In this Franchise Chatter Q&A, we get to learn about 101 Mobility, the largest franchise provider of mobility and accessibility equipment, from Virgil Moore, owner of 101 Mobility San Jose.
Franchise Chatter (FC): Tell us about your professional background.
Virgil Moore (VM): My professional background includes degrees in both business and electrical engineering. I have held product management, sales engineering, and market development positions for the past 20 years with several large companies in Silicon Valley.
FC: Why did you decide to pursue entrepreneurship as a second-act career? What made you choose to go the franchise route versus starting a new independent business?
VM: Like many others, my employment was “downsized” during the great recession. I decided to expand my job search to include buying an existing business or buying into a franchise. A key advantage a franchise offers is the support provided by the home office, especially in marketing. It seemed to me a franchise would get me over the learning curve to establish my business more quickly than starting a business from scratch.
FC: What made 101 Mobility an attractive franchise opportunity?
VM: Our population is aging which means many of us will need mobility products sometime during our lives. Opening a 101 Mobility location also guaranteed that I would be accepted as a dealer for the top mobility manufacturers. Each step I took with 101 Mobility made the opportunity look better and better.
I found the management team (and everyone I met at the home office for that matter) to be very positive, customer focused, and possessing a strong entrepreneurial spirit.
FC: What key criteria do you look for when evaluating potential business opportunities?
VM: I’ll defer to my product management experience to say look for a business whose products and services are wanted and needed by a growing demographic. It’s also critical to pick a business whose customers are able and willing to pay for those products to satisfy a need.
FC: What makes 101 Mobility a unique franchise choice in the elder care industry?
VM: 101 Mobility is the number one nationwide franchise in terms of size and market reach in the mobility market representing all top manufacturers. New franchisees also have the opportunity to become a dealer for these manufacturers. In addition, franchisees benefit from a national marketing presence which in turn leverages our local marketing activities.
FC: What has contributed to your success as a franchise owner?
VM: Starting any business is not easy and this includes starting a franchise. The first year I devoted 12-plus hours a day Monday through Friday. Through the marketing efforts of the home office, our phone started ringing shortly after we opened for business. We budget a lot of time to network with local businesses who share the same customer base as ours (e.g., rehab centers, home health organizations, and workers compensation agencies).
FC: Tell us about the level of training and support provided by 101 Mobility.
VM: I give our 101 Mobility home office a grade-A rating. They are the first to admit they aren’t perfect at this, but we are learning and growing together. Home