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Tips for Buying a Franchise

Tips for Buying a Franchise


Amanda: All right. Hey Frank, how are you?

Frank: I am tremendous. How are you?

Amanda: I’m wonderful. Thanks for asking. I wanna kick off our conversation today, again, we’re doing something a little bit different, but let’s talk a little bit about, you know, before we get into what prompted you on your business and you know, “Franchising with Purpose,” obviously, owning a franchise is a big part of that, but I just wanna get the conversation started with who are you? You know, what’s your background? How long have you been with Griswold? So prior to starting in Griswold Home Care franchise, Frank, what’s your background in?

Frank: So, my background is I worked in the corporate world right out of graduation from college. I went to Rochester Institute of Technology, graduated with an engineering degree, mechanical and manufacturing degree, and worked at Xerox for about 25 years, and in different capacities there, from engineering to you know, management, program management, general management, etc. And then from there, I left and worked for a smaller company, eHealth Technologies. I was a vice president of operations there. And that’s pretty much my whole, you know, working existence, you know, prior to Griswold.

Amanda: All right. So you wore, it sounds like a lot of hats in your life prior to Griswold. So, I’ll just ask point blank. What prompted you to leave that kind of corporate lifestyle, you know, that kind of mentality and really pursue the idea of starting your own business? What was kind of the catalyst in that initial decision?

Frank: Oh, you know, as you go through life and you know, and especially in the corporate world, being in there for so long is that you get embedded into the value systems of a company, you know, and it becomes your life and you have family and you have kids and it becomes part of who you are. And you know, and as life goes on, you know, I left Xerox, I went to a smaller company and like I said, I became a VP and I started to feel my age that I wasn’t just being fulfilled and I was getting really tired of the corporate lifestyle and work and I just wasn’t feeling productive. I wasn’t feeling like I was an active, productive contributor to society at all. And I guess when you reach a certain age, you start to think about those things and you know, “What am I gonna do for the rest of my life that I’m doing this?”

And I was constantly thinking about retirement, etc. And you know, I have an elderly mother and an elderly mother in law that requires care and focusing on them, my wife and I we do a lot of volunteer work for hospice care and so forth. And I started thinking about how good it felt to do those things versus doing what I was doing. And so then I, you know, started triggering thoughts in terms of “Do I really wanna do this for the rest of my life?” And in my mind, it was a definitive no. And so I just didn’t want to be working without a purpose per se. I guess that would be the best way of me putting it.

Amanda: Yep. Frank, thanks for sharing it. And I feel like through conversations I’ve had with a lot of our franchisees, that’s kind of the theme throughout is you know, wanting to make a difference and give back but on kind of your own terms, especially having worked so many years in corporate America. And I love what you said about the company’s values, kind of becoming your own values and really taking a look in the mirror and saying, “Is this what I want for not just my future,” but you, you know, touched on with elderly parents and you know, your wife and kids in the mix, you know, is that what I want for a long term?

So as you were looking, you know, to make that transition from corporate America to kind of doing something more on your own, how did you get from there to franchising? You know, there’s a lot of opportunities, whether it’s starting something on your own or you know, pursuing a franchise or all kinds of other options. So what did that kind of decision look like or process look like? And I’m sure your wife was involved in that. So take us kind of on that journey.

Frank: Well, it was interesting because, you know, I started during this time where, you know, I felt like I wanted to do this. I started on my own doing a lot of introspection. You know, I started to begin out could I really do this? You know, do I have the capability to do this, etc. And actually, what triggered it was my last job at eHealth Technologies where I was a VP reporting to the CEO. And I essentially was, you know, running major operations and kind of running the business on my own.

And what that did was it triggered in my brain the thought that you know, “I really can do this on my own. I have, I think, the mental fortitude to be able to do that on my own.” And it’s something that I wanted to do. I think if I would’ve remained at Xerox, I think I would not have done it but I think this kind of triggered a sense of that I can do this.

And so, you know, I came home and you know, I started talking to my wife about this. And to be honest, my wife said, you know, “I think you’re having a mid-life crisis.” And you know, we had two kids in college, etc. And she said to me, you know, “Why don’t you just go out and buy a Corvette and get it over with?” And I said, “You know what, if I wanted a Corvette, I would have gotten that off a long time ago.” But it wasn’t that, it was a big decision having two kids in college, etc.

And after a lot of dialogue, and you know, the effect psychologically of remaining in the corporate world, that’s the person that I would be versus evolving and trying to make this happen. And it would be a burden on my family, you know, a lot of insecurity, etc. You know, will they be willing to tangle with this? So, many a time, there’s a family to discuss this.

