Arne Tjerno is the President of A Buyer’s Choice Home Inspections, the largest professional home inspection company in Canada today. Now in business for five years and offering franchise opportunities for the past three, A Buyer’s Choice is well on its way to achieving its goal of becoming the number one company of its kind in the U.S. by 2015.
He recently took some time out of his busy schedule to share his thoughts with BusinessOpportunity.com’s Entrepreneur Exchange about what it takes to make it in business today…
How does someone know if they have what it takes to own their own business? Tell us a bit about how you made the decision and why.
You have to have a great desire to be your own boss and control your own destiny. It’s also a must that you be disciplined and singularly focused.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in your first six months in business? How did you meet that challenge?
Our biggest challenge was in identifying our customers…who were they? And then we also had to work on how to find them. Keeping the doors open while developing our client base was tough, but we got through it and have much to show for it today.
What do you think is the greatest challenge facing business owners today and why? Any suggestions for how to address those challenges?
Selling themselves and their business as a better alternative than the competition is a real challenge. You’re best solution to that problem is to follow the franchisor’s business plan. After all, that’s what you paid for.
What is the single strongest piece of advice you would have for someone just starting out in business for themselves?
Find a franchise that matches your needs and desires and has a plan for you to follow. Don’t give up. Have confidence in your ability and the business you bought into. Starting a business is a struggle that has many rewards, but you need to stick with it and work diligently toward your goal.
What would you say is the one thing that new business owners forget about or overlook when they’re just planning/starting out?
They don’t put enough time into their marketing plan and then an alternative marketing plan on top of that…you must do it more than once!
What marketing strategies have you found to be most successful in growing your business?
You have to do a marketing plan and follow it, and you must offer superior customer service. You need to be out there visiting your customers and prospects at all times. Do not let them forget you. In addition, online marketing is the way to go so you are directed to like-minded people with the same interests.
What is it about the business/industry you are in that made it so attractive to you?
It’s a service industry, and our service is in high demand across the board in North America, where 95+% of all real estate transactions involve a home Inspection. It was apparent from the start that there is a great need for good quality, professional home inspectors. Plus, many people want to own their own business in the field, so we developed a business model that anyone can follow regardless of their education or background.
After the initial start-up phase in business, what obstacles do business owners face as they try to grow their business and remain successful? Any advice for how to overcome those obstacles?
Trying to stay sharp and focused and continue on with your marketing plan is a challenge. Most people get discouraged with “no,” but you have to understand that you will hear many “no’s” before you hear “yes’s” when you own your own business. Stay confident and persevere.
What on-line, software or other resources have helped you the most in managing all aspects of your company? Why and how have they been helpful?
Email, online presentations, Power Point, the phone, and proprietary inspection software and reporting systems are most beneficial in this industry.
What did you do before you decided to become your own boss, and how have those skills helped you in your current business?
I was a chef that moved to the fast-food industry, where I learned my people skills. I was also a licensed realtor and broker-owner, and I have more than 28 years of experience in franchising.
What process do you follow to successfully close on a lead and make the final sale? Any tips?
I use the “keeping the body warm” formula. Get in front of them, explain thoroughly everything involved in the business and be knowledgeable about what you’re offering.
If you work from home, what are the greatest benefits to doing so? What are the drawbacks, and how do you manage them?
The biggest drawback is lack of motivation. You can overcome it by following a strict routine, including getting dressed as if you were going to the office, planning the day and working the plan.
If you bought into an already existing business opportunity, distributorship, licensee opportunity or small franchise, how and why did you make that choice?
I did not; I started the franchising end of the company from scratch.
What is/are your favorite motto and/or quote when it comes to business? Any final words of encouragement and/or inspiration for the budding entrepreneur?
As a franchisee, you are in business for yourself, not by yourself!
More about Arne and A Buyer’s Choice:
Now in business for five years and counting, A Buyer’s Choice is offering franchises to qualified candidates who see a profitable future in the burgeoning home-inspection industry. Together, Arne and his partner Bill Redfern represent more than 50 years of combined real estate, construction and franchising experience. Both Arne and Bill pride themselves on their willingness to share this wealth of knowledge with and provide ongoing support to their franchisees at every level to ensure their success over the long-term.