Steve Demetriou III joins the show to discuss his journey into the uBreakiFix franchise space and all the associated opportunities and challenges. You will understand a bit of his thought process going into it, some of the big lessons learned, and ways he plans on expanding and growing business opportunities. Incredibly insightful discussion if you’ve ever wanted more information about franchise ownership.
AUTO-TRANSCRIBED – PLEASE FORGIVE TYPOS AND ERRORS
Aaron Spatz 00:05
You’re listening to America’s entrepreneur, the podcast designed to educate, entertain, and inspire you in your personal professional journey. I’m your host, Aaron Spatz. And on the podcast, I interview entrepreneurs, industry experts, and other high achievers that detail their personal and professional journeys in business. My goal is to glean their experiences into actionable insights that you can apply to your own journey. If you’re new to the show, we’ve spoken with successful entrepreneurs, Grammy Award winning artists, best selling authors, chief executives, and other fascinating minds with unique experiences. We’ve covered topics such as how to achieve breakthrough and business, growing startups, effective leadership techniques, and much more. If you strive for continual self improvement, and enjoy fascinating and insightful conversation, if the subscribe button, you’ll love it here at America’s entrepreneur to jump right into it this morning, I’m so excited to welcome Steve Demetrio to show he comes to us from West Point. But he’s a local Dallas Fort Worth franchise owner. And so I’m really excited about talking to him about the whole world of franchising. So, Steve, I just want to welcome you and thank you so much for being here this morning. Hey, good morning, Aaron.
Steve Demetriou 01:20
Thanks for having me.
Aaron Spatz 01:21
You got it, man. So my my favorite question I’d love to lead off with so is are you a DFW native in this not where the heck are you from?
Steve Demetriou 01:31
Not a DFW native but really enjoyed living here with my wife the last few years. kind of grew up all over. My dad was a corporate exec still is and so he dragged the family around the world. I think by the time I was 14, I moved seven times. So I wasn’t a military brat. But I always say I was a corporate Brett. And I went to high school in Cleveland, Ohio. So that’s my kind of adopted claim hometown. Awesome. Yeah. Happy DFW resident now.
Aaron Spatz 02:05
Oh, that’s cool, man. Yeah, well, shoot, I mean, move moving a whole bunch of times for work. I mean, yeah, you may not have punched the military bread ticket. But man, you, you’ve definitely, definitely seen a lot of places and been able to experience a lot of different things. So that’s, that’s pretty cool. That’s a great experience. Definitely. Yeah. Well, you know, so you, your, your first your first dive into everything, you know, in terms of professional career. So you, you actually served our great nation as a as a US Army infantry officer. So I will I won’t give it too much of a hard time about the whole West Point antics. But you and I got our we got the same undergrad which is, which is interesting. I don’t I don’t run into too many economics people. So that’s pretty cool. But one, you know, thanks. Thanks, thanks for putting in a few years, but then to help me understand what your transition process look like. And what you did you on the back end of your military journey?
Steve Demetriou 03:04
Yeah, definitely. Well, thanks for your service here. And by the way. Yeah, so, you know, I gave most of my 20s away to Uncle Sam, which I was glad to do is a great time, I learned a lot about myself and leadership and all that good stuff, you know, about. And then so after, you know, sort of transitioning out of the army. You know, I kind of knew at that point, I didn’t want to go work for a big corporation. You know, I was joked that it doesn’t get bigger than the Department of Defense. So I kind of wanted to steer away from you know, big bureaucratic organizations, not that there’s anything wrong with it just wanted to learn a different skill set. And, you know, so I started looking, exploring different avenues on how to approach entrepreneurship. You know, the transition period was hard. As you know, as I guess, you know, it’s prevalent in the media and in society, a lot of people hear about it. But even as an officer, it was I found it to be a difficult period, leaving a community I’d known for many years, which was at the military. And so I took a few months off just to kind of figure it out. My wife’s a school or was a school teacher at the time, so it was easier for her to kind of tag along as I explored the next phase of my career. But yeah, like, you know, I was transitioning out started exploring, how can I become an entrepreneur? And I was looking at, you know, privately on businesses, that I thought I could, hey, maybe go learn about a new industry, buy this business, you know, take it to the next level. And then I was also kind of simultaneously looking at franchise opportunities and looked at everything under the sun. I think I like one point was doing due diligence on like a chemical distributor in a water distribute distribution company. And then also, look franchise opportunities was taken a look at a couple of defunct Jimmy John’s stores in South Florida. And then, you know, found out about this brand called you break I fix based out of Orlando. So, you know, who went and visited those guys, they’re a great team out there and ended up kind of pulling the trigger on on the Dallas Fort Worth market. And, and move my now wife and I out here to grow this business. So that’s that that was kind of my transition, you know, timeframe and how I how I ended up kind of diving into the, to, you know, to my my first base set, as I call it, which is my franchise business. So yeah,
Aaron Spatz 05:43
well, that’s, I mean, that’s a fascinating story. And again, that’s something we don’t we don’t get the chance to cure the kind of the inside story of how that goes down. And so for you, that was really kind of a unique opportunity to sound like you were working on something else on the side. While while you’re doing that, though, you’re pursuing the franchise route. So what I guess I’m just curious, like, what, like, what sparked that in you? Like, what, like, what, what made you decide that franchising was a was a good option, cuz I, the more that I understand, and the more that I studied it, the more I realized just how great of an option it really is. And I’m just, I’m curious what, what initially gained your interest because not a lot of people know about it, I guess, is what I’m trying to say. So how did you know about it?