And at the end, they understood what I wanted or you know, it was sensible to be able to do it. And so after, you know, many conversations, we all agreed that this was the way to go. And it was based on logic and you know, the market, was this a good market or not? The analysis was done. They were happy with the fact that I did my homework and you know, they felt comfortable that the analysis that I did was commensurate to what they saw was appropriate to move forward.

Amanda: All right. You really hit the nail right on the head that, you know, it is a group decision, with this. And I love that, you know, your family was so involved in the process, but there’s a lot of information. And you started the answer to my question with the introspective journey, right? There was a lot of, is this something I could do on my own? And that’s a lot when you really start to dig into that just as the introspective side of things, lots of information. So, how did you kind of process through, you know, having that initial thought to say, “Hey, I’m the, you know, report to the CEO or VP level. I’m essentially running a lot of daily operations and I really feel like I could do this on my own?” There’s still kind of a big gap to really making that final decision and signing on the dotted line and opening your doors.

So let’s talk a little bit about kind of that self-discovery and all the information that I feel like you had to sort through. And you know, you kind of hinted at the conversations that you have with your family, but how did you get there? And in your case, it’s more than just saying, “I could do this on my own.” There’s a lot of other stuff in there. So let’s unpack that a little bit.

Frank: You know, it’s a very good question. And I’m not gonna lie. I mean, it’s extremely difficult because the other part that I didn’t mention here is that you know, if you’re a young person and you know, you’re 30, 35 years old and you wanna make a bold decision like that is one thing, because you can recover from something like that if there’s failure, etc. But you know, when you’re in your 50s, the room for failure is easy to look at.

Amanda: The timeline looks a lot different at that point. Yeah, absolutely.

Frank: It is. And on top of that, you know, the investment associated with it. So the combination of those two things can be disheartening. So, you know, I don’t know about other people, but for me, having, I guess an analytical background or you know or engineering background, to me, was that I had the will to want to do it. I’ve always wanted to own my own business. But for me, the critical thing was, did I do the analysis, was, you know, almost “analysis by paralysis” is the word.

And my mindset is that if I’ve done that and I believe that I’ve done it correctly and I looked at the data and I say, “Okay, this is like a worthwhile business and it’s a sustainable type of business that can work in the future, short term and long term, you know, is the market growing, etc?” And once I solidify that, then the question was, do I believe in myself? Because at that point, if the analytics are good, then the second part of that is you can you manage, can you deliver on what you’ve discovered in your analysis, right? Can you deploy what you’ve discovered? So if you believe the first and the second one is up to you.

And so, you know, in either form, again, through the introspection, I said, “Can I do this? Do I have the fortitude, in my age, to be able to wanna do this, etc?” And my answer to me was honestly, yes, because if I’m wrong, then that affects my entire family.

So the combination of the analytics that I did and then looking in the mirror and saying, “Can you do this? Is this an ego trip or is this something that you think you can really do?” I had to answer that. And after, you know, careful thought, I came up with the answer, yes, that I believe I can do this.

Amanda: Well, I’m glad you did. Frank. I, you know, love talking with you. So I’m glad that you’re here and you made that decision. But can we talk about a lot of people are involved and we’ve talked about, you know, at the end of the day, you really do have to look in the mirror and say, “Can I do this?” And be really honest with yourself. And I know we talked about, on past episodes, ego versus follower and how that drives you to be successful. But there’s also an element of being coachable and I think being honest with yourself is really the biggest step in that process. But there’s a lot of other folks. I know you’ve talked about conversations you had with your wife and your family, but when we talk about the analysis side of it, is there anybody else that you talked to when you were deciding whether or not you wanted to make this decision to kind of get some outside influence or suggestions or the analysis of things?

Frank: Well, I think what Griswold provided was fantastic. The ability to speak to other directors and ask them questions in terms of, you know, how they started, what they’re going through now, what the barriers are, you know, risks, et.c., versus, you know, the potential for growth and what they could do. So all of that information was very, very helpful in making a decision to move forward in that.

The other thing that I did too was I asked other locals that I knew in the city here at Rochester that have small businesses. And I asked them, you know. And to be honest, you know, half of them said to me, “You’re crazy. Why would you want to leave what you’re doing with the retirement, you know, in six, seven years and not have to worry about anything? Why the hell would you wanna do this and have this sort of responsibility, etc.?” Then, you know, the half of them said to me, “I wouldn’t do it if I were you.” And you know, the other half said, “You should follow your own intellect. And if your intellect says that it’s a good thing, then trust in yourself and go ahead and do it.”

