Have you ever thought about building a business slow and steady instead of fast and furious? We often times here of the fast growth companies in headlines, but those are the exceptions. I know it can be hard to wait for the slow growth and be more like the tortoise instead of the hare, but building brick by brick often lays the strongest foundation for long term viability.
Our guest today is Rich Peter who is who shares with us how building his franchise company brick by brick has been the right strategy for growth as he has gone from a one location organization to a national brand with over 70 franchises open or in development right now.
LINKS FROM THE EPISODE:
- You can visit our guest’s websites at: https://www.mobilityplus.com/
- Learn more about the Mobility Plus franchise: https://www.mobilityplus.com/franchise/
- If you are ready to franchise your business or take it to the next level: CLICK HERE.
ABOUT BIG SKY FRANCHISE TEAM:
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Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:00):
Welcome to the Multiply Your Success podcast, where each week we help growth-minded entrepreneurs and franchise leaders take the next step in their expansion journey. I’m your host, Tom DuFore, CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team. And as we open today, I’m wondering if you’ve ever thought about building a business slow and steady instead of fast and furious. And we oftentimes hear of the fast growth companies in headlines, but those seem to be the exceptions. And I know it can be hard to wait for that slow growth and be more like the tortoise instead of the hare. But building brick by brick often lays the strongest foundation for long-term viability. Our guest today is Rich Peter, who shares with us how building his franchise company, brick by brick, has been the right strategy for growth. He has gone from a one location organization to a national brand with over 70 franchises open or in development right now.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (00:57):
And I’m so thankful to be sharing with you an interview with Rich Peter, who’s the founder and president of Mobility Plus. Rich is a long-term client of mine and he’s become a friend of mine as well over the years. Rich is someone that I believe to have great integrity and is just an all around great person. And so that’s why I’m just so excited and thankful to have had this opportunity to share part of his journey with you today. So let’s go ahead and jump into our interview.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (01:23):
It’s great to be here, Tom. My name is Rich Peter. I am the president and founder of Mobility Plus.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (01:31):
Great. Well, Rich, you and I go back many years, what, eight, 10 years at this point now that we’ve known one another and been working together. And this conversation is something I’ve been thinking about and wanting to have you on as a guest for, goodness, at least a year and a half. And finally, we connected around Thanksgiving. That seems to be our time. And just as a quick intro, I’d love for you to just give an overview on what Mobility Plus is and what you’re doing.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (02:00):
Yeah. And Tom, it is great to meet up again. It seems like we do meet up annually around Thanksgiving, whether we like it or not, it just happens. The stars meet on that and I’m glad to be here today. And it has been I think about eight years. So that’s incredible from the first handshake to today. And so it’s been full circle and I think we’ll probably have some more meetings after this ’cause that seems to be the pattern. Mobility Plus, I founded that in 2007 and it’s a healthcare franchise, senior category, healthcare category. We focus on scooters, ramps, lifts, then our kind of tagline underneath the logo. And that has expanded into other products and services to serve the senior market or anyone who is in need of mobility equipment. So from scooters, power chairs to ramps to home stair lifts. We also provide bath safety, and that’s the core of our business and we operate it through a franchise network. And we currently have about 61 in operation, brick and mortar stores. And we have about 10 in development.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (03:30):
That’s so wonderful, Rich. And I remember the very first time we met when you had just your original operating territory with this idea, this kind of dream of growing and building a business. So would you mind just sharing a little bit of your story from this initial thought of idea of franchising all the way up to 61 units, 10 more in the pipeline and growing a national brand?
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (03:58):
Yeah, thanks, Tom. Back when I started I was in banking, finance, and in 2006, 2007, that industry started going down as those who know about that can understand. And I felt that I needed to do something for myself because I wanted to kind of control my path instead of having a job control my path and continuously looking for a job. So when you’re in business for yourself, you can’t really fire yourself. So I said, this is going to be a commitment and it’s something that I’m going to go as far as I can go and let’s see what happens. And healthcare to me was not the first choice of starting a business. I kind of stumbled upon it where having conversations with family, friends when the downturn happened, they would always say, “Healthcare is a great business. People will always need to take care of themselves or need some sort of help going forward.”
