bannerFranchisor Stories

Why This Strategic Franchising Operations Manager Decided to Take his Own Advice and Become a Franchisee

The multi-brand portfolio gives average Americans and first-time business owners support, coaching and proven pathways to achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

Strategic Franchising Systems, the company that provides management and consulting services to its independently owned yet affiliated brands, is looking for qualified owners across the country to help expand the company’s footprint in new territories and serve thousands of customers looking for the in-demand help their service brands provide. In a recent webinar with 1851 Franchise publisher Nick PowillsFresh Coat Painters franchise owner Fred HarrisonStrategic Franchising Systems President Chris Seman and TruBlue Total House Care President Sean Fitzgerald outlined how SFS helps ordinary people become successful business owners.

Harrison, for example, has had an interesting path to franchise ownership. After starting his career in retail management, Harrison actually first joined SFS on the franchisor level as an operations manager with The Growth Coach. From there, he moved over to the Fresh Coat corporate team as a coach. During that time, he watched many people like him achieve their entrepreneurial dreams. After receiving a boost of confidence from a motivational speaker at a franchising conference, he decided to move over to the franchisee side himself. 

“As someone on the franchisor side, I got to see behind the curtains and fell in love with the Fresh Coat brand,” said Harrison. “Because I had that experience, I knew how to put together a business plan and think about funding for my franchise. I talked to one of the sales members, went through the FDD and had a conversation with the brand president. Then, the most important step — it was about talking through it with my wife. Six months later, I signed on.” 

This was back in 2018. Four years later, Harrison says he has continued to see success as the owner of Fresh Coat Painters of Cincinnati East and is incredibly glad he took the risk and followed his passion.

What Makes SFS Stand Out in the Franchising World

Strategic Franchising Systems has been creating and providing franchise business models to help people make their dreams come true for over 30 years. The five concepts under the SFS umbrella include nationally recognized painting franchise Fresh Coat, senior home-relocation and estate sales concept Caring Transitions, business and sales coaching concept The Growth Coach, fast-growing natural pet food and pet grooming brand Pet Wants and the only national provider of total house care, inside and out, for seniors and busy families, TruBlue

Each of the five offers franchise owners an array of attractive benefits, such as home-based operations, low start-up costs, and in-depth support. All they have to do is follow the blueprint.

“If you are looking at any business opportunity, our brands are designed to be low investment, low risk and high reward,” said Fitzgerald. “That is what makes it such a great opportunity for ordinary people to get into business. We’ve really built franchise models for everyone. What is it going to take for the average, middle-class person to be successful in a business opportunity? All of our concepts are based around that idea.”

Another primary advantage of SFS, in particular, is the company’s multi-brand portfolio of service-based concepts. “It allows us to offer a much larger support structure behind the scenes,” he said. “All of our resources and systems are shared across all five brands. If any of them were stand-alone businesses, they couldn’t provide the same level of service. We really use that multi-brand concept to open franchising up to the masses. It is a symbiotic relationship.”

Similarly, with SFS, Seman says everyone is invested in a franchisee’s success, not just the corporate support team. “If you own a mom-and-pop painting business, other painters in the area may not want to share their secrets and best practices,” he said. “But with a Fresh Coat, for example, all franchisees want you to succeed because it benefits the whole system. We consistently work hard to develop opportunities, whether it be conferences or anything else, so franchisees can share best practices and communicate. That is a huge benefit of being in a franchise network.”

Harrison says the supportive family of fellow Fresh Coat owners was one of the main reasons he signed on with the brand, to begin with. “I wanted to control my destiny and also have the flexibility of time,” he said. “Talking to other franchisees with Fresh Coat was really the turning point that made me jump in. I could tell the brand would fit my needs personally.”

Creating Perfect Franchise Matches

Finding franchise concepts that fit with the skill sets and goals of individual owners like Harrison is one of SFS’s core values, Seman says. “What is your personal opportunity — what are you hoping to achieve? With our brands, you can craft your own pathway to success,” he said. “We are not going to sit here and lock you into a certain type of structure. You are able to input a lot of your own abilities and style into really figuring out which of the five concepts will fit best for you.”

When deciding on the right franchising fit, Fitzgerald says prospects need to remember that it isn’t just about the product. “You are not buying a Fresh Coat to paint houses all day, for example,” he said. “You are a business operator — sales, marketing, leadership. That is why you need to align your business strengths with a brand that suits those strengths, not just one that aligns with your wants as a consumer. Too often, people over-analyze and feel like they have to have a perfect reason to sign on. But divine intervention doesn’t happen. You have to go with your gut, do your due diligence and find the brand that is right for you.”

Throughout the onboarding process, Seman says the SFS works hard to walk candidates through their options and thoroughly outline the characteristics needed for each brand. “All five brands have a slightly different value proposition and execution method,” he said. “So, the personality types, interests and skill sets that allow an owner to thrive will be slightly different from concept to concept. We just want you to find the place that is right for you.”

A Franchising Family

SFS’s franchisee-focused approach, Fitzgerald says, all ties back into a family-oriented culture that is prioritized throughout its system. “At the end of the day, our whole purpose is to create successful franchisees,” he said. “We can’t succeed without them. We are driven to provide that support and coaching so owners can reach their full potential. Our franchisees know that we have their best interest at heart.”

Harrisons agrees, noting that he could feel that inviting and supportive culture from the moment he joined the team. “I really believe in the direction and vision of the leadership,” he said. “Throughout my experience on the franchisor and the franchisee side, I was able to see that SFS is full of genuine people, and it really felt like a family. That made me confident that it was the right choice for me.”

Hearing owners like Harrison say they feel like they are part of a family, Fitzgerald says, is what it is all about.

“We are super proud of Fred — I remember interviewing him way back when he first entered the franchising world,” said Seman. “We loved working with him on the franchisor side and seeing his development in training and coaching, and we were also so glad he saw the opportunity to go into business ownership himself with one of our brands. We are all really passionate about franchising overall, so stories like Fred’s are why we are all here.”

So, what is Harrison’s advice for other entrepreneurs on the fence about diving into franchise ownership with SFS?

“Have courage in your decision, and don’t be afraid of failure,” said Harrison. “If your current life doesn't feel like your definition of success, could a franchise opportunity be what success looks like for you? If the answer is yes, then go for it.”

For more information, visit

Watch the webinar here.

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