Steve Demetriou 06:28
Um, I didn’t know about it, you know, just like I was saying earlier, I was just knew I wanted to, to kind of get away from the man quote, unquote, and wanted to go off on my own. At the same time, I was just debating, you know, for me, personally, kind of one thing that was a, you know, kind of a key point in my journey to entrepreneurship, franchising was debating whether or not to get my MBA. So as long as Trisha transitioning out studied for the GMAT took that, you know, which is the entrance exam for the for the MBA most MBA programs, and, you know, on the fence, decided not to pursue the MBA route, which, you know, that was just a personal choice. For me, I think, look, there’s tons of my West Point classmates that are way smarter than me that are crushing it, some of the top MBA programs, I just kind of wanted to dive head headfirst into business, which, you know, still, I think it was the right move. But as I like to say, the last few years, I got my real time MBA, but that was kind of a critical point. And I think one that drove me toward franchising, because, you know, I’m like, hey, you know, I’m not, I might not be the smartest guy in the world. So I, you know, I don’t, maybe I’m not going to go start the next huge tech unicorn, but maybe I can take what somebody else is kind of the business model, somebody else’s developed, grow it into a, you know, an a, to a nice sized company, I’m using kind of the, the toolkit they’ve developed and tried to make it my own in a way that fits within that model and really trying to grow a business. So, you know, I that’s why I think I chose franchising is just to have, especially after leaving the military, where, you know, look most year career, the career path is kind of outlined for you, you got plenty of commanders and peers, kind of guiding you day to day, week to week, month to month, on, on your day to day role in the military. So leaving that very structured community, and getting into the business world, I knew having some sort of guide rails, if you will, would be beneficial for me. So and then kind of pair that with the, my wavering on the MBA program. That, that that was kind of two major points that guided me towards franchising.
Aaron Spatz 08:53
That’s cool. That’s, that’s super cool. It’s a it’s a it’s a neat, it’s neat to see your decision making process on that. And so the, the, the NBA choice or not, we’ll I guess we’ll save that for another time. And we’ll Yeah, probably I’ll probably end up pissing off a lot of people talking about this too, because I’ve got I’ve got my own opinions on that as well. And it’s, it’s, it’s similar, but there’s, there’s definitely, there’s great, great, great utility for getting it, you know, certain brand names especially can really open up a lot of doors, especially if you want to go to consulting route or finance or any any number of different things. There’s, there’s, there’s definitely something to be gained there. I’m not I’m not as convinced, I guess on the entrepreneurial side, even though I’ve seen a ton entrepreneurs get it as well. But I’ve also seen so many people do just fine without it. And there’s been plenty of opportunities that that folks like yourself have been able to leverage and maximize. And you know, you just you just run and never look back. And so it’s it’s neat to see. So you you went through a whole due diligence process then I guess of, of evaluating different companies. So What What were you looking for? Like, what? What were like some? What were some immediate showstoppers for you as you’re going through the process? Or what? Like, were there any specific things that you were looking for as you were trying to kind of make that final decision as to which way you wanted to go with which franchise option?
