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Advice From a Multi-Unit Franchisee: Brian Wigutow, Ace Handyman Services

1851 Franchise spoke with Brian Wigutow about his journey in multi-unit franchising and advice for the next great multi-unit owners.

By Erica InmanStaff Writer
8:08AM 06/23/24

Multi-Unit Franchisee: Brian Wigutow

Franchise: Ace Handyman Services

Brian Wigutow transitioned into franchising after a 15-year career as a district manager in the restaurant industry, driven by a desire to build his own business. With no prior experience in home improvement, he successfully expanded his franchise by leveraging company culture, community need and the power of brand recognition. 

1851 Franchise talked with Wigutow about his journey in franchising, his accomplishments in the industry and his advice for other entrepreneurs looking to become the next great multi-unit franchisee.

“Master the systems and the model of whatever franchise you're in right now, before you start to try to teach others or expand your own,” he said. 

A transcript of the interview appears below. It has been edited for clarity, style and brevity.

1851 Franchise: Can you tell me a little bit about your background and how you found your way into franchising?

Brian Wigutow: Absolutely. Prior to franchising, I was in the restaurant business. I was involved in the restaurant industry even in high school and college. I was a district manager for Marriott for 15 years and several other companies as well. As a district manager, I managed multiple units and was in charge of making money for others. Eventually, I got tired of making money for other people and decided it was time to branch out and try to make money for myself.

1851: Did you consider scaling right away when you started?

Wigutow: I didn’t initially consider scaling. When I first opened, I had no prior experience in the home improvement business. It was a significant shift for me. About a year in, once I had gotten my feet wet, I decided to procure a second territory. So, it was an afterthought but not too far after.

1851: When you're evaluating a franchise opportunity, how do you evaluate a franchisor?

Wigutow: For me, company culture was huge. I spent a lot of time getting to know the franchisor. Additionally, understanding the need in the community was essential to ensure that there was a demand for the business I was opening. Back when I started, there weren’t many franchises available. The franchisor had to offer growth and balance, which were really important factors for me.

1851: What roadblocks did you face when you went from one unit to two units?

Wigutow: The biggest challenge was the risk and making sure I was comfortable with it. Once you’re confident, you can move forward without looking back. Other challenges included securing capital, managing the risk, hiring a solid team and ensuring a strong foundation before expanding and acquiring more territory.

1851: What advice do you have for first-time franchisees who want to become multi-unit franchise owners?

Wigutow: Do your due diligence and master the systems and model of your current franchise before attempting to expand or teach others. Be cautious of sales quotas and ensure you can meet them both physically and financially. Surround yourself with the best team, including advisors and the people you hire. Everyone needs to be working together towards the same goals.

1851 Franchise: Is there anything else you would like to share that you think our audience should know?

Wigutow: The power of a brand cannot be underestimated. Being part of a billion-dollar brand like Ace Hardware is incredibly valuable. When people recognize the brand, it helps with everything from closing business over the phone to recruiting and retaining employees. Franchises offer established systems and brand recognition, which means you don’t have to reinvent the wheel. Just follow their guidance, and things generally work out well.

Watch the interview above or on YouTube.

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