Building a Family Legacy through Franchise Ownership

Welcome to another episode of Atlanta Franchise Today with host Leslie Kuban, expert franchise consultant and owner of FranNet Atlanta. Many parents dream of creating a legacy for their family by owning a successful business and transitioning it to their children. In this episode, Leslie sits down with Bill Siegel, the former owner of CertaPro Painters in Norcross and Duluth, and Anne Marie Siegel who became the new owner on January 1, 2022, when she purchased the business from her father.

Transcription:

Leslie Kuban:
Welcome to the show, both of you.

Anne Marie Siegel:
Thanks for having us.

Bill Siegel:
Thank you, Leslie.

Leslie Kuban:
It’s great to have you. Congratulations.

Anne Marie Siegel:
Thank you.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, let’s talk a little bit about your business first. Tell us about CertaPro Painters and who your customers are and how you help them.

Anne Marie Siegel:
Sure. We are a painting company. We do residential and commercial painting, interior and exterior. For residential, we do interior, exterior. On the exterior side, we do carpentry, any kind of wood rot, repairs like that. Interior, we can do walls, trim, kitchen cabinets. On the commercial side, we kind of go anywhere. We work with a lot of different HOA communities, property managers, churches, any kind of retail stores. So a little bit of everything.

Leslie Kuban:
I bet you guys have been busy.

Anne Marie Siegel:
We have. We’ve been picking up a lot of the late nights.

Leslie Kuban:
That’s great. That’s great. Good problem to have.

Anne Marie Siegel:
It’s a very good problem to have, and that’s what everyone keeps telling me.

Leslie Kuban:
Bill, so you got started with the business first, so let’s talk about you a little bit. What was your career before CertaPro, and then your journey as a CertaPro owner?

Bill Siegel:
Sure. Yeah, I was in the corporate world, Leslie, for 27 years, and same company for that length of time. The last 10 years, I was president. It was a global consumer products company, and I was president of the US/Canada/ Latin America. In 2010, the company was bought by another multinational. It was time to do something else. Had the fortunate opportunity of meeting you at a networking event, and we started to talk and started talking about franchising. It really, really interested me, and I remember you recommended that I read a book. And I can’t remember the name of the franchising book, but I bought the book and went on vacation with the family. Read the book while on vacation. Talked to my wife. I said, “This is what I want to do.” And I remember coming back, my wife and I meeting you, and hashing out different businesses, different opportunities. And finally settled on CertaPro, and it’s been fantastic.

Leslie Kuban:
I bet it was Street Smart Franchising.

Bill Siegel:
It was Street Smart Franchising. That is exactly what it was.

Leslie Kuban:
Yes. Do you happen to remember what it was in the book that just had you change your thinking to do something new?

Bill Siegel:
You don’t think of franchising. You think of McDonald’s or Subway or whatever, but you start to read about franchising and all the different types of franchise businesses out there. It’s just immense. It’s an immense network of small business owners. It’s something I really wanted to do. I just wanted to build something for myself, after being in the corporate world for so many years.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, you built another company, working for someone else.

Bill Siegel:
I did.

Leslie Kuban:
Now, you’ve done it for yourself, and in comes Ann Marie. Tell us a little bit about your background. And was it always in the plan for you to take over the business, or how did that come about with you guys?

Anne Marie Siegel:
Yeah, so it wasn’t always in the plan. I was actually a teacher for five years, in Gwinnett County. I did elementary school teaching. I had just earned my Master’s degree, and I just decided I wanted a change. I actually went to my dad and asked him, said, “Hey, I’d like to try something different. Can I try it out for a year, see if I’m good at it?” He actually said no, at first. He still saw me as that teenager. Didn’t really know what I had grown into and was capable of.

Anne Marie Siegel:
So long story short, we ended up giving it a try. I started off as a residential sales associate for him, and then I became a commercial sales associate, and then as the years went on, we gained employees and lost employees. So I was always training and learning, and I’ve been the office manager, the production manager. Then the last two years, the general manager. So I’ve really gotten a chance to wear all the different hats.

Leslie Kuban:
You’ve learned it from the inside out.

Anne Marie Siegel:
I have. Trial by fire.

