In an interview with a Canton, Ohio area Vietnam War Veteran, I find out why toughness in battle helps in the competitive environment of small business/franchise ownership...
I first met Margie and Ray Toombs a few years ago at a Cleveland, Ohio area outplacement office. Margie had just been downsized from her upper management position at The Timken Corporation in Canton, Ohio. Like most folks who attend my seminars, they had a pre-conceived notion of franchising. Margie's husband, Ray, is a war veteran, and was the first vet at this great franchise company to use the VetFran discount.This is their story. Great folks....
What service were you in, where did you see action, what was your rank etc? Any medals? Describe.
I originally served in the U.S. Navy as a Hospital Corpsman. This was during the Vietnam War. I don’t know if you are aware, but the US Marine Corps does not have any medical personnel, they are all US Navy. So I was assigned to Fleet Marine Force and was attached to the Marines in Vietnam for 1 year.
I was at Khe Sanh in January of 1968 with the TET siege. We were surrounded by 40,000 North Vietnamese Army and was shelled daily for 77 days. I was only there for 33 of them. I was wounded twice and was sent back to the rear. I received 2 Purple Hearts, Navy Commendation Medal with Combat V for Valor and the Navy Marine Corps Combat Action Ribbon (Like the Combat Infantryman’s Badge for the Army). Also many of the "I was there Medals". I left the Navy as a Hospital Corpsman Second Class (E-5).
I then joined the Army Reserve while I was in College and continued in the medical profession and went through Nursing school and became a Registered Nurse in Ohio. I received a direct commission in the Army Reserve and later went on Active Duty in support of the Army Reserve. I retired from the Army as a Major in the Army Nurse Corps. Although I was a Reservist on Active duty, I accumulated enough time to have an Active Duty Retirement. I was on active duty for a total of 18 years. (Normally you are in for at least 20, but they were downsizing the force and I was able to retire early. I retired in 1996. My highest award from the Army was the Meritorious Service Medal of which I have 4.
When you and your wife, Margie first heard about the idea of getting into a franchise business, what types of businesses came to mind?
I think I always thought of restaurants, both small and large or small shops.
Were you surprised to learn that the residential cleaning business was a nice fit for you? How did it fit, as you started to research it?
We were very pleasantly surprised by the support that was available from the different franchises and after we called a number of current owners of Maid Brigade, we realized there were many people who had much the same background of business as Margie. We realized that we had much in common with a lot of them. Many had business backgrounds and we though it would be very helpful in running our own business.
How long have you been a franchise owner of Maid Brigade, and how is your business doing? Describe a typical day in the life of a franchise owner.
We just celebrated our 4th Year in Business. It is going well. We employ 12 people, have our own “fleet” of vehicles and are very busy. We start out at 7:00am getting ready for the teams. They arrive and load all their equipment and supplies and depart for the various houses at about 8 am. Our territory is Stark and Summit Counties, and a small area of the surrounding counties. Our teams are usually on the road until 4 or5 pm.
We of course handle the operations side, sales and customer service issues that arise during the day. We just hired our Office manager and she has been very helpful in helping us move forward. We are making significant strides in growing our business.
Do you feel that Veterans are generally a good fit for the franchise business model? If so, why, and what suggestions would you have?
I do think the Veteran is a good candidate for Franchising as it requires a lot of discipline to develop and maintain a business. We are of course very fortunate that Margie has the business background and experience that she has. It has been extremely helpful to us.When Margie was downsized,part her separation package was with an Outplacement firm to help her find another position in Corporate America. I was able to attend many of the presentations and seminars one of which was, of course, yours.
Until that day we had never really considered franchising or running our own business. I particularly enjoyed your presentation as it was very low key, low pressure and very informative.You made it very clear that franchise ownership was not for everyone but if anyone was interested you were available to help. We were very surprised at the variety of franchise opportunities that were available and were very glad for your help in determining the right one for us.
Your approach was not “what kind of business do you want”, but rather “what kind of lifestyle do you envision for yourselves”? This added value to your services.You assisted us through the research process by providing us leads with the various types of franchises that we might be interested in and helped us with the steps of conducting the research. You were most helpful by helping us know the right questions to ask and how to analyze the answers. You were always there to answer any questions that we had.
It was very pleasant experience working with you, Joel, and we are happy with our choice of business that you helped us select. We have already and would be glad to recommend you to anyone who is thinking about a franchise.
- Ray Toombs Major US Army Retired