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (05:14):
And that kind of stuck with me for some reason. I did grow up in a household where my mom was a nurse and I was around patients when I was young. She was a private nurse so that she was allowed to take the patient out of the nursing home, give them some fresh air. And I was experienced early to seeing patients, how my mom took care of them, how much she really cared. And I also saw the equipment they were using. At 12 years old, I was tinkering with wheelchairs and walkers. I don’t know, it was something that just piqued my interest. But then years go by, I’m 33 and it’s time for me to start a business. And at that time I was like, “Well, I do know wheelchairs and I do know some other small items because, not just because when I was a kid, just seeing it amongst other people, you’d think that okay, this is a business that can help people.”
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (06:18):
So I’ve always had a service-oriented mindset, “What can I do to help others?” Even though I need to provide for myself and my family? For some reason, I’ve always had this mindset of what could I do? What could I do, how can I help somebody else? And essentially, I started selling wheelchairs for $99 out of my garage from the house. I had no job. So I said, “Well, I’m going to start small and see what happens from here.” And at that time you would pick up the phone, call an assisted living facility, a nursing home, and ask them if they needed any repairs done to their equipment or are they looking for any new equipment. And that kind of was a starting point. All of a sudden the house garage was full. And my wife said, “Well, you got to go somewhere else. I need to park my car in the garage.”
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (07:15):
It gets really cold in Chicago. So I said, “Okay, fine, I’ll go look for a warehouse.” So then I kind of stumbled upon a warehouse across the street from my house and really nice landlord. And now I could kind of expand the business that I didn’t know I was really in, but I was learning it. I thought it was just kind of buying and selling and doing some small repairs. And then that warehouse was great. And the initial model was receive deliveries, have some retail space in front for people to walk in your door so you can have a conversation with them, listen to them, and they’ll kind of steer you in what they need instead of you steering them. It’s really not a sales type business. This is a need-based business where people will share their struggles. And your opportunity as a mobility consultant is to provide them with the solution for that struggle, as best you can.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (08:14):
You’re not going to be able to help everyone, but if you can provide some equipment that may make their life easier or a loved one’s life easier, that is something that makes you smile. And sometimes people don’t know what’s out there nowadays. There’s just a lot of things that have come through innovation through the medical device industry. And our job is to continue providing the latest and best products. But I’ll touch on that a little later. So that grew into my single store, grew into a pretty good sized business over the years. And then I went to a franchise convention in Schaumburg, Illinois. I met this guy Tom DuFore, who is, voila, right here. We shook hands and we talked about this before this interview.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (09:07):
And you remember that moment, I remember that moment and it was like, “Hey, this is an interesting concept, franchising.” Because I did want to grow the business. My business had grown to a point where I felt it was kind of plateauing and I felt kind of like, “Well, I need to expand beyond what I’m doing here.” I am a growth oriented person, so I wanted to expand Mobility Plus to help others to make that mission of helping as many people as we can. And then in about 2018, we launched the franchise and it was a pretty good journey. And now we’re in 2022 right here. And that’s the path that happened.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (10:00):
Great. Well and Rich, one of the things that always stood out as a unique attribute to your business is that you really focus on this idea of mobility, helping people move around, especially seniors, people who maybe are unable to walk upstairs quite the same way or walk in their front door or move around town. So I’d love for you to talk a little bit about what, you mentioned a little bit about this, but what drove you to really help these folks in need with mobility? A lot of different things in healthcare and senior care, you could help others with.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (10:37):
Healthcare is such a diverse field and there’s so many opportunities in healthcare. And the nice thing is that you’re always providing some product or service to make someone’s life better and easier. And so the facets of healthcare, healthcare and even what you can do, I’m not smart enough to be a doctor. Practically, I couldn’t service anyone. I didn’t have any certificates or anything like that. So for me, healthcare turned into products, what products could I provide? And as far as products that are readily available, they’re easy to kind of service, deliver, and they’re kind of user ready. And so beyond wheelchairs, scooters, power chairs, they really pique my interest. Because it’s a motorized product, actually kind of fun. I mean, riding a scooter, if you’ve never written one, come on by one of the shops, we got one, we got a couple stores in Atlanta, go check it out.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (11:50):