Leslie Kuban:
So what you guys are doing, it really is the dream of so many people. They dream of starting a business. They want to create a legacy, an opportunity for their family, and have a child come in and take it over successfully. Bill, that’s a dream that I hear all the time.

Bill Siegel:
I couldn’t ask for a better situation, Leslie.

Leslie Kuban:
So will you guys share with our viewers? How are you handling that? Because you want that to be a smooth transition. Can I be nosy and ask you about your conversations about how you’re making that work? And is CertaPro involved with that?

Bill Siegel:
Yeah, so the transition, Leslie, has been really smooth, I got to say. I mean, there’s always some growing pains, transitioning and closing out work from last year, as Anne Marie took over this year. But it’s been really, really smooth. The nice thing about it is the buyer is my daughter, who’s worked in the business for four-plus years. So she knew exactly what the business meant and what’s all involved.

Bill Siegel:
The franchise has always been extremely supportive. I’ve always maintained a very strong relationship with them. And Anne Marie, quite frankly, over the four years she’s been with me, she’s developed a name for herself within the franchise group. So it was pretty much a smooth transition, really, and I look forward to supporting her as needed, going forward.

Leslie Kuban:
And you went to training and same thing as a new franchise owner would?

Anne Marie Siegel:
I did. I went to all the training, all the owner 101s that I had to. And then my dad is actually still on board as my advisor, so he’s still involved when I need him, and he’s just making sure that the business follows the growth path of success that we’ve set out. So it’s nice to know that he is looking over my shoulder and will catch me if I fall.

Leslie Kuban:
And what are your plans, Bill? What’s in the cards for you, moving forward?

Bill Siegel:
Well, a lot of R&R and some travel, Leslie. I just want to be able to spend more time with my family, spend more time with my wife, do some traveling. I have a million vices and hobbies. I love to golf and fish and hunt and all these outdoor activities, gardening. So I’m keeping busy. I’m finding a lot of household projects that were on pause, that I may not be the expert at doing them, but you can find anything on YouTube. So I’ve put in some low-voltage lighting and all kinds of little projects around the house.

Leslie Kuban:
Oh, fun. Honey-Do list.

Bill Siegel:
Exactly.

Leslie Kuban:
But let’s go back to you. You learned this business over the last four years, but Bill, you came into this knowing nothing about the painting industry.

Bill Siegel:
Correct.

Leslie Kuban:
So what do you say to that person who is of the mind that, “I couldn’t be successful with the business if I don’t have any experience in I?” I hear that a lot. What’s your thoughts on that?

Bill Siegel:
Yeah, I don’t think that’s true, Leslie. You really don’t need experience. I was an experienced businessman. I didn’t have experience in painting, and I felt that that knowledge would help me succeed with a company. And CertaPro is a great franchise. They have a lot of systems to help you, and so the transition for me was really smooth, and even for Ann Marie, coming in from being a school teacher. You don’t necessarily need the background in painting to be a successful owner.

Leslie Kuban:
And I’ve heard neither of you say you’ve been up on a ladder painting. You’ve been on the business functions of the business.

Bill Siegel:
Correct.

Anne Marie Siegel:
Honestly, it’s hard work and dedication. I spent a lot of time researching online about different paints and products and a lot of time learning from my crews. They’ve been able to teach me a lot, to help bid the jobs and do all of that.

Bill Siegel:
The painters really are the lifeblood of our business, Leslie. They’re the guys who get it done. They spend more time with our customers than anyone. They’re dedicated. They’re loyal. They’re hardworking. They’re family members, family men and women. So we just really embrace our crews, and they’re the guys who really deliver the extraordinary experience for our customers.

Leslie Kuban:
So what is the makeup of your business? You have a general manager. You have an office manager. Just what’s the org chart look like for your operation?

Anne Marie Siegel:
Yep, so we have two residential sales associates. We have a production manager and an office manager, and they do more of the office stuff, keeping an eye on the crews. And then I am the owner and also currently commercial sales, so I’m looking to hire a commercial salesperson, as well. But yeah, and then we have about 14 crews, give or take, depending on the season.

Leslie Kuban:
That’s not a little business.

