David Burgess, owner of Caring Senior Service of Columbus, OH, had a successful career in corporate America. But it wasn't fulfilling. He took a leap of faith and decided to open a home care business with Caring Senior Service. After 7 years, he reflects on his journey and shares what that process was like and gives advice to anyone else thinking about joining a franchise in an episode of Zero to Profitable podcast.
Watch the full interview or read the complete transcript below:
0:26 – Tariq Johnson:
All right everyone. I’m really excited for this episode. I have David Burgess here who is a franchisee with Caring Senior Service. David, thanks for hopping on man.
0:37 – David Burgess:
Thanks Tariq. Good to be here.
0:40 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, awesome. So, man you’re a super successful franchisee which I just love talking to franchisees like you. You were telling me some stats the first time that we talked in terms of where you are and where you rank, in the franchise. Will you just hit on that for a second? Cause I think it is a solid frame for people to understand like who the message is coming from.
1:09 – David Burgess:
Great, yeah, that’s a good question. The company itself focuses so much more on achievement and about providing great care which is our moniker, the standard of service, but they do have some ranking sort of information. I started six years ago from scratch — with no experience in the industry and no contacts in the industry — by myself and this is the beginning of my seventh year. I think last year I was in the top 25% of 50+ offices nationwide so we’re pretty proud of that. I’ve got to credit my team for a lot of it.
1:44 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, that’s amazing. How does that feel. I mean I know it’s not about the external ranking of like, "OK we’re top 25%." I mean getting to know you, what’s important is providing the service and what you do? And we’ll dive in more to that and how you’re impacting people’s lives. But how does that feel to — from having been in the corporate world, right? — and then made the leap on the other side and now to have a successful thriving business? What does that feel like?
2:17 – David Burgess:
It’s a tremendous experience. It is really something i wondered whether I would ever achieve. I’m 57 years old now, and I was 49 almost 50. And I decided that, I’m a great manager in multiple areas, I have property management interests, but I don’t have a passion for what I’m selling. I put deals together but it just didn’t mean that much to me other than generically. And I thought how can I put my skills together in a way that is really going to mean something. There is a whole story about it, background. But I was very close to my grandmother, spent a lot of time with her, and I realized that person helping her at the end of her life changed everything for her, and I decided (long story short) to purchase and open my own home care franchise. I look back and think I was crazy but it was probably the best thing I ever, it was the best thing I ever did.
3:12: Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, you know there is a phrase that exists in the personal and development world which is “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?” and hindsight is 20/20, right? Now that you’re sitting here and you’re seven years in your business and you’ve built a robust business, it’s easy to look back, right, and go, "okay that was a good decision." But can you rewind and take us back to, do you remember what you were feeling during that period of time where you were exploring it and going, do I want to do this? Were you scared? Were you nervous? What was coming up for you and did you almost not do it?
3:59 – David Burgess:
That is such a great question. How long do we have today? No, I’ll keep the story short. It was all of it. It was an amazing experience. I thought I was going to quit three times. I felt like I had hit a stone wall 10 times. It was probably a 9-month process. You know, learning. I thought I knew what I was talking about and knew what I was doing and then I realized, “oh my gosh! I hadn’t considered all of these things." But, I kept with it, and I always remembered that nothing good comes easy. And I learned from being a tennis player and playing tennis tournaments that, if you push just a little more, you’re going to succeed, you’re going to get there, you’re going to get the break in that set, and you’re going to win.
I really worked here too. I am so glad I didn’t quit and I looked for resources and people to help me. But at some point, I also learned the psychologist axiom and — I can’t remember what it is — but you can never get enough information. At some point you have to garner everything that you have, look at it, and there is always going to be a leap of faith involved. In fact, in my experience if there is not a leap of faith you’ve got to be in a position where it is a little bit scary or maybe a lot scary.
5:13 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, that is such a good point because I remember when my wife and I were pulling the trigger on our franchise and it was terrifying. We took out a $300,000, over $300,000, line of credit on our house to open a juice and smoothie bar, which just seemed like a wild kind of idea. You know, for me I was so scared. You know that term hanging on for dear life? That’s kind of what it felt like for me. So many successful people wind up succeeding maybe you can relate to this because of fear. Fear is such a motivating factor. Can you relate to that at all? Is that like a big driver for you in the beginning?
6:04 – David Burgess:
Yes, and it brings you back to my background as a tennis coach and tennis player. You know, fear can be the best motivator ever. Fear of loss, of my investment, of looking bad, of rising my finances, my reputation, my everything. All those fears keep you up at night, and those are true. And you can use those in a positive way. But what has to be stronger is your desire to win. Your motivation for doing this. "Oh my gosh. I want to bring joy and peace that my grandmother had with Alana, who became part of the family with the service in Florida that she had to other people." Don’t forget my mission and I had to realize that using my gifts such as they are in this way was the best thing to do, and I could really make a difference. That’s my desire to win overcoming my fear of loss but they both play a part.
7:03 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, yeah they do, they really do both play a part. So take us back. I’m curious. Take us back to what you were doing prior to buying your franchise and maybe even more important that what you were doing, what was why for you that gave you the courage and desire to pursue this crazy idea based on what you were experiencing in the corporate world?
7:35 – David Burgess:
It just wasn’t very satisfying. A lot of people would love to have the job that I had and everything. But I went to work every day, and I knew it was going to be the same. I knew even if I succeeded that week or that month and made the quota that it is never good enough. It’s never going to be what it needs to be. I was chronically dissatisfied, and that was leading to bad things in my personal life, being depressed, having lack of motivation and then the fear stokes. “What am I going to do in five years? I don’t want to be doing this." And it all kind of crystalized into forming a plan, doing my research, painfully. And there are all kinds of funny stories as part of how I got there.
But really sticking with it, putting aside four hours a weekend to research and make new contacts, and talk to people that understood business and starting businesses and the wherewithal. Our founder Jeff Salter said something once. This was after I started. And he was saying something at an owner’s conference. You have to have the wherewithal to run a business, and the wherewithal to run a business isn’t a particular skill set or ability to close deals or be intuitive or hire people or have emotional intelligence. The wherewithal is the glue that holds it all together. All the little things and decisions and things I do and don’t do and do and don’t say and motivation I give to people and boundaries I give to people and how I characterize things to my clients and staff, the demeanor and also just the grit to keep remembering my mission, my desire to win. It was a brilliant statement or maybe I just intuited brilliant things into it but the wherewithal is really important. I knew I did despite all the natural doubts that were constant.
10:32 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, and there can be so many. It reminds me of a story. I don’t remember the exact story and how it goes, but it’s a story about a young Native American kid with his wise grandfather. And essentially his grandfather was telling him about two wolves. There were these two wolves and one was filled with fear and this and that, and one is filled with courage. And the young kid asks which one wins in the fight, and he goes, "the one you feed."
It’s like the doubts are there. The reason why you can bail is always there and available. If you choose to mentally go down that hole your mind will take you there and it’s like a fork in the road. Either you can choose to go one way or you can choose to go the other way. And I’m so happy that you chose the right path.
11:30 – David Burgess:
I can’t image what my life would be like if I hadn’t made this decision. You hit on it. The best thing I ever did, but I would have been in a fantasy to think I would be sitting here today saying these things, and I can’t imagine where I would be before. I realized I have to take some risks and if you always do what you’ve always done, you always get what you’ve always got. That is what I was doing. In the end, I had me to blame. That sounds harsh but I needed to take action and I have never looked back since.
12:04 – Tariq Johnson:
That’s so cool. So how in the world did you end up in the senior care space? Did you have any sort of experience in the corporate world? Like how do you land on that? Were you comparing it to other options? Tell us about that. I’m so curious.
12:21 – David Burgess:
That’s a really good question. I came to it, well my personal background in it, I have always had an interest in medicine, health. and life span. being a tennis player and tennis coach. So I have a lot of medical knowledge. I can tell you all about diseases but I’m not a nurse, so I had a baseline of knowledge, and I have always had an interest in that. But I didn’t know what to do with it. It kind of just sat out there on its own for years.
