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The Great Franchisee: Jimmy Whitehead, Footprints Floors, Oklahoma City

Edmond resident and natural gas marketer Jimmy Whitehead signs on to a reliable residential flooring and tiling business to serve the Oklahoma City metro area.

Natural gas marketer Jimmy Whitehead is taking on his first business venture and signing on to bring Oklahoma its first Footprints Floors*, a premier flooring installation franchise with more than 50 locations operating throughout the U.S. 

Whitehead has spent the last 19 years in natural gas marketing, but as a home improvement expert, he wanted to take on the challenge of providing a reliable home services business for Oklahoma City residents. Previously, Whitehead had been hesitant about franchising but decided to take the leap after discovering Footprints Floors and its successful business model. 

Whitehead looks forward to opening his business to the Oklahoma City metro area in 2021 and providing OKC with a much-needed, reliable residential flooring business. 

1851 Franchise: Tell me your story – what did you do before franchising? 

Jimmy Whitehead: For the last 19 years, I have worked mostly for big corporations in natural gas marketing and logistics mostly for production and exploration companies. Recently, I’ve been working for a merchant trading company where I do outside sales and business development working mostly on structured or longer-term deals.  

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising?  

Whitehead: Originally, I wasn’t super interested in franchising because I didn’t know much about it and didn’t want someone to have control of my business. I discovered franchising through some internet searching. After starting to look around, trying to find something that interested me with the goal of purchasing a business. I quickly found Footprints Floors.  They weren’t exactly marketing it as a franchise, it was enough to intrigue me to investigate further. I discovered it’s not your typical cookie-cutter franchise.  

1851: Why did you choose franchising over starting your own business? 

Whitehead: As I investigated and did more research, I realized how good their model is as far as revenue potential, marketing and customer service assistance. I knew it was going to take me a lot more capital up front to start a lot of the other businesses I considered. As far as support from franchises, I always thought it meant I would have to do everything their way, but I realized how much it’s about providing support to their franchisees and helping serve customers. What got me was the marketing support that Footprints provides franchisees. It’s not a one man show trying to put it all together — it will be my own business and I am going to make it my own but with the power of Footprints supporting me. 

1851: What types of brands did you look at?  

Whitehead: I didn’t really look at any other franchises. I looked at a couple restaurant franchises, Shipley’s Donuts and Shake Shack, only because I was curious about franchising in general. I wasn’t actually interested in opening a restaurant.  

1851: Why did you choose Footprints Floors? What excited you most about the potential? 

Whitehead: I picked Footprints because I enjoy home improvement and the initial investment and ongoing overhead costs are low. There’s not a big brick-and-mortar investment or requirement to lock up cash in inventory. I liked the idea of providing a service to people on the construction side as well. Home improvement and construction is not a fun process for homeowners. Providing a home improvement service with better communication than the average home service company or construction group was appealing to me. Being able to help people with their home which is usually their largest financial investment is exciting. It’s frustrating when people you hire don’t show up on time or don’t respond to communication. I’m excited to be my own boss and be the one where the buck stops. 

1851: What are your dreams with the business? What does the future look like? 

Whitehead: I’d like Footprints Floors to eventually become a household name in Oklahoma. Right now, no one has heard of Footprints Floors and I have the opportunity to participate in building the brand and setting the reputation in our area. I have two territories and there are several small to mid-sized towns in the future, I’d like to hire a few employees and expand to cover the full territory. 

1851: What value do you see your business providing to Oklahoma City? 

Whitehead: I think it can fill a space in the service industry where guys from installation and carpentry can be kept busy without having to do the marketing and customer services. I’d like to be that trusted name that people can call for flooring work, light carpentry and tiling and with no worries at all. 

1851: What advice would you have for others looking at buying a franchise? 

Whitehead: Research the reputation and put all their systems to the logical test.  Make sure they give you all the inputs needed to run your numbers and make sure you are comfortable with the revenue and profit potential.  Look at everything to make sure it all makes sense. If they don’t let you talk to other franchisees, then run in the opposite direction. The calls I had with other Footprints franchisees were very key in my decision.  The other owners were not fake, it was guys in the middle of their day on the phone with you to make sure they provide a genuine observation of their experience as a franchisee.  These discussions were not scripted, and they had no idea what questions we would ask.  Being able to project earning potential and the assurance that other franchisees will not be competing with me were key requirements.  

1851: What do you do in your personal time? 

Whitehead: I’ve been married to Jennifer since 1995 and we have 4 kids.  We’re very active in our church teaching Connect Groups and serving in several different ways.  Other than that, we stay pretty busy with family activities.  For quite a while, my hobbies have really just been around the kids and their activities and home improvement. We like going on vacations, hiking and snow skiing. 

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