Cover Story Diversity in Franchising Franchisee Success Stories November/December 2021

Franchising Superstars

Franchisee of the Year winners for gold, silver, and bronze share how they found franchise success within their small businesses

By Stefanie Ucci

If you asked any franchisee across the country, they may tell you that there are multiple aspects to the “secret sauce” of franchise success. Dedication, perseverance, passion, and many long-hour work days seem to be some common denominators when it comes to being a small business owner.

Success can be measured in many different ways, and one of those includes recognizing and honouring the franchisees who go above and beyond for their small business. Here, Franchise Canada congratulates the six winners of the CFA’s Franchisee of the Year Award who were awarded for gold, silver, and bronze in the categories of traditional (brick and mortar) and non-traditional (home or mobile-based) businesses.

Warren and Veronica D’Silva — Allegra, Toronto, Ontario

Gold, Traditional

Franchisees and brother and sister duo Warren and Veronica D’Silva are owners of an Allegra franchise in the downtown Toronto core. With more than 20 years of business experience and a passion for supporting the business community, this pair has been honoured with the CFA’s 2021 Franchisee of the Year award.

“We’re proud to serve as our community’s local one-stop source for strategic marketing and print communications,” they explain. “Allegra Centres provide printing, signs, mailing, and marketing services needed by virtually every business and institution. As owners, we benefit from the unsurpassed network support provided by Alliance Franchise Brands—a world leader in marketing and visual communications.”

Warren comes from a hospitality and business management background. He brings a wealth of international experience, having lived in five countries including Switzerland and the U.S. Veronica’s extensive experience includes marketing and operations, with a specialization in project management.

The Allegra system offered a turnkey business operation and relevant training that helped get their business started. “Having the backing and support of a franchisor was hugely helpful. As a new franchisee, the training, guidance, and turnkey setup helped us take greater strides than if we were doing this on our own,” they explain. “As more mature franchisees, the franchise system allowed us to expand our resources and continue to grow as a business. We’ve also greatly enjoyed the many close relationships we’ve developed over the years, with fellow franchisees, the home office team, and our long-term vendors.”

At the beginning of their franchise journey, Veronica and Warren were tasked with the challenge of learning about the ever-evolving industry and getting acquainted with vendors, equipment, and new products and services for their franchise.

This year, their decades of experience and many satisfied customers helped the D’Silvas earn the prize for Gold, Traditional. “While this year has been challenging for many of our clients, vendors, and friends, we were able to support our clients’ needs in unique and resourceful ways,” they say. “We wouldn’t have been able to do any of this without the mentoring, guidance and encouragement of our parents, as well as our staff and key vendors.”

As for advice the D’Silvas have for prospective franchisees: “Find a model for which you either have or can grow a passion. We like that we’re a critical part of the business community. We interact daily with business owners and decision makers, partnering with them to help them with all their print, marketing, mail, and signage needs.” They advise, “Franchising can be a rewarding entry into working for yourself, with an established business model to support your endeavours. Finding the right franchise partner was key to our success.”

Christoph and Birgit Braier — PropertyGuys.com, Canmore, Alberta

Gold, Non-Traditional

Power couple and Franchisee of the Year winners Christoph and Birgit Braier have been self-employed for most of their lives, and say that they love the PropertyGuys.com concept because it works. They moved to Canmore, Alberta with their family of four back in 2010, having spent the previous 25 years developing residential homes in Germany.

“We knew our way around the real estate business,” explains Christoph. “Real estate is our life. Still, I held off becoming a real estate agent in a town where there was already more than 100.” He quickly found work as a property manager in their new town, until finding a franchise opportunity with the local PropertyGuys.com in 2014. “What drew us in was a mission to save the homeowners in our community thousands of dollars in commission!”

The PropertyGuys.com concept is Canada’s only full-service real estate marketing company that lets homeowners be in control and sell their property on their own while keeping the majority (95 per cent) of their profits.

“We can provide all services in person as well as online and remotely until the property or business is sold, with limited human interaction—which is an important detail these days,” says Christoph.

