Life as a Franchise Owner
Wondering what life as a franchise owner is like? Larry Rother of Louisville, Kentucky was sitting around, feeling bored over New Year’s weekend in 2005. To alleviate his boredom, he picked up a copy of Entrepreneur magazine. The issue featured its list of the top 500 franchises.
Just for fun, Rother played a “What franchise would I want to own?” game. “I looked through the list and thought about which franchise I would want, if I could choose one,” he recalled.
After crossing out the franchises that were of no interest to him, he narrowed it down to two. “I was left with Wild Birds Unlimited and Coffee News. But since I have allergies, I crossed the bird business off. That left me with Coffee News,” recalled Rother.
Rother was operating a computer consulting business at the time, but the idea of getting into Coffee News was appealing. He researched it further and decided to purchase a franchise.
For a period of time, he operated both businesses, with the help and support of his wife, Mary Beth. Several years later, he sold his consulting business to run his Coffee News business full-time. “When I was a computer consultant, one mistake could put an entire company out of business. My Coffee News business is low stress and, although it’s not as lucrative, I’ve been really happy doing it,” Rother said.
Today, Rother publishes four editions of Coffee News in the Louisville area. His business model is somewhat unique among Coffee News publishers. “I publish within a large metro area that serves Kentucky and Indiana. We call it Kentuckiana,” he said.
Rother explained that there are a total of ten editions that serve the area. He publishes four of them and collaborates with the other Coffee News publishers who publish the remaining editions.
“Businesses who want to advertise in some or all of our publications can call any one of us. We try to keep it really simple for our advertisers. Then we all split the revenue from ad sales,” Rother explained.
Advertisers appreciate the fact that they can easily target their advertising to their customers and get results. They also like the affordability and exclusivity of advertising with Coffee News.
Rother credits his networking skills as the best way to attract advertisers. “I’m known as a big networker in my community. I know a lot of people and I really enjoy doing it. It’s not about sales, but rather about having a passion to get to know people,” he said.
He admits it’s difficult to measure results when it comes to how advertisers learn about Coffee News. “I can look at my ads and usually trace half of them back to networking. Other advertisers see Coffee News and call about it. I try not to over-analyze it. I just get out there and do it,” Rother said.
Rother prefers to sell short-term ads. “I’m sensitive to the cash flow issues that businesses face. I don’t often sell twelve-month contracts. Initial short-term arrangements seem to work best for my advertisers. Many will stay on longer, but you always lose some,” he said
In addition to networking, there are other aspects of the Coffee News business that Rother enjoys, including the flexibility. “When my daughter was little she never had to go to daycare. We were able to work from home and be here for her. She has a peanut allergy, so Mary Beth would go with her on field trips. The flexibility of this business made that possible. My daughter is sixteen-years old now,” he said.
Rother partners with a state prison to print his Coffee News editions and his deliveries are made by two senior citizens who have been delivering the editions for many years. He also makes some of the deliveries himself. “I enjoy delivering the papers and getting out to meet people,” he said.
Rother credits Coffee News franchisor, Bill Buckley and everyone at Coffee News headquarters for giving him great advice along the way. “They have a formula that works, so why re-invent the wheel? The training and support I’ve received has been exceptional,” he said.
Looking back, Rother is glad he picked up that Entrepreneur magazine and played his “franchise game” back in 2005. It led him to where he is today – doing something he truly enjoys.
Rother offered these tips to be successful in the Coffee News business:
1. Network, network, network. Take a sincere interest in people and really get to know them. Make it about them and not about you.
2. Make it easy for your advertisers to do business with you.
3. Don’t try to re-create the wheel. Coffee News is a great franchise with a lot of experience. Take advantage of the resources, training and support they offer.