It was while working for the New York subway system that Tom Scarda found his own track to a career in franchising.
As a first step, Scarda became trained as a FranChoice consultant and a certified franchise executive. Soon Scarda was New York’s first Maui Wowi franchisee, in the New York City’s Jacob Javits Convention Center, one of the hottest areas for concession stands in the state.
In a recent Franchise Players Q&A interview, Scarda talks with Entrepreneur.com’s Kate Taylor about how knowing New York City better than the average New Yorker, due to his time working for the New York City subway system, and his background as a franchise consultant became a powerful combination en route to success as an entrepreneur.
Just as we share our vast point of sale (POS) experience and expertise with startup owners in order to help them make the best decisions from the very beginning, we at Sintel Systems are happy to share articles and commentary about mid-life career changes and older entrepreneurs entering into the franchise sector, a major area of our POS expertise.
In the Q&A, Scarda says he quit his government job to buy a franchise because he wanted to live a lifestyle that could only be attained through business ownership. “I knew nothing about business but I knew a franchise was like a business with training wheels,” he tells Taylor. “That is what I needed.”
Here are the highlights of “How This Ex-Subway Conductor Became an Expert in Franchising”:
• Scarda resigned as the director of customer communication at the Long Island Rail Road to begin his new career track. His preparations included Internet research, and reading Entrepreneur. “I used a consultant from FranChoice,” He tells Taylor. “I am actually now a FranChoice consultant and a certified franchise executive. Certified franchise executive candidates are required to complete a rigorous course of study to earn the CFE designation, which includes attending institute-sponsored educational seminars and workshops. The program enhances franchise professionals’ understanding of the industry’s fundamental and complex aspects.”
• Scarda chose the Maui Wowi model because it is a mobile business that gave him lots of flexibility. “I did not want a full time store or brick and mortar business,” he says.
• When asked about startup expenses, Scarda says he spent about $70,000 to open, including working capital for the first year. $20,000 was the franchise fee, $25,000 paid for equipment and $25,000 went toward working capital.
• Challenged with difficulties obtaining financing, Scarda used a home equity line of credit to start the business. “Another challenge was that I was the first franchisee in New York and the cost of doing business was underestimated by both me and the franchisee,” he tells Taylor. “In addition, I found business challenged my home life as it operated mostly at night and on weekends during special events.”
• Scarda says that, aside from being undercapitalized when starting out, the chief reason for failure in a franchise is picking a business for the wrong reasons. He gives an example of buying a franchise based on a hobby that you like or choosing a business because there is a lack of competition in an area. “Additionally, buying a business because it has a well-recognized brand name is also a mistake,” Scarda says. “Just because there is no competition or the business enjoys a recognizable brand name does not mean it is a good business for you.”
• Scarda sold his franchise in 2005 and says he’s semi-retired at the age of 41. ” Now I enjoy helping people do the same thing that I did as a consultant with FranChoice.”
Read Kate Taylor’s full Franchise Players Q&A with Tom Scarda here.
For more insights into the franchise-seeking mindset, check out our related posts, A Franchise Personality Fit For A King, For Entrepreneurs Over Fifty, A New Age, Debunking The Old Saw “Youth Must Be Served”, The Baby Boomer Franchising Boom, Franchising Happiness, Changing Careers in “Interesting Times”, and After 34 Years In A Franchise Environment, A Franchise Of His Own.
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