BTRIPP (btripp) wrote,
BTRIPP
btripp

That "big news" I mentioned last week ...

czlogoI guess the suspense wasn't killing anybody out there, since my initial post (just before we headed out to the airport) elicited zero comments, but here's the scoop: The Wife and I have just bought a franchise! As is well known to readers of this space, I've been through a long, frustrating, and pointless job search over the past several years, one that had not been getting any better with the "aging" of my new I.T. training. The Wife was also very unhappy in her job situation (she'd taken two years off of work for each of The Girls, and each time she got back into the workforce, it was in a substantially lesser position) and had been actively looking for something new. In her search she checked out many franchise opportunities, and came across CLUBZ! a few months ago.

ClubZ-zipcodes-02After checking into the company, the market, etc., she suggested that this might be something that we could both do (as it is "optimally" designed for a couple to run from home). ClubZ! is a tutoring service which brings tutors into the students' homes and works with their school curriculum one-on-one (as opposed to Sylvan, Huntington, etc. which have centers and "programs" and "groups"). What we will be doing is recruiting tutors (which the company assures us is the easiest part), and placing them with students. The tutors are "independant contractors", so we don't have a mess of "employee" paperwork, and most of our time will be spent on "marketing" the service (gee, that could be why The Wife wanted me on board?) to families in our area.

The business is very "zip code specific" as far as territory goes, but we were happy to find that nobody was currently running a franchise is Chicago (they've only been around since 1995, and are in 225 cities so far), although there are six other franchises in the suburbs around the city. We snagged the biggest franchise that we could (they max out at 200k population before you have to buy a secondary franchise) with a bit of a juggling act to get the right population block (with enough "target" age figures) over the right mix of contiguous zip codes. The map here is our new territory. The Wife was quite eager to work in two other zip codes, but they would have required buying an additional franchise, so we're going to wait to get this one off the ground first before looking to expand!

We're pretty compact in the heart of Chicago ... about 8 miles north-to-south (from Montrose down to about Soldier Field ... I'm still waiting to get a "definitive" current zip code map, as the boundaries of some of these have been shifting around from map to map!) and 3-4 miles east-to-west. There are a lot of "new neighborhoods" in this mix, where Yuppie housing is supplanting industrial areas, so there's a lot of "growth" built in by the just the footprint we've been able to grab. Officially speaking, we're only supposed to work with kids whose home address is in one of our zip codes, but unless they're in some other franchisee's zip code, we can work with anybody in the city. We're a bit shy on numbers for the "target" under-17 age range, but we're making up for that with the numbers of college-age kids at the various universities in our territory (ClubZ! does a wide range of tutoring, from grade school through college/grad test prep to music and I.T. tutoring!).

I'd forgotten what a nightmare setting up a new business was, though ... we spent pretty much all day yesterday down at City Hall & the County building getting this that and the other thing lined up (heck, The Wife is back down there now trying to get the zoning approved for us to run this out of our appartment!). I've been on the phone/web digging up stuff for new phone and internet service, and getting a new computer (and a bunch of software) specifically for the business. It's not particularly convenient that both of The Girls are off this week, meaning that they're underfoot a lot and being dragged along to a bunch of very boring places, but I guess it's going to give them an "included" feel on the start of the new business.

Anyway, that's the scoop. There are a zillion details I could go into about the frustrations involved (I may yet type up the rant I have about our trip down to Florida, which was an ordeal), but this is the overview of what's been happening and why I've been scarce around these parts!


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