When you think of high-risk ventures, images of skydiving or Wall Street trading floors may come to mind, but starting a new business probably does not. However, one-third of new business ventures close within two years, and half within five years.
There are a number of factors that contribute to this steep rate of failure. Entrepreneurs may have passion and expertise, but lack the economic or marketing know-how to gauge whether there is demand for their business. Or they may hew so closely to their initial vision that they do not listen as closely as they should to their customers. Sometimes it just boils down to poor budgeting and accounting.
One of the biggest benefits of being a franchisee is avoiding all of the mistakes that the original entrepreneur, and independent entrepreneurs everywhere, commonly make.
To start, running a franchise enables you to inherit a business that has already proved market demand. Many independent entrepreneurs just can’t get over the “product-market fit” hurdle. They may open up a boutique clothing store only to find that their potential customers prefer to shop online, or open a pan-Asian restaurant whose concept falls flat with the community. With a franchise, consumers have already demonstrated their interest and approval in whatever the product or service is. The original entrepreneur already took the time to create and refine a formula that works.
In addition to the idea itself, franchisees also inherit infrastructure. The company’s founders spent the time and money to establish well-functioning systems in the early days. For example, when I started Barkefellers, I spent a lot of money hiring consultants to put systems in place and learn a number of operational tasks. As a result, all my franchisees don’t have to go through that arduous and expensive process, they simply go through training.
This principle extends beyond operations. Across the board, franchisees are able to learn from someone who has already faced challenges and walked away with the lessons learned, instead of having to face all the challenges themselves. They won’t stumble by buying the wrong equipment or failing to comply with regulations or implementing a flawed on-boarding process.
The biggest challenge that I faced building Barkefellers has always been exposure and getting customers in the door. However, now that the company has built a strong brand and reputation, and now that we have three prime locations, the barriers are not so high. This makes life easier for both the franchisee, and the franchisor.
On the franchisor end, there are many benefits as well. The opportunity to see a business you built grow and extend beyond your immediate reach is unique and thrilling. The business becomes bigger than you and the potential seems endless. Of course along with this growth comes financial success and the satisfaction of seeing your imprint made on the world.
A franchise network also enables you to offer a better experience for your customers. Or in the case of Barkefellers, for pets and their owners, not only can they access more locations, but the locations themselves are well-resourced, wellstaffed, and have a weight of experience behind them to ensure all pets are well taken care of.
These benefits all put the franchisor, as a successful local business owner, with many chances to give back to the community. Each year, Barkefellers hosts an annual holiday donation drive for local Indianapolis rescue groups and shelters. Additionally, we sponsor the Indy Mutt Strut, which is the Humane Society of Indianapolis’ biggest annual fundraising event.
Ultimately, my only regret about building Barkefellers is that I did not do it sooner. I was 60 years old when I entered the business, following 35 years of experience with an industrial cleaning company I built with my father. Every business, and even every franchise, is unique; and every entrepreneur, whether they are the first or the hundredth franchise owner, has an opportunity to leave their mark.
The main difference is franchisees get to skip over the difficult, stressful, uncertain early days, avoid critical mistakes, and cut right to the good stuff — running a successful business.
Rick Coffey, Founder and Owner of Barkefellers, is a successful entrepreneur with over 35 years of demonstrated achievement in Sales, Sales Management and Business Development. Prior to founding Barkefellers, Rick was a teacher/coach at New Harmony High School. Rick later served as Vice President/Owner of Action Equipment Sales, Inc. – a commercial cleaning equipment sales organization which he co-founded with his father in 1975 and operated along with his brothers until starting Barkefellers in 2009. Rick is a graduate of University of Evansville and a proud member of their 1971 National Championship Men’s Basketball Team and was elected to University of Evansville Hall of Fame. He is the father of 4 children, Amanda, Kyle, Jordan, and Krista. Jordan and Krista serve as Vice Presidents at all Barkefellers locations. Rick is married to Christi Coffey, who serves as the interior decorator for Barkefellers Corporate stores and is a Multi-Million Dollar Producer for the Tucker Real Estate company.