Steve Demetriou 10:18
Wow, great questionnaire. And I think at the time, if you asked, you know, 27 year old Steve, that question, and now you’re talking about 32 year old Steve now, I’m sure he would have a much different answer. And it’s easy for me to Monday morning quarterback, and now but sure I prop straight up probably didn’t have a great idea what I was looking for, you know, I was just looking I, and, you know, I think kind of goes hand in hand with your transition question. I was I was kind of figuring it out on the fly. And, you know, now if he asked me that much, you know, I have a much better kind of criteria laid out on on kind of businesses I’m interested in, but at that time, I was really just looking for something I thought, Alright, I am capable of doing this. I am not, I think I’m not going to epically fail. If I, if I take over start this business. That was probably number one. You know, and trying to just be self super self aware on Hey, what’s my strengths and weaknesses? You know, I knew I was decent at leading a small organization after being an infantry platoon leader, not that handed, you know, Apples to Apples translates into the business world, but so I knew I could do that. And, you know, as long as I could grasp the general business model, and not mess it up too bad. You know, I thought maybe I’ll have a decent chance of being successful. So yeah, that, you know, probably didn’t didn’t really know at the time to be honest with you just something I could wrap my head around, and, you know, try to make a little better than when I got it. That was probably two key KPIs there. So
Aaron Spatz 11:55
hey, you know, that’s, that’s, that’s some place to start. And you’re, you’re obviously doing something right. So I, I wouldn’t raise yourself too much, man. I think you’re, I think you’re in a good I think you’re in a good spot. So So Talk Talk with me, then the you’ve you’ve made this decision, you flew it, you flew out to Florida, kind of checked out the corporate headquarters kind of got a little bit of a meet and greet, I guess, with those folks and got an understanding of the business itself. And, you know, you go to squeeze the trigger, you sign on the dotted line, like, walk us, walk us through it, that’s like a again, it’s not, not every day we talk to to folks that have some inside knowledge and franchise, I’ve only spoke to a few people that that have done this. And so what helped me understand what, what happened between doing this with sign to first store is open and, and up and running. Yeah, sure.
Steve Demetriou 12:51
So, you know, it’s, it’s, I’m not I’m not an expert on on a lot of other brands, but generally, it’s in the franchise, you know, world, it’s somewhat, you know, kind of consistent process. And I’ll just talk through my, my experience, like, yes, Aaron and his, there’s certainly some, you know, across other brands, probably some similarities. But yeah, so typically, you know, you’re most people like me, you know, probably doing a lot of, you know, searching online, there’s also, I know, you’ve had one or two on your show, or one of your other shows, or the show, or there’s franchise brokers, and plenty of organizations that can help you choose, I was kind of just doing it on my own looking on online, you know, using the good old world, world wide web. And so yeah, once I found the brands, you know, a couple brands, I was interested in, kind of started doing some more exploring on those specific brands, obviously, you break I fix being one of them. And so, you know, reached out, typically, you know, again, kind of generalizing it for the audience, if that’s all right, I’m sure typically, there’ll be, you know, on the website, a way to reach out on the bottom of the website says franchising. Click that and we’ll be all sorts, you know, then kind of the path starts. And so anyway, got in touch with them, talk to him, they kind of stiffed me out, I sent them out over the phone and then flew out to Orlando, for a discovery day. So, again, most most brands will have discovery days for prospective franchisees you go out there, you learn a little more about the brand, kind of see it in person. You know, we I think we went to like a store in Orlando. And, you know, mental leadership, that’s certainly an important aspect of kind of hitching your wagon on to the franchise trainers, making sure you’re jiving with the guys at the home office, wherever that is. And yeah, and then, you know, kind of flew home thought about a little more and then decided I wanted to go for it ended up So I’ve I have the rights to develop 13 stores in the Dallas Fort Worth market. So we currently have nine stores. And now I have a fleet of nine mobile repair vans so and they get you break I fix is a consumer electronics repair brand. So fixing a lot of broken phone screens, computer issues, hardware software, and any kind of anything with the power button. That’s our motto. So anyway, so I, you know, kind of I determined that I want to go after Dallas want to do you break I fix what’s the opportunity look like? So I knew I wanted to scale, I knew that I knew I didn’t want to do it small. So I wanted to, you know, kind of go go a little bit bigger than just one or two stores. So I secured the rights to develop a, you know, a number of stores here in the Dallas Fort Worth metro. And then your, your once once you kind of determined where you want how much you want, you know, I was made, then it’s just negotiating kind of legal stuff, you know, going through franchise agreements, all that good stuff. And then, you know, from there, now it’s time to open the store, right. So I opened my first store in Flower Mound, it was just me, myself and I, I you know, I did find another I threw a franchisee up in Detroit, who’s a good friend. Now, I got linked up with a guy who’s living in a he still lives in the area. But he had a couple just, you know, he had experience in this industry in electronics repair kind of helped I, you know, helped me kind of open my first store, I paid him a small consulting fee. So that was great. Hire people that are smarter than you. I’m just like anything, any business, that’s a great lesson I’ve learned and got my first store open, you know, you’re doing everything. That’s the cool part about I mean, any small business owner knows this, but being a franchisee, too, you know, you’re dealing with everything, real estate, legal stuff. So, you know, get scrambling to learn how to do a retail lease, get through kind of clawed my way through that got my first door open and Flower Mound, you know, set it up myself, you know, I was there. I was the manager, the first, you know, pretty much here learning how to run the business. Yeah. And that’s kind of how it went. I mean, that was very generalized and broad. But that’s kind of how we got from A to B, if you will.