Then I was looking at the top 10 businesses for the 21st century, stuff like that, and had some advice from my father whose been successful in making big risk decisions and having them pay off. He said, "You can look at some things and you need to find a need and fill it. That’s how you can be successful. That’s all a business is. Take away all the complexity, it’s finding a need and filling it."
What do we have here? Well, we’ve got 10,000 people a day turning 65. We’ve got 20 million people that need care and 5 million caregivers, and it’s only going to accelerate. So, I realized slowly — it seems like it should have been more obvious, but it wasn’t. I guess I’m probably slow. But putting together home care, a business model that is going to be growing, applying my skills somewhere that’s going to be a natural fit. I’m a natural, you know, always was the team captain and things like that. I’m going at being hopefully a motivational leader and stuff. So the ability to own and lead, work in an industry where I understand health care, passion for my grandmother through what happened with her and her life, and it all just came together into “oh my gosh! Home care is number 3 in 10" — or whatever it was. And, wow, it was kind of like a light went off one day, and I was like, "why didn’t I figure that out." Of course, that was my negative interpretation but “oh my gosh! I’ve found it!"
I think a lot of people can do the same thing, but they’ve got to suffer through the process. Sometimes it is suffering, but if I view it as working out in the gym for that payoff, that’s what the process is kind of like. You got to go to the gym and workout on that snowy cold day and you’re sore anyway and you ran out of Advil, but you got to go to the gym again. That’s like what it is. On some Sundays, I didn’t want to do anymore research. I was demoralized or frustrated or thought I had made terrible mistake. I’ve never run a marathon but I guess you go through these huge emotional swings during phases of a marathon too.
15:02 – Tariq Johnson:
Well I run Spartan races, as you can see there and not quite as long as a marathon. I’m actually training for a six-mile one right now, and I hate running. But, you know, I do it — to your point — to callus my mind and my emotions for the rollercoaster of life and business. I mean, you know, just being a parent and being a business owner, you got to be able to handle it.
So you wind up realizing that there is this demand and some of those stats that you threw out are insane. I did not realize that some of those stats were what they were so it definitely says there is a huge need in that space so I have a couple of questions. So you’re talking about how you’re going through your process, and it was discouraging at times. How long did it take you to figure out to land on Caring Senior Service as the franchise that you chose and what made you choose them out of all the options you had?
16:11 – David Burgess:
Great question. Do you mean when I decided to take the plunge and now it’s where to take the plunge or just the whole thing? I think that’s what you mean.
16:20 – Tariq Johnson:
16:23 – David Burgess:
Okay. It was probably 18 months from realizing that I’m on to something to delay and questioning and starting to look, not knowing where to look, and slowly gaining momentum with people, and thinking and more clarification. And I didn’t really have any places I could really go other than poke around, and I’m a good researcher. That is what I did.
As far as my franchise, a couple of great stories. They were the most helpful and accessible. They are in Texas. But when I called the franchise recruiter at 10 p.m., he would answer the phone and he sounded happy to talk to me. I know that that is how I sound with people at 10 p.m., and I’m not always happy they’re calling. You know you are but you’re not. You’re in the middle of something else.
They just had an attitude and energy that was very positive. They were medium-sized. I went to Canyon College and later Ohio State and I realized that a mid-size school is great. You’re not too small to have no resources, and you’re not too big that you’re just a number. They really were able to be responsive and yet big enough to have a lot of tools and assets from it.
During my confirmation day before I made the final commitment, I had looked at a couple of major national competitors. I won’t name them but you can figure out who they are. They are on TV. I went down with them. And one of those competitors came back, called them with questions after spending a weekend in Atlanta with 20 potential franchisees and five of their executives. And called them and they didn’t know who I was. They said “who?” First they didn’t remember me, and then they looked at their list and I wasn’t on it. It was a huge kerfuffle, and that just really turned me off. That had me delay the whole thing. I was about to pull the trigger. Ultimately, they didn’t have the territory I wanted.
