Tag Archives: franchise

When Is the Right Time to Start Your Own Business?

By Roland Bates, President, NPI/GPI

Inspector + ACThis is a tough question to answer, since anyone could have unique circumstances — or at least feel their situation is unique. However, some circumstances generally apply.

One of the reasons most often given for not starting a business is, “The economy is bad. I’ll wait for it to improve.” This may seem counterintuitive, but a bad economy is not a reason to wait. In a bad economy, weaker and less motivated competitors close up shop or simply try to weather the storm. In fact, most businesses cut back on their sales and marketing efforts during a bad economy. A less crowded field makes it easier for your voice to be heard. Although a factor, a bad economy is not a show stopper. If you have a solid business model, execute an effective marketing strategy and enjoy what you do, then when you start your business shouldn’t be dictated by the nightly news (which is always depressing).

Starting your own business is more about personal satisfaction than about money. Although generally a business owner will earn more money than most, it’s all about job satisfaction. We sell property inspection franchises, and we’ve had lawyers, dentists and psychologists inquire about purchasing and operating our franchise. These bright and well-educated individuals had great incomes; they simply did like what they were doing. However, don’t let more money be the only reason you start your own business. Let more money be a pleasant side effect.

Does money motivate people? Money is considered a satisfier, not a motivator. For example, corporations tend to conducted exit interviews with departing employees to find out why they are leaving. The most common answers given are something to the effect: “I hate my boss,” “I don’t like my coworkers,” or “I have no advancement opportunities here.” Surprising to most, money has typically been fourth or fifth down on the list.

At the risk of sounding redundant, people leave their jobs not for more money but for reasons tied to job satisfaction. This is likely why you will start your own business, and if you do, remember why employees leave: Be a good boss/employer. Provide them with a good opportunity.

Lastly, to try and answer the question that is the topic of this blog: How do I know when it’s time to start my own business? If on Sunday afternoons you start to get this hollow feeling in the pit of your stomach as you realize, “I have to go to work tomorrow,” then it’s time.

South Carolina Franchisee Considers NPI a Partner


NPI Franchisee Hank Shadwell

Hank Shadwell received his bachelor’s degree in communications and theater. He was looking for a job in television when he decided to start work in construction — specifically electricity. After becoming a master electrician, Shadwell started his own residential and commercial company, Shadwell Electric Company. However, when the commercial construction industry in his hometown collapsed and never recovered, he began looking at new options for owning his own business. Property inspection quickly became the leader.

Shadwell determined that he wanted to be part of a franchise system rather than start his business independently. “After a lot of research, I was convinced that the only way to make this business work was to partner with people who knew the home inspection business,” Shadwell said. “That resulted in a lengthy search for a company that was a good fit for my needs.”

Choosing the Right Franchise System
“I was looking for a company that supplemented my talents and could inspire me to go outside my comfort zone,” Shadwell said. “A partner, not a management firm. A company that would have a vested interest in my success and be willing to help me achieve my goals and push me a little further. NPI fit that bill.”

Shadwell was impressed with National Property Inspections’ history, low turnover rate and royalty requirements. “With most of the others, you pay an 8 percent royalty plus another 3 percent for advertising and marketing,” he said. “NPI let me take the 3 percent and invest it where I thought it would do the most good rather than charging me.”

At NPI, Julie Erickson, director of franchise sales, spoke with Shadwell on multiple occasions. “After speaking with Julie, a very down-to-earth person who is honest and genuine, I called several NPI franchisees to get answers to specific concerns I had and questions about the company’s commitment to the franchisee. I received positive responses from everyone.”

In May 2005, Shadwell signed with NPI to open his own franchise in Dalzell, South Carolina.

Franchising the NPI Way
Shadwell has never regretted his decision to purchase a franchise. “There is no way I could do what NPI does for me,” he said. “The marketing assistance alone is worth what I pay in monthly franchise fees. Also, having someone with expertise in construction beyond my own experience — especially as it relates to the inspection business — is priceless.”

NPI offers technical support in the field for its franchisees seven days a week, should they encounter questions or problems while out on inspections. Furthermore, NPI offers ongoing marketing support, with a dedicated marketing team to help franchise owners with marketing and networking, their websites and search engine optimization, and much more.

“One of my weakest areas has been in marketing,” Shadwell said. “Both Kim [Stevens] and Bill [Erickson] have continued to coach me in ways to find new clients.”

NPI’s national name exposure has helped Shadwell with business from out-of-state buyers who come to the local air force base in Sumter. “And obtaining licensing and certification through NPI was critical in developing ongoing relationships of trust among Realtors who look to me for expertise,” he said.

Shadwell looks forward to the NPI annual meeting every November, where franchise owners can develop new skills and refine old ones. One of the biggest benefits of the annual meeting is that NPI franchise owners from across the country can get together and learn from one another.

“I learn so much while I am with them that it’s like getting paid for on-the-job training. The friendships developed within the NPI organization are invaluable to me. It is nice to know someone has my back and I can help others as well.” In fact, Shadwell’s willingness to help other franchise owners earned him an NPI Ambassador Award in 2007.

Success With NPI
Shadwell said that NPI’s support has been a vital part of his ability to deliver a top-notch service with his home and commercial inspections. “Whenever I have called the home office, someone has always been available to speak to me,” he said. And not just for technical issues; Shadwell said that when he has had any type of issues the NPI staff has been ready and willing to help — including Roland Bates, president of NPI.

NPI trains its inspectors on both residential and commercial inspections, giving them more opportunity than with other franchisors. Shadwell also provides his clients with infrared inspections, and he said that he has found this diversification of services central to his business.

“I am extremely pleased about where I have gotten to, despite the downturns in the economy,” Shadwell said. “NPI’s diversification helped provide streams of income that brought me through tough times. It has been a great ride, and I don’t see anything changing until I retire — which will be later rather than sooner.”

Seven Questions You Should Ask Your Potential Franchisor

If you’re looking for a franchising opportunity, then according to Franchise.net.au, there are seven questions you might ask. We at NPI/GPI think you should ask these seven questions of any potential franchisor:

  1. What structure is in place to ensure I receive the support I need to succeed?
  2. What assistance is provided to market the business?
  3. Can I be passionate about this business?
  4. What type of lifestyle balance is possible?
  5. How is the brand promoted?
  6. What are the opportunities for expansion?
  7. Will the monetary rewards meet my expectations?

If your potential franchisor can’t answer these questions satisfactorily, then you should probably move on to another franchise company.

Read the full article, “7 Questions Franchise Buyers Might Ask” by Ian Krawitz.