Franchise Review: Rob Chana of Clarendon Hills, IL

Sales professional finds the perfect fit with Money Mailer, drawn to our easy-to-grow business, superior support and the flexibility of working from home

Rob Chana has run his own company; worked in international business with facilities in India, China, Vietnam and the Philippines; traveled from coast to coast; and lived in other countries. Before joining Money Mailer in 2008, he was a national sales manager in his hometown of Chicago, but he was still traveling across the country constantly, and it had begun to wear on him. For someone with his sales pedigree, a home-based franchise seemed like a great solution. Now in his 10th year, Chana still travels some for work but enjoys the flexibility of owning his own business. Read about his experience in this franchise review:

What drew you to Money Mailer?
I had started my own company years ago, but I didn’t have the energy, quite frankly, to start something from scratch again. My wife, Lori, was the one who said, “You’re not going to be happy until you’re back on your own.” I was tired of travel. Now if it takes me 20 minutes to get to an appointment, that’s a long time.

A man in a business suit with the cuffs rolled up carries a surfboard toward the ocean.

With Money Mailer, you’ll work hard, but you’ll also reap benefits you won’t find at a corporate gig – such as work-life balance.

How did you learn about Money Mailer?
I was interviewed by a broker, who presented a couple of opportunities. When I first saw Money Mailer, I thought…nobody opens these things, right? My wife, Lori, said, “We look through these all the time; you even use them!” And she was right. I had just used one to get an oil change. I started looking into it, and I heard a lot of good things about their support. I had a few different options to choose from, and I had the opportunity to either buy an existing business or start something from scratch. I remembered how hard it was to start something from scratch – your business planning, the strategy, the marketing, the concept, the billing, the invoicing, the hiring. I was at a point in my life where I just didn’t have the energy to do that.

I decided to buy an existing business, but it’s not easy to buy a business. There were a couple of areas available with Money Mailer, so the brokers connected me with one guy who had a franchise. I called him directly. We got together two times over a beer and worked out a deal. He and I still communicate to this day.

What’s the content mix like in your Money Mailer envelopes?
From the start, food was the No. 1 thing I focused on. We have done really well with food. I probably need some more auto, some more professional, more amusements. But food is our primary driver for our business. It’s what gets the envelope opened.

A smiling couple standing behind the counter in a small coffee house. She’s wearing a beige sweater with a leaf design and he’s wearing a red Henley shirt. Both are wearing aprons.

Getting a food business into your Money Mailer envelope mix is key to attracting consumers. And food businesses get a huge boost when Money Mailer lets their community know what they have to offer.

What do you like most about owning the business?
The flexibility. You are still putting in time. It’s a commitment. It’s not an easy business. You still need to work it. But you have a good balance, lifestyle balance. When I first started out I still had kids at home, coached baseball, went to soccer games. If someone had something where I had to be there at 3 p.m., I could be at that. I also might find myself doing art or entering orders or working on back-office stuff at 8 or 9 at night, but at least I didn’t have to miss anything. You don’t put in less time, but it’s much more flexible.

How does Money Mailer’s headquarters help you? What are some of the most valuable things they do to support you?
Our artists are tremendous. I’m amazed at the stuff I send in and the stuff I get back. Our customer service representatives do really care about the franchisees. They really care about the work they do.

What kind of experience do you need to be successful with Money Mailer? What kind of person will succeed here?
This is not rocket science. The people who have not done well have made it too complex. They think too much. You’ve just got to go and do it. It is a sales job, it is not a strategy job. It’s not a data analytics job, although that will be part of it. It’s a flat-out, get off your behind and do it job. I’ve been married over 30 years, so I’m used to rejection. You got to get used to it. You’ve got to get out and talk to people. Don’t make it any more difficult than that. And also, you need to do the right thing.

I have known this one woman for a couple of years; she owned a lampshade store. She said, “You’ve been talking me out of advertising with you for three years.” She said, “I’m going to advertise with you.” It was just not a good fit for our envelope. She signed up for four mailings. But afterward she said, “You know, you’re right. That’s not a good fit for me.” We still talk. But if somebody says, “I just want to try this once or twice,” don’t do it. Walk away. You’re setting yourself up for failure. I won’t do that. My minimum now is six mailings.

How do you get customers?
I have a telemarketer who works for me, cold-calling 10-20 hours a week. She is a former franchise owner, and she does a great job. She’s landed me a couple of accounts that go to 70 zones. I do send postcards to restaurants; I do some direct mail. The level of appointments goes way up with my telemarketer. She’s a contract employee.

Are you able to meet your business goals, or on your way to meeting your goals, by owning the business?
Yeah. Absolutely. I am a bit unique. I have a forecast, and I know what I’m doing every month of the year.

How do you feel about the direction of the brand?
I feel good about the opportunity. I think direct mail is going to be around for a while. If you really want to get someone’s attention, write them a note. Don’t write an email or send a text, write them a note. Attention spans are shorter, so social media, email campaigns and text messages can be wonderful to build brand awareness. But we are so inundated with information that we begin to gloss over it, we don’t see it. If you really want to drive something in, a piece of paper or a card has much better staying power, and that physical document has much more impact.

At Money Mailer, we use a combination of print and the internet. I talk more people out of advertising with us than into it. This is not for everybody. I can’t give advice on how you should be spending money. We are one spoke in that wheel. There are other things that have an impact. I want to see what you’re doing so I can see how we can help.

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