Career Paths: Wisdom from 36 Years as a Franchise Owner
This is part two in a five-part series about the career paths 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?
Meet Bob Shanley
Today we’re sharing wisdom from Bob Shanley of FPC of Houston, who has been a franchise owner for 36 years. In fact, he is one of the longest-term owners in our 40-year history of franchising. His franchise has always been a family affair and his older son Bobby currently handles day-to-day operations. We spoke with Bob from his second home in Colorado, where he enjoys more time these days.
“I was 35 years old living in New Jersey with my wife Suzanne and our three kids. I had become a very successful executive for a large corporation in the chemical field. A few things came together to make me think about a change. First, I felt that I was being insufficiently rewarded for my contributions to the company. Second, a big bond issue for the schools in our town was shot down and we were concerned about our kids’ education if we stayed there. Third, an FPC recruiter called me about a great job in Massachusetts.”
Bob recognized that the culture at the potential new company wouldn’t be a good fit for him, but the wheels of change were now set in motion.
“I knew my field and how business operates and had lots of energy, so we started looking around at options besides getting a new job – from buying a McDonald’s franchise to owning a ranch. We explored different locations to see where we wanted to continue raising our family. Bottom line, I determined that I wanted a business that built on my past experience and where the reward was tied to performance.”
Bob had told the FPC recruiter to keep him posted about opportunities – especially in the South. The recruiter – knowing that he was exploring many options suggested he consider an FPC recruiting franchise.
“It seemed logical, so I met with the FPC folks in New York City and there was a buzz about the place that really impressed me. We felt that we’d be more successful with the support of people who really know the recruiting business, and we had choices about where to relocate.
“I liked the idea of recruiting in the chemical and energy sector, which I knew so well. We looked at Houston as a location for our business, since all the big energy and chemical companies are there and found that both the business and family environment in Texas suited us.”
After their intensive recruiting training in New York, Bob and Suzanne opened their office together.
“I worked a recruiting desk and Suzanne ran the office operations for the first few years. My younger brother graduated from college and decided to move down and work with us. He’s been with us for 35 years and recently received a plaque from FPC Corporate for production and commitment to FPC. Our kids came and worked in the office during the summers and grew up in the recruiting business.”
Sadly, the Shanleys lost their daughter to leukemia when she was 16, but both sons became recruiters. Bobby, as mentioned, runs FPC of Houston and also worked in legal staffing for a time before returning to the family business. Younger son Charles also worked in the business.
“It’s wonderful to have given our sons a career path that they both find rewarding.”
Today the company has nine employees – seven recruiters and two support staff.
Joys of Recruiting
Here are Bob Shanley’s top three reasons for loving the recruiting business. He says:
1. This is a win-win-win business.
· The client company is thrilled that we’ve filled a critical position with the right talent
· The candidate has a new job and a whole new career phase to look forward to
· FPC of Houston gets a good financial reward plus the personal satisfaction of having helped the company and the candidate
2. It provides a hidden annuity. If you do a good job, companies and candidates come back to you and recommend you over many years.
3. It’s recession proof. When we started, engineers were earning $17,000 right out of school and we made 25% placing them in jobs. Today engineers out of school earn $85,000 and we make 25%. There aren’t too many businesses like that.
Bob’s #1 Secret of Success
“The key to building a successful business is to hire great people, treat them very, very well and keep them through good times and bad. We want it to be next to impossible for people to want to leave us. We not only provide excellent, comprehensive benefits, but in a business where cash can ebb and flow, we help them to smooth out their income stream. We have a culture of loyalty and team work that has resulted in tremendous longevity. Recruiters have been with us for 30+ years and our office manager has been with us for 28 years. This is good for our clients, too.”
About Picking a Franchise
“Be sure you understand the value equation. We felt comfortable enough that we started with a 20-year franchise agreement. When it was almost up, my lawyer asked if I thought I still needed to pay franchise fees on what were very significant revenues, or if we wanted to go it alone and save the fees. There was no question for me that I wanted to stay with FPC for the next 20 years. They support us every day and I still feel that the value’s there. We get what we pay for and wouldn’t be the same company without FPC.”
About Starting a Business
“It takes a lot of energy to start and run a business, so be honest with yourself about whether you have it or not. I was 35 and had lots of energy. I’ve seen folks in their 40s and 50s get really re-energized by their businesses, but it’s important to put the energy factor into the equation.”
Although he is semi-retired, Bob is still very much involved in the business, although he approaches it a bit differently now.
“I still love working a recruiting desk. Recently, I jumped in to help my son make a placement while he was on vacation. I closed the deal between a company and a candidate who was in Europe from the top of a mountain in Colorado. It feels great at this stage to be able to work as much or as little as I want to and know that I’ve built something that my kids can take into the future if they choose to.”
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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.”