Running a profitable franchise as a father, husband and former astronaut-hopeful
The franchise outlook from the eyes of current franchise owner Doug Hayden
Doug Hayden hasn’t always had the best run of things when it comes to business.
In 2013, shortly after his mother-in-law unfortunately passed of breast cancer, the pair attempted to take over the 70-year-old family business, where they manufactured equestrian gear and sold it wholesale to distributors.
“Nobody knew anything,” said Doug Hayden, current owner of The Flying Locksmiths Indianapolis market. “So the next day we tried to sit down and run this business that had been going for 70-years with no guidance or manuals or passwords, absolutely nothing. it was a rough couple of years to get our feet into the business and the business wasn't in good shape anyway.”
He says this experience was the impetus for his thought to own a franchise in the first place.
“I was trying to start something existing, in or around the service industry because that’s what I pinpointed to be longer lasting that wouldn’t change overnight,” he said.
A franchise-owner now for two-and-a-half years, he says he feels confident about his future in part due to the support he receives from the Franchise Network and other owners and the space The Flying Locksmiths occupies in the security and service industry overall.
The service industry is fragmented, and quality and experience levels differ from market to market, so if you’re a national company looking to employ a service company, consistency in quality is incredibly important. The Flying Locksmiths solves this in part by harnessing the centuries of experience held between their 100s of employees and owners across the country.
From an owner’s perspective, it’s a strong proposition, due to the company’s unique position as an almost unchallenged disruptor in the security industry. It allows a stable source of revenue, making The Flying Locksmiths a profitable franchise opportunity overall.
As far as the service industry is concerned, Doug is a great fit for it. Down to his very bones, Doug is a man possessed of an intense wanderlust and constant need for change. Imagining him remaining stagnant is like imagining a lion eating tofu—it just goes against his very architecture.
Tracing that back before he was owner, before his college days, before his marriage and the birth of his first son—Doug was just a boy possessed of an intense desire to be an astronaut.
“I was and am obsessed with space and NASA and wanted to be a flight director,” Doug said. “The unknown of it, the danger of it, the situations. I just thought it'd be a really cool job and really cool place to work.”
In the 5th grade, he had an opportunity to go to the Kennedy Space Center. This was in the late 90s, and being there only enhanced the passion and drive he had for his dream.
No less, of course, because he had an opportunity to meet an astronaut during an interview panel session.
“That was my special moment,” Doug said. “I remember him being up on stage and being awe inspired. It was like I met a rock star or an athlete it was the pinnacle of celebrity at the time.”
The dream that consumed his childhood, of course, fizzled out as they often do as the intimidating bulwark of working life eventually caught up with him.
As he got into high school, his interests pivoted to entrepreneurship. His father had worked for 30-years, but always had side projects running small businesses. Within that time, Doug’s father had owned five businesses.
“He was a hard worker he was not always around but that was because he was working every night,” Doug said. “I was fascinated mostly helping out but that usually turned out, he liked to teach so it would usually turn into him teaching me about business and what he was working on or why he was working on it.”
This experience with his father made him replace his life goal from becoming an astronaut to becoming a business owner himself. As he went through college though, his attention turned to what business he would own.
That’s when he began researching the Flying Locksmiths and found it to check all the boxes he needed. It was a good deal of work though.
“Until you get in there it's hard to picture that,” He said. “I opened April 1st and July 6th my first son was born. It compounded the work there for those first couple years.”
He says though, the support he receives, and the immediate demand of the business-model sets it distinctly apart from his attempt to take over his mother-in-law’s company many years ago.
“As time goes on and as the whole strength of the company grows and as we finish completing that map— it's going to get stronger the more people we have,” Doug said.
“Franchise owners and corp., I think there is a lot of people mostly moving in the same direction with the same end goal in mind that's helping us get there.”
How Mark Heidel built a business he could be proud of off a simple franchise opportunity
What does The Flying Locksmiths mean to Mark and his customers?
In the hare scramble, Mark Heidel was king. He was 9, weaving between trees on his motocross bike from start to finish knowing a wrong turn could mean more than a scraped knee. But still, he loved it. The wind at 50 MPH, darting around trees, the excitement like a bird in his chest ready to break out—he loved it all.
“My passion was how fast I could go in racing,” Mark said. And of course to “win at all costs.”
It was the freedom of it, he says. The wind and the excitement and the danger was secondary to the freedom. As he aged, he would work multiple jobs to ensure his freedom and a stable source of pocket cash.
Decades later, Mark hasn’t changed much. At 58, he still rides motocross, he’s still working constantly—and he’s still focused on his freedom.
Now as the owner of The Flying Locksmiths’ Detroit market, Mark says he gets that opportunity every day.
“I wanted to work for myself and thought it would be a franchise I went with because I didn't want to start from scratch,” Mark said.
Worries about establishing a from-scratch business remain a common anxiety from those seeking franchise opportunities. Business establishment without any support is one of the most difficult and stressful tasks for anyone, let alone someone who has never done it before.
It was this hang-up about business ownership that caused him to reach out to a franchise coach in the first place and ultimately discover The Flying Locksmiths five-years ago.
Nowadays, despite the difficulties of COVID-19 and owning a business in general, Mark says he’d do it all again.
According to Mark, the direct-sales aspect is what he likes most owning a Flying Locksmiths franchise. He has spent his entire career working either in national sales or brand marketing.
Whether he was managing the CD buys for some of the largest retail stores in America or building out those retail stores, it was building and maintaining those relationships that appealed to him most.
“I enjoy it,” Mark said. “I enjoy the selling, the pushing the motivating the team, learning new products and solutions I can bring to my clients at some point, I like always growing and learning and never being stagnant. This allows us that because we're constantly learning new technology. Five-years ago if you told me I could hang with an IT director at a large company, I'd have said no way.”
The Flying Locksmiths is a solid choice for people with Mark’s background. For one, TFL has a foothold in the profitable subcontracting industry for some of the largest property management and security companies in the world—so there’s immediate demand.
Ultimately, Mark said, he enjoys the franchise opportunity he took with TFL. The excitement of knowing every aspect of what he does reminds him of his childhood doing hare scrambles where watching potholes and curves was just a way of life.
“I know exactly where we’re headed,” Mark said. “It allows me to focus on that and be better educated and give a higher degree of selling on my side. It's not just reading a marketing sheet on a website, I know how it works.”
How Michael Broussard flipped a franchise opportunity into a family venture
Former restauranteur details his trip from lost to found with The Flying Locksmiths
It might as well have been yesterday, Michael recalls.
“I can still hear the deadbolt when I locked [my restaurant] for the last time and had to tell my employees we were closing,” he said. “It was hard. It was really hard. The look on their faces and the fact you’re putting them out of work. That was difficult for me. Really difficult. it took me a while to get over that.”
He wasn’t just locking the door on five-years of sweat, stress lines and sleepless nights—he was locking the door on a chapter in his life he would miss. The evenings his daughter Michaela spent waving at patrons as they walked in to get orders in his Austin Cajun restaurant, the parking lot parties, the crawfish boils—he was closing the door on that for himself and for his employees.
Now the owner of the South Tampa territory for The Flying Locksmiths, Michael looks back on that time with fond memories no less because his current situation mirrors when he owned the restaurant.
His oldest, Michaela, and daughter Paris currently work with him operating the five-year-old location. He says the fact he’s keeping the franchise in the family makes him incredibly proud.
“I really love it,” Michael said. “Actually, I got a text the other day from Michaela. At 2:15 in the afternoon, she says: ‘quick thing, I [really] love working for/with you’—and that makes everything better, right? It makes it so much better to have my daughter working with me, and to get a text like that? It makes everything better.”
But of course it wasn’t always like this. When he shuttered his restaurant, he and his wife, Tammy, moved to Florida so she could pursue a high-paying management position. During the next few months, Michael would work several positions, but generally felt like a ‘fish-out-of-water’ until he landed in a sales position at a global service company.
For the next 12 years, he toiled away, grinding away at metrics and sharpening his sales skills until he eventually moved up to management. It was in this role the stress overtook him.
“I was running ragged and the pressure to just perform at some point was so much that I said I just I couldn’t do this anymore,” Michael said.
Following that, it wouldn’t be until he approached a franchise coach, he had another chance at working for himself again. After narrowing down a list of franchise opportunities to just five, he said he ultimately went with The Flying Locksmiths due mainly to the support and culture.
“The Flying Locksmiths was catchy.” He said. “When we saw the marketing behind it and the buzz and the story behind it, that's what we landed on.”
Working for himself with his family he says scratches that itch to break out from under the thumb of bosses before him and do what he loves.
Just like the support network as a whole, Michael’s branch is still growing and improving. With the help of his family and his passion though, there isn’t much he can’t overcome.
“I love sales, I really do,” Michael said. “What I'm doing now, I don't have to worry about anyone else. I'm right here and what I'm doing matters today—and that's why I love what I'm doing.