the dogs I’ve gotten, the vast majority, I, I’d have to say 98 percent have been great dogs. They’re out of Greenville locally, so they’re right here in the DMV or. But if you volunteer anywhere with animal rescue, I’m happy spay and neuter your pets. And pick up after your pets please, please, please pick up after your pets. Don’t be that person leaving little bombs everywhere. For everyone else that to walk into this, please pick up after your pets.

Adam Lowe:                       So then how can people, um, who are considering starting a business where we’re buying franchise, how can they find you or reach out to somebody like you?

Stephanie Lewis:              OK, you can always spend on linkedin and linkedin.com\stephlewis. Or you can email me SLewis@eesourcecoach.com or you can call me at three, five, eight. One four, six to two.

Adam Lowe:                       Great. And you help people all throughout the country.

Stephanie Lewis:              It’s not just locally throughout the country. So even Canada, even I had a client from the UAE contacted me. Uh, so we’re going to put a bunch of businesses over in the Middle East. So even out there.

Adam Lowe:                       Wow. That’s very cool. Anything else you want to share before we go?

Stephanie Lewis:              No, I just want to thank Adam for those opportunities. So it’s been really fun. So I told them at the beginning I’m not really thrilled about doing videos of myself. I think I look kind of silly, so hopefully you found some of the information I gave you. Helpful and uh, insightful. Great. Well thanks so much for your time. No problem. Thanks.

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