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Few franchisees get into the game to run one shop—they generally aspire to own many, growing their mini empires within an established business concept. But more outposts mean more responsibility, and learning to lead is essential to keeping a handful of locations in the black.
Drew Lessaris, 28, is learning fast. He’s an operator within the uBreakiFix franchise—a service business that repairs electronic devices like phones, tablets and computers whose 500 locations generated $163 million in systemwide revenue last year.
Lessaris, who graduated from college with a bachelor’s degree in biosystems engineering, decided to follow the call of entrepreneurship after he finished school, a tendency he attributes to having grown up around his family’s restaurant business. Franchising, he felt, offered opportunities for a hungry business owner not necessarily looking to start a new business from scratch. uBreakiFix, as a concept, made sense to him as a growth-space. “Technology is going to grow and grow,” Lessaris says. “And there wasn’t really a lot of nationwide competition for this company.”
Lessaris worked with partners to open uBreakiFix stores in Indiana. Then, in late 2014, he sold his stake with the group and partnered with Ron Harb, who owned the franchise rights to Michigan, and the two began opening locations.To date he and Harb co-own six shops across the Detroit metro area, with more on the way.
To keep the operation running smoothly, Lessaris starts his days early, waking at 6 a.m. he’s downed a breakfast of yogurt and fruit and walked out the door by 7:30 to start the day’s business.
By 8:30 a.m. Lessaris has arrived at one of his stores and begins fielding emails from the day before and checking accounts to make sure nightly deposits were made. “This is a time that I cherish since I have no distractions,” he says.
At 10 a.m. he chats with his district manager, Benjamin Willoughby,either by phone or in person, “He gives me the low down on managers, new employees, store issues and anything else he thinks needs my attention,” Lessaris told Forbes. “Every Friday we meet for breakfast to go over the week and anything pressing we need to do to get ready for the weekend. Retail is a weekend business, so we discuss any last minute things we need to address before business picks up.”
Each day Lessaris works in at least one of his locations. Since he too knows how to repair devices, he pitches in when needed. At 1 p.m. he reconciles the company’s accounts and works on payroll before breaking for lunch at 2 p.m.—usually dining on something he brought from home. At 3 p.m. Lessaris is on the phone with Harb. We go over any new projects we are working on and share ideas on how we can make this business better.
In the afternoons, he heads to another store in the system, helping where needed. “As an owner, you are seen as the top boss,” he says. “But in reality, you have to know everything inside and out of the business to be successful. This gives you the ability to come in and help with whatever the store needs. No job is too small or too low. I am in the trenches with my team, and they see that. It shows them they are not alone.”
Lessaris is generally home by 7:30 p.m. and cooks dinner with his girlfriend before returning to work fielding emails and messages from his team. “Usually there is a lot of chatter going on with the team on what happened during the day—any customer issues or crazy repairs—so I’ll address those things as needed.” After that, after some TV time, he’s asleep by midnight.
Lessaris tries to incorporate exercise and personal time into his schedule, but that can be tough when you’re running things. “I am always on call when it comes to the stores, from security alarms going off early in the morning to team members calling because their car broke down at 1am,” he explains. “This is what I signed up for and this is what I enjoy.”
The future, he says, is all about growth, and he’s not worried about becoming bored running a device repair service, he says, because technology is always changing. “It’s not like we’re making the same turkey sandwich every day for the next five or ten years. We are redeveloping our business, changing what we repair, how we train, how we get our parts every six months.”
June 7, 2019 at 10:48AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs