Awning Cleaning Business Case Study: Entrepreneurship 101

It is most fascinating to study how entrepreneurs spot opportunity in the market place. "My name is Lance Winslow and I am a serial entrepreneur, I admit I am addicted and need help." ..."Hello Lance." Let me explain how I formed one of my companies which became a franchise system in itself and became a module under the umbrella company I had formed many years the prior. I at first saw it as another business to fit into our growing niche of cleaning businesses. It was to be called the Awning Wash Guys. This is an interesting case study in how businesses form and how companies seek, find and exploit opportunity in the market place. Here is the story:

Many years back I got a call last from my franchisees in Denver, who had been doing very good after signing up all the John Elway Car Dealerships for car washing. My franchisee was a Car Wash Guys Franchisee specializing in car washing for car dealers at the time:

http://www.carwashguys.com/dealershipdiv.shtml

He told me that Auto Nation bought out the 46 Dealership Chain in the Denver Area and they continued our services and have actually added tons of new dealerships in other franchise areas for us to wash. Every car gets washed 2 Xs per week at $1.25-1.50 each. Some of these dealerships have almost 1000 cars on the lots. Needless to say with this big account this franchisee became our quickest success story that year.

Then they were approached by Brian Stillmock, who just happened to be one of two of the leading awning washing companies and experts in that field. As luck would have it, he wanted to sell his business. But he loved his company and would only sell it to a professional out fit, because his customers had a ten + year following. Our Denver franchisees had the $90,000.00 to buy the business due to great sales, and the fact that I also hired them at $2,000.00 per new franchise to train the new team members. They asked if they could buy the Awning Wash Guys Business, I said yes but I wanted to see the books, and warned them about cash flow in a only billed customers type business.

Most franchise agreements have clauses, which are quite specific as to what types of businesses franchisees are allowed to participate in. We sat down and made a plan and cash flow strategy, and I knew if things didn't work out I would have to financially bail them out otherwise they might also go out of business due to cash flow with their Car Wash Guys franchise. Brian the seller agreed to stay on board with me as a co-founder. His books were immaculate and scary. Never seen such well-documented books; great business and incredible revenues almost $160-200 per hour; gross.

So we built a web site and offered it as a co-brand to new and existing franchisees of car wash guys, with the understanding that it was a totally separate business and they would need to pay Brian for proper training and buy his patented equipment. Before that Brian was a BIZ OP and sold about 24 units and did not understand franchising. I did, having just co-authored Franchising 101 and joined the Board of Directors for the AAFD-American Association of franchisees and Dealers. We decided that once we formed the WashGuy.com franchise all 24 Biz Ops including an operator and manufacturer of awnings in Canada would join our network and we would agree to never sell those territories as long as those prior Biz Op buyers were in businesses that had previously bought from Brian. Brian also had manufacturers who he networked with doing 50+ million in sales per year, who referred jobs to him and some of his BiZ Ops people. So what the heck. We join forces and go after a totally untapped market.

It worked.

I regret that that business is a higher generator per hour than washing and detailing cars in an industry, which is dominated by 1000s of independents and price competitive. A little bit of an ego breaker it was for me, but the numbers did not lie, and if a door is open that wide I will damn well run through it; especially with Brian's network of manufacturers, repairers and our team to back us up 110%. We knew if this thing grew too big too quick that Brian and I could split our time and hire another Biz Op out of Florida called Awning Rejuvenation Systems to help with training, marketing and product distribution. Brian holds 4 patents on Awning Cleaning devises and I know franchising very well. And our first prototype was our Denver franchisees that were sticklers for quality and consistency.

Brian also had several tri-state contracts he had been unable to service, TGIF and Block Buster Video that would be in regions we could service without other franchisees until things were finalized as far as a franchise was concerned. This site contains mega data about what we do. Instantly we became the best assembled awning wash team on the Planet. This one was obvious and simply fell right in my lap and it took me less than three hours to decide to go for it. We did and it works. I would like to have 1 franchisee in every one of the 240 DMAs in the next ten years. The day we started we were the number one Awning Washing Franchise in the World; albeit the only one. I like that scenario, as an entrepreneur it has a nice ring to it indeed; I can certainly use that.

If I enter an Industry, I want to be the leader in 18-36 months. If I can't I will collect all the data I can, read everything I can find and hire franchisees to do data searching. I read 160 magazines in every industry and collect articles and categorize them so when I am ready I will attack with the power of knowledge, this is what we did here. Richard Branson has 150 Brands, so 22 is a good start for a 35 year old who wanted to wash everything in the world and clean this place up. While Branson is flying around the World in a Hot Air Balloon, we are kind of had the fancy of washing the World below to better his view of things

This gives you a real live example of how co-brands are formed and how markets are won. It gives an entrepreneur a little insight as to how the real world works. Often enough if you listen to the college business professors, government brain dead regulators and lawyers giving you advice you would swear that building a business is something totally different indeed. As an entrepreneur you need to change the way you think and attack markets and how you seek, find and exploit markets. I hope this little story will help you see that point. Good Luck and continued success, think on it.

"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance; www.WorldThinkTank.net/wttbbs

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