After a career as a captain in the U.S. Army and later director of small business marketing at BellSouth, Nicole Siokis was looking for a challenge that would both fulfill her needs and accommodate her schedule as a mother of a young daughter. She found it by signing up in 2009 as a franchisee for Mom Corps, a nationwide flexible-staffing firm that, since its inception in 2005, has grown into a thriving enterprise with 19 locations across the country. Now president and owner of Mom Corps - Atlanta, Siokis oversees two part-time recruiters who cater to major corporate clients, while registering approximately 18,000 job candidates in the state. (Nationwide, Mom Corps has a database of 70,000 plus candidates.) Recently, Siokis took a breather from her busy schedule to speak with business writer Iris Dorbian about the trials and triumphs of being a franchisee.
ID: What led you to become a franchisee for Mom Corps?
NS: I’ve always worked for big organizations, but I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit. When I decided to leave BellSouth, they had the option of letting people go and take [severance] packages. I thought this was a good time for me to go out and do something on my own. With Mom Corps, this was the chance to run my own business with infrastructure support around me. The franchise gave me all of that without my having to invest in it all myself. And as a mom, the Mom Corp concept was something I believed in. The two things combined were a match made in heaven.
NS: When I left BellSouth, I ended up working for an executive search firm in Atlanta. It was during that time that I got to know the founders of Mom Corps. [The firm] had an informal partnership with them. So I got to know them on a personal level. Then in 2009 when they decided they were going to franchise out, they said they were looking for people who have a business background, but who also understand staffing and recruiting. That’s the background I have. In talking with them it was just something I started to investigate and pursue a little further.
ID: What are the rewards and challenges of being a franchisee for Mom Corps?
NS: The reward is I get to run my own business. I’m my own boss. I make my own schedule and I set my own priorities. Anything I want to do with my business is up to me. And I love that part of it. The challenge for me is how to grow the business. When do I hire somebody? How do I hire somebody? What area do I hire somebody in? What payroll services do I use? What are the best resources for me on how to grow and where to grow?
ID: Describe in brief a day in the life of being a franchisee.
NS: My week always starts on Sunday because Sundays I’m looking at the week’s priorities, what I need to get done that week. Then I start on Monday meeting with the recruiters and then we outline what the goals, objectives, and deadlines are for that week. Then once we have a job we’re trying to fill—once we get candidates—I will talk with all of those candidates before they go and interview with my clients. And then I’ll get feedback from the clients to find out how the interviews went. Then I talk to the candidates and get their interest levels and start doing reference checks. Because I maintain the client relationship, I like to be actively involved in that and let the recruiters do the sourcing and the initial interviews with the job candidates.
ID: What would make clients come to Mom Corps for staffing needs?
NS: They come to us for two different reasons. In the larger companies, it may be that they have a project that’s going to take six months and need someone that’s going to help them for that time. Once that project is over, then that person is out. A great example of that is our client Equifax. They’ll say one of their recruiters went out on maternity leave, so they need a recruiter to work for six months until the staffer returns.
In the smaller to midsized companies, they tend to use us when they have jobs that are new or they’re not sure if they’re sustainable. For example, they’ll say, ‘I have this new job in which I see this need (i.e. accountant, marketing). I think it’s 25 to 30 hours a week. I’m busy now and I’m hoping it’s going to be busy six months from now.’ So they’re looking for a professional level person who isn’t necessarily looking for that 40 to 50 hours a week. Somebody who can appreciate that reduced-hours, flexible schedule.
ID: What kind of marketing support, if any, does the corporate office provide you as a franchisee? Further, what kind of demands, operational and financial, does corporate make?
Our corporate folks provide great marketing support. Corporate manages our national PR efforts, which often trickles down to local PR opportunities as well. They provide overall brand strategy and develop collateral such as sales tools kits, e-brochures, weekly candidate newsletters, quarterly client newsletters and website and Facebook content development. (Our local Facebook pages are tied to the corporate page but we can add our own content as well).
In terms of operational/financial demands, there are certain reporting requirements we have such as quarterly financials. We do have an operations manual that dictates several processes and requirements that must be followed (i.e. filing paperwork such as I-9 verification for all new hires in accordance with labor laws, etc). We also have revenue/royalty minimums after franchise has been in service for one year.
ID: Based on your experience, what would be your tips to other people wishing to become franchisees? What should they do and what should they avoid?
NS: Due diligence is really keen. Look at the FDD—that’s the disclosure document. Talk with other franchisees. Find out from some of the franchisees what are the challenges and what kind of support do they get from the corporate office. Really make sure you do your prep work ahead of time.
ID: What type of business person would be better suited to become a franchisee?
NS: If you work for a company and you want to go out and do something on your own, it’s a big capital investment to have to put all this infrastructure in place. Franchising gives you an opportunity to run a business, but it also gives you some infrastructure that if you went out on your own exclusively, you wouldn’t necessarily have.
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