101 Moves Ahead with Franchise Expansion Plans

There's a reason that every Westin hotel or every Starbucks has a common look and flavor regardless of its location. Consumers like consistency: It tells them what to expect when they arrive in a hotel lobby or approach a barista at the counter.

101 Mobility, a mobility provider in Wilmington, N.C., wants to bring that same brand awareness to HME's retail sales niche. The plan: to expand 101 Mobility by offering investors the opportunity to become franchise holders who will serve baby boomers and their families.

Says CEO Dave Pazgan, "There's a couple of reasons why we think franchising is a good way for us to grow our company. One of the main reasons is because of the types of products we sell and the fact that they most often require some installation and service after the sale and a lot of local activity in the market. It takes somebody who's rooted in the market, who's around and is going to be around to provide that face-to-face interaction with the customer, to make sure that the products are professionally installed and make sure that they've got somebody they can call who can come out and provide any service that might be needed down the road for regular maintenance."

Pazgan says the industry is currently "a very fragmented one." In the area of 101's expertise - mainly modular ramps, automotive ramps and lifts, patient lifts, vertical porch lifts and stairlifts - he says, "There aren't any national brand names or recognizable names out there from the dealership perspective."

101 Mobility, with an eye on the baby boomer market, would like to change that. For an initial investment estimated at $85,000 to $120,000-plus, a franchise holder would be working in his or her own neighborhood while also benefitting from centralized corporate resources, including what Pazgan describes as a proprietary customer management system.

That system would enable various 101 offices to share data as needed, so, for instance, a consumer could purchase an automotive lift at home, but stop by a different 101 office if he had problems with the lift while traveling. That second 101 office would have access to the consumer's purchasing history, thus enabling the consumer to "have that problem addressed with minimal hassle on their end," Pazgan says.

He adds, "The way I see it working is our franchisees will be interacting quite a bit: sharing ideas, sharing best practices, sharing customer information when that's appropriate."

Regular inspections and 101's franchise operations manual would ensure that all franchises live up to 101 standards and are providing similarly high-quality customer service across the board. There's also a "conversion" option for current HME business owners looking to turn their locations into 101 franchises - at a lower cost than investors would pay if they're starting from scratch.

Pazgan says the program is "up and running from a marketing standpoint" and that 101 Mobility is talking to potential franchise holders "on a daily basis at this point." If this sounds like a good business opportunity for you, check out 101 Mobility's dedicated franchise Web site: 101mobilityfranchise.com.

This article originally appeared in the July 2010 issue of Mobility Management.

About the Author

Laurie Watanabe is the editor of Mobility Management. She can be reached at lwatanabe@1105media.com.

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