He notes that it’s important to always be open to change while looking for new ways to do business as a franchisee. The Braiers are number three on their franchise system’s nationwide revenue ranking list—up from number 87 when they first bought the franchise. Before the pandemic, he says they tried to visit their corporate home office at least once a year to enhance their training and keep an in-person connection with the PropertyGuys.com team, while also visiting fellow franchise owners along the way to exchange business ideas and strategies. Christoph is also part of the brand’s Franchisee Advisory Council, which helps recommend improvements and advancements within the organization.

As for their award for Gold, Non-Traditional, the couple says they’re grateful for the nomination itself, let alone the gold recognition. “This is a big achievement for us. It shows that this franchise is a perfect opportunity for power couples, as we have multiple successful husband-and-wife teams within our PropertyGuys.com system. We don’t work our business; we live our business—that’s one of our secrets! We couldn’t have done it without the support and mentorship of our corporate home office and fellow franchisees.”

Christoph adds, “I feel that a part of our success—and what I would suggest to a prospective business owner—is that you need to have a strong work ethic, a positive attitude, and an outgoing personality. If you just wait at home for the phone to ring, it won’t happen. Visit the community, talk to people, be enthusiastic, and love what you do. That’s what you need to do to find success.”

Josef Tesar — Motel 6, Moosomin, Saskatchewan

Silver, Traditional

Why did you want to own your own franchise business?

I always had a dream to own a franchise and work with a professional team who could guide me through the process of opening my own business without needing to start from the bottom up.

After managing an independent hotel and a Ramada franchise, my wife Krista and I decided to franchise with Motel 6. We made the choice after weighing many considerations about what the brand had to offer in terms of support, training, and ongoing processes within the franchise system.

Why did you decide to franchise with Motel 6?

It was an easy decision for us because Motel 6 has more than 60 years of successful franchise experience with an excellent support team of professionals who can help you manage and build a brand-new operation from A to Z.

They provide excellent knowledge to franchisees with respect to new builds, staff training, the accounting system, marketing for your business, operating a computerized system, and in all aspects of support on a day-to-day basis.

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

I strongly recommend joining the Motel 6 team to anyone who may be considering this brand as their next franchise opportunity. It has the best profitability of any motel franchise, especially in regard to the new Phoenix Motel 6 design.

Why have you found success with your franchise business? 

I find that it’s easy to own multiple motels with the Motel 6 team as the head office team helps with daily marketing, sales, quality control, and extensive visits, providing reports and keeping the set Motel 6 franchise standards. They also set up great prices with national vendors for purchasing all of the goods for the hotel. Irvin Price, president and COO of Realstar Hospitality for Motel 6, and his professional experience team, are the winning answer to success. 

My success came from choosing the right franchise for a great location to fit a new Motel 6 and so far, the response from guests has been great.

What advice do you have for others considering franchising?

You should be knowledgeable in the hiring and training process for your franchise, and develop an excellent long term team and staff to help run the business. You should also focus on providing 5-star service consistently, develop hands-on involvement from yourself as the owner, and place importance on supporting the local economy that your business is located in. All of this is key to a successful operation and the long-term success of your franchise.

Caitlin MacLachlan & Iftekhar Ahmed – GetintheLoop, Halifax, Nova Scotia

Silver, Non-Traditional

Why did you want to own your own franchise business?

We were excited about the opportunity to launch and grow a business of our very own. We wanted to be able to enjoy financial freedom as well as to take pride in what we built. 

Why did you decide to franchise with GetintheLoop?

GetintheLoop just made sense from every angle we looked at it. The idea of a SaaS franchise [companies that use software to provide a service to customers] is such a timely and modern concept and a unique opportunity that we hadn’t seen anywhere else. We quickly saw the benefit the product could provide to both businesses and consumers, and the potential there was to grow it within our market. It was a franchise model that fit our lifestyle and budget. It also felt good to be getting involved in a business that provides a social good and which we could really believe in. 

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

We really love being able to be creative and look for unique opportunities to grow our business. We get to enjoy flexibility in how we operate the business while always knowing we have the support of our corporate team behind us. 

Why have you found success with your franchise business? 

