This is part three in a five-part series about the career paths that led some top executives to buy a franchise. These owners are part of our FPC executive recruiting franchise network, but their stories have broad application for others seeking a new direction.
What motivated these owners to consider leaving the corporate world? What options did they explore? Why was franchising appealing? How did they choose a franchise company?
Last week we learned pearls of wisdom from one of our longest term franchise owners. This week you’ll hear from our newest owner who will share the process that took him from a job search to buying a franchise.
Meet Darrin Davidson
Darrin Davidson recently opened FPC of Crystal Lake (Illinois). Darrin is a mechanical engineer by training and experience -- or as he puts it, “I’m a real ‘Tinker Toy’ guy!” In his late 40’s, he found himself laid off from his corporate position and took the opportunity to do both soul searching about his future wants and needs and factual investigation about the best options for satisfying them.
Be Honest With Yourself
“I examined my career history,” said Darrin. “It consisted of 12-to-15-year runs with each company I worked for. Did I want to find myself looking again in my early 60’s? The answer was, ‘No!’
“My jobs hadn’t been as fulfilling as I would have liked. My wife Shelly had been talking about starting a business. That was also on my bucket list. I had run a business within a corporate structure and felt that with the right business and the right model I could run my own company successfully. I decided that it would be more rewarding owning a job than getting a job.
“Shelly and I began to explore running a business together. At one point we considered buying a golf course, but we decided it could be a real cash drain and looked for options closer to my experience. Based on my career, running a B2B operation was appealing and made sense; so did the idea of a franchise for specific training and ongoing support.”
The Best Choice Isn’t Always the Obvious One
Darrin and Shelly found that there are a lot of websites that advise on franchise ownership. They perused some of these to get background information and to develop a core list of questions to ask franchise companies and owners during their initial investigations and due diligence period. If you’re ever looking for information about buying a franchise, we recommend the International Franchise Association (IFA) website for credible information.
Next the Davidsons started creating a short list of franchise concepts and companies to explore. Darrin had been a productivity specialist in his corporate life so at first glance a productivity consulting franchise seemed interesting. However, it involved travelling to clients and he was trying to eliminate business travel. In addition, all of the franchises were one-person operations and he wanted the opportunity to build a business that allowed him to hire and leverage the efforts of a staff. He also felt that there was insufficient marketing and other support from the franchise company.
Seek Advice Where There’s Commonality
A friend and fellow GE alumnus, Bob Kalember, owns FPC of Hinsdale, Illinois, and suggested that Darrin explore executive recruiting as a way to transfer his knowledge, experience and contacts.
“Bob’s thinking carried a lot of weight because we had a similar frame of reference. He pointed out that I had considerable knowledge that could be easily transferred to recruiting and help me build a profitable venture within a reasonable timeframe. Most important, Bob was able to credibly answer our core question: What’s it really like?”
Darrin and Shelly explored several executive recruiting franchise companies and decided on FPC for their own reasons in addition to Bob’s recommendation.
Consider Feel as well as Facts
“We liked the feel of FPC’s network. They weren’t trying to grow as fast as possible like other companies we checked out. We spoke to a number of FPC owners and asked frankly about whether the income potential and lifestyle potential were true.
“They were matter of fact that it takes commitment and hard work to build a successful recruiting desk and that in the first year or two there would be ups and downs. That didn’t scare me. But they said that the potential for both personal and financial rewards are definitely there. One owner told us that in addition to running his business he runs a 1000-kid soccer league – something he never could have managed in his corporate life. FPC is an enabler of a lifestyle that we could never achieve with a retail-type of franchise.
“We made our decision and went through FPC’s intensive initial training program. The training convinced us that if we follow the FPC model we’ll do well. We’re only a few weeks into running our business and I’m really impressed that I’m already getting traction. Using the system and techniques I learned in training is getting me call-backs from hiring managers. As I was putting my plan together for today, the phone rang and it was an HR manager I spoke with last week with four potential job orders to fill. I said to myself: OK! This works.”
Shelly Davidson is running office operations with summer help from their college-aged son. This allows Darrin to focus on building his recruiting desk. He is putting his expertise in mechanical engineering to good use recruiting for the mechanical products manufacturing – pumps, valves and turbines – and metallurgy sectors. He’s placing supply chain, quality and continuous improvement professionals.
Running a Business is about People
His natural and professional curiosity about his prospects’ products and businesses is standing Darrin in good stead.
“It’s easy to get people to open up when you’re genuinely interested in what they’re doing. In FPC we’re learning recruiting, but we’re already specialists in our clients’ industries so we can offer good advice. Much of recruiting is done over the phone. I’m not the most extroverted person and someone asked if I could call people and sell. Well, I can call people and talk to them. So far that’s working just fine.
“There’s a lot to learn and a lot to do and at times it can get overwhelming. We’re really glad we went the franchise route where we get help and support at every step.”
Darrin likes the idea that the business is expandable and portable. He looks forward to hiring more recruiters and working with FPC to train them. He plans to build a culture where employees are treated fairly and given the opportunity to be as successful as they can be.
“I can already see that this business is like a garden. Dig. Plant. Water. Weed. And it will grow. If you’re following the process, you’re winning every day!”
We hope Darrin’s job search tips may lead you to buy a franchise instead – or at least explore the option. If you’d like to be sure to read the rest of the owners’ stories in this series, please take a moment and subscribe to the blog. Plug in your email address to the field in the sidebar and you’ll receive each new post in your inbox.
If you’d like to find out what a typical day is like for Darrin Davidson and other FPC owners, download our free eBook right below.