But going to what they call the confirmation day at Caring Senior Service, which is right before your final commitment, I was getting in at 11 p.m. I could not get away any sooner to San Antonio from Columbus. Long story short, I was supposed to get in at 11 and there was a big storm or something in Houston and I was three hours late. I got in at 1:30 I think, 1:30 a.m., and I thought, "Man, this is going to be a tough morning." I walked out of the baggage claim, and there is the franchise guy waiting for me. He met me at the airport. Not only did he pick me up at the airport but he waited 2 ½ to 3 hours to pick me up. I thought, "Okay, this is not only the kind of company I want to be a part of as an owner or anyone else but also they are treating me like I would want to treat my clients." You know, and it was like, okay maybe I’m really on to something here.
The size, the way they treat me as a potential owner, and they are kind of living their mission through how they treat me too. A lot of things are intangible. I’ve told him since then, and he kind of laughed. He said “really?” He had never thought about it. He was just worried about getting me to the hotel and all that kind of stuff, so he was just doing it without even thinking about it, which only kind of further. So, you know, that’s kind of a good story you brought up. That’s how I knew when it was the right one and I kind of stopped a couple of others that were in the works when that happened.
19:42 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, wow that’s a really cool story. You know the culture is so important because you’re a part of the system. I mean you are owning your own business, but you want to be part of a brand that has similar values. We in our process in our Zero to Profitable franchise system, we teach a lot of our clients how to do due diligence on choosing the right franchise. And often they are in a similar spot as you were, which is they’ve narrowed down through a process to a specific industry, right, like you had narrowed down to senior care, and then they are looking at three or four brands that essentially do the same thing and it’s like how do I make the decision.
20:33 – David Burgess:
They would argue with that characterization but that’s true. They are broadly the same. There is Coldwell Banker or is it Remax. But no, exactly right.
20:43 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, yeah so it’s just interesting. What a cool way that you narrowed that down. All right so now you’re six or seven years into your business. You obviously made the right decision. Tell us a little bit more about your actual business. Wow it works and how are you able to have grown it to what you have in the last six or seven years because not everyone who opens a franchise period whether the type of one you’re owning or not winds up being in the top 25%. Why do you think you’ve been so successful?
21:21 – David Burgess:
I ask myself that all the time. I mean, I think it’s, I have a strong background in sales and marketing as a marketing director. I learned early on that people don’t care how much you know until you know how much you care. And that was the moniker of the first guy who started HER Realtors in Columbus and turned it into one of the biggest national companies.
So when I started, I went to see over 400 home care companies, rehabs, hospices. I knew nothing about any of it. But I went in, and I was able to make an authentic honest impression introducing myself. I was playing the marketer too. I went back, three, four, five or six times, and somehow I engendered enough trust in them that they were willing to take a chance on me. And they would give me a referral, and back at the office, of course, I was madly recruiting and interviewing and trying to bring people online and get background checks done and then having to staff it.
I did the first 18 months by myself, and then now I have a full staff with four other senior managers, so I can be the owner. I’m still the marketing director because I really enjoy that role. At some reason I’m good at it, I guess, by the results, but it was hard. It took a lot of luck, but I read something along the way. I always felt that I was especially blessed because whenever I would get into a huge pinch — and I mean real pinches — whether it was staffing a case or having a timing of major bills, something always happened to save me. Something always came in. It was almost, and I have learned since that they say when you get out there and take risks that the universe conspires to help you succeed. It sounds silly, and I don’t want it to sound like a rah-rah motivational speaker, but it’s my lived experience. It really happened. I almost hate to say it because I feel like I’m jinxing myself or bragging. But for people who are thinking about it, if all else is equal generally speaking, I’d say better to get over the doubts and do it unless there is some huge reason not to do it. Err on the side of action.
24:51 – Tariq Johnson:
You know I love that. It just really builds on what you’re talking about in terms of taking a leap of faith. I’m a huge believer in that. One of the things that I talk about to our community is like as an entrepreneur you’re going to need faith. Regardless of what your faith is in terms of spiritual beliefs, religious reliefs, but you need to be anchored in some sort of faith to be able to manage through this process and enjoy the journey and enjoy the ride because it’s true. Some days it’s like your jumping off of a cliff but I love the phrase, “if you don’t jump you’re guaranteed that your parachute will not open.” If you stay on the side of the cliff, it will not open. That is guaranteed. So the only way it opens if by you jumping and trusting that it is going to open. It doesn’t mean it’s not going to be terrifying.
