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Franchise Development Leaders: Patriot Broadband’s Rodney Ballance

Ballance founded Patriot Broadband as a means of bringing greater communications access to rural communities. Now, the brand has signed its first franchisee and is gearing up for growth.

As the Founder and President of Patriot Broadband, Air Force veteran Rodney Ballance is eager to bring broadband to rural communities throughout the United States. The idea for his company, which was founded in 2016, came about when Ballance himself had trouble finding quality internet access. Now, Ballance is advocating for improved internet accessibility in rural communities with a business that creates access to the online resources they want and need. Patriot Broadband recently hit a major milestone, signing its first franchisee, Derek Foerster, who will open his franchise in Stone County, Missouri. 

In a Q&A with 1851, Ballance discussed upcoming franchise development trends for 2020, why veterans make great franchisees and his passion for closing the digital divide.

1851: How did you first get into franchising? 

Ballance: I am a retired financial planner and a service-related disabled veteran. I started Patriot Broadband to help bring high-speed internet to rural areas of America. After a successful couple of years in business, I saw how we were changing lives in Missouri by delivering high-speed internet to rural areas, so I decided to franchise the business model to help others do the same thing in their communities.

Using fiber-optic connections and high-frequency radio waves, we bring reliable, secure and affordable internet to areas that have zero or limited service. We provide years of experience and advice that ultimately guide business owners towards a more profitable experience in a short amount of time. One franchise at a time, ee hope to help close the digital divide in America.

1851: What do you love about the industry? 

Ballance: I started Patriot Broadband to help my community, and in the process, found a great business opportunity. What I love about franchising is that now we can help other people start their own business with a team supporting them through the whole process. For us, we also know that with each franchise we award, we’re not just giving someone a chance to improve their future, but also the chance to improve their community by bringing in a better internet option. Franchising will allow us to impact so many more people than we would have otherwise.

1851: What do you wish that you could change about the industry?

Ballance: I wish more people were aware of the benefits and opportunities available within the franchise industry. Opening a franchise involves much lower risk for new business owners since the business model has already been tested and they have a team supporting them.

1851: What is the biggest challenge franchisors are currently facing in franchise development and what are you doing to overcome it?

Ballance: The biggest challenge when growing a franchise is being able to scale the business while still maintaining excellent service and customer experience. With Patriot Broadband, I decided to partner with a firm, Franchise Founders, to help us grow the right way. With their resources, we provide key support to our franchisees and keep our customers a top priority at all times.

1851: What do you think the biggest trend in franchise development will be in 2020?  

Ballance: Technology! Already a big part of marketing, lead generation and customer interaction, new platforms and online trends will play a big part in franchise development in 2020 and the years to come. It will be more important than ever to leverage new media to interface with customers, find new franchisees and develop brand awareness.

1851: What makes a great franchisee?  

Ballance: For us, a great franchisee is someone who wants to make a difference in their community and also has the dedication and drive to make a business succeed. Veterans are often wonderful franchise owners because they have many of the inherent skills and traits needed to grow a business, including leadership, perseverance and organization. As a veteran myself, we even offer a discount to applicants who have served and we also contribute to the Wounded Warrior Project. That being said, anyone can have those traits—franchise owners just need to be willing to work hard, learn from their mistakes and be passionate about their business.

1851: What's the No. 1 thing that sells franchises?  

Ballance: There are so many options out there, but we believe a compelling franchise offering at an affordable price point is a differentiating factor. Guaranteed support at the start is also important since many franchisees are first-time business owners. Patriot Broadband is offered at an entry point that allows for more broad-based participation, with a platform we think will allow our franchisees to succeed.