Aaron Spatz 17:26
Wow. Yeah. So I mean that there’s a lot there’s a lot there, man. So yeah, the ton a ton a ton of work that that had to had to happen. And then in terms of financing, again, like what what are the what are the options available to folks? So can they win? Obviously, cash is always an option. But in terms of but but if if folks don’t have a nest egg laying around to tap into what what are some other options as it relates to franchising? Yeah, so
Steve Demetriou 17:54
I think the Yeah, I’m glad you said specific to franchising, because I do think there are a lot, again, in different niches in franchising, there’s a lot of capital available out there, obviously, you know, the first place first place to start is the SBA, I was actually talking to one of my West Point classmates in the Pacific Northwest last week, who’s interested in opening a franchise concept up there. And so we were talking a lot about SBA loan products, and there’s tons of stuff available there, you know, on both the REIT you know, if you have to buy real estate to get whatever concept you’re thinking about, and there’s tons of real estate products available through the SBA, and then just general business lending options, especially for first time business owners, I mean, that’s the whole point of SBA right to support that community. Right. And so that’s a great place to start. And, and I think that’s cool, too, because you’re going to then meet a local lender, or a lender somewhere in the United States, that’s lending these SBA products, so you not only get to tap into kind of some government backed lending products, but you also get to make a relationship with a local bank, which will be super important just for general business operations. And then if you want to get in other businesses, you, you know, hopefully build up a good reputation with that, that lender. And then there’s also just specific, you know, again, kind of niche related, franchising related, you know, capital providers out there, like I know, Apple Pie capital is one in the franchise, that’s pretty active in the franchise space. So these are private, you know, kind of capital providers that are not another option. So I think they’re the money’s out there, you know, and then you can go the friends and family route as well. And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s certainly what I tapped into, as well. And so yeah, I think kind of all three of those things. And then yeah, whatever you bring to the table if you’re, you know, you got cash to put in that’s it. You know that, you know, that’s the that’s another that’s another good option is betting on yourself. So yeah, I certainly hope you know for the listeners out there anyone thinking about getting the money’s out there you know if you if you want if you want to go do it you can you can hustle to get the dollars to toe that debt first store business. So
Aaron Spatz 20:22
that’s awesome. Yeah that’s that’s that’s a common that’s a common theme that’s a common theme I keep running into as I talk to people is if you’re willing to hustle, there’s there’s no shortage of opportunities and things available to help launch your business or to get things moving. And so for you then So you started that first store, you described a little bit briefly about like that first, that first year so so when it came time to start to begin to hire employees writing you started to start to to add vehicles to the lineup. And then obviously, you started to have ideas of expanding, you’re more into in terms of the local DFW market. So again, I’ll just ask you like, what, what was your What was your process there for that? Like, what, what? What were the big learning moments for you there? What What were the big challenges also, but what were the big wins during during that whole time? And I know, I’m asking a lot, so I will I will, I will. I’ll re attack as we as we go through this.
Steve Demetriou 21:21
Yeah, keep me on track here. Yeah, sure, rabbit holes. And the, yeah, we’re growing as hard, right, just like any business. It was hard for me, because like I said, my first store, I was in there every day, you know, seven days a week scrap and I was the guy like, if you went to the counter, like you were talking to me, or, you know, I was behind the bat cranking out phone repairs. And I knew though that to grow the way I had envisioned in my head, when I got into this business, I couldn’t kind of keep doing that. I thought it was good exercise to really learn how to run a store. And, you know, so I could help hold other, you know, my future employees accountable. Whenever I, you know, eventually grew my mini franchise empire. But so, yeah, hiring is hard, right? And finding people that can are on board with you to grow. I mean, that’s tough, especially when you’re nobody, right, like when you just got like a little store and you’re thinking about bigger, bigger things, and, you know, you kind of got to get them on that train, right and, and get them aligned with the vision. And that’s tough, because, you know, a lot of folks just want to come in and get paid and know that you’re going to pay them on time, which we were always able to do, it’s just, you know, you got to find that one, one or two people that