25:53 – David Burgess:
Yeah, and this is not motivational speakers or you or me saying for some reason, "do this. rah-rah, rah-rah.” We’re reflecting what actually happens for reasons we don’t fully understand — whatever our faith is or faith in spirit or religion or just in action and the universe — but the good things happen. Even the bad things that happen help you get to the good things.
So it’s just a whole new adventure. You’re opening up a door and surely a rollercoaster, but you know that’s life. And if you’re ready for something new, it‘s not that you’re going to fail, it’s are you going to lose faith? Because I do not think anybody who does this is going to necessarily fail if they just keep the faith truly and go every day. Good things happen, enjoy it.
And, you know, for me, being kind of a natural business owner, I have always not been the organizer and stuff — if you put it that way. And I always not wanted to work for other people. I’ve always wanted to make my own decisions. Knowing health care, loving old people, and going with a business that you’re filling a need that’s only growing, those were the four elements. I said, "okay, this is it." It took me a long time to get there, but I think my story is not so unusual and that’s what happened.
27:14 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah. It’s interesting when you were talking about how it took you about 18 months or so to decide. We often hear that when people reach out is that it takes them about a year or two to kind of figure out the franchise that they want. Here’s a crazy stat, and then I’ll pivot from this because I want to continue talking about you. But the folks that we work with on average, the ones that buy franchise — I just finished doing all the data — and 120 days from starting their work with us, they sign a franchise agreement is the average, which is pretty crazy. So it just shows when you’re part of a process — that’s why I love franchising as a whole right. Because if you had started your own senior care business from scratch it might have been pretty hard for you to have been as successful as you are without the system behind you.
28:12 – David Burgess:
There’s no question. The system is everything. I was able to essentially buy a brand. I had to learn it and repeat, and they want people that do that. But it gave me 30 years of history of a successful program with a GreatCare® as a method that has been trade-marked and then have a support network. We pay a support fee. We can pick up the phone 24 hours a day and have people who, they say have 127 years of experience in social work, health care, and we have a whole team of people to support us and answer any questions as well as a massive amount of information available through the Internet. And that ties into their whole educational program. So yea, without the franchise system I wouldn’t be able to continue to educate people, to make them better caregivers. That’s a big part of recruitment, so for me the franchise system I’m purchasing something that is way less expensive than me doing it on my own. I would never do it just personally to start it up. There is way too much to know.
29:20 – Tariq Johnson:
So before, we were talking when we hit record for the episode, you were telling me about your travels and showing me some of the pictures of the places that you’ve been to and just balancing them as an entrepreneur. So I want to lead into that a little bit. But before we do, tell us about your team structure. I mean you alluded to it and mentioned it before but what is your team structure look like and your staffing that you have in place?
29:52 – David Burgess:
Great question. When we started I did everything. That is the best way to go because you’re the boss who’s done all the jobs and you know all the jobs, and I know that I prefer somebody like that. So I think they like it that I have those skills. The way we’re structured is I’m the owner, hands-on owner. I also happen to be right now, just because I am good at it, marketing director. But normally we have what’s called a home care consultant out in the field developing needs, building on my relationships and I may have one in the next year. But the key to my office above that is my agency director. She is in the office. She runs all the big picture, high trust. She’s involved in everything. She runs the office. Under her are the care of team managers, and we have three. One is an office focused and admin focused and one is field focused. Field focused helps cover shifts. They do introductions of new caregivers, which we do on every case to get them oriented. Doing supervisory visits with clients families and caregivers to see if everyone is happy, and then the office person working on scheduling, background checks, making sure all the documentations of driver licenses, insurance, the myriad of things is done. But they are cross-trained. They can both do each other’s jobs. Then I have a separate person who handles my recruiting, handles our Indeed account. That is a whole full-time job in itself. We spend a lot of money on that and you’ve got to know how the algorithms work, constantly seeing what the return rate on ads is, how long to keep them up, when to repost, and then contacting those people. We hire 1 in 30 that apply with us, so we’ve got to do a phone screening and then maybe 5 or 6 of the 30 get an in-person interview. And then we’ll probably hire one of them. So that is a whole wing just on its own. I have a personal assistant, who is technically a care manager, that is my event coordinator. I come up with a theme, we cohost an event, he does all the leg work, gets everything together, the theme and things we need for it and so it’s nicely allocated.
32:03 – Tariq Johnson:
Wow, that is an incredible team that you’ve built and that just shows what is possible in only six to seven years. I think sometimes it is easy to think about the overwhelm of what could need to happen, but you’ve obviously built an amazing team, which is really cool. So what was it like getting through that first, I think you said the first 18 months, you pretty much did everything. So what was it like getting through that period and how did you finally make that jump? Did it feel like it happened overnight or was it just kind of a gradual, gradual progression?
32:47 – David Burgess:
How honest should I be here? It was tough. It was tough. I look back and say that it’s the best thing I hated and thought was a terrible thing because I learned every single job — not only how do you do it if you were hired for the job but everything that can go wrong, every situation you’re going to learn. So I became experienced in all of it. It was painful because you’re learning multiple, you know, you’re learning HR mistakes and hiring mistakes while you’re losing a referral you got because you didn’t communicate in a timely manner. All of these little mistakes that you make, but I got through it. I got better at it and then I took a stab.
When I was out marketing, there was a lady who was the head receptionist at an STNA school, state tested nurses aid school. I went there marketing because we were looking for a good place to find caregivers and ended up striking up a conversation and within 3 weeks I hired her as my first care manager. She had some experience with it. She was intelligent. She understood the industry, and I call her my starter care manager.
Again, I had to go through four — now I have long-term staff. But you also have to learn how to hire, what to look for, what you need, you just get better with experience. Again, you just get better doing it, and I accept that I am going to mess up and I don’t mind anymore. Of course I mind because it is a huge inconvenience, but I’m not angry or self-blaming. I say, "okay, what are we going to learn from this?" And we all agree that next time we hire this care manager or this other person we’re really going to know what to do. You improve each time and the needs change too. You know, the skill sets you might need for a job may change, but right now I‘ve got staff that has been with me for five years, right about five plus years — except for a couple of positions that we have grown in the last couple of years. We made a couple of mistakes in that position but again I look back and it’s like it wasn’t a mistake, it was just learning.
34:51 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, and it’s like you have to look at it that way or else, if you don’t look at it that way, it can crush you. And it’s like that phrase “either you win or you learn but failure is like really a mirage." If you see it as failure then it will be but if you see it as learning then you’ll be able to improve upon it.
35:17 – David Burgess:
I would saw if somebody is looking for a new adventure, if they’re not ready to retire. They want a new adventure in a really fun industry that is challenging but you’re directly helping people every day and you can see it. It’s not just vacuuming their floor better, that’s great. It’s you’re helping them stay in their home and not give up their home of 40 years with their husband and go to assisted living in some strange place. As wonderful as assisted living can be, you know, whatever the level the person is helping them stay there happy, healthy and at home is the Caring Senior Servicer moniker is life-changing, at least for me. That is my sweet spot coaching and helping people and having a business that does it, and it’s just a wonderful thing.
36:08 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, it is. It makes a difference when you’re in a business that you have a strong conviction in like that.
36:17 – David Burgess:
That’s why I tell people like when they say, "Oh I heard this franchise that can make a lot of money." And its like, if you go in chasing the money — obviously the money is important. You have to support your family, you want to be financially successful. But seek a business that you have a strong belief or conviction in first. People go, "Well, I want to be passionate about it. And I’m like, passion is fleeting. Passion is temporary. Don’t chase passion because what you’re passionate about today, you may not be passionate about it a year from now.
