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Patrick: This is Patrick Findaro co founder at Vetted Biz. Very exited to have on two guests from Footprints Floors. Bryan Park who’s founder and CEO of Footprint Floors. As well as Brian Knuth who is not only franchise owner but he’s also director of development. Footprints Floors has grown from one location in 2008 to own over 150 locations in a little over 12 years.
They started franchising in 2013, that’s a very responsible way to grow a franchise system and not just starting the first year after you launch. But waited five years to really fine-tune the model before bringing in other franchisees.
I’m very excited to again bring on Bryan Park and Brian Knuth. Bryan. Maybe you could just tell me a little bit how you got into this industry of flooring and a little bit about your background.
Bryan Park: Well of course thanks for having us on here, Patrick. I’m Brian Park, the more handsome and larger of the two. But I started the business in 2008. And prior to that I was in the air force. I was young, I was in my early 20’s, newly married. Getting out of the air force trying to figure out what to do in life. I was a history major in college, what means I don’t have a job. And moved back to Denver, move back to home trying to figure out. My wife and I had gone out for dinner one night and came home and we have three puppies, cause that’s what normal people do, they get three puppies. They had eaten our carpet they just tore it up and shredded it. The pad was all over the house.
BP: And so we called and hired a flooring company to come in and put on hardwood floors. I’m watching this guy install all and I was like, this is kind of cool. I asked him, how much money do you make doing this? “Don’t know, 100 grand?”. Then I thought, I can still go to school at night. Because, really, the vision was that I was going to be temporary. I was going to install hardwood floors while I was finishing a different degree. I was going to be an engineer. And change kind of the course of my life.
Then I started floors for a company that I called them up and said: “Hey, are you hiring in? Sure”. And I started working for those guys installing sanding floors. I was a floor technician. Supporting my young family.
P: You had just had the three puppies and a daughter at that time?
BP: Three puppies. My daughter was born, my oldest, was born right about then. I think my wife was pregnant when my puppies eat the carpet. If I did the math right. Then, I started working for those guys. That’s about two and a half-three years later. I worked free for those guys for six months. I was a W-2 employee, and they weren’t paying.
P: There was no payroll protection back then. You didn’t get anything.
BP: Well, yeah
Brian Knuth: That’s a new term, right? That’s a new coin term.
BP: No, there was no payroll protection. Yeah, they stopped paying their guys. I worked for free for like six months, trusting they were going to pay me back. November of 08’ they sat me down at an Arby’s. They didn’t even buy me anything.
P: Classy playstyle.
BP: I know, I got fired at an Arby’s. They owe me like 35 grand and they were like, good luck! And that was the landscape. I was 30 or 40 thousands dollars in credit card debt, four dogs, my wife was pregnant with our second daughter. I have a two-year-old, 800 square foot house. In that moment I was unemployed in the worst recession since the great depression. And I’m starting a flooring company in the winter and it’s a seasonal business, not ideal at all. And that’s when I started Footprints Floors.
December 9th of 2008 was our starting date. We went the next couple months not doing any work. We just can’t. I was walking neighborhoods, putting flyers on doors, just trying to drum up any business. Hanging out at Home Depot hitting up customers in the flooring aisle. Just anything I could to support my young family. And then in February of 09’ we did our first project. And then just started to roll from there. Kicked in marketing. I ended up doing almost 550 thousand dollars that first year. A lot with my own hands. I’d gotten some old gear, and I was doing all the floors myself. For the first half of the first year.
Once we got busy enough. I was doing a floor still myself, and then I would have other crews running parallel with me. We got to a point where I was running three, four, five crews that first year.
P: What’s like the profit margin? If you don’t mind. In 500k, what’s kind of the industry profit margin for the foreign business?
BP: Back then, my profit margin was close to 50 percent. Because I was doing a lot of the work myself. Also, my wife was the receptionist. I was not paying her. She and I made good money that year. We paid off that 40 thousand dollars in credit card debt. We were way upside down in our 800 square foot house because we bought it at the top of the market. The markets crashed, that’s why we had the cash to get out of that house. It was a great first year to really jump started Footprints Floors. I learned that this could be a very profitable deal. But at that time and really for the next few years, it was just growing a business in Denver with no intention of franchising. My intentions were to feed my family, really. And that was it. That was all I was planning on doing with it.
It evolved from there. And but rather than just keep rolling, I’ll let Brian participate in this podcast. Go ahead, Brian.
BK: Yeah, my story is probably more related to Footprints Floors franchise development. In 2012 we founded an organization called Raintree. We support franchise organizations like Footprints Floors franchise and a variety of others in all things recruitment. Such as franchise development, application to their business. We kind of look it at as Bryan and founders and executive leaderships of different franchise organizations. They understand how to make unit level economics for their franchisees. We understand how to go find more franchisees.
In 2012, we started that company in 2018 and fast-forward to 2018, we met Bryan Park. We started discussing the opportunity of working together. I immediately had an attraction to the business for a variety of reasons.
I still maintain that role at Raintree, but I also own three territories throughout Indiana.
P: Incredible, and working at Raintree. I understand they’ve represented 20 plus franchise brands, right?
BK: Yeah, probably a little bit more than that throughout the course of our operation. Right now, I think we represent about 14 in our portfolio.
P: Have you ever had as close of a working relationship as with Footprints Floors? As with some of the other franchises in that portfolio?
BK: I would say across all of our relationships, we have a very similar working relationship as far as our franchise development responsibilities. But me personally being entrenched in the operation of Footprints Floors on a daily basis, I have a stronger understanding of this model. More so with relevant tools and technologies and industry assistance. Just everything that’s happening, that’s impacting franchise owners. I’m in real time understanding of that. As a recipient of all those services.
“… being entrenched in the operation of Footprints Floors on a daily basis, I have a stronger understanding of this model. More so with relevant tools and technologies and industry assistance. Just everything that’s happening, that’s impacting franchise owners. I’m in real time understanding of that…”
P: What really attracted you to open and operate three territories for Footprints Floors? What was it about their business model as well as the industry as a whole?
BK: The service industry has been a close part of my life. Take flooring out of it. I have been involved in tree removal and window screening for many years, and my brother works at an interior design company. I’ve always felt attracted to the needs-based business where there’s an easily identified need from the consumer. It’s not a hard sale, per se. But as I evaluated Footprints Floors, just the level of infrastructure that Bryan’s put into place to create this operation where you can manage multiple jobs, multiple individuals and a tremendous amount of output.
Then, it was largely the infrastructure that he and his team have to support us franchise owners. And I hate to use the word compartmentalize but, he’s really compartmentalize the business in some key categories. This makes money over here. You need this player to make this money and he’s identified what we need to do as owners and it is quite simplified. It’s really the infrastructure that supports us to go and sell and manage. They take care of the rest.
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