are, you know, gonna really strapped with you to help grow your business. And so that was tough, that was a hard thing to learn. And, you know, I certainly value now finding great employees that really do want to grow that, you know, not only with me, but on their personal journey on their personal career. I latch onto those people, right, and I hope they latch back on to me. And just like every employee, trying to treat them with respect and pay him well, that, you know, that that’s a huge, hugely important thing, especially if you want to grow because you don’t want those folks to leave. So that was hard, right? And then, you know, I think some some other lessons I learned where the real estate side is like, hey, my second store, you know, it’s just, it’s, it’s probably didn’t pick the best real estate to open, you know, to, like, site location, specifically. So yeah, that was number two. I was like, alright, well, never gonna do these certain things. Again, like, just basic stuff, like, Hey, make sure you have road frontage. Right. You know, make sure people can see your sign well. And, you know, that was that was a great learning lesson. I haven’t done that since on my follow up seven follow on storage from that. And I’d say some wins. Like I said earlier, it’s just finding people that are a lot smarter than me. So I, one of the things that really helped me grow in a major way I’m going to give a shout out on on this podcast is finally my I call my operating partner Joe Carter. So he’s pretty much you know, the last six months been running the business day to day. And I found him almost two years ago, he was working for the franchisor and was a they call it they call it a business consultant in our brand. So he was basically liaising with me and the franchisor worked for the franchisor in Orlando, lived in the DFW area and sort of advised all the franchisees in the southwest. So that’s how we got to know each other. And, you know, I was like, Wow, this guy’s really smart. He works really hard for me and I don’t even pay him and, you know, just generally respected him. And she’s older than me knew the retail space really well. Grew up, you know, managing cars gets in a bunch of Dollar General Store. So new, new had that managerial leadership experience as well in the retail space, also knew our business model really well since he worked for the franchisor. So I’m like, Man, how do I figure out how to hire this guy. And I coaxed him to join my team about two years ago. And that was Island, three stores at the time, probably couldn’t afford him. But, you know, it was an investment in my business and myself and him. And that was, you know, a huge catalyst for growth for me, because now I can, I could free myself from, you know, kind of the day to day down in the weeds, you know, kind of tactical level tasks of running the business, and kind of figure out how to grow. And then yes, that that was a key part, like I said earlier, just find people that are smarter than you and get them on or find a way to get them on your team. Even if at that moment in time. Maybe you can’t afford them, maybe, you know, doesn’t even make sense. If you think they can add value and you want to grow, like just figure it out. Because, yeah, otherwise you just kind of get in a loop and you can’t get out of it. So yeah, I think it’s like, yeah, people, I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve learned is how integral people are just to every business. And, you know, if you have good people generate, if you have good inputs, which most businesses are people, you’re generally gonna have good outputs. And you’re gonna see that and, you know, in the bottom line, like, you know, even if you while my labor costs are super high, if you’re, if you’re taking care of your people, they’re, they’re gonna take care of your customers, your customers, we happy customers, you’re gonna spend more money, and everyone’s gonna win. So that’s probably the number one thing I’ve learned is just having great people take care of them. And when you find the really smart ones, figure out a way to let them grow and thrive. For you. So yeah,
Aaron Spatz 26:55
wow. No, that’s, that’s really cool. Because you were able to find a, you know, subject matter expert on this specific business, local to the market, plenty of retail, you know, retail experience, so understands a lot of the ins and outs of that specific type of industry, it’s able to really help advise you on a lot of other decisions that that you’re making, or decisions that we’re going to be coming up at some point. And so just helping kind of craft that. And so it’s, it’s smart. And I can’t imagine what that was like, though, hiring somebody. And you know, like, Man, I don’t know how I’m gonna make this work. But I got, I got to make this work. Because this dude is absolutely gold in terms of just being able to help add tremendous value to the business. And so making sure that you’re taking care of him on top of all that, so as you’re doing that, though, so you, you so now you’ve expanded and so again, through this franchise model, so you’re so you are, you have rights to the real estate, so you’re you’re purchasing the real estate, is that is that is that owned by the franchisor?
Steve Demetriou 28:02
No, so I’m not, you know, some caught like, especially in the bigger Restaurant Brands, that’s typical, where you buy, develop, purchase, whatever, the real estate, and that’s, you know, great stream of income out for those guys, but uh, and we are consumers of kind of small footprints. So, I’m typically lately seen that 1000 square foot range, so we’re into like, typically like kind of strip mall Road, yep. Fronting strip malls and on Main and Main and whatever shut market we’re in. So I’m a tenant. But, you know, being a tenant is tough, especially when you’re small tenant, and you’re working with a big landlord. So definitely, in, you know, retail, the retail leases are, are always tough for the tenants, because you’re paying the landlord’s bills, typically, through the triple net leases, which, you know, typically you’re gonna sign a triple net lease. So, you know, definitely got a crash course on that. And I think the key there for me was finding a great, great, great real estate broker to help me so let me give another shout out to the Weitzman group, which is a local regional brand here in the in the Dallas Fort Worth area. And Steven wise specifically, it’s my go to guy there. So again, latching on to really smart people that add value to you. You know, I kind of quickly found him and he’s helped me open most of my stores or at least get the leases signed and negotiated So yeah, that that was that’s kind of my real estate experience. But yeah, we’re not one day I’d love to own the buildings I’m occupying. But right now, as far as the franchise stores go work for tenants, so
Aaron Spatz 29:50
yeah, it’s all good. The the the triple net lease, are you comfortable talking about that, like in terms of what that’s all about stuff? For those of us that are not as well versed enough,
Steve Demetriou 30:02
yeah, yeah, so the triple net leases are, you’re paying a base rent like you would in any kind of tenancy situation. And then on top of that, you’re paying what’s typically known as the triple net expense, which is taxes, income, or taxes, insurance, any kind of common area maintenance cam, which you’ll hear a lot that the lamp Yeah, that’d be like mowing the grass, or if you’re in a cold area, like plowing the parking lot, snow plowing the parking lot. And then sometimes there’s like a management fee that the landlord will charge that’s baked in there, and you’re paying it pro rata per like, how much space you consume, in that, that that site. So yeah, it’s, you know, there’s a and then another thing is, like I’ve learned about over the years is you get the, the landlords have a lot of power in these in these relationships. And so, you know, if they the bills go up, guess what, your bills going up, too. And, you know, the taxes increase, guess what your triple net costs, just to typically, you know, that that’ll cause your costs increase. So, yeah, it’s, you know, you got to make sure you’re really digging into those leases, you know. You know, make sure you get a good lawyer, as you know, unless you’re you happen to be a lawyer. But I would certainly there’s plenty of good real estate lawyers around and around town, especially here in Dallas, Fort Worth. So make sure you get somebody with legal experience to dig into that make it so you can ensure you’re signing a, you know, a good deal. And so, yeah, that’s, that’s, that’s kind of the overview of the valleys.
Aaron Spatz 31:57
Yeah, well, then. Yes. What walk me through then your because I’m just curious, like, what your, what was your decision behind you wanting to expand? So you mentioned at the very beginning of the show is you secure the rights to be able to expand into X number of stores? I think he said, 11 or 12? Something like that?
Steve Demetriou 32:14
Yeah. So I have the rights to 1313 years. Yeah. So here, so yeah, we’ve, well, we’ll be, we’ll be pushing hard to open the last for this year. And, yeah, so I guess my decision around that was just, like, kind of go big or go home. You know, I, I felt like, look, I found a good brand that I want to grow with, um, you know, again, kind of went through my personal decision making process. As you alluded to Aaron earlier, and, you know, I, I just, you know, I was like, Hey, I’m young. So it’s gonna be my first like, Let’s go for it, you know, and then I knew too, it was a failure, like, the stakes were low on on that opportunity, or chance, you know, I had a deposit out there on future stores. So I just kind of bet hey, if I, if I put it doesn’t work out, like, net net, like I at least I gave my shell selfish shots, it just have that opportunity to grow. Yeah. So that was, you know, pretty, I just, I knew I want whatever I did, I wanted to at least have the ability to scale. I just think businesses or business gets smoother as you get bigger in a lot of ways and cost gets spread out. So I didn’t know much back then. But I knew I knew that my might be the case. So yeah.
Aaron Spatz 33:35
Well, and then taking taking your learnings forward. So is are you are you trying to think of how do I ask this? Like, are you only able to exclusively work with this brand in terms of business opportunities? Or does that preclude you from any? Any other work that you may decide that you want to do?
Steve Demetriou 33:56
Yeah, well, I definitely don’t want to upset any lawyers listening. So I think that’ll be that’ll be kind of per your your franchise agreement with per the franchise agreement if you know, you know, with whatever brand is out there for us yet no, I’m doing other stuff on you know, that was one of the things I too I learned kind of after year one in the business is like, hey, maybe I’m going to be interested in getting into other franchise brands. Other you know, business opportunities. So that was another reason bringing on my operating partner Joe, because I knew one day I’d want to kind of free myself to go explore other other entrepreneurial endeavors so for my cage some I’m not limited you know, as long as I’m not you know, hanging out with the competitors but yeah, no, certainly not. And that’s a great question because I’m, that’s something I’m now starting to explore is kind of other other business avenues and ventures. So yeah, most the time you’re not you’re not You’re exclusively nailed down to that brand in the franchising space. And, you know, especially here locally, Dallas Fort Worth, there’s some huge franchise operators that are in a bunch of different brands that are, you know, huge, massive billion dollar companies. And they just they own a lot of franchise stores and multiple brands. So just even here, regionally, there’s a great some great examples that, you know, of guys doing that. So, yeah,
Aaron Spatz 35:28
wow. Yeah, don’t there’s, I mean, because there’s just, there’s so much there, because I’ve seen, I mean, to your point, there’s these massive companies that own hundreds and hundreds of a franchise location, which is nuts to me, but they, I, I, like I imagine a part of their decision making process there is like, Well, hey, I would rather take a smaller cut a smaller percentage of net profit. Because it’s a business model, it’s proven to work. And he’s got a brand that’s already been established. There’s a lot, there’s a lot of brand equity there. And so it’s a business that’s not going to go away anytime soon. I mean, they’ve kind of run through this whole, this whole thought process as to, as to how to properly properly vet those, those opportunities. So it’s, it’s, it’s interesting as you as you’ve been explore, so I mean, I imagine you wouldn’t be standing here in terms of expanding the businesses if they weren’t profitable. So it sounds like they’re, they’re doing well for you then.