You know, before you start the business it’s not that you’re passionate about senior care but you believe in it. You believe in the service and it makes a difference. And then over time, your passion grows because of your conviction and because of your beliefs. So yeah, I just wanted to say that because I hate when people are like, "Oh you’ve got to follow your passion."
Another important thing I think you sparked some thinking is that you really have to go with a franchise that fits your values, that you know Jeff Salter who started our franchise was 19 in Lubbock, Texas, I think, and realized this was a great service. And he had two or three offices and he did everything. He started it from scratch, and he suffered through as a business owner and became very successful. So how that manifests now is that he treats his franchisees with a huge amount of respect. These people have busted their tail and made huge investments. I put everything financially on the line to get started and it’s their business. They need to enjoy the fruits of the labor of their business, but he doesn’t lord over people with the franchise agreement. Of course, he could really enforce business hours. Like one of the big national chains calls the office to see whose there until 5 p.m., and if they’re not, they get warning letters and crazy stuff like that that happens in the world all the time.
You have to go with somebody who trusts that we want to run our own businesses and be successful, and if he knows we’re upholding the mission and values, then he’ll do everything to make sure you’re treated as that business owner. Even though technically in the franchise agreements, they have a lot of power over you. But good ones will never use that because they know it’s in their best interest to help you success. And I was lucky enough to go in with somebody that my intuition told me that is how it would be. I was terrified of going in somewhere and being controlled. Finding a place that doesn’t do that was important.
39:00 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, it’s so great that you had that experience with that other huge franchisor, right, about them not remembering who you were or that you were at confirmation day because what an easy way to start to separate in order for you to be able to make your decision, right. Because unfortunately there are some people that wind up buying franchises and they get into that sort of franchise where it is kind of a dictatorship in terms of you have to do this and you have to follow this, and you have to follow this. So yeah, it’s awesome that your brand is great with franchisees which is important.
39:44 – David Burgess:
And I’m not here at all, I love my franchise, but if there were things I would say, it’s just so important for people looking at it that it has to be a personal connection and trust their intuition and look at the little things. Do they get back to you? Do they treat you respectfully? Do they answer your questions? Do they make time for you? Do they treat you as you would want to treat your clients? It is really those intangibles that are super important.
Not to be negative about franchising but the franchise agreements are very powerful things and you have to be careful you understand them. But you also have to have people in positions to enforce those who understand how to make successful entrepreneurs succeeds is to have a framework but let them run with it as long as they are obviously upholding all the values. That is something you can only do if you really do your research and meet them and take time doing it. You can’t just grab it out of a bag.
40:45 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, no you definitely can’t. So how are you able to make time for travel and you said i took some vacations that maybe I shouldn’t have been taking but I feel like you can’t live to work so how did you pull that off? What are the tips for folks that are entering into the entrepreneur world or existing franchisees and they are in their business working all the time never taking any quality time for themselves?
41:16 – David Burgess:
Well first of all, I didn’t do anything for 18 months. I busted my ass for 18 months. I got a care manager in place, felt like I kind of knew what was happening and went to our owner’s conference in Cancun, which is a nice perk. All the owners get together, but I love ancient civilizations. And I said, "You know what, I can go see one of the seven new wonders of the world at Chichen Itza." My best friend agreed. We met and went down and spent 5 days touring the Yucatan, and you can get a private driver for nothing.
You want to have someone who knows what they are doing, and it was reenergizing and reaffirmed to me psychologically that I am successful now; I own a business; I’m in charge. I can make decisions, but there is never a good time. You can’t do something silly, like just take off on vacation. But once you can, plan it, and decide you can pull the trigger. And even if I lose a caregiver today I’m going to go anyway. I have never regretted it.
I was showing you some of my pictures of my trips that I put up just since I started the business, and it reminds you of why you’re working so hard. You want to enjoy the fruits of your business too. I think holistically speaking, you’ve got to have a balanced life in order to be a successful entrepreneur. In my family and in society, being type A and non-self-indulgent and all these things looking down on taking time off, I’ve gotten smarter and realize that things from my diet to getting enough sleep, it’s okay for me to do that. It’s also okay for me to enjoy my friendships and relationships and grow as a human.
