When Krista and Bill Roberts acquired their Abrakadoodle franchise in 2005, they chose the home-based route for the low overhead. But when Krista became pregnant, the couple realized the franchise could also provide flexibility, along with earning power. With Abrakadoodle, “you plan your day and you plan your schedule,” says the 37-year-old Krista of the business, which develops art education programs for children. “Some owners do a lot of summer programs and camps, while we’ve decided we’re going to focus on the school year programs because I want the summers off to be with my kids.”
Having spent $35,000 to purchase their initial territory in Bergen County, New Jersey, the couple purchased a second territory in neighboring Essex County in 2008. They ended 2010 with $134,000 and project to gross $200,000 by the end of this year.
But while Krista can take off in the middle of the day to take her children to the doctor, she still has to carve hours out to sell the benefits of her art programs to after-school program directors. At first it was difficult keeping 4-year-old Karly and 3-year-old Benjamin from having free reign in her office, but eventually the couple created work–life boundaries. “Our business is based in the basement of our home and we try to keep it that way,” says Krista. “Our kids don’t go in there. It’s the office and they know that when mommy or daddy are downstairs, they’re doing work.”
The Robertses also discovered that home-based businesses had a marketing disadvantage. Unlike storefront offices with signage and street visibility, home-based franchises have no physical presence to consumers. “Most home-based franchises will require that the owner do a lot of marketing and sales whereas if you’re in a retail-based location, customers come to you,” says Jania L. Bailey, president and chief operating officer of FranNet, a national franchise consultancy based in Louisville, Kentucky. In addition to doing direct mailings and advertising, the Robertses got around that challenge by using Facebook and Twitter to spread the word. They also sought out partners in well-trafficked locations to develop art programs with.