Creative Franchise Owner
This is a story about a creative franchise owner. Tim Young worked in newspaper ad sales for more than a decade.
As the industry began moving into a more digital format, he decided the time was right to move his career in a new direction.
“I started exploring my options and I began researching franchise opportunities that I could afford and that were in an industry I knew something about. I’m not suited for lawn mower repair. Coffee News seemed like a good fit,” he said.
Young had seen a copy of Coffee News while on vacation in Myrtle Beach and held on to it. “I thought, this is kind of cool and I wanted to explore it further, so I made a lot of phone calls to Coffee News publishers,” Young recalled.
He decided to purchase a Coffee News franchise and published his first issue in September of 2007. Today, he publishes four editions of Coffee News in South Carolina.
Publishing the first issue presented some challenges for Young. “Coffee News was new to our area so no one had ever seen it before. That made it hard to sell ads,” he said.
Young admits to being discouraged at first. “One week before the print deadline for my first issue I had only sold three ads. I went into serious panic mode. Then, after some serious prayer, I had an idea,” Young said. Since Coffee News will only sell one ad to different industries (that exclusivity is what attracts many advertisers), Young decided to approach his ad sales by industry.
“I focused on pitching ads to one industry at a time. When I sold an ad in one, I moved on to the next. For example, I called all the heating and air companies, until one said ‘Yes.’ I did the same thing with plumbers and so on,” he said.
Young’s strategy worked. He sold twelve more ads that week and his first edition went to print. “I felt a whole lot better. It was scary at the beginning, but we’re still here,” he said.
In fact, seven of Young’s advertisers have been advertising with him for more than five years. “They know people read the paper and they see a steady return on their advertising investment with Coffee News,” he said.
Young says his advertisers like the exclusivity of advertising with Coffee News. “I have a waiting list of businesses who want in. In fact, my first ad was sold to an Allstate Insurance agent, and other insurance agents still call me trying to get an ad.”
Young said that advertisers often see referrals coming from their ads. “Someone may be talking to a friend about something they need and the friend will recall seeing an ad for it in Coffee News and will mention it to them,” he said.
Young tries to sign up advertisers for thirteen weeks or longer. “The longer they are advertising with us, the better the results and the less likely they will drop out,” he said.
As Young’s business has grown, so has his team. “I used to do my deliveries, but it was cutting into the time I needed to run the business and I was burning a lot of gas racking up miles,” he reflected.
He began exploring options and brought in Brenda, a delivery driver who has been with him for nearly six years. “She’s great and is very community-minded. She even dresses up in Clemson University orange team colors to support our local college football team when she’s out making deliveries. People love her,” he said.
Young’s family has been a big part of the Coffee News business as well. “My wife, Karen, has another job, but she has pitched in to make deliveries and helped out as needed. The same goes for my three stepchildren. Everyone who has ever lived in our house has been part of our paper,” he said.
Young sees no end to his Coffee News business. “I’m 58-years old, with no plans to retire from this business, if it’s God’s will. I enjoy doing it and I get a lot of satisfaction from all the positive feedback we receive from people who read the paper. I plan on doing this for as long as the community will support it.”
Young offered these three tips to be successful in the Coffee News business:
- Identify your key distribution locations – the places where the most people flock to, and make sure they never run out of Coffee News.
- Focus on an industry to sell ads. Talk to everyone in that industry until one person says, “Yes.” Let businesses know that you will only sell one ad in their industry.
- Run added value. If you publish more than one paper, offer a few weeks of free advertising in another edition. It sends your advertisers a message that you want them to see results from their investment.