I look back and I think I would have made a huge mistake if I hadn’t made these decisions to go. You know what, I had zero disasters happen except having to do payroll on the floor of a Houston airport like I was telling you about when I was stuck there for 30 hours. Now that has become a story. I had to have a leap of faith that the trip would work too. I guess I had never thought of myself as super faithful, but I guess I’ve shown a lot of good faith in the past seven years. Things work out. You just have to believe. Do your due diligence and work hard but believe. I guess that is what I would tell somebody.
43:42 - Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, I love that. That is solid advice. Do your due diligence and believe, 100%. Cool man. I was going to ask you to close. If you were to give a piece of advice to two different segments, one person who wants to own a franchise and still don’t yet, because we have a bunch of those that watch, and then we have franchisees that watch too. One piece of advice for franchise buyers and one piece of advice for franchisees. What would you say?
44:17 – David Burgess:
Franchise buyers, I would say this likely but it’s a good opportunity for character development in buying a franchise because, when you find yourself going in circles, procrastinating, hand-ringing with worry, getting frustrated — I did that in other areas of my life too. I realized I am just recreating this in the franchise buying process. So take action. What’s holding you back? figure it out, move forward, and circling the drain, I call it, forever, at some point that’s not a good idea. You got to figure out what the block is and move ahead. Nine times out of 10, it’s not a reason not to do it, it’s an old mental block or defense mechanism. So character development in the sense that you’ve got to figure yourself out and decide to move forward.
Current franchisees, I have to thank current franchisees for being my mentors. I had to realize that 95% of the terrible problems I was having on a given day and hiring or something, they happen to everybody. It was the best thing I ever learned from my fellow franchisees in the company and elsewhere to learn that I had to thank them for helping me get where I am. And realize that we are all having the same issues and problems, and you become more trusting. It’s just a big way to grow as a person, so I wouldn’t have so much advice for franchisees as to thank them for helping the newbies come along.
I own a Subaru. It’s like owning a Subaru. It’s weird. It’s kind of creepy almost. You get out in the parking lot and you see the person with the Forrester and I have the Outback, and you start taking about your cars in the parking lot and you’ve never even met them. It happens all the time. It’s the same with franchisees. I think we see each other as in the same club and I think the current franchisees just encouraging them to not forget where they came from and to help that person coming up who is really just you in another body, you know, to success, and I try to do that.
46:24 – Tariq Johnson:
That’s awesome. Do you have a network of franchisees outside of the brand you’re in now or you just connecting mostly with the franchisees in your brand or how does that look?
46:37 – David Burgess:
Well a lot of my people in my social circle and family mostly own their own business. It’s another test. If your friends own businesses and you’ve worked for small businesses, you probably need to own one. It’s one sign. You probably have all kinds of things and that’s one sign. That was always me and I always kind of knew it but I didn’t know how to do it. Anyway, that is something.
Yeah, I mainly network and have teams calls with my other owners that I’ve gotten to be close with on a regular basis, talk to them on a regular basis. Four times a year we all meet in person in one place. So I’m really tightly connected. As much as I want to be with them and also the senior people with the company. In our franchise, the owners and VPs still own their own offices so there is no ivory tower. These people are dealing with the same problem I am. Sure, I know people who own some other franchises as acquaintances and maybe I should be, but I wouldn’t say I am that close with them — certainly not on a let’s go have lunch basis but not really sharing a lot of deep things with them.
47:56 – Tariq Johnson:
Yeah, cool. David, awesome. Thanks for coming on. I really, really enjoyed this conversation. Thanks for sharing all of your insights, your journey, your story. I look forward to doing part 2 at some point.
48:13 – David Burgess:
Tariq, I want to thank you. I’m not sure if your service existed seven years ago but if it did I didn’t find it, and there was a real lack of resources or encouragement or people to help somebody in the stage I was in. And I’m happy to see that it looks like today that’s not the case anymore. Thanks for the opportunity. It’s ongoing and yeah, I would love to come back one day.
48:35 – Tariq Johnson:
Sounds great. All right thanks David. Take care, bye.