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Military Veterans Who Became Great Franchisees: Mike Greco, Garage Living

After six years in the Marine Corps, Greco found success in franchising thanks to its structured processes and extensive support.

Veteran Franchisee: Mike Greco

Franchise: Garage Living

After six years of service in the U.S. Marine Corps, Mike Greco found himself working for UPS — a great fit as it “was kind of run like the military.” When a colleague from UPS stepped into business ownership with a garage-focused home service franchise, Greco got a job there before starting to work at Garage Living, a garage enhancement franchise. 

A few years later, the previous owner of Garage Living of Detroit was specifically looking for a veteran owner to sell his business to, and Greco took the leap, becoming a franchisee. Greco saw great performance during his first year as an owner, and he continues to grow, attributing much of his success to his commitment to doing the right thing, every time.

“In business, it’s all about how you treat people from the time you answer the phone to the time you do their projects,” he said. “When you do these kinds of jobs, you have to have that structure. When you do the right process, you get the right outcome. That’s a really definitive equation for a franchise setup. If you follow these processes, you’re going to get the right outcome.”

1851 Franchise talked with Greco about his journey in franchising, his accomplishments in the industry, and the advice he has for other veterans interested in venturing into franchising.

1851 Franchise: What is your franchising story? Where did you start, and how did you get to where you are now?

Mike Greco: I spent six years in the Marine Corps from ‘83 to ‘89, and when I exited, I got hired at UPS. I spent 20 years at UPS, which was kind of run like the military, so I fit right in there. After being in supervision for almost five years, one of the people I worked with bought into the Premier Garage franchise and I went to work for him. I got hired as a sales manager and did about a million and a half dollars for eight consecutive years. I decided that wasn’t where I needed to stay, so I left and started working for Garage Living back in 2016. When [the former owner] wanted to sell, he wanted a veteran to be the new owner. I stepped in with a business partner and took this over in 2021. That year, we did $600,000, and last year, we did $1.75 [million]. Treat it like a business, and you can make it a business.

1851: Was military something that was always on the horizon for you, or did you have a different moment of realization that it was something you wanted to pursue?

Greco: When I graduated high school, I was a 300-pound kid. I lost 130 pounds in four and a half months, and it changed my world. I was going to school while trying to work, and that got tough. I said to my dad, “I’m going to join the Navy.” He said, “No, I want you to be the best. I want you to be a Marine.”

I went to the Marine recruiter, got my butt kicked Full Metal Jacket style, graduated number one in my class, went to Camp Lejeune for my MOS [military occupational specialty] training, graduated number one in that class, and went to Hawaii for three and a half years. I competed for the Marine Corps in bodybuilding for the three years I was out there. I just made the best I could out of that endeavor. I love the structure, camaraderie and discipline that you learn there, which I really used in life endeavors after getting out.

1851: How did the military prepare you for success in franchising? Are there any specific skills you learned that help you now as a franchisee?

Greco: I’ve got seven guys that work for me, and all of them are different. You can’t categorize everybody the same way, and I think that’s something I learned during service. I talk to each guy differently, and I talk to them separately. Each one handles criticism or advice differently.

I think that’s important, even when you’re dealing with customers. There are some things that you have to be a little stronger about. You can’t lose your cool and put a bad spin on the company branding. If you don’t protect the brand, you don’t protect what you’ve invested in.

That’s led me down this path where people know, “He backs the product, just like they promised.” And that’s what integrity is all about.

1851: What’s your favorite thing about where you are now?

Greco: I like to be the top dog. I’m Italian, so it’s just one of those things. But really, I like to be able to control the outcome and, in other instances, I wasn’t able to do that. You can promise the customer all the things you want to promise, but you can’t control the guys doing the job. 

That’s one thing I don’t worry about. I can make sure it gets delivered at the end. It’s not how fast you run the race, it’s how you finish the race. And that means everything for the customer at the end.

1851: What are you most proud of in your franchising journey?

Greco: Showing the corporate office that Detroit has the potential to be a bigger [player in the market]. There’s a great amount of competition here, but we’re not a “No” company. I’ve surrounded myself with people who can do painting and drywall and garage doors. If somebody says, “Can you do this?”, I just find the right people to help facilitate those needs without having to put my hand in the cookie jar. 

People like to be able to call one company and get all the things they need done. Need new cement? I’ve got a guy. If I can’t do it, I’ve got a guy who can. If you recommend someone, [the customers] know they can trust them because, if they don’t deliver, [the customers are] coming to you. I facilitate connections with people they can trust to get something done.

1851: What advice would you give to other veterans looking to get into franchising?

Greco: I think it’s a great stepping stone. It’s a structured element to walking into a business. Going forward, you’ve got some sort of pre-made structure with processes for what you’re going to do — how to do a floor, how to install a cabinet, how to do the things that you may not have 100% knowledge of.

You have a process that’s already been built for you, so you can learn how to hire the right people. You have [people] to help you with your lead generation and things like that. And when you struggle, you have someone you can go to for support. If you don’t have that, you can falter. From the military background, from a private to a captain, you always have someone you can turn to or lean on. It’s nice to have.

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