For years, Jon Kleck lived comfortably working in sales and services for several prominent vehicle dealerships. Four years ago, comfortable had just about run its course. With his wife’s blessing, Kleck started to kick the tires on owning a Grapevine, Texas based franchise with Creative Colors International (CCI), the nation’s leading on-site repair and restoration franchise.
We spoke to Jon about his career transition into franchise ownership with Creative Colors International (CCI), his long-term plans, and why he never considered any other franchise. For more information on how you can make CCI your second-act career, visit creativecolorsintl.com.
Q: What was your professional background before becoming a Creative Colors International (CCI) franchisee?
A: I worked as a manager in sales and services at a prominent motorcycle dealership as well as a Recreational Vehicle dealership.
Q: What sparked your interest in becoming a franchise owner and specifically with Creative Colors International (CCI)?
A: I had 35 people working under my guidance and frankly, it’s tough to get everyone to row the boat in the same direction. I kept thinking to myself there must be something better out there for me. We were using Creative Colors International (CCI) at the RV dealership. One day I approached Rebecca Preston (CCI-Fort Worth) and inquired about opportunities. I simply wanted to work for her, but due to a miscommunication, that didn’t work out. Instead, I researched about ownership. I was never interested in another company, never considered a franchise broker.
Q: Tell us about the process of signing on with CCI. How long did it take, what was the training process?
A: It was an easy process. Mike Pollock got in contact with me and walked me through the process.
I inquired about owning my franchise in October 2014. In November, I was in Chicago for discovery day. 2 months later in January 2015, I was back in Chicago for three weeks of training. It was cold, but the training process was awesome. It was a great experience. It’s a blessing and a privilege to be a Creative Colors International franchisee.
Q: Do you have any employees? If so, how many? If no, do you plan on making any hires?
A: I have two employees. We have a cleaning division, where we do cleaning for Enterprise Car Rental. Both have a van that they utilize. I’m still an owner operator. I continue to do most of the repairs and restorations.
Q: How has the experience as a small business owner been?
A: It’s been a fun ride. It requires an investment, especially when you add employees. It’s not like everything you bring in is all for you, and none for them. Plus, the government makes sure to get their cut. All that withstanding, it has been a great experience and business is going well.
Q: What skills did you learn in the corporate setting that helped you prepare for becoming a Creative Colors International (CCI) owner?
A: People skills. Customers and people in general, want to feel valued, they want to know that their business means something, no matter how big or small. A customer may only have only a $100 couch, but that’s their couch and they want you to treat with it with the utmost care.
Q: What makes Grapevine unique for a CCI/small business owner?
A: People here are friendly. The people make the difference. They make owning a business enjoyable.
Q: As far as sales/revenue are concerned, are you meeting your goals?
A: Very much so. I don’t think I’m going to be a million-dollar company, but we are certainly doing well. I may hire one or two additional people, but that may be as big as I get. I just bought a second territory in May of this year. I have a big chunk of the Metroplex and I’m cool with that. I’m looking to be comfortable, take days off, go on vacation and simply be happy. I don’t have to make millions to be happy.
Q: Do you have any second thoughts of being an entrepreneur?
A: No, not one bit. It’s been an opportunity to change my life and my wife Gayle’s life. To have the opportunity to interact with other customers, that’s a big joy. Back in the sales and service days while working at dealerships, we operated at a rapid pace. The goal is to beat last month’s sales, and when you do that, we simply do it all over again. Now, as a Creative Colors International (CCI) owner, I get to meet and enjoy the relationships I build with our clients.
Q: What is your advice to people considering entrepreneurship?
A: Follow your heart, make sure it’s something you feel like you can see yourself doing. Don’t look at it in just dollars. The money will come with anything if you love what you do. If you choose to sell lemonade on the corner, you’re going to be the best at it if you love what you do.
Q: Why should potential small business owners consider Creative Colors International?
A: The diversification of the avenues of business that you can acquire to generate income sets CCI apart. You work with a wide variety of materials to repair and restore. It’s vinyl, it’s leather, it’s plastic, and you work with automotive, furniture, commercial property. There’s several sources of revenue. On top of that, the team/family atmosphere between the franchisees and the corporate office is outstanding. The entire team in Chicago are a pleasure to work with. When I went to discovery day, visiting with them felt very family oriented and team oriented. I knew from the moment we shook hands this is what I wanted.
To lean more about CCI of Grapevine, please visit: https://www.wecanfixthat.com/grapevine