And it was like, these are cool products. These are products that number one, people can relate to. Number two, this can be a business. It was already kind of out there, but more of an insurance type of industry 15 years ago. And I saw the need as, “Hey, why can’t somebody just get this today?” And I’m sure there’s others who saw that as well. But for me I was like, “This should be easy. It should be easy to just go buy a scooter, buy a wheelchair, buy a hospital bed. It shouldn’t be that complex. And a lot of red tape.” And the consumer didn’t really well versed on how to obtain product. They thought “I got to go to my doctor, or I got to go through my pharmacist to get prescriptions or fulfilled.” I wanted it to be like, “Hey, the store’s open, come on in, let’s figure out what’s going to work for you.” And was for me, it was like I’m not a technician, I’ll just say that. So I’m not great at fixing things, but I do enjoy marketing, sales, operations.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (12:58):
So Mobility Plus for me had to be something that I could operate where I could say, “Hey, let’s check out the different types, let’s make sure it’s the right fit. And then from there, if you’re happy with it, it’s yours. And if you did need any service or repair, we got your back.” So for me, I had to bring on a technician so early on it was me and a technician and a showroom person. So this way it was just like three people could run that business. And it was easy enough to run with three people to start where I could be out doing some marketing gain customers, the showroom person could greet them and our technician could deliver it. Very simple map.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (13:45):
And that same model is what we’re doing today at the starting point of the franchises, the franchise owner as the operator, they would hire a technician or a technician right off the bat and a showroom person and service their local community and they can expand from there and grow from there, organically. It’s one of those things where the slower you learn, the more you’ll learn as well. If you try to rush it, sometimes you’ll miss some facets and you really want to understand the products as well as the client’s needs and understand that you’re in a business now. So there’s a lot going on and that’s where we come in to really support them on that.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (14:31):
Yeah, great. Well Rich, one of the things I’d love for you to share as you’ve grown to a national brand at this point, maybe a few lessons you’ve learned along the way for maybe another emerging brand franchisor or someone that’s maybe a few years behind you, any lessons you’d share?
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (14:52):
I love sharing and whether it’s out of our industry or within our industry, I’ve networked with, I mean they are considered competitors, but I consider them alliances. I believe the industry is big enough for huge growth. So who’s ever already in the mobility business, I’m so happy they are and I want everyone to succeed. There’s enough clients out there that we can all grow together and service the needs of the people. But as far as tips, I think you want to really understand franchising, if that’s the path you’re going to take. And you want to really surround yourself or at least have access to people who’ve done it, who can coach you, guide you, or provide you with advice. Maybe that’s a consultant like yourself, Tom. And honestly, it’s going to put you on a little bit faster road than if you try to do it all yourself.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (16:02):
So it’s very important that you do have an open concept of learning. Again, you are going to have to learn a whole new trade and a whole new business model versus just running your single business. So I would say YouTube’s great, really connect with other people in the franchise industry on LinkedIn, share your story. The more you can share your story about your journey like you’re asking me, the more you’ll understand how it has been on that journey and where you have to go next. Don’t expect to look five years ahead, look to at least get three, six months and then maybe a year on where you want to grow. It’s important to plan out, but things sometimes don’t always work out that far ahead and take it step by step. You’re really building something. Franchising is building something almost brick by brick until you really start scaling out.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (17:08):
So we’re not at the point of scaling out, we’re still building it brick by brick and we really want to make it right as far as the right candidate who joins our system and our team that can support them. So it has to be a win-win on both sides, otherwise someone’s going to have to struggle and that’s not fun for anyone. So I would say before you do consider franchising, think through if that’s the journey you’re going to take, think through if you have the patience for that and you want to really build relationships in that realm. And if you check all those boxes, that’s the start of it. Just the thought process and saying, “I want to do this.” Now, it’s going to be involved a lot of learning and a lot of growing and just having patience at that.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (18:03):
Yeah. Oh that’s great advice, Rich. And this is a great time in the show that I’d love for us just to make a little transition and put you in the hot seat and ask you the same questions every guest gets asked before they go. And the first question we like to ask is, have you had a miss or two along the way and something you learned from it?
