You Signed on the Dotted Line. Now What?
You Signed on the Dotted Line. Now What?

6 new franchisees on what they are doing to prepare for their grand opening.

Signing on to become a franchise owner can be a great relief. Months, sometimes years of research can go into the decision. Maybe you worked with a broker or visited franchise expos. You went out to discovery days and visited franchise locations. You’ve talked with franchisees and members of the corporate team. You worked with your bank to secure a loan and make sure you had the financial wherewithal to commit. And finally, you’ve chosen a brand and signed on the dotted line. But your restaurant or shop or territory or class doesn’t open until spring, and it’s only January. Now what?

We talked to new franchisees from six brands to learn what they are doing to prepare for their grand openings. Here’s what they had to say.

Larry Showfety, Lightbridge Academy

Larry and Ora Showfety own a Lightbridge Academy territory in Hackensack, New Jersey. The Showfetys came to the brand first as customers, enrolling their three kids in classes before realizing the entrepreneurial opportunity.

The home office team did a great job preparing us. There is a lot of work to do before the opening, and they walked us through every step. There is some legal paperwork, then real estate selection and demo reports. Then it’s the architectural and engineering phase where you design your center. Then sales and marketing, and so many other things to prepare, all before opening our doors. It’s up to us to execute all these things, but they’ve given us the tools we need.

Eric Helus, The Glass Guru

Eric Helus owns a The Glass Guru franchise in Colorado Springs. Helus said between signing on with the glass-treatment brand and opening his territory, he was focused solely on training.

The training process does a great job of showing you the ins and outs of all of the technical stuff as well as the back-end operations. Of course, there is always more to learn, so they got me out on the trucks quickly, learning on the job. I was eager to see everything, and there is no substitute for learning through experience.

Greg Billy, Hand and Stone

Greg Billy recently signed on to open two Hand and Stone franchises, which are set to open this year. In the meantime, Billy said he’s working closely with Hand and Stone’s field ops team to prepare his locations for a strong launch.

The support they have available for new owners is fantastic. I did a week-long corporate training class that went over everything I needed to know to run the business. Since then, I’ve continued to work with the field operations team to help with everything from ordering products to on-site training for me and my staff to making sure the spas are set up for the launch. We’re a new market for Hand and Stone, which is an amazing opportunity, I’ve seen firsthand just how special this business is, and I can’t wait to share it with a whole new audience here.

Bill Ippolito, K9 Resorts

Bill Ippolito opened his K9 Resorts franchise in East Brunswick, New Jersey, back in 2015, but he originally signed on with the brand two and a half years before that. Ippolito took his time and relied on the help of the franchise’s founders, Jason and Steven Parker, to prepare for his opening.

I was not in a rush, and I wanted it to be perfect. This is my first business venture, so I needed a lot of guidance from start to finish. Jason and Steven helped me find a great location and get financed, and they connected me with the right people along every step of the way.

Mark McKibben, School of Rock

Before opening his School of Rock franchise in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Mark McKibben said his efforts were focused squarely on local marketing.

We did Facebook advertising and radio ads, and I got a lot of names and phone numbers by setting up a giveaway before the opening. I called every name I got from that, and it paid off. I probably had 200 people at the grand opening.

Mike Kelly, Sylvan Learning

Mike and Melissa Kelly are preparing to open five Sylvan Learning centers this year. Mike says they are currently focused on developing sound business strategies to keep their centers running smoothly in the long term. 

We’re going to invest heavily in our people. We’re going to have intermittent and ongoing training for all staff to make sure everyone on our team is operating at the highest level. The next priority is making aggressive investments in our marketing and sales efforts, which will include digital and online media as well as community events and partnerships. We intend to pursue partnerships with local schools and community programs. There are so many students and families looking for extra help, and Sylvan is so well-equipped to fill that need. Establishing those roots in each community is a top priority for our first two to three years.