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The Great Franchisee: Julie Harvester, ProLift Garage Doors, Arkansas

Along with her husband John, a franchise consultant with FranChoice, Julie introduced the garage-servicing brand’s first location to Arkansas.

By Elle Pechiney1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 2:14PM 04/20/22

As a franchise consultant with FranChoice, John Harvester has helped dozens of aspiring franchisees find brands that align with their goals and values. Now, the franchise matchmaker and his wife Julie, a 20-year veteran of the home insurance industry, have found their own match with ProLift Garage Doors, the 20-plus-unit garage-door servicing and replacement franchise.

The Harvesters opened Arkansas’s first ProLift Garage Doors location in Bentonville in the fall of 2021. We spoke to Julie to learn more about the couple’s journey to franchising and their experience with the brand.

1851 Franchise: What did you do before franchising?

Julie Harvester: My husband and I worked in the insurance business prior to franchising. We owned our own Allstate Agency in Terre Haute, Indiana for over 10 years.

1851: How did you initially learn about franchising?

Harvester: My husband John decided he was going to retire, and that lasted about three weeks. He then decided to become a FranChoice representative where he consults and works with those that are looking to purchase a franchise or learn more about the business model. FranChoice hosts an event that invites franchisors to come together and promote their businesses for potential franchisees. It was during this event that John met the corporate team from ProLift Garage Doors. Just hearing him talk about the brand when he got home piqued my interest enough to seriously look into the opportunity.

1851: When did you start looking for a franchise? How long until you signed?

Harvester: The FranChoice event was in July of 2021, and shortly after, we visited the corporate headquarters for ProLift Garage Doors in Virginia. I signed the paperwork two weeks later in August 2021. I fell in love with the brand, and I was eager to get started.  

1851: How did you decide you wanted to be a franchisee?

Harvester: I was looking for a business that I could start and maintain with my family and ultimately leave as a legacy to our son-in-law. A franchise provides a lot of support and since they have already proven through trial and error what works and what doesn't, the model eliminates loss of funds. They also eliminate much of the initial startup research that would need to be done for a traditional business model.

1851: How did you perform your research/due diligence?

Harvester: After we met the corporate team, we were given the contact information of current ProLift Garage Door franchisees and the encouragement to reach out to them, pick their brains and see how things were going for them from a business standpoint.

1851: How many brands did you look at?

Harvester: Initially, we were focused on opening a flooring franchise, but the territory was purchased before we were able to jump on it. Then my husband met the ProLift Garage Door team and told me their story and what franchising with them looked like. It was his excitement that really set my sights on the brand, so I would say two total brands is what I seriously looked at.

1851: What made you say Yes to ProLift Garage Doors?

Harvester: I was of course interested after initially hearing about it, but it was our visit to ProLift Garage Doors’ corporate office that really sold us on the concept. After we visited the office in Virginia, we were able to see firsthand how the operations worked and had the ability to chat with different owners, including owners from other Premium Service Brands franchises. When we connected with our franchisee coach, Will Hoffner from ProLift, the support from the brand became very apparent and that impressed us. ProLift has all of their bases covered, from the moment you sign on, you know who is going to be doing your bookkeeping, who is going to be doing your collections and who is going to be answering your phones. They even provide you with vetted vendors and initial orders. They eliminate a lot of the legwork by having the concept ready to go from day one. That’s when we knew it was going to be the best fit for our family. 

1851: What could have scared you away?

Harvester: If I had noticed any red flags during our visit, like sloppy or disorganized operations, I would have walked away. 

1851: What makes you stand out as a unique business owner in the local community?

Harvester: I would say my diverse professional background. I was a real estate broker prior to owning my Allstate agency. I’ve done many different kinds of work, especially with homeowners, which lends itself well to what we do for our customers at ProLift. We are also a small family business, and the three of us utilize each other's best strengths to run our business. We don't want to be the corporate face of garage doors — we want to be the local company that you can rely on.

1851: What do you hope to achieve with your business? Plans for growth?

Harvester: This is a family business. Right now, we have one employee but hope to start hiring within the next 60 to 90 days. We would also like to have three trucks on the road by the end of the year. 

1851: What do you do in your personal time?

Harvester: My husband, John, likes to play golf. I like to ride the cart. We like to go on walks around our neighborhood to try to stay fit. I like to bake and spend time with my grandchildren. I spoil them rotten and then send them home.

1851: What is the one thing about your story that you want us to know?

Harvester: One of the biggest lessons that I have learned in recent years is to give grace. I believe in approaching things to try to solve problems — this is what my family and I try to do every day in our business.

ABOUT PROLIFT GARAGE DOORS: 

ProLift Garage Doors has been installing and servicing garage doors for more than four decades. In that time, the brand has become all but synonymous with commercial and residential garage door services, staking out an enviable position in the niche segment. In 2015, the brand was acquired by Premium Service Brands, offering ProLift Garage Doors the backing and resources of a multi-brand franchise system focused exclusively on service segments. Since then, ProLift Garage Doors has doubled down on its commitment to customer service and unparalleled industry expertise. Today, ProLift Garage Doors performs installations, repairs, replacements and servicing for overhead garage doors and loading dock components for clients across 20 states and counting. For more information on franchising with ProLift Garage Doors, visit: https://www.premiumservicebrands.com/prolift-garage-doors/

*This brand is a paid partner of 1851 Franchise. For more information on paid partnerships please click here.

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