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (18:27):
Yeah, I think I kind of just mentioned the miss was getting involved with others sooner, getting consultation. But I’d say personally, I should have got into business earlier, I was probably thinking of business when I was born, but honestly I just didn’t understand business. But I wish I had gotten into starting some sort of a small business in my mid twenties till late twenties at the latest. I started Mobility Plus at 33. It is what it is, I can’t go back and change it. But for me that was kind of a miss because when I fell into it, I was like, “Oh my gosh, this is an incredible world where you can really impact other people directly.” And you’re impacted not only financially directly, but you know have now ways to grow yourself challenges. Now you’re really challenging yourself physically, mentally. You’re really like, “I got to grow.”
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (19:32):
And then you can look back year after year and there is something to look for the next year because you know what you did. And I’m going to look at 2022 and be like, this was a great year, we did so much, but now I can compound that in 2023. So it’s something that you can compound in by having a business for yourself and having a job is great. I would say if you have a great paying job and you’re happy, keep it. If you’re kind of just content, start exploring some type of side business or learning about business because you may want to feel like you’re impacting others and you’re not doing it at your job. So my miss is not getting into this earlier, just starting a business in general and I’m not saying Mobility Plus I’m saying anything. Just get into business and your eyes will light up about the opportunities that are available.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (20:34):
And another miss is just not surrounding myself with enough people to consult with and to reach out to. I have spent 30 minutes with someone on a call and it just streamlined the process. I have spoken to consultants, marketing companies, and those little things that they tell you really help answer the question. So if there is a question and you’re struggling on something, write that question down and have a list of questions and what it relates to. Maybe there’s different departments, whether it’s marketing operations, whatever it is, jot it down and then seek consult from others who’ve done it, who can just let you know, “Oh, this is how it works.” And that’s it. Don’t dwell on it too long, move quicker. And then that miss turns into a plus. Now it’s like, “Okay, great, now I can leverage that and move forward.”
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (21:34):
Yeah, that mist turns into a Mobility Plus. How about that? Let’s look at the flip side. We’ve talked about some makes along the way, but is there another make or two you’d like to share?
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (21:51):
Well, I’d say our organization is so awesome and the moment… I’m going to go back to the miss, I should have hired on people earlier and figured out their roles earlier and then I would know who to bring in. So that to me is also a miss because that’s a waste of time. When you’re trying to do everything yourself, you’re just wasting time and you’re not giving opportunities to others. So as soon as I learned that by bringing other people on, we have an organization internally here at the corporate level of close to 30 people. And that is the essence of Mobility Plus is those people are there to support the franchisees. And at the franchise level, we’re also really coaching them on growing their individual organization. And if they do that, they’re going to have a better lifestyle in general.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (22:52):
They’re not going to be working themselves too hard. You do have to put in hard work, but you also have to enjoy when you own a business. So I would say makes is I learned that you have to bring people on and then as soon as I started bringing them on, the business started growing even faster. And you also got to bring on the right people, obviously. Not everybody’s going to work out. And that also goes down to just qualifying people and making sure it’s the right job for them and then it’s going to work and then they’ll fit in that position. And so yeah, bringing people, growing the organization, having a great culture. I think our culture is just, I mean, feel it’s great. And I’m not just saying that ’cause I feel that way, but we’ve done surveys where we did a franchise business review survey recently and it ranked us very high on integrity within our business that it was higher than the normal.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (23:53):
That to me was awesome. There’s other parts that obviously for the business aspect need some work and we’re going to work on it. Those are tweaks you can fix. But if your organization is lacking in culture and integrity, that’s a tougher problem to fix, in my eyes. You fix the money side, you can fix sales, you can fix marketing, but you need to have a good trust and harmony within your network so that network really is focused on growth as a team and they stay together. So I think our culture is a plus. So when you do come into Mobility Plus you’re joining a culture that the franchisees care, the corporate team cares. I developed a policy called the three R policy and the three Rs are respect your clients/customers, respect our suppliers, vendors, and respect our Mobility Plus team members from corporate to the franchise level.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (24:57):
So I think for that, for us to institute that within our network, everybody understands, treat others as you want to be treated and think about before you send an email or text if you’re upset, think it over and see if it’s really worth it, write it out, maybe erase it if it’s not worth it and come back to it. Because as long as you can or maintain harmony, your business will grow and thrive.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (25:30):
Yeah. Oh that’s great. And thank you for that, Rich. And let’s talk about a multiplier or two you’ve used to grow yourself or your business.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (25:41):
Well definitely we do a lot of online marketing, digital marketing, and that’s been good. We’re always looking at new avenues of marketing. And so it’s always, it’s kind of a constant research on what’s going to work to help you grow. So I wouldn’t say we’ve nailed it by far, but that’s okay. You have to look at your wins and how far you’ve come. You can always want more, but sometimes having more without the support is not a good thing either. So having it at a good pace, not a race is fine. But I’d say finding key people within the organization, just networking even more so within the industry and just by getting more consultation from others.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (26:46):
Great. And Rich, the final question we like to ask every guest is, what does success mean to you?