Bill Siegel:
No, it’s not.

Leslie Kuban:
That’s a multi-faceted operation.

Anne Marie Siegel:
It sure is.

Leslie Kuban:
So you mentioned due diligence a second ago, Anne Marie. And going back to your research phase of all of this, thinking back, if you can, to that. Because a lot of people are in the same boat that you were, and you both were at this maybe a crossroads, thinking, “What do I want to do next? I don’t want to keep doing what I’ve been doing.” But there’s a lot of research that needs to be done. So what advice would you have for that guy or gal or family on the questions they should be asking?

Bill Siegel:
Yeah, I’d say, “Do your homework, for sure. This is a life-changing decision, to do something different, to buy a new business.” So I spent a lot of time speaking with franchise owners before I bought my franchise. Many, many franchise owners. Got a chance to understand the challenges they have, the opportunities that are there, understand the financials. I spent days in their office to see what a day-to-day would look like. So I think it’s important to dig as deep as you can. Ask all the questions. Make sure it’s what you want to do and the financial opportunity is there. And so I’d say really do your diligence.

Bill Siegel:
The nice thing about CertaPro, I spoke to other franchise groups when we were in the process of looking, Leslie, and I talked to a lot of people, and I’d get different answers and different things. It was all over the place. When I spoke with CertaPro, things were very consistent, from what I was hearing, and that was reassuring, for sure.

Leslie Kuban:
And you can’t be afraid to ask financial questions. I know we’re taboo to talk about money, but this is a livelihood.

Bill Siegel:
Absolutely.

Leslie Kuban:
So you’ve got to be able to ask numbers questions, and you found franchisees willing to talk about that?

Bill Siegel:
Yes, yeah. They’re very willing, and that’s the nice thing about CertaPro and our franchise group. After I bought my business, new franchisees were calling me, asking me about the business and what they should look out for, what they should look for. And I was certainly always there to help, so it’s really a great network.

Leslie Kuban:
Right. Giving back when you’re on the other side.

Bill Siegel:
Exactly.

Leslie Kuban:
Of that franchise agreement. What about you? Due diligence advice, Anne Marie? What would you advise others that they should be asking of themselves or of other franchise owners, if they’re thinking about getting into this themselves?

Anne Marie Siegel:
I would just say as long as they’re willing to put in the work, and like my dad said, do their research, make sure it’s something that they feel like they can do and be successful at. And as long as they set their mind to it, they can do it.

Leslie Kuban:
And you were in every role of the business.

Anne Marie Siegel:
I was.

Leslie Kuban:
So I think that’s what it really comes down to, a lot, is understanding what your function as the owner would be and feeling good that you can succeed in that.

Anne Marie Siegel:
Yep, absolutely.

Leslie Kuban:
So what are your plans, Ann Marie, for the rest of this year? Where do you want to take the business? What are your goals?

Anne Marie Siegel:
We want to just grow, so our goal is to grow. My next step, as I said, was hiring a commercial salesperson to help take over that, because that has been really busy, and it’s hard to juggle when I’m trying to do a lot of other roles, as well. So just keep growing, keep making sure our customers are happy, our crews are happy, and that we’re successful.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, that’s fantastic. I’m really so happy for you both. Congratulations.

Anne Marie Siegel:
Thank you.

Bill Siegel:
Thank you, Leslie.

Leslie Kuban:
So how can viewers get in touch with you?

Anne Marie Siegel:
Sure. I would say the best way is they can just Google us: CertaPro Painters of Duluth and Norcross. And when you Google that name, you will be able to see our Google reviews. You will be able to see our team, meet our team on our website. There’s a bunch of contact information on there: our email, our phone number. And we would be more than happy to hear from you, whether you’re a customer or a future franchise owner.

Leslie Kuban:
That’s great

Anne Marie Siegel:
Call or email us any time.

Leslie Kuban:
Well, thank you so much for joining today.

Anne Marie Siegel:
Thank you for having us.

Bill Siegel:
Thank you, Leslie.

Leslie Kuban:
And folks, thanks for joining us on another episode of Atlanta Franchise Today, and I look forward to seeing you next week.


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