Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Becoming Anago Cleaning Systems' sole master franchisee in Puerto Rico was special for Gloria Columna; it represented a triumphant return to her childhood home. After graduating from the University of Puerto Rico, Columna had moved to Florida, where she became an Anago franchisee in 1997. But her goals were bigger than a single franchise. Today, as Anago's only master franchisee in Puerto Rico, she has the ability to open 100 to 150 units in the territory. Here's what she has learned.
Name: Gloria Columna
Franchise owned (location): Anago Cleaning Systems in Palm Beach, Fla. and Puerto Rico
How long have you owned the franchise?
I have been with Anago since 1994, and a franchisee since 1997.
Franchising is a great opportunity for anyone, and especially a minority business person like me. It provided me with a team of professionals and a proven system for success. I started out as a unit franchise owner for Anago of South Florida, and was able to grow my business to the point where I wanted to become a master franchise owner.
What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?
After graduating from The University of Puerto Rico, I moved to Florida. I started a janitorial service in West Palm Beach for residential cleaning. I wanted to get into the commercial cleaning market, and that’s how I found Anago.
Why did you choose this particular franchise?
Being familiar with the industry and the field, I reached out to a friend who was a Unit Franchise Owner with Anago. They were doing extremely well and the start-up cost was incredibly reasonable, so I jumped at the opportunity.
How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?
To start my unit franchise, I would estimate I spent about $10,000 including the franchise fee, supplies and equipment.
Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research?
Besides speaking with my friend who recommended the franchise, I got plenty of help and information from the Anago Team. They were always ready to help and get me the answers to my questions.
I also got plenty of advice from Building Service Contractors Association International (BSCA). As an outside source, BSCA provided some much needed information.
What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?
My major challenge was keeping up with the growth once we got going. Anago got me lots of contracts and my business grew quickly. We had to make sure we could do every job to maintain future growth and brand awareness without spreading ourselves too thin.
What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?
If you are willing to work hard and follow their system you will have a high probability of success. That's why franchises are a great opportunity. The model is proven, but the model needs a driven entrepreneur that can run the business and stay the course for ensured success.
What’s next for you and your business?
I just purchased and opened the master franchise for Puerto Rico. It is extremely rewarding to me that I built my Anago unit franchise in South Florida and can now be a master franchise owner of my own territory – especially Puerto Rico, where I was raised. To anyone that asks, I proudly say that I am an Anago Franchise Owner.
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