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (26:54):
So success for me is being able to balance work-life, really. You can’t be all work. And if you can maintain a great business, a great family, I’m married with four children and I have to squeeze in time for them. They’re more important to me than my business. And that is the impact that they’re going to see as they grow older is that I was there for them. So I would say if you can balance that work-life balance and health, maintain your own health, that’s success. And if you can do those three things, the money will follow. But it’s not a dollar amount, it’s more about seizing that moment on a daily basis, just looking at how things are growing.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (28:00):
It’s like planting a tree. You’re not going to go out there every day and look at and see how much it’s grown, but you know it’s going to be a tree one day, you could nurture it, you could water it, get the sun’s going to do its job. So you, in essence, have to set systems in place and let those systems work themselves out and just be patient, but just continue to be active on the home front and also on the business front.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (28:36):
Great, great. Well and Rich, as we bring this to a close, is there anything you were hoping to share or get across you haven’t had a chance to yet?
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (28:46):
Well, our network has grown. There are still great markets that are open for the Mobility Plus franchise and you could just visit mobilityplus.com and click on the franchise link. If you are watching this interview and you want to talk to me, when you click that link and fill out the information, somebody contacts you, just let them know, “Hey, I want to talk to Rich about the business.” I make it a point to talk to every candidate that comes through the system. I have spoken to every candidate that has joined our system, so my door is open, my email address is email@example.com, and I really want to partner with people who see this as a long-term journey with us. We’re going to be working together impacting the lives of a lot of people.
Rich Peter, Mobility Plus (29:48):
And that’s the real appreciation in this industry is just the people’s faces and just how happy they are and the appreciation you received from them that you’ve done something for them that was a challenge. So yeah, I’m just excited to talk to more people about it. I was excited to meet with you again, Tom. And I look forward to just sharing our vision with others about helping millions of mobility with Mobility Plus.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (30:20):
Rich, thank you so much for a fantastic interview and for being a guest on the show. And let’s go ahead and jump into today’s three key takeaways. So takeaway number one is when Rich described growing at a good pace, not a race and viewing franchising and his growth is just growing at the right pace for him. Takeaway number two is the slower you learn, the more you learn. And Rich shared with us how he likes to network, talk to experts and professionals. He talked about hiring consultants such as Big Sky franchise team to help accelerate some of those learning curves to not feel like you have to come up with all the answers yourself and network and grow with people. And takeaway number three is focusing on building brick by brick, building your company and your franchise brand one brick at a time.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (31:14):
And I thought it was a great perspective how he described having long-term visions are great, but not to get so far ahead that you lose sight of some of those near term goals for those three month, six month, one year goals in there as well. And now it’s time for today’s win-win. So today’s win-win is when Rich described his three R policy for his company. And the three R policy is, one, respect your clients and customers. Two, respect your suppliers and vendors, and three, respect your team members from corporate and at the local level. Thank you for sharing your three R policy, Rich. I think it’s a great tremendous takeaway and it’s going to add value when you’re showing respect to your clients and customers. There’s a win for the customer and a win for you when you’re respecting your suppliers and vendors. It’s going to win for them and for you. And when you’re respecting your team members at all levels of the organization, it’s going to be a win for your employees and staff and team as well as for you.
Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team (32:27):
And so that’s the episode today, folks. Please make sure you subscribe to the podcast and give us a review. And remember, if you or anyone might be ready to franchise our business or take their franchise company to the next level, please connect with us at BigSkyFranchiseTeam.com. Thanks for tuning in and we look forward to having you back next week.