Steve Demetriou 36:25
Yeah, no, it’s been like, it’s been a struggle. You know, it’s been, like any small business can especially. Yeah, this wasn’t a startup quote, unquote. But we wasn’t taking over existing stores, at least when I got going. And, yeah, so you know, the first kind of two or three years ramp it up, we are definitely seeing really strong profitability now. Knock on wood, which, you know, it’s been a lot of fun. And, but yeah, I yeah, I think, and again, that’s the nice part about franchising is like you can, you know, like I was saying earlier, I had the right to grow. But if I, I always, this is I tell my team this all the time, like we got to earn the right to grow. So if I wasn’t earning that right to grow, then I probably wouldn’t have done so. But I think that’s a cool kind of part thing about franchising is, you know, you can, you can create options for yourself on growth, whether it’s sent to other brands, in turn, you know, organic, organic growth within a brand. So, yeah, we were having some good good wins, especially during COVID, which has been challenging for a lot of small businesses out there. But it’s been somewhat of a boon for us. I think a lot of people stand home, figuring out they need to optimize working from home and fix some, maybe some old electronics that were hanging around. But, yeah, so yeah, that’s been that’s been the probably one of the most fun things about about business in general. But this, this brain is kind of going from zero to, you know, 60, if you will, and, you know, achieving profitability, but didn’t come in settling, right, it’s, you know, it’s just like any business, like you’re gonna, you got costs, you got to grow sales, especially when you’re opening from the ground up. And so that’s been a, you know, that’s been a big challenge, but we’re seeing some success now.
Aaron Spatz 38:23
Wow. Well, then it’s to the extent that you’re comfortable sharing. So what, what’s what’s next for you? Like, what, what other things are you? Or are you checking out?
Steve Demetriou 38:32
Yeah, so I’m always just keeping an eye on on like, break, I fix, obviously, and lucky to have a great team that’s really taken a lot of load off my shoulders. So my brothers live in Cleveland, and I and my father were, we kind of got a family real estate investment thing going on up there. So we’re buying up small residential multifamily properties. So two to four unit properties, up on the west side of Cleveland, which has been really interesting, we’re seeing some really strong returns there. And that’s been fun kind of seeing the Hey, where can we go with this. So that’s something I’m spending some of my time on, get go back home now. And then to kind of check in on that. And then I’m also kind of parent and parallel to that is, I’d love to, you know, buy and operate another business, which, you know, is definitely something I’m spending time on now. One of the reasons you know, I wanted to, I’m lucky to kind of be on this podcast with you is to kind of start getting my, my personal brand out there and opening some doors on this on this next venture. So I’d love to buy, do it a little differently. In and not go the franchising route, which has been great, but again, kind of trying something new. I love to buy, you know, privately owned, closely held business, ideally in North Texas or maybe in Ohio. And, you know, in my perfect world would be somebody who’s looking to retire, sell their business, keep the keep their legacy alive. And I’d love to help, you know, a business owner do that, and kind of maintaining what they’ve built, and then hopefully take it to the next level. So I’d say real estate and business, you know, like another small business to operate and grow. Those are my two focuses are kind of right now moving forward. I’m in somewhat of a transition period. Again, I guess, kind of comparing it to where I was six years ago or so when I was transitioning out of the military. But no, I got I got a few more tools in my toolkit. Now. I know a couple more things. And so now I’m just trying to grow, keep growing. So
Aaron Spatz 40:47
yeah, well, no doubt you’ve learned you’ve learned a ton man. And it’s like, one, you know, hats off to you. Congratulations on the success that you’ve seen so far. I know, I know, this is just the very beginning of the journey for you. Like I know, you still got a long, long, long way to go in terms of your own goals and your own expectations of yourself. But I think it’s really neat to see, to see you get, you know, to get a couple solid wins, right, like when you’ve you’ve you’ve come out here in terms of launching if helping launch a franchise into a market and expand that market and all the lessons that you’ve learned all the things that you’ve gleaned from that experience and, and obviously holding that going forward and partnering with some really amazing people to help make that a reality. And so I just think I think it’s terrific. I’m like, I’m super pumped for you, man. And I’m, I’m, I’m looking forward to hearing more also about the book, the journey up in Cleveland, the fun fact I’ve got got a lot of family from that from that part of the country from Cuyahoga County. So I didn’t know if you happen to be a argue like, are you diehard Browns fan?
