Favorite Productivity Tool: Boring, a little nerdy, but a Classic: “Excel"
Most Recommended App: “Police Siren” Absolutely no productivity here, but if you like to play jokes on others (like I do), I still get a kick out of sitting in the back seat of a car at night and start the app. Great siren noise and the flashing lights are effective too. Your friends might freak out, but I still enjoy it.
Instagram handle: @presentsofmine
Tell us about your journey. My wife, Kim, and I have spent the last 30 years in franchising. In 1984, we started a company called ExecuTrain and grew the company through franchising building it to system sales of $175M with 225 franchises in 26 countries with 3,000 employees training over 1.2 million students a year. We sold the company in 1997 and spent the next 15 years working with businesses that had a successful model that we felt would be able to be franchised and then helped them develop and build the franchise system. When our youngest child went off to college in 2012, we moved from the Atlanta suburbs to what was our second home in Blue Ridge, GA. After a few years, we decided that the slowing down thing was not for us, so we started researching businesses that we felt would work in Blue Ridge. We decided on opening a personalization store called Presents of Mine. We had no plans of franchising the business, but during the first two years, we had many customers ask us if we were a franchise because this would do great in wherever they lived. So after much discussion, we built out the franchise model, converted our Blue Ridge store to this model and have trained one of our employees to run the store and she has a purchase agreement on this store. That was at the end of last year. We sold our first outside franchise in December of 2016 in Dunedin, Florida and since then we have added franchise locations in Asheville and Panama City Beach.
What your favorite part of your day? I love the mornings. Except for the winter months, I love getting on my mountain bike as the sun is rising and ride. It is so quiet and peaceful and allows me to get the day started fresh. I probably do my best thinking in the morning when there are no calls, texts, emails, etc.
When do you feel most successful? I feel the most successful when I see people involved in our business feeling happy. This ranges from seeing a customer pick up their purchase and they love it, or an employee trying out a new idea and seeing it work, or a franchise turning the corner and start their successful journey.
What do you do to recharge when you’re feeling drained? At the end of the day, I need dead time in order to sleep. This could be wake surfing on the lake or watching a movie. I just need some quiet time at the end of the day.
What do you know today that you wish you would have known when you first got started as an entrepreneur? That many times there is no right or wrong answer. If you do not try things, you will never know what the results could have been. This has to be done smartly, but you should always be trying new things.
How do you optimize your day? I live off my calendar. I try to set out each day with a good percent of my day planned out. You also need to allow for communications from phone calls, emails, texts, etc. Those communications are going to happen every day, so if you plan your day like they are not going to happen, you will always be stressed out and not feel like you are not getting things done.
Who is the person/people who allowed you to imagine more? Everyone that surrounds you from your employees, your customers, your family, your friends, your suppliers, etc. You can’t rely on just yourself to be imaginative. If you do, you will not be able to grow your business.
What does imagining more mean to you and your story? Our business is making personalized gifts. It has been really interesting to me to see that most people do not think very much outside the box. Most of our customers buy products and designs that they see displayed in our stores. For the most part, our customers can put whatever they want on one of our products. It is a blank slate; so is your business and your life. Make something out of it that you want not what others think it should be.
If you could do more of one thing every day what would it be? If you are an entrepreneur, there should not be an answer here. You need to be doing the things that you enjoy doing every day and hire people to do everything else and they will be better at it than you if they enjoy doing it.
Favorite social media platform? I have two for different reasons. I like Facebook as the best social media tool for our business. In the B to C world, it has the largest reach and easy to reach targeted areas. There is nothing too social for LinkedIn as a social media tool, but for articles and for targeting specific business people, it is very useful.