FOOT SOLUTIONS: Franchise with a Heart

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Mike and Rosie Smith, Foot Solutions Little Rock

Foot Solutions is the world’s largest specialty wellness franchise focused exclusively on helping people feel good from the feet up.

Founded in 2000 by successful entrepreneur and military veteran Ray Margiano, Foot Solutions has grown to more than 100 stores throughout the United States and abroad. Foot Solutions helps to relieve foot, knee, hip and back pain, and improve comfort, balance, performance and body alignment for a market that is primarily over 40 years old. The Foot Solutions approach combines a holistic foot analysis with foot supports and fashionable, high-quality comfort footwear for work, dress and recreation.

JOHN & STEPHANIE GARRITY                                                                                                                                                

Foot Solutions Easton and Allentown, Pennsylvania

John Garrity retired from 30-plus years in corporate America to fulfill a lifelong dream. He and wife Stephanie shared extensive backgrounds in customer service and the desire to own their own business. But not just any business would do. “We were looking for something unique, with high customer touch, a lot of interaction and an opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives,” John says. “As we researched various franchise opportunities, Foot Solutions stood out as the best for us to leverage our customer service experience with our passion for helping people. This was a good fit for our skills and interests.”

In 2007, the Garritys opened their first Foot Solutions store in Easton, Pennsylvania, on the east end of Lehigh Valley, near their home. “There was just nothing out there like Foot Solutions.  I could see that there was a real need for this kind of service,” John says. “Foot Solutions also fills a distinct niche in the health care arena that is presently under-served in our local market.”

Theirs is a family business, with daughter Kelly coordinating insurance coverage for qualifying customers. They’d always intended to expand to a second store, but put those plans on hold when the recession hit. Their store became so busy that in 2012, they began looking for a second location. When a property on the West end of Lehigh Valley became available, they opened their second store in Allentown in February, 2016. “I think we’re sized properly with the two stores,” John says. “Business has picked up nicely. We’re quite happy with the way it’s grown.”

The biggest reward is hearing customers say, “’You’ve really helped me,’” he says. “Our customers continually express their gratitude for bringing this much-needed business to the area and enthusiastically recommend us to their family and friends. With stores in both the East and West ends of the valley, we’re able to help more people than ever. That’s the reason we’re here.”

SUE ORISCHAK                                                                                                                                                

Foot Solutions Scottsdale, Arizona

Sue Orischak was an artist and interior designer in the Denver, Colorado area. She and husband Larry went to the grand opening of a Foot Solutions there in search of relief for Larry’s foot and back issues. Sue saw the Amfit foot scanner in the store and recognized that people needed a holistic approach and a total package of orthotic foot supports and the right shoes to address their pain and health issues.

Intrigued, she wondered whether Foot Solutions was a franchise. With plans to move from Denver to Arizona, she called corporate headquarters. It turned out that a two-year-old store was available in Scottsdale. Sue bought it in 2004 with the vision of creating a fresh and fashionable store that could accommodate orthotics if needed and take care of foot, knee, hip and back problems.

The first three weeks were intensive on-the-job training, Sue says. What was her biggest challenge? “First, understanding and gaining competency on the medical side of things.  I had to learn to both assess the customer’s feet and come up with the optimal solution.”

Under Sue’s leadership, the Scottsdale store has continued to grow. “We’ve had over a million dollars in sales for each of the last nine years,” she says. But she knows that’s not enough. “We’re always looking for new products, new ideas, and new ways to keep the store fresh and revitalized.”

The biggest reward isn’t the money. “We have a lot of long-time and repeat customers that we’re able to help. Many of them become dear and close friends,” Sue says. Her secret to success, she says is taking a personal approach. “It’s not about selling,” she says. “It’s about connecting with the customers and finding solutions.”

MIKE & ROSIE SMITH

Foot Solutions, Little Rock, Arkansas

A decade ago, Mike Smith was struggling with hallux limitus—an arthritic condition of the big toe—and it hurt too much to walk. “I had tried everything, including doctors, and all of them wanted to do a surgical fusion of my big toe,” Mike says. He saw an ad for a nearby Foot Solutions store in Encinitas, California that said they could help various conditions, including his. Impressed, he visited the store. “They made me a custom orthotic and recommended a rocker sole shoe, which I wear to this day. It was like a miracle,” Mike says. And he was intrigued.

He and wife Rosie researched Foot Solutions, reached out to Founder and CEO Ray Margiano, and within 30 days they bought a franchise. When they couldn’t find a California location that didn’t already have a Foot Solutions, they chose Little Rock, which is near family. They opened their store on April 15, 2006.

Along with his Army service in Vietnam from 1966 – 1968, Mike brought an extensive background as a buyer and manager with Sears, Walmart and Hudson Bay Corporation in Canada to his new venture. Rosie’s significant store management experience is a great complement to their partnership.  “Our level of satisfaction is a 10,” he says.

What Mike likes best about running a Foot Solutions franchise is that the combination of patience and knowing how to help people with their feet solutions can spell success. He and Rosie take a medical approach to serving customers. “We focus on how to correct foot problems, because that’s what my experience was. About half of our business is custom orthotics. That differentiates us from pretty much any other shoe store that the customer might go into. All of the patients that walk through our door have a thorough foot evaluation. We’ll show them what they want to look at, but we make it clear that just buying a shoe might not address what they’re feeling in their feet,” Mike says.

Foot Solutions is a really good franchise for veterans to consider Mike says, because it is first and foremost a people business. “In the military, you have to learn to get along with people and work as a team. In many cases, you’ve had a management role and directed people. Of all the things out there that a veteran could do, this would be one that I think would fit many veterans’ mentality and ability to work with the public,” he says.

Veteran’s education benefits are eligible for the Pedorthic Certificate Program at The Academy of Pedorthic Science.

www.footsolutions.com