Brian Sacco spent 15 years of his career working for major corporations, such as Family Dollar and Food Lion.
But after years of careful planning, Sacco acted on his entrepreneurial impulse and opened a ShelfGenie franchise in September 2011 with his wife and business partner, Sally.
The business offers custom glide-out shelving for kitchens, bathrooms and pantries.
As the only ShelfGenie franchise in the Charlotte area, the first-time business owners’ customer base soon became overwhelming.
“It’s a little nerve-wracking,” said Brian Sacco. “You get busy, and then you start to go, go, go, and you want to get everything taken care of, and people are calling you and saying ‘Why can’t you do this before three weeks from now?’ ”
The turning point for the couple was when they connected with the national ShelfGenie franchise community.
“We had gotten so busy that we weren’t taking advantage of everything ShelfGenie had to offer from a support standpoint,” Brian said.
With the advice of other successful franchise owners, they learned how to better manage their schedule, finances and business structure.
Sacco, 38, discusses why the couple chose an established brand and how that network helped streamline operations and boost the bottom line.
Finding the right niche: Because it was their first foray in the small-business world, the Saccos decided to go with an established franchise. Deciding on a which to buy, however, was a lengthy process.
Brian was working full-time when he and Sally started talking with Entrepreneur Source, a group of franchise consultants.
Unlike many entrepreneurs, the Saccos didn’t feel called to a particular industry or niche market, so they entertained a number of options. They took business-personality tests and, through Entrepreneur Source, considered about 20 different companies that ran the gamut, from painting and environmental services to in-home medical care and smoothies.
It took the couple nearly three years to decide on a venture that met all their criteria: no store front, tech-savvy operations and a product that betters people’s lives. ShelfGenie was the best fit.
Discovering community: In March, about six months after the big launch, their calendars were slammed. With only four independent contractors – two installers and two designers – it was becoming more difficult to work with new customers on a reasonable time frame.
Last spring, Sacco attended a conference for ShelfGenie franchisees. There, he realized the resources he had in other successful ShelfGenie franchise owners from around the country.
“That was a real light for us – going to that conference and saying: ‘What are the guys who are doing well doing? What are their metrics? What are their benchmarks?’ ” Sacco said.
The Saccos said they also benefited from ShelfGenie’s online resources, where they can post questions to community forums and chat with IT professionals about the company’s s 3-D software. Programs through the National Association of the Remodeling Industry and the National Association of Professional Organizers also helped.
Sacco said successful franchise owners helped him figure out what he should be spending on material costs and labor. And in some cases, it was just nice to get some validation.
“You can go through franchise training, which I did, for a week, but it’s too much,” said Sacco. “It’s like drinking out of a fire hydrant. … I really needed that guidance.”
What has been a “Turning Point” for your business? Tell us at email@example.com