And so I chose the other, you know. And there’s a lot of people that are willing to give you free advice. The question is, have you done enough research and are you content with it? And the critical part is, is your family willing to go to battle with you? And if your family is not willing to go to battle with you, it’s a lose, lose situation because without them I could not be doing this.

Amanda: There’s so many things in there that I just wanna aim into because it really is true. You know, you’re in business by yourself or for yourself, excuse me, but not by yourself, especially if you talk about franchises, but there’s a lot of other folks involved. And Frank, you’ve talked about it a lot, you know, nearing retirement and not being super far away from that in the corporate role and saying is this really the right time to make this decision and making sure that your family is on board because it does impact everybody. And there’s a quote about free advice, you know, “take it for what it’s worth” kind of deal. And I forget who said it, so forgive me for that. But it really is true and I think you’re smart to get advice and to get feedback from other folks, but you’re absolutely right. At the end of the day, you know, you’ve got to look in the mirror and figure out if this is the right decision for me.

And you talked about talking to other Griswold Home Care franchises, but did you look at any other industries outside of home care when you were deciding to make this decision?

Frank: Yeah. So, you know, and I forget the person’s name. I did look at other industries. You know, automotive industry, clothing services. I don’t know, cleaning industries. I had a franchise consultant that I worked with and Griswold was one of their clients. And so this person, you know, essentially made me go through an analysis of what my likes and dislikes are and you know, what I was looking for, what are my competencies, what I’m bad at, you know, etc., etc., etc. And so all of that helped me to come to the realization of where I wanted to go.

And in my situation, I wanted to either help the elderly or the very young and I wanted to do something that was fulfilling in that area. And given the fact that I was taking care of my mother and my mother in law, all of that kind of came together and health care was the industry that I wanted to get into. Then we started dissecting that and you know, I started to evaluate different types of healthcare franchises and what they did. And ultimately, I ended up with Griswold. Their vision and mission seemed to have what I was looking for.

Amanda: Awesome. So that answers my next question of why did you choose Griswold Home Care? Anything specifically about the mission of Griswold Home Care that really aligned with your personal purpose and goal, other than, you know, the senior care aspect and giving back to the community. Was there anything that really resonated and stuck out to you?

Frank: Yeah. Actually, the whole Jean Griswold story and the purpose and the vision and the mission that she had was a big deal, but bigger than that was the staff that I met. You know, and I mainly dealt with Mike Magid, but the staff that I met, their behavior and their questioning seemed to replicate the vision and mission of Jean and Griswold and that whole thing. It wasn’t just a business scene. You know, here are the variables and this is what you have to meet.

And I mean, obviously, you’ve got to run a business and you have to have, you know, experience and all the kind of stuff, but it was the soul I’ll say, of the people that I met that convinced me to proceed because it was very important to me not just to have a business because I could do that with anybody and anything. It was important that after I chose this, for me, I had the psychologically and emotionally feel connected to it to feel as though I was doing something other than just the business, but I was doing something with purpose because just, in my mind, I’m gonna be doing this for the rest of my life, not just till retirement. I plan on doing this for as long as I can.

Amanda: You and me both. Frank, I always say they’re gonna have to drag me out of here kicking and screaming. I mean, resonates on so many levels with, you know, Jean’s story and carrying that through everything that we do.

So let’s talk about the validation process, right? You talked to a couple of Griswold Home Care franchisees, the team here, what was the best advice that you learned through that process?

Frank: So, obviously, I met a lot of people and I also have people in my family that are business owners. And the best advice that I received, it was, of course, a lot of advice, but the best advice I received I think was, “Don’t listen to anybody. Simply do you do your research and believe in yourself. Many have done more with a lot less.” And this was coming from… Let me explain that. In my situation, I come from an immigrant family. I’m first-generation American here. You know, I was born in Argentina, from Italian descent. And a lot of people did a lot of sacrifices for me to be where I’m at today, and especially my family. And the key is, I go back to, you know, “do your research and then believe in yourself.” And that was the best advice.

And then, of course, speaking to other directors, their advice was, you know, essentially, generally speaking, the same. You know, “Make sure that you can do what the company is offering in the city that you live in, right? So make sure that these things are all buyable and etc.” And so, you know, those were all good advices, but I think, for me, the best advice was coming from, it’s actually a godfather of mine, that essentially said, you know, “Many people would like to see you fail. Do your search and believe in yourself and keep following your vision and mission. And if you follow your vision and mission that is soulful to you, you’ll never go wrong because every question and every answer will be based on those.” And so that’s what I do.

Amanda: I love it.