Episode #34


How to Plan for Success and Failure in Your Business with Willis Park Corporation’s Aaron Gillaspie

In episode 34 of #FranchiseSecrets Erik Van Horn welcomes Aaron Gillaspie to the show. Erik and Aaron met at a discovery day for a brand Erik was a part of but ended up talking about salon suites. The two have stayed in touch over the years and even become competitors at times.  

 Aaron shares how his father and grandfather influenced his entrepreneurial path through their own business ventures. Aaron opened his first business in college and discovered his skill and love of being a visionary and founder of new ideas and systems. Aaron walks us through his unlikely start in education and how creating new curriculums and studying best practices in education was a perfect training ground to become successful in business and franchising.  

 In this episode, Erik and Aaron cover a lot of ground including: 

  • The importance of having a plan 
  • Knowing enough to answer questions, but being ok with not knowing everything 
  • Making tough decisions 
  • How to know when it is time to give up on an idea and minimize your losses  
  • Keys to determining which franchising consultants you can trust 
  • How to look beyond the FDD to make the best decision for your market 
  • Removing emotion from business decisions

And much more!

The importance of having a plan

Study the environment and know it.  You got to be on the same page somewhere.  At least know where to start. The key is make sure you have something to plan.

Before I ever bought into our first franchise, I'd read over 50 FDDs.  I'd been to over 15 discovery days. I went to knowing I wasn't even going to invest in their companies because I wanted to gain as much information in my arsenal about things that I could, to know as much as I can and talk to as many people, because this is your livelihood. This is something you're signing up for. You want to have every training you can, but the opposite is sooner or later you got to pull the trigger.

You got to do enough to have your plan in place to have answers.

How to look beyond the FDD to make the best decision for your market

You want to get to know more than just an FDD document. You want to know the people. You want to understand the finances.

The biggest question I always wanting to understand is "what about in my markets?"   If I'm looking at markets, what about things like this? You got to manipulate the data to form the story that you needed to understand.  You can't take it at face value. I think the best consultants out there will tell you that and they'll give you the questions to ask and poke around.

Everybody, in my opinion, is spinning those FDDs and, as the person looking at it, need to know the questions to ask to see what the truth is behind it, even though it's accurate numbers, there's a slant to it.

Removing emotion from business decisions

This isn't an emotion. This is business. Focus on the winners.  It's okay. You're going to make it. And even if that means a loss, by the time you do all the transaction fees and the lawyer fees, just don't spend all your time on it. Get rid of the the loser or the low thing and go to the high thing and focus on that.

Some of these things that make money, if your goal is to make money, are not sexy, then there's other people with their ego that need it to be sexy. There's nothing wrong with that. But sometimes you can't have both and you gotta be honest with yourself. I think that was the thing I struggled with most. I think in my head I still wanted to be sexier, even though I thought it was about money when really I should've been focused on the end result and the scalability of what the money and the systems could do versus the sexiness of it.

To hear more about Aaron's journey as a franchisee, listen to the whole episode!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Aaron Gillaspie

Connect With Erik

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