The International Franchise Expo wrapped June 21 in New York City. There were reportedly as many as 20,000 attendees and delegations over the expo’s three days with 450 brands from 80 countries offering franchise concepts.
Matt Haller, senior vice president at the International Franchise Association which sponsored the event, says most attendees can be classified into two groups. The “tire kickers,” or people thinking about franchising for the first time and just wanting to learn more, and serious investors who narrowed their search to a list of five or 10 concepts.
Gregory Coston from Brooklyn, N.Y., is in the latter group. He attended the expo with a clear purpose to start a new franchise.
Coston, an ex-law enforcement official and franchising veteran, took a few minutes to talk to BlackEnterprise.com about his experience with the risks of starting a franchise and things to consider before jumping in those waters.
BlackEnterprise.com: What were your goals in attending the expo?
Gregory Coston: I’m with Coverall, the cleaning company. I used to own a Jani-King. I’ve been in the cleaning service for 10 years, so this time I’m looking at a fast-food or food product–something different. I’m thinking maybe a 7-11, or Philly Pretzels—something on that level.
Since you have experience with franchises, what do you look for when seeking to invest?
For cleaning service franchises there’s no networking. Once you pay your franchise fees or initiation fee, you’re on your own. There’s no support. I found that out 10 years ago with Jani-King. I can’t say it’s the same with all franchises, but I’ve been with two franchises so far. It’s not like McDonald’s where everybody wants your service.
So what’s the alternative?
You gotta market yourself. I learned that from experience with Jani-King and then I picked it up with Coverall. You gotta be your own marketing service.
You mentioned leaving the cleaning business to get into fast food. Why did you make the transition?
I’m selling my cleaning business. I learned a lot from the two franchises that I’ve [been involved in.] They have a habit of under bidding on contracts that new franchisees should look out for.
Statement from Jani-King and Coverall on next page …