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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Wednesday, February 09, 2005
Franchises and the Baby Boomer Entrepreneur

Not long ago I met a colleague for coffee at a local Panera -- my favorite meeting place.

Rich Fein had been a business-to-business database marketer when I first met him back in 1999. He was one of the key people I hired to help build my first Internet business.

Rich is an example of a Baby Boomer entrepreneur. More than a year ago he started looking for a business to buy. He came close a couple of times, but just hadn't found the right thing.

So I was greatly surprised to learn that he is now the proud franchisee of a painting company. From database marketing to painting -- what a switch!

He acquired a franchise from a company called CertaPro Painters. Naturally I wanted to hear all about why he chose a painting company franchise, given his business-to-business marketing background.

Nothing that I knew about Rich suggested he would be interested in a painting business. After all, we're talking about someone whose nickname was "Data Hound."

He told me that he had looked at untold numbers of businesses and franchises. The thing that set CertaPro Painters apart was the systems, including:

  • Central call center to book appointments and handle customer service issues;

  • Direct mail marketing campaigns at the click of a mouse;

  • Technology to operate the business efficiently and profitably.
For instance, Rich told me about the Fujitsu Tablet PC and proprietary estimating software with handwriting recognition that the company provides. Rich goes to a prospective job site, i.e., someone's home or business. He walks around, measures, and creates a precise estimate on the spot. He then prints it out on the printer hooked into a power source in his truck.

Rich does no painting himself. As he says, the systems let him work on his business, instead of in his business. That's why someone like Rich, with good solid business experience, but zero experience as a painter, can be successful.

The Baby Boomer entrepreneur is a growing category, with different motivations from younger entrepreneurs. Baby Boomers are flocking to franchises following successful Corporate careers, or because they are simply not ready to retire.

Franchises appeal to Baby Boomers in part because those who are used to the structure and systems of the Corporate world, can start their own business and still start out with the assurance that established business systems will be in place. Baby Boomers have been noted as a demographic driving the growth in franchises, as noted by this article from New Zealand and this article from Australia.
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