Investing in a franchise can be a very rewarding second-act career; such is the case for Creative Colors International (CCI) franchisee, Jeff Boyer. After 30 years in the corporate world, Boyer decided he was ready for a change and ventured into the world of small-business ownership.
Today, we talked with Boyer about his journey with CCI. In this interview, Boyer opened up about feeling burnt out from the corporate lifestyle, where a large portion of his time was spent jet-setting around the world. We discussed why he needed a change and how he made his dream of small business ownership a reality. For more information on how you can make CCI your second-act career, visit CreativeColorsIntl.com.
Q: Thank you, Jeff, for joining us today. Can you tell me a little about yourself and how long you’ve been a part of Creative Colors International?
A: I am the CCI franchise owner for the North Dallas surrounding metro area. I purchased an existing CCI location in December of 2016, and have been loving it ever since. Previously, I had been in the corporate world for the last 30 years –always on the sales and marketing end of things. I decided that I had built enough of a financial cushion that I could explore franchising, something I had been thinking about for almost 10 years. I ultimately decided that now was the time to do it! My kids are all in college, so why not? I wanted a business-to-business opportunity that was highly scalable. CCI jumped out at me because I could do both B2B and B2C, and that’s what ultimately drew me to them.
Q: Has your experience in the corporate world always been in Texas? What’s your business background?
A: Most of my career was with two companies. I spent 20 years with Thermo Fisher Scientific doing sales and marketing. I ended my time there as a Vice President of Sales for the western half of the United States. I had around a $108 million budget with them. I left there due to family medical issues – I had been traveling quite a bit both domestically and abroad and needed to be with my family.
After my family situation had stabilized, I joined ITT as a regional sales director for the Americas – from Canada through Argentina. I spent a lot of time traveling in that region and helping with merger and acquisition projects that ended up taking me to Germany and other parts of Europe as well. I am so happy to be out of an airplane and get to stay locally! It’s a pleasure to not have to fly like that anymore.
Q: Tell me more about your wife and how she played into your career choice.
A: My wife is a million-miler on American Airlines, just like I am. She comes from a sales and marketing background and is a tremendous relationship manager and networker. If I ever have an opportunity to bring her into the company (which she has promised me she will do) she will impact this small business in a tremendous way. She could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. I have a feeling that she came on, we would have a hard time keeping up with all of our sales! We’ve been together for six years and just got married in October 2015. She’s just dynamite. She’s a great fit, not only as a relationship partner but also as a future business partner.
Q: Obviously, you were burnt out from all that travel, but what else drove you to enter the small business world?
A: In this day and age, it seems like companies are trying to do more work with fewer people. When you work in publicly-traded corporations, like I did, there is a lot of pressure. My role was to be the leader in growing the company, but my team was made smaller and smaller. Trying to cover such a large territory with such a small team was incredibly difficult. I was personally spending about 70 percent of my time on an airplane and living out of a suitcase. It just became a plate-spinning exercise that wasn’t sustainable. I decided it was probably best for me to look for other opportunities or pursue my long-time goal of moving forward with my own business. My brother and dad both have their own businesses, and it was something I really wanted. Now with my wife at my side, I made the decision to make that leap and start looking at businesses to own.
We found CCI here locally, and, since I wasn’t looking to start something from scratch, it made sense.
Q: What did that timeline look like?
A: I left ITT in August of 2016 and immediately took my family on a scuba diving trip to decompress. I didn’t really know what was going to happen next, but I knew I wanted to do something on my own. I had a nest egg, so I could take my time and make an educated decision.
Once I got talking to CCI, I was impressed by them! I would walk away with a good feeling, and I quickly became intrigued and explored it further.
Q: Tell me about your first year-and-a-half of ownership. How are things going?
A: Coming from my background, I felt pretty confident I could generate top-line profit as long as the product was something of value. When I bought the business from the previous owner, he had one van and had really trapped himself a bit as the “man in the van.”
He was an executive owner, meaning he wasn’t a single-territory owner; he was a multi-unit franchisee, and his wife was a high-up executive at Bank of America. They really didn’t need the money; he was doing this as more a hobby, and he was ready to retire. His wife had just stepped down from her position, and they were ready to move on. It was a perfect situation for me to step in. We came to an agreement and pulled the trigger.
The previous owner was only doing a little over six grand in a month, and last month, we did $18,000, so that’s a marked improvement. I got a second van on the street by early February and upped the employees from zero to four employees. My original business plan was to have nine vans in five years, and it looks like we’ll have four of those vans within our first year.
Q: What have you done differently than the previous owner?
A: We adopted the stance that I will not be trapped in the van. I did do the training so I know how to do the work, but I will not be doing it myself. I will be investing in people and resources in order to properly receive new business volume when it comes in, and so far, it has paid off. The previous owner wanted to see the volume come in before expanding his capacity, so we sort of did the reverse of that. I believe that’s made a huge difference.
Also, with this particular franchise and this specific area (we are one of the fastest-growing relocation areas) there’s almost nowhere we can’t point our targeting and win. There are so many prospects. We’ve expanded beyond automotive and now do work with local dinner theaters and more.
We’ve also begun relationships within the healthcare community which could potentially get us in touch with a whole network of other facilities that we may be able to work in the future.
Not every day has been optimal, but most of them have. It’s been a lot of fun, and I love helping other people have a nice place to work; we’re doing good in our community. That’s been a real motivator for me and my staff. We are really having fun!
Q: What’s next for you? What are your goals?
A: We’re not where we want to be on the top line. We want to be at a predictable $25,000 in in-flow revenue each month. Right now, even with startup expenses, we are not too far away from positive cash flow in the first three months of business, and that’s really exciting. We also hope to solidify the capacity by the end of the year with all of our employees well-trained and comfortable. I’d also like to see four vans and between four and six employees on staff. As for me personally, I don’t want to get bogged down with the clerical end of things – I actually may bring in my Dad to help out on that side of things. It would be nice to work with family.
Our next big strategy will be to branch into online marketing campaigns. Right now, most of our advertising is person-to-person, and we want to expand beyond just that. We may explore some geo-targeted ads. I think, with the right attitude, and a bit of hard work, this CCI franchise can be tremendously successful. It’s been a great second-act career for me, and I highly recommend it. To learn more about CCI of Dallas, visit our website: https://www.wecanfixthat.com/dallas