Women in Franchising: Erin Gilliam
Erin Gilliam knows franchising inside out. She’s gone from franchise owner to working on the corporate level for a successful nationwide franchisor. Now, she’s returned to her roots as the principal owner of the Miracle Method Salt Lake City location.
Tell me a little about your business background? What role did you serve in at Miracle Method?
I have a Bachelor of Business Administration degree in marketing, management, and finance from Colorado Mesa University. After a few smaller entrepreneurial endeavors, as well as work in marketing and sales, I had an opportunity to open a B2B-based franchise in Seattle, Washington. After successfully managing and growing the business for 10 years, we sold the business in May of 2015 with the intention to move back to my home state of Colorado. Upon our return, I was hired as the director of marketing for the Miracle Method Surface Refinishing Corporate Office in Colorado Springs. In this role, I had responsibility for the National Ad Fund. I managed and grew the in-house marketing team and supported 140 franchise locations across the U.S. and Canada with local advertising plans and initiatives.
What lessons did you learn from working at a corporate level in a franchise network?
It was tremendously challenging and rewarding to work on the corporate/franchisor side of the veil! In the case of Miracle Method specifically, I was exposed to an incredible amount of passion, dedication, loyalty, and hard work that the corporate staff put into continually striving to better serve our franchise owners. Whether operations, training, marketing or new product development, there is so much that goes into continually improving an already proven business model to ensure our position as No. 1 in the surface refinishing industry.
When leadership adopts a culture of continual improvement and focuses on franchise owners’ success as a top priority, it is exciting to jump in and get things done that make a real difference. For me, personally, having been in the shoes of a franchise owner, I always felt compelled to ensure we were making high-quality strategic decisions, in both the short- and long-term, that had the best interest of our dedicated franchise owners at heart.
It gave me a much greater appreciation for the often-difficult decisions that franchisor leadership faces in serving a diverse and eclectic group of owners across diverse regions and markets. After nearly 2.5 years as director of marketing, the entrepreneurial calling and flexibility offered in owning your own business (all while being a busy mom of two little boys!) was strong enough for me to hand over the reins at the corporate level and jump into driving the growth and success of my own Miracle Method franchise in Salt Lake City, Utah.
How has the transition to franchise owner been?
Having been on both sides of the aisle, there are certainly pros and cons to each, but for me, I love the freedom and responsibility in growing something for yourself, but not being in business by yourself. I love the opportunity to develop a smaller, close-knit family business that is involved in the community by providing great services and excellent employment opportunities.
With Miracle Method, our solution for bathtub and kitchen countertop refinishing is one that provides a beautiful transformation for many homeowners that would otherwise be unable to afford a traditional tear-out and replacement or who simply cannot be without a kitchen or bathroom for 3-4 weeks.
Being able to provide a valuable service for local homeowners, whether a long-awaited update or improved bathing safety through one of our many safety options, gives me the drive and motivation to keep going on tough days! One of our hardworking and dedicated employees is on track to be a first-time homeowner this year in part because of the income growth he has experienced in working with us, and I love being a part of our team members’ journey and success! I really enjoy being at the franchise level again.
What advantages does being part of a franchise network give you as a business owner?
Being an entrepreneur can be challenging, however being a franchise entrepreneur means you are not in it alone. In fact, outside of seeing the dedication that the Miracle Method corporate staff invests in the success of its franchise owners, the camaraderie and support offered by fellow owners is one of the reasons I love franchising. It makes it easier and more rewarding when you have a team — a network — of other owners pushing you to grow, giving guidance and rooting for you along the way. Whether in this franchise, my prior franchise, or any franchise model, I have always believed that you must understand, embrace, value and invest in the franchisor/franchisee partnership and make an effort to build relationships with other owners in your network for the best results.
What advice would you have for women looking for business opportunities in the franchise industry?
My advice would be to consider your franchise options carefully. Do your research, speak with owners in the network and make sure your values and culture align. Ask yourself, ‘Is this something I feel passionate about and would feel great about doing and promoting?’ And then most importantly, does the model make sense, do the numbers add up, and would it meet your income expectations? At the end of the day, there are many business options or franchise opportunities that would be "fun," but do they make money? If it's a ‘yes’ to those questions, DO IT! It is incredibly rewarding and empowering to be the curator of your own success story!
Erin Gilliam is the principal owner of Miracle Method Salt Lake City. Formerly the director of marketing for the Miracle Method Surface Refinishing Corporate Office in Colorado Springs, Erin has extensive franchise experience on both the corporate and individual owner levels.