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Why a Former Boy Scouts Executive Is Opening Ohio’s First Footprints Floors Franchise

Mike Swofford traded his role as the CFO of the Dan Beard Council of the Boy Scouts of America to open his own business with the fast-growing flooring brand.

Inspired by two home improvement projects gone wrong, Mike Swofford is opening Ohio’s first Footprints Floors*, a 50-plus unit franchise specializing in the installation of hardwood flooring, carpet, tile floors, backsplashes and laminates

Swofford is the former CFO at the Dan Beard Council of the Boy Scouts of America, but in 2018 he decided to pursue his dream of business ownership. Swofford says Footprints Floors offered him the perfect opportunity to marry his management skills with his prior experience in DIY flooring.

With a passion to serve, Swofford says he looks forward to providing his community with a new concept that allows for the choice of whatever product they like for a more cost-effective installation price. During a time when the home improvement industry is booming, Footprints Floors has seen an average increase in same-unit revenue of over 97% across its network. 

In the coming years, Swofford plans to expand with the brand and open at least two more territories in the greater Cincinnati area.  

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

Mike Swofford: I held various roles on the Dan Beard Council of the Boy Scouts of America and worked my way up to CFO over the past 15 years. At the end of 2018, I decided it was time to move on. I wanted to find new challenges in growth for myself and didn’t see an opportunity with the Boy Scouts to do so. I decided to get a Master’s of Business Administration and enrolled at Xavier University in 2019, graduating this past December. 

Once I finished school, I started looking for openings similar to what I was doing with the Boy Scouts and wasn’t thrilled with what I was finding. One day, I got a cold call from a franchise consultant and it piqued my interest. I always had in the back of my mind that I’d like to be a business owner, but it was daunting to think about starting from scratch. I knew that a franchise would be the perfect alternative. I then went through a process of reviewing four franchises and learned a lot about the different systems and brands. At the end of my research, I was very attracted to Footprints Floors. They not only have a great model, but the brand also appeals to my personal interest in home improvement. The finances all checked out, so I pulled the trigger and moved forward. The next thing I knew, I was in Denver for training.

1851: You mentioned that you’re interested in home improvement/flooring. Have you previously worked in the industry?

Swofford: I’ve dabbled in the DIY home improvement/flooring space but haven’t done any major professional remodeling. In two of my homes, I’ve had flooring done by an outside company and was disappointed both times. I became interested in flooring in spite of those bad experiences and saw an opportunity to do better — especially given my management experience. 

1851: How did you initially find out about franchising? 

Swofford: I knew very little about franchising prior to that cold call from the consultant. I just knew the general concept from my business degree — my main idea of what a franchise looked like was McDonald’s. It took time, but after that cold call and my deep dive into different options, I learned a lot about the models and the process. I am a natural skeptic and after that call, I thought it was too good to be true. After about three months of weekly calls and questions, I had a better understanding of the franchising world.

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

Swofford: The thought of starting my own business was daunting. I didn’t know what type of business to start, how I would get it going or what I would do if I needed help. Franchises have existing systems filled with people who know how they work. I saw Footprint Floors’ model and could replicate it, which was something that put me at ease.

1851: What other types of brands did you look at?

Swofford: The world of franchising is big and you can really get into anything. I eliminated all of the brick-and-mortar options and looked into the service industry. I specifically looked at brands that offered in-home senior care, cost analysis and coupon mailing. Coming from a nonprofit organization I’m passionate about serving others, so finding a brand that could allow me to continue with that passion was important. 

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

Swofford: I saw how great the model is and really liked how Footprints Floors doesn’t typically handle any products — they just focus on installation. In today’s world, customers want the freedom to buy whatever product they want, find the best price online and shop the aisle to choose what they want for themselves. I saw a benefit for the customer and how they could be saving by packaging installation separately. Once I met Footprints Floors’ Founder & CEO Bryan Park and spoke with other franchisees, I saw a young, hardworking company that I wanted to be a part of. It was an important selling point since I came from a non-profit organization. Working in the for-profit world it’s easy to forget about values and principles, so I wanted to make sure everything was aligned.

1851: Why did you choose to open during a pandemic? Why Cincinnati? 

Swofford: Initially I was very concerned about opening during a pandemic. I was going to get started at the beginning of May, but I decided to take a pause for a few months just because of how uncertain everything was. While the business sounded good, I didn’t feel people would want to allow me into their homes to install flooring. I talked a lot with Bryan to see how things were going. Footprints Floors experienced the same thing for a few months and contracted business to weather it for a while. 

In July, places began reopening with restrictions and things started looking up especially for the home improvement industry. People were spending more time at home looking at their floors and realizing they wanted to get them done. We’re still really careful with everything to protect our staff and customers. Despite the unfortunate circumstances, it has been a really positive experience opening Footprints Floors in the midst of COVID-19. People are beginning to realize the importance of their home. It’s often their biggest asset and worth improving.

I chose Cincinnati because I’ve lived here since 1994 and I know the area in and out. My entire professional network lives here along with family and friends — it’s home. I saw an opportunity in the lack of flooring services in the city and did my own local research. I didn’t find a service available like Footprints Floors and I’m excited to be the one providing that service to my community. 

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

Swofford: I see limitless potential with Footprints Floors. I look forward to expanding in two additional Cincinnati territories in the near future. I would like to expand our team and hire more sales and production professionals to be able to serve more customers.

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

Swofford: There’s no other company like Footprints Floors in Cincinnati. Since opening, we are now able to provide the community with expert floor installation during a time when they’re spending more time at home than ever before. 

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

Swofford: First and foremost, do some soul searching on whether you’re willing to put in the work to understand all aspects of franchising. You have to understand that you can be 100 percent responsible for your own success or failure. If you can overcome that, you are a good candidate for becoming a franchise owner. Secondly, you have to pick a brand that’s right for you. While you’re researching talk with other franchisees and get the full story. Ask them not only about how great their experience has been, but also about what pitfalls and challenges they’ve dealt with and overcome.

1851: What do you do in your personal time?

Swofford: I am an outdoorsman and love hiking. I am a big traveller and have been to 17 different countries. I try to do a trip every year to a new, international destination. I also play guitar, am an avid reader and have a couple of dogs I enjoy spending time with.

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