Anyone who’s done it will tell you that owning your own business is a grind! Owning a franchise means you have huge resources for knowledge and support in your corner, but it still means putting in a lot of hard work. There have been some big ups and downs over these past two years, but you have to take responsibility for those things you can control and not dwell on the things you can’t. We’ve really learned that if you just keep pushing forward, putting in the effort, and are always looking for new opportunities, then you’ll eventually start seeing success. In the end, you just have to learn to love the grind!

What advice do you have for others considering franchising?

Owning a franchise gives you a huge leg up when starting a new business, but it’s important to find the right one. Think about the skills and experience you bring to the table and what will fit with your lifestyle and goals. At the end of the day, it’s a lot easier to put your time and energy into a business that you love! 

Paige Shemilt — Oxford Learning Centres, North Bay, Ontario

Bronze, Traditional

Why did you want to own your own franchise business?

Owning a franchise isn’t something that “I knew” I wanted to do. I had always imagined a different profession, particularly in the field of medicine. However, I now know that this is what I want to do. Owning a franchise allows me to create a team and represent a brand that I’m proud of. I find that I’m more than a franchisee; I’m truly part of a service that makes a real difference. I’m proud to be a franchisee of Oxford Learning.

Why did you decide to franchise with Oxford Learning?

I’ve been in the Oxford Learning “family” for almost 25 years. I was about seven years old when my mom purchased our local franchise, and I was lucky enough to see the positives of being your own boss from the inside. I was also able to see how strong and independent my mom was with running her own business, while seeing how wonderful the Oxford Learning corporation was to work with.

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

Being able to have the flexibility I need has been a tremendous stress reliever, because knowing that there is an entity out there, continuing to develop the model and send forth the most important reminders on your behalf helps with stress. Another wonderful thing about being a franchisee is the brand recognition and built-in customer base that exists—if the company has done their job well.

Why have you found success with your franchise business? 

Success can be measured in many ways: financially, in community recognition, and in personal growth. Financially, we’ve seen more success over the last few years, even in the midst of the pandemic. We live in a very small city that’s likely 10 years behind, culturally. Word of mouth or local marketing is our greatest asset. Going above and beyond is imperative and a very big deal to our clients. This ties into our community success.  

What advice do you have for others considering franchising?

All businesses operate with a foundation, and as a franchisee, you’re that foundation, but you have a secondary support if needed. If you’re considering becoming a franchisee, ensure that you understand and have a passion for the franchise you would like to be part of, and that you are unified with the goals and intentions of the franchisor. Without passion or interest, you’ll lose out on success or joy, or both. However, with great passion, love, and interest for whatever type of business you choose, you can realize your potential and that of your business—in all aspects!

Rattandeep Sidhu— InXpress, Surrey, British Columbia

Bronze, Non-traditional

Why did you want to own your own franchise business?

In addition to the freedom that self-employment brings, I’ve always strived to challenge myself in achieving more, and a franchise business provides the platform to grow and challenge myself to higher levels. That’s what intrigued me to own a franchise business.

Why did you decide to franchise with InXpress?

My previous experience was in customer service and sales, and I was looking for a business where I could connect and use both my skills. I was also looking for a business that had low overhead costs. InXpress was a perfect fit that provided both.

InXpress also has a great structure for AR/AP (accounts receivable and accounts payable) support along with day-to-day support, which is great. The industry that InXpress serves has a great growth outlook along with ongoing trends, and that made the decision to join it an easy one.

What are the benefits of being a franchisee?

I find a benefit is the support and structure that a franchise system provides with direction and help on a daily basis so you can effectively grow your business. There are so many questions a new franchisee has that can be answered quickly, which may not be the case if you start a venture by yourself.

The support you get from fellow franchisees is another positive of joining a franchise network. You can share information, experience, and highs and lows with each other and help grow your individual businesses and the whole franchise system.

Why have you found success with your franchise business?

I believe in focusing on the basics and I feel that’s what brought success to my franchise. My team and I stick to the process and strive to provide great customer service. This fuels organic growth.

What advice do you have for others considering franchising?

To anyone looking to buy a business, I would say to look around and do your due diligence before going into any business. Definitely consider franchising if you’re venturing into a field that’s new to you. There are so many aspects you need to master, and a franchising structure can help you master that and can set you up for success.

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