Steve Demetriou 41:50
Yeah, I’m definitely a Browns fan. You know, I know you your Raiders beat up beat us last year. But you know, we had a good little playoff run. So I mean, I don’t want to rub that any of that in. But now, but yeah, I’m definitely a Browns fan. Um, I can see that a little more proudly. Now. You know, I guess you can say your Raiders fan a little more proudly now too, right. These days? Yeah. Yeah, big Cavs fan. So it’s still pull for for all the Cavs are having a tough year this year. But um, yeah, still still diehard Cleveland, in general. So
Aaron Spatz 42:25
yeah, no, no, no, it’s awesome. It’s a so you know, the, like all the Cleveland sports teams were a were a staple in in our in our house growing up. So despite the fact that I may not, I may not actively or rather proactively cheer for them, I still keep, I still keep an eye on them. And I want to see them do well. They’re a great, it’s a great organization, I love that town. And loved it love to see what they can put together next year. They were they were a real for CES last year. And so I really, really loved to see love to see them go even further the next year, hopefully, and get a couple of good, good pickups in the draft and maybe only need a few good trades. There’s a lot more there’s a lot of there’s a lot of there’s a lot of teams that need that needs. So it’ll be it’ll be fascinating for sure. But you know, so. So what else Steve, you know, we covered? We’ve covered, you broke my fix. I think it’s I think that’s fantastic. You know, you’re you’re working on your real estate, real estate deals up in the Cleveland area. And now you’re evaluating another, you know, other business opportunities, hopefully able to pick up a business from somebody retiring like what’s, you know, I guess, kind of like your parting parting shots, I guess probably the best way to kind of close this out is, you know, what, what advice would you have, then for others that may? And I know, you’ve probably already mentioned it at some point, but what advice would you have, though, for others that are contemplating starting business, and they don’t know whether or not they want to just go in and launch their own brand, or own their own business? Or whether they should just go ahead and, and kind of piggyback on and learn, you know, on a proven business model through through the franchise route? Like what what are what are some words of advice you’d have for that for that person?
Steve Demetriou 44:05
I would say why not explore both, and figure out which one makes the most sense for you, because you’re gonna learn, you got the, you know, it’s like, you got to start just by taking that first step. And that’s just going to exploring and making a few phone calls doesn’t take a lot of time. And you’ll quickly know, it know and realize and learn way out what, what feels right, and what does it and I’d say, you know, a lot of times good old gut instinct, and, you know, that means something, at least that that’s what I believe. So I would say, yeah, just kind of have all the options in front of you and select the best one that that’s out there for you and then go for it. You know that that’s the next important piece is just if it feels right, you’ve done your homework, go for it. Yeah. And, you know, there’s very few mistakes in life that are impossible to recover from and so if it doesn’t work out Go, you know, go back to what you’re doing and but, you know, again, if you do your homework, you work hard, you’re passionate about it. Most of the time the stars can align and you know, you’ll see some level of success. So yeah, that’s my my and I really appreciate you having me on by the way. This is great. So
Aaron Spatz 45:18
absolutely see what’s what’s the best way that people can get get in touch with you? Would you rather them? Look you up on LinkedIn? Or is there a website or email address that you want to share or LinkedIn the best place?
Steve Demetriou 45:30
Yeah, you can go to site llc.com has a little more about me and my business background and kind of what I’m looking for next. And then yeah, LinkedIn, Steve Demetrio, the third. I don’t think there’s probably many Steve Demetrio that thirds out there. So I’d love to connect with anyone, especially if you want to talk about small businesses in North Texas, which I guess this is the right podcast to be on. Yeah. And, and so yeah, I’d love to get you I’m a big believer in coffees can go a long way. So, you know, hit me up, let’s grab coffee and most of the media and so yeah, and this was great. And you know, I this was awesome experience again. Thanks for having me.
Aaron Spatz 46:11
Absolutely. Stay. Thank you. Thank you so much. And let’s do it real quick about the coffee now. Now that coffee plate more and more places are open. Now this is becoming a much more viable way to meet with people now. So it doesn’t have to be virtual anymore. So which is just really cool. Because I mean, I could not agree with you more. I’ve I’ve done so much business through through coffee shops. That’s absolutely insane. So but but no, my friend thank you. Thank you so much for being here with with me this morning. This has been it’s been a true treat for me.
Steve Demetriou 46:42
Thanks so much. Have a great day.
Aaron Spatz 46:48
Thanks for listening to America’s entrepreneur. If you enjoyed the show, please leave a review or comment on your preferred social media platform. share it out with friends, family, coworkers, others in your network. And of course you can write me directly at Erin at Bold media.us That’s a Ron at Bold media.us