Career Change: Building a Successful Franchise Business in Tough Times
This is part four in a five-part series about the career change that led some top executives into franchise ownership. 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?
Can you think of a worse time to start a new venture than at the beginning of the Great Recession? Today we’ll learn how one owner built a great franchise business in those tough times by trusting in himself.
Meet Kris Jensen
Kris Jensen opened FPC of Valdosta (Georgia) in August of 2008 – just as the Great Recession struck with force. He had been a very successful human resources executive in the manufacturing industry when he reached an inflection point in his career.
“I had one of the top three HR jobs in our area and would have had to relocate my family to find a job at my level. That option was distasteful. I decided to become a business owner rather than looking for another job. I had a penchant for business and a nest egg for starting a venture. I was always self-sufficient. I had a newspaper route as a kid and put myself through college working in food service – an industry I remained in until I was 30. I believed that these qualities would help me to succeed.”
Finding the Right Business
Despite his experience and self-confidence, Kris felt inclined to find a solid franchise opportunity to give him a launch pad to success.
“I asked myself, ‘What does this town need that it doesn’t have?’ and exhausted the possibilities. There wasn’t any well-defined need that would support any of the franchise opportunities we explored.”
However, that process helped Kris determine what he did and did not want in his next career.
“We looked at retail food franchises because of my experience in that industry. But I recognized that I really wanted a more predictable lifestyle — including reasonable hours. I also determined that I wanted to work with other professionals.”
An FPC owner he had worked with in the past touched base with him and suggested that his HR background and corporate experience in manufacturing would make him a good candidate for owning an FPC executive recruiting franchise. He could work with companies and job candidates anywhere in the U.S. from an office in Valdosta.
“All the stars lined up. I had the confidence, the need and the money. I liked the FPC opportunity. I felt assured that the franchise company would provide the process and how to sell it. I also liked that there was flexibility in how I could deliver the services. You create your own reality and if you aspire to that you’re likely to be successful in this business.”
Finding His Professional Focus
Because of his HR background, Kris initially thought he would specialize in placing HR executives. But he found a more interesting way to put his experience to work.
“I also know a great deal about the battery manufacturing industry. It’s an interesting niche. I place all functional roles within it, but especially R&D and engineering folks because that’s where the jobs are. My HR experience helps me to build credibility with the HR department and hiring managers. I understand their pain. They know I won’t send them an unqualified candidate so when they see an email from me they’re going to open it.”
State of the Business
Although Kris says that the first year or so was tough, today, FPC of Valdosta has three full-time recruiters and an intern. He plans to keep the office at this size for the foreseeable future, and is considering expanding by opening a second office.
“I was experienced at hiring, managing and training people in my corporate role. One of the things I liked about FPC is that it would give me a chance to bring those skills to both my own and my clients’ businesses.
“One of the most important things you can do in this or any business is to hire the right people. In my business, our recruiters have to be confident and committed in order to be comfortable working on a draw and commission. They have to have the initiative to reach for high levels of performance. From my perspective, having a lot of talented oars in the water besides my own helps the business succeed and takes the pressure off.”
Here’s what Kris Jensen likes about owning his own business in general and an FPC executing recruiting franchise specifically.
- The locus of control is with me.
- What I do has positive impact on others.
- I’m in an ever-changing landscape where every day is different. I thrive in a multi-tasking environment so I enjoy doing many different things, dealing with many different people and companies in the course of a day and solving an array of problems. I have routines and processes, but within those my days are rich and varied.
- There are down days, of course. That’s when I’m glad to have my partners at FPC corporate. They’re with me all the time and help me move forward if I get stuck on something. I can also call on my fellow owners for help and support.
- I’ll be able to ease into retirement. When I decide to slow down and turn over the helm or sell the business, I can scale back and still make a strong retirement income. I can make a handful of placements each year and still bring in enough money to live comfortably and be happy. With defined pension plans going away and the stock market more volatile than ever, that’s a comforting idea.
Have you started a successful venture in tough times? Please share your tips in the comments. 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 more information about franchises, recruiting and FPC, you can download a free recording of our popular webinar, “A Great Career Opportunity You May Never Have Considered.”