Swapping Franchises With a Fellow ‘Zee
When two franchisees saw mutual benefits to swapping franchise territories, Two Men and a Truck agreed, helping facilitate an interesting deal. This unusual tale begins in 2001, right after 9/11, when Michael Lacey and his wife pooled all of their resources to get into their first franchising gig.
“We saw that it was a really good opportunity based on what we were seeing from a cash flow standpoint and the ramp-up time for getting there,” Lacey said of his initial interest in Two Men and a Truck. “We decided this had a really high probably of doing well for us.”
His intuition was correct. After starting his first franchise in the Dayton, Ohio, market, Lacey found quick success and, within 18 months, pounced on an opportunity to buy a piece of territory in the Cincinnati market one hour to the south.
Soon he bought his third territory, also in Cincinnati, while still owning the primary territory in the Dayton market. Being involved in the Two Men system for so many years, he soon met Mike Lalley, the franchisee who owned the remainder of the Cincinnati territories.
While the idea to swap territories wasn’t immediate, eventually it bubbled up. Lacey explained the rationale for making the switch: spreading the offices out to better represent the territory, reducing travel times, easing marketing expenses and charitable efforts, while also increasing customer visibility.
“We saw pockets of populations that weren’t necessarily getting serviced correctly, so we looked at the P&L and said we can’t throw a bunch of offices at this—we need to do this in a more effective manner,” Lacey said. “It seemed advantageous to both of us … we could do something bigger than what we were doing.”
By examining where his leads came in for his multiple units, he soon discovered that some areas that should be prime territory had a dearth of leads coming in—suggesting there were opportunities to be had if stores were properly spaced throughout the Dayton and Cincinnati markets.
“Our goal was not just to increase the brand awareness, but to capitalize on it by serving more customers,” he added.
After some careful negotiations, and more legal work than both sides hoped for, Lacey forked over a Cincinnati unit in exchange for now controlling the Dayton market for Two Men and a Truck. His one remaining Cincinnati unit is on the northeast side of town, not far from his Dayton offices. Since the deal’s completion, Lacey has moved two offices and is in the process of adding two more, to fully cover Dayton’s entire metro area.
Lacey said Two Men and a Truck corporate was very helpful throughout the process, and encouraged the deal because their collective rationale made sense from an outsider perspective.
“They basically responded the way I thought they would—with open arms and excitement that we’d be able to do it,” he said. “It also provides a level of accountability to the relationship between the franchisee and franchisor when you have an entire market and it’s pretty much up to you.”
He said the biggest challenge was in staffing, specifically related to which employees stayed with the company of origin versus moving to the other company. In the end, everybody wasn’t completely thrilled, but the organizations are better off and the overall transition process was fairly straightforward.
For other franchisees—regardless of the company—who might consider such a swap, Lacey suggested just making the call and talking with neighboring franchisees to find out their strategy going forward.
“Anyone can look at two different scenarios and come up with some type of win-win argument for making such a transaction,” he said. “You just approach and speak to the other person involved to see what their needs are—in this case, it worked out well for both of us.”