While some prefer to create their own business, others find comfort in the security of established franchises and their proven methodology.
“[Franchise ownership] is a great way to get into having your own business,” said Jessica Mizell. “It allows you to have something of your own while really minimizing the risk.”
In 2013, Mizell came to Colorado to explore the Front Range.
“I first spent some time in Denver and Estes Park,” she said. “Then, I came back down through Georgetown and did my final days here and really just fell in love with the city.”
A year later Mizell moved to the Springs from Nashville, Tenn.
“It was kind of one of those things where I was just like, ‘I can really do this and did it,’” she said.
After graduating with her associate’s degree in business administration and management from Robert Morris University in Illinois, Mizell spent several years in Music City, U.S.A.
“It was just a great city with great entertainment and the cost of living was great,” she said. “But then I came out here and just fell in love with the Springs. Plus out here, you can be outside year-round and you can’t do that in Tennessee. It’s either really hot and humid or really cold and icy.”
Mizell spoke with the Business Journal this week about why she recommends franchise ownership and her venture to connect local businesses with new residents.
What was your first franchise in Colorado Springs?
I owned a Budget Blinds. It’s an amazing franchise as well. Colorado Springs is just a great place to have a business. The people here are so welcoming and open. I did that for two and half, almost three years, and then had the opportunity to investigate other business opportunities. I knew I didn’t want to leave the area because it’s great but I really wanted a local business that I could connect with on a personal level. I wanted something that really helps the community and fills a gap and that’s what Welcomemat Services does for local businesses. We connect new families coming into the area with local businesses. It’s really a win-win.
How does Welcomemat Services operate?
It’s been around for 15 years. It’s a powerful but simple program where we pinpoint the new residents coming into the area and work with local businesses to provide them welcoming gifts. What we found is new residents are five times more likely to become loyal customers, and that is exactly what local, small businesses need to continue to grow and thrive. In a nutshell, that’s what we do. … It’s a direct mail advertisement. I go out and talk with local businesses and match them with new families that are coming in and by ZIP codes or zone. … It’s a paid service for local businesses but a free service for new residents. The idea is to gift them items to come in. It’s a way of saying, ‘Welcome to the neighborhood,’ and a great way for businesses to introduce themselves to new residents.
Do you have a physical presence?
No. I am primarily mobile. I go out and visit businesses and do a lot of networking. It doesn’t require a physical address, which is a great way to keep the overhead costs down.
What types of businesses do you target?
It works great for pizza shops, local hamburger joints and hair salons. I had my last hairstylist for like 10 years. I work with salons and they invite new residents in for a free haircut to welcome them to the neighborhood. It’s a great way for consumers to try a place out.
Why franchise ownership?
I love the franchise model. They give you the tools and the resources and say, ‘If you can follow this plan and go do it, you will succeed.’ I now have my own business, and this time I really feel like it’s also something for my community. When I sold my Budget Blinds, I knew I wanted to go figure out what else could I do in the area but also what I would love and enjoy doing. Connecting and networking are some of my favorite things to do. I get to do those two things while bringing something to the community that will be very helpful, I believe.
How important is networking to your success?
I think it’s extremely important to me succeeding. I just really launched my Welcomemat Services franchise here this month and can already tell you it’s all about building relationships. Obviously, the system or business model has to work in order for it to be successful too. But I think the population is around 650,000 right now, and you think, ‘Wow, that’s big,’ but really it’s not. It’s amazing to me who knows who here. I think reputation and networking are really important with any job but especially with Welcomemat.
How is the Springs business-friendly?
The growth is fantastic. That’s inviting to all businesses and one of the reasons I moved here. I also just find everyone to be very open and interested in the growth. It’s a very welcoming community. When I have attended some networking meetings, it’s easy to see there is a lot of potential here. And even though we are turning into a big city, we still have that small-town feel but with all the fantastic amenities and without the traffic of Denver. I heard someone say once, ‘When you do the right thing, the right things always happen.’ I just love that and that’s what I have kind of experienced since coming to Colorado Springs.
What are some challenges starting the franchise?
I think it’s the same as with any new business regardless of where you are. It’s just getting in front of the right people. I think the important thing is just getting out there and meeting a bunch of people.
How does the growing population affect Welcomemat?
That’s a key. Our core program is our New Mover [Marketing] Program. It’s based on new renters and homeowners. The idea is to take local businesses and connect them with these new families coming in. I read an interesting stat the other day about businesses and how they lose a good percentage of their clients every year just from normal attrition. We have access to technology and data to figure out who is moving in and that’s a really good way to connect businesses with clients. The idea with the new residents is they are nobody’s clients yet. And after living here even a year, people will have their regular spots.
What about the military presence here?
I didn’t take that into consideration when I decided to open a Welcomemat here but now I do recognize with them there is always a lot of movement and that’s really great for our New Mover [Marketing] Program. I believe that will be very beneficial and helpful for Welcomemat because of the constant regeneration of people coming in.
What advice do you have for someone interested in owning a franchise?
It’s always important to know yourself and to do your homework. This is a fantastic area.
One of the things I found when doing research for my next venture was what do I want to do. There really are some great opportunities out there.
I would recommend making sure that you would love doing the business. There’s lots of ways, especially with a franchise method, to vet it.
Don’t rush into anything. In Colorado Springs, with our growth and the movement going on, it’s a fantastic area to be in. I can’t tell you how excited I am for this new venture.