Mobile and home-based franchise options are on the rise. With a lower price point and easy scalability, they’re quickly becoming a popular choice. Here, Franchise Canada profiles three home-based and mobile concepts that help franchisees hit the ground running with low start-up costs and exceptional flexibility.
What the Pros Know
For Wayne Maillet, founder of Franchise Specialists, a full-service franchise development and management company, there’s plenty of benefits to running a home-based business. “I enjoy getting up, pouring myself a coffee, and walking to the other end of the house to go to the office.”
With no traffic headaches or rising gasoline prices to deal with, it’s easy to choose the flexible work hours that you get with owning a home-based business. “Depending on your business, you may be able to work on your business anywhere in the world simply by connecting to the internet,” says Maillet. It’s also a great way to reduce taxes by writing off home expenses against business income.
The challenges? “You need to have a lot of self-discipline.” Maillet often finds himself working longer hours, diminishing a good work-life balance. He adds that with home-based and mobile businesses, the franchisee is responsible for networking and marketing. “Business is not going to just walk through the door, as in a retail location.” Finally, the solitude is not for everyone, and some individuals need the comradery and interaction with coworkers.
Concierge Home Services
A one-stop shop, Concierge Home Services provides homeowners a range of services, from house cleaning to pet sitting. Previously a high-tech human resources executive, Founder and CEO Rebecca Page saw a gap in the market. “I consistently heard from people that they couldn’t find reliable help around the house,” says Page. “It offered room to develop something to meet those needs.”
The franchise model combines security and peace of mind with a personalized homeowner experience. Clients can choose what they need done around the house, from watering tomato plants to feeding the cat. The online system updates in real time, with client preferences just a click away.
The company culture is a large part of its success, with a focus on offering a quality, professional experience to build loyalty. “People want to enjoy a vacation and not worry about the house or pets. With our system, they can get email updates and photos of how their pets and plants are doing.” It’s this level of communication that distinguishes the brand.
Page shied away from the 1-800 call centre approach, stating that it works for companies like Uber, but it’s not a one-size-fits-all. “When someone has access to your key and alarm code, you don’t want to order that service off an app, and get what you get. You want to feel like you are contacting a person in your community with a concept behind them, so services are delivered professionally with great communication.”
The concept offers franchisees a better work-life balance. “It’s less commuting. It’s portable, and a more accessible business to open,” says Page. “The challenge is that you need discipline and drive. You need to really focus on building a business.”
Though the franchise manages digital campaigns to generate leads with good results, franchisees still need to get out in the community to network. “It’s like installing a gym in your basement. You have all this great equipment, but you still have to use it and do the work. Investing in a franchise, you still need to put in the work to get the results.”
Page looks for franchisees that are motivated to manage a team and build a business. “We’re looking for the right people who will really come in and work the system, because it works.” The Milton franchisee is a great example of success, growing 178 per cent in her second year.
Her advice? Look at the long-term gains. “Call back the person that you can’t help today. Provide them with a good first experience with your brand.”
Whether you need help indoors or out, Feels Like Friday Service Brands, owners of Gorilla Property Services, Toodaloo Pest and Wildlife Services, and Eenie, Meenie, Miny Mow! Landscaping Services, has you covered.
The concept started with Gorilla and quickly grew to 24 units before owner Mark Amery launched Toodaloo. The most recent addition to the Feels Like Friday Service Brands family, Eenie, Meenie, Miny Mow, is launching with three franchisees this year. “Our goal is to take the markets, streamline them and really take them to the next level,” says Amery.
The mobile concept offers plenty of benefits to prospective franchisees. A paperless environment allows franchisees to work on a phone or iPad from anywhere. A monthly management fee covers elements like the call centre, marketing, and backend sales, allowing franchisees to focus on providing the best service. “That’s what allows us to grow so quickly,” says Amery. As the franchisee grows, they can scale up and build a team to foster growth. “The scalability and return is higher because the overhead is extremely low.”
Initial training in Vancouver blends hands-on field work with back end logistics. The marketing team builds content and generates initial leads, so that once training is done, the button has been pushed and the machine starts rolling from day one.
Amery says growth comes with the right people in place. “Everything we do goes back to the guys and gals in our system,” he says. “Growing a team environment is like building a family that you choose.” Monthly meetings keep the team connected, help maintain communication lines, and keep momentum going.
He also says it’s important to start from the bottom and learn every facet of the business from the ground up. “You’ve got to be in it to win it. I started at the bottom and worked my way up and touched on all levels. You can’t do that sitting in an office. Learning from a book and learning on the street are two different things. You’ve got to get your hands dirty for the first season, and scale from there.”
Amery’s advice? “Try to find something you love doing, and do that. It has to hit that little spark in you. Whatever it is, research it, find out the options and go for it. What’s the worst thing that can happen? You go back to doing what you were doing before,” he says. “Once you go for it, go all in.”
Tutor Doctor first started in 2008, and with over 300 franchisees worldwide, they’ve recently undergone a refresh to propel the brand to the next level. “I’m really excited about the look, feel, focus, and the ability to communicate what distinguishes us in our space more succinctly,” says President Frank Milner.
Thoughtful changes now position franchisees for greater success. A new launch support program deploys field support specialists to help franchisees navigate their local markets in their first year. “It helps franchisees develop the habits they need for long-term success right out of the gate,” says Milner. “It’s a really powerful program that’s gotten a lot of traction. We’ve seen that franchisees coming in under the new program are getting out of the gates faster than they have historically.”
A new call centre that Milner fondly dubs the ‘care centre,’ funnels leads via telephone, web and email, and books consultations for franchisees. “We did this because having experts manage leads can create a difference in the results when converting leads to consultations.”
The new levels of support are a huge benefit in helping franchisees accelerate their business and become great self-leaders and people leaders, as it allows them to focus on their goals instead of getting caught up in busy work.
Milner also says that the flexibility that comes with a home-based system is second to none. “You are working hard, but you have control over your time so you can do the things that are important to you. That is a major benefit of being in a home-based franchise. If you want to volunteer in your kid’s school or attend their dance recital, the flexibility that comes with that is phenomenal.”
Though running a home-based business comes with challenges, like staying on task, the franchise has put regional meetings and team calls in place to engage franchisees and help them stay focused and motivated.
From corporate executives to educators, franchisees attracted to the model are passionate about education. “Our mission is to change the trajectory of students’ lives,” says Milner. “We want people who care and are willing to work hard to achieve their goals and have a high degree of empathy, because that’s really what sets us apart as a brand.”
Milner’s advice? “It’s really important that new franchisees come into any business with eyes wide open, knowing that it’s going to be hard and expecting it to be hard. Be prepared for the fact that you will run into challenges, but know that being in a franchise system really helps you through those challenges.”
By Gina Makkar