Laid Off No More – Start a Franchise!

November 16th, 2010

(Buy A Franchise Unlimited, Seattle Franchise, Bellevue Franchise)

Longtime corporate worker now happily her own boss after buying franchise

Erin Dillon bought an AdvantaClean Franchise in May after being laid off two years ago from Wendy’s International, where she worked for 33 years. Many unemployed workers consider starting a business when they can’t find work in a tight job market, a CareerBuilder survey found. The survey found that 26percent of workers who were laid off in the past six months and have not found jobs said they are now considering starting a business.

The work at times takes her to dark, dank and moldy places. Sometimes, she can be found creeping through crawl spaces, trudging through water-damaged basements and cleaning out dusty air vents.

But Erin Dillon couldn’t be happier.

The former Wendy’s International business-systems analyst has traded in her business suits and heels for a uniform that includes her own company’s embossed polo shirt, workpants and boots.

Dillon is one of the thousands who have lost jobs in the past couple of years but have found light at the end of the tunnel.

Having lost her job of 33 years after Wendy’s merged with Arby’s in September 2008, Dillon took a portion of her severance package and her savings to buy an AdvantaClean Franchise. The company specializes in cleaning air ducts, mopping up after water damage and clearing away mold.

“It’s not pretty work, and it’s labor-intensive,” Dillon said. “But I’m in control of my own destiny and am no longer at the mercy of corporate America.”

Although Dillon had no experience in the field, she said that an AdvantaClean Franchise appealed to her because of its profit potential.

And even more appealing was that owning a company would allow her to “never worry about finding myself in a position to be severed again from my job,” she said.

Historically, the small-business sector has created the most jobs at the end of an economic downturn, Brent Rasmussen, president of CareerBuilder North America, said in a statement.

“The intellectual capital that companies were forced to lay off over the last 18 to 24 months was substantial, and it is not surprising that many individuals are using their business skills to create their own opportunities,” he said.

According to the International Franchise Association, the franchise industry created more than 140,000 businesses and 1.2 million jobs in a five-year period after the recession of 2000-2001. The group forecasts that the number of franchise businesses will increase this year by 2 percent – nearly 18,000.

Dillon is the first woman to own a franchise with North Carolina-based AdvantaClean. Meetings with a job coach helped her to decide to open a business, and a franchise broker helped her decide what business she wanted to buy.

She bought the franchise May 1 with an investment of $100,000 and went through training to become certified in mold inspection and remediation. Although Dillon does much of the home and business inspections herself, she’s hired two consultants to do much of the labor.

Dillon already has been hired for 57 jobs, and she projects sales of $150,000 in her first year and $240,000 in her second year.

She said that although losing her job was unexpected and starting a business isn’t easy, she plans to run the business for at least 15 years.

“Not everyone can do this, but if you have the inclination to start your own business, do it,” Dillon said. “I’m in my early 50s. This is my retirement money that I’m trying to grow.”

Her advice to other laid-off workers unable to find work?

“Things happen for a reason. It’s been a really great adventure. It’s OK to take control of your own destiny. You don’t have to always rely on other people.”

Want to go into business?

If you’ve ever thought about becoming your own boss, here are a few things to consider:

• Use the knowledge from your experiences and positions to become a consultant for a particular industry, field or specialty. Reach out to former colleagues, vendors, clients, etc., to let them know that you’re in business for yourself.

• Establish yourself through contracting. Search for contract and temporary opportunities that will help you build your portfolio and networking contacts.

• Leverage social media to promote your services. Promote your personal brand through sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Brightfuse.com. Include links to past work, testimonials and accomplishments. Start a blog addressing issues in your field of expertise.

• Think about direct sales. If you’ve ever been invited to a plastic-container, makeup or candle party, you’ve been a part of direct sales. Take what you’ve learned from those experiences and apply them to becoming a sales representative.

Consider a Franchise – on your own or with others. Buying a franchise typically gives you the right to trademarked names and materials in exchange for a percentage of your profits.

(Buy A Franchise Unlimited, Seattle Franchise, Bellevue Franchise)

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