Why a Franchise? Because I Was Laid Off Three Times

Posted by Pete Gilfillan and Nat Truitt on Jun 2, 2021 1:10:00 PM

Pete and Nat are joined by a very special guest this week. Another podcast host and franchisee! Ray Pillar of Molly Maids in Aurora, Illinois comes on to discuss why he became a franchisee and why it is often the right choice for others.

He worked at one of the companies rated the best to work for and was laid off and got tired of letting other people determine his fate. He wanted to be a handyman services franchisee because it is what he enjoyed, but invested in Molly Maids–and he HATES cleaning.

You can hear his terrific story and how it can help you move past your worries and seize the opportunity to become a franchisee.


Pete:                All right, welcome, Nat.


Nat:                  I'm excited to be here. Got the sun shining.


Pete:                The sun is shining, a little chilly. I think like eight degrees; it feels like four below. But it's all good from that standpoint. So funny story to start the podcast, right? So my daughter's in the hospital once again, that's kind of a going thing with us, right? But we're having some work done in the house, and specifically, it's in her bathroom.

So I said, listen, I'm going to have to clean your bathroom because you're not here. I go up there, and I go holy cow, I mean, we have not raised our kids right. I mean, it was just total trash; her bathroom was trashed.

And her bedroom too, but I'm looking like holy cow, it like took me a half an hour to clean your bathroom. And I'm not good at cleaning, but I'm like holy cow from that standpoint. So I'm pretty excited about our guest today because I think he can help us with that standpoint.

So we have Ray Pillar, and he is a Molly Maid, one of the original Molly Maid franchisees. So why don't we welcome him in, and let's have a great chat with him?


Nat:                  Okay. Hey Ray, how are you doing?


Ray P.:              I'm doing great, how are you?


Nat:                  Good, good to see you.


Ray P.:              Same here.


Pete:                Well, Ray, welcome, and thanks for joining us. I'm so excited, and what is your background? That is a great background; what is that background?


Ray P.:              Smoky Mountains, I believe. I got several backgrounds, including Canada and Out west, and Arizona. Makes it nice to have different backgrounds.


Pete:                Absolutely. With it being eight degrees here in Chicago, and I know you're in Chicago, you like the cold weather. But I'm kind of thinking tropical, that's why I've got my tropical background.


Ray P.:              There you go. Zoom has some beautiful tropical ones too.


Pete:                Yes, absolutely. So, Ray, we're really excited to have you. We know that you are one of the founding franchises for Molly Maid. So my first question for you is, I know you probably had a successful career before you got into Molly Maid. So tell us a little bit about what you're doing and why you decided to move into franchising.


Ray P.:              Okay. Well, let me correct something, I'm not one of the founders. There are people in there in 20, 25 years been with molly maid, I'm 17. So I still think of myself as a newbie, but obviously at 17 years.

So you're asking why a franchise? Why did I sign? Well, first of all, let me start with I have the entrepreneurial genes. My dad was a restaurateur, and he owned bars and things like that. That is probably one of the reasons why I didn't get into that industry.


Pete:                Now we know you're smart, yes.


Ray P.:              Cleaning out beer coolers was, as I did as a teenager, is not one of the things I wanted to do again. So the reason I decided to take my father's advice and get into business is simply because I was laid off three times. And the first time I worked for a company about 15 years, and they were downsized simply because of technology increases.

They had shrunk the product down from the size of a huge box down to about the size of a carton of cigarettes. They didn't need mobile trucks to service the product. So the next time I work for sharp electronics, and VHS tape recorder went bye-bye, and I lost my job.

Then I worked for Tel AVS, so they manufactured telephone equipment. You're familiar with tell AVS?


Pete:                Yes, sure.


Ray P.:              And you know what happened to wireline telephones? They are no longer in existence. Anybody who has one, you ask why.


Pete:                Yes, agreed. So this was really about creating career and income security, right? You were done with other people determining your destiny?


Ray P.:              Yes, because Tel AVS at the time was rated one of the ten best companies in the world to work for. And I thought wow, I finally found a really good job, well-paying and then wham, and again by technology.

Well, I started out looking for something like a handyman electrical or something like that and a franchise. I wanted to stay with franchise because basically about, you can correct me if I'm wrong on this, 80 to 90 percent of franchisees are successful. As opposed to if you start your own businesses, and probably an 80 or 90% failure rate.

So I want to stick with a franchise, and I was looking and did some discovery days with different franchises. And the broker I was working with says, check out molly maid. I say, look, I'm not interested in cleaning toilets, no thank you.

He says, please, just check it out. Do you want to work in the business or on the business? Wow, that just really rang with me for some reason. I said, I'll do you a favor, I'll check it out. I was really impressed with the corporate headquarters, and I don't know. It just really rang with me, so to speak.


Pete:                But that's a big leap, right? Going from technology to residential cleaning. I mean, that's a big leap.


Ray P.:              It is. You know what's really interesting? One of the best things about owning your own business is you do what you want to do. And you hand off everything else to someone else.

To this day, I do what I like to do. I still do my own oil; I have a fleet of about 20 cars, I do my own oil changes. Now you say wow, why would you want to do that? Because I like to do it.


Nat:                  Exactly.


Ray P.:              It gives me a chance. My employees ride in these cars all day long; I like knowing that they are safe. I check the tires, I check the lights and change the oil, make sure everything is running properly on each vehicle.

So it's something I like to do, and it's the same thing with something as simple as fixing vacuum cleaners; I like to fix vacuum cleaners. I can fix them blindfolded with one hand tied behind my back today because I fixed so many of them.

But that's one of the reasons the person goes in the business, is to do what they want to do. And a lot of the things I'm not crazy about, well, I hired someone to help me with that and taught them how to do it.


Pete:                So I got to ask the question, do you like cleaning? I mean, you own one of the largest.


Ray P.:              I hate cleaning.


Pete:                All right. So you started in roughly 2003, and it sounds like you've built a business, right? Built a really good business. One of the things I think you've involved, I think it's your son, is that correct? In the business?


Ray P.:              Yes. My son graduated from college, and I never pushed my kids to do anything. I always thought they've got to find their own way. I just kind of gave them some ideas. And when he graduated, he says, dad, I can't find a job anywhere. I said, well, all right, if you want, you can come work for me.


Nat:                  Keep it in the family, right?


Ray P.:              Yes. That was five or six years ago now, and he's still working for me. And he does all the accounting work. I like doing accounting-type work, but it's a transition now. It gives me more freedom to do what I want to do. And he does all that work, and he's very good at it. Obviously, he has a college degree in it.


Pete:                Yes, that's awesome. So you've built this business, and if somebody came to you and said, hey, listen, I'm thinking about taking the road of investing in a franchise. What advice would you give somebody that's thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, becoming a franchisee?


Ray P.:              I've given that a lot of thought, and of course, there's all the answers. Look at the documents and talk to all the people. But I think what it really comes down to is how do you feel about it? What's your gut reaction to that franchise. I think that's what really prompted me to go something totally out of my realm, into house cleaning and take that chance. Because I felt good about it.

One of the things is how is this company giving back to the community, and I was really impressed with the Miss Molly foundation. And it's all about helping victims of domestic violence.

So we started giving to the Miss Molly foundation the first year we were in business, and we continue to do that to this day. One of the highlights of my year is to present that check to the local safe house; it really makes me feel good.


Pete:                Yes, that's wonderful. All right, so from a standpoint, it's about a match, it's about that feel, it's almost like you're dating, right? It's the one that feels right. So what do you think?

                        And I know you've been a successful franchisee now for 18 years; what do you think our attributes of people that are successful franchisees? What attributes would you say somebody has to have?


Ray P.:              A no-fail attitude.


Nat:                  The box times here.


Ray P.:              Yes. You can't think about all the little things because all the little things will bog you down. And the little things like the recession and COVID and all this come into play. You shouldn't be thinking, oh, if this happens, I'm going to fail. You should be thinking, if this happens, how am I going to get past it? What am I going to do? And it is amazing when you think that way.

And especially this past year with COVID, I know that some other franchises, they were oh my god, the sky is falling down, I'm going to lose my business, and they just closed their doors. My attitude was, how are we going to be able to stay open? How are we going to get through this?

Of course, we lost business, because a lot of our customers had COVID and we can't go in their service. Some of our employees caught it, and we were able to isolate them and make sure they were safe and our customers, our clients, were safe. We got through it, and we are getting through it, I should say.


Pete:                Yes, all right. So one is kind of that just take the hill attitude, right? Burn the bridges or burn the boat stuff like that. What else? What other traits would a successful business owner?


Ray P.:              I believe they need to be able to get along with people. They need to be able to, I don't want to use the word manage, but lead, they need to lead. I hear again; COVID is a perfect example. If you say, oh my god, the sky is falling, your employees can feel that; they can sense that in you.

If you feel that way, then they will feel that way, and they will take on that same attitude. But if your attitude is upbeat, and hey, we're in this together, how can we get through it. They sense that as well, and they buckle down, and they say, okay, we're in this together, let's go.


Pete:                Yes, that's awesome. Any other traits you can think of? Like hard work or anything else?


Ray P.:              Well, that goes without saying in actuality. I spent 60, 70 hours a week starting out, there's no doubt about it. Now you could probably say I spend six or seven hours a week. But it was a transition.

Obviously, you first start out, you wear all the hats, you do everything, and it takes a lot of time to do everything. So you have to buckle down and look at the end. How do you envision yourself down the road? I'm trying to think Stephen Covey had a great saying for that.


Nat:                  Begin with the end of mind.


Ray P.:              Exactly, yes. Thank you. That's exactly what I did. I started looking how's the end going to be, how I'm going to look five years, ten years, and even 15 years down the road. When you do that, you begin to plan a little bit more thoroughly.

You begin to shut off things that are easy to shed off as far as your to-do list. You have other people start doing that, and you find it really works. Steven had an excellent way of putting that.


Pete:                So you follow Stephen Covey. Are there any other thought leaders that you follow that you kind of look to gain knowledge?


Ray P.:              Hold on, let me get a book. I liked John Maxwell; I don't know if you're familiar with.


Pete:                Yes, sure.


Ray P.:              The 21 irrefutable laws of leadership. I follow him and Stephen Covey mostly, and it works, that's all I'm going to say. Read the books, or get any anything that's self-help in the form of leadership, and you'll find yourself doing well.


Nat:                  So it sounds like you're a reader, you follow people, stuff like that. I also understand you do podcast; what kind of podcast do you do?


Ray P.:              Pillars of Franchising. Yes, it was as a side note, Fred my co-host, said, well, my wife had just passed, okay. His way of thinking is I got to get him out of that mental attitude. And he says, let's start a podcast; I said you're crazy, Fred.

I don't know anything about this, and he says yes, but I do, and I'll go ahead and set it up and everything, and you just need to be the good-looking face. I said, okay, all right, let's try it. Well, that was three years ago.

And we've actually done a weekly show every week. I think we only skipped one or two, because of holidays or whatever, and it's been a lot of fun. I think the main reason it's a lot of fun is basically because it is, excuse me, my dogs are trying to get in my office. But we have a very casual attitude on the show.

All the little things that a lot of people try to cut out, you know the gaffes that happen, the mistakes and things that people that say the wrong thing, we just leave it all in. people kind of expect it, and they enjoy it.


Pete:                Yes. What do you try to accomplish with your podcast? I think the best way to describe that is to bring people who are on the edge of wanting to buy a franchise; we want to bring them over the fence a little bit.

So that they actually take the plunge because yes, it's hard, there's no doubt about it. It's the biggest investment, bigger than your house, usually that you're going to make. I know when I started talking to my friends and relatives about what I was going to do, they basically said, are you nuts.


Pete:                It's pretty common, right? People try to steal your dream.


Ray P.:              So I want to get people past that. Stop talking to your relatives, and start listening to your entrepreneurial spirit and let that take over.


Pete:                Yes. Where do you see the future going? I mean, I believe that it's a much different time than like when you and I left the corporate world, right? Whereas you kind of were expected to be the corporate job, and you stayed your whole career there unless something happened.

But nowadays, I think it's we're in this gig economy. I'm thinking that our kids are going to have to create their own opportunity. Are you pretty bullish on franchising going forward?


Ray P.:              Oh yes. I think if you look what's happened recently, and all the downturns and how the government has stepped in to help. What I've done is create something not only for myself but for my children. Now I have two boys, and as you know, one is in the business, and the other one he's a mechanic.

He loves what he does, and he works for a Chevy dealership, and he doesn't want to do anything else. But his wife works for me. So in actuality, I've included both of my kids in the business even though one is through the family. So I'm helping support my grandchildren, and I have a boy and a girl, and one on the way.


Pete:                Awesome, congratulations. Best job in the whole world is being a grandparent, I suspect.


Ray P.:              Yes, it is.


Pete:                All right, very good. Excellent, well, Ray, it has been a pleasure having you, and congratulations on all your success. Thank you for your podcast you do, because again, you're helping make a difference in people's lives. So it's certainly Molly Maid, yes.


Ray P.:              It's fun. It's fun to do. I really enjoy it.


Pete:                Yes. Well, I wish you much success in the future, so thank you so much.


Ray P.:              Thanks. All right, great being on your show.


Nat:                  Thanks, Ray.

Topics: Franchise, How To Build Wealth, entrepreneurship, job security, becoming a franchisee, Podcast

Subscribe Here!

  • There are no suggestions because the search field is empty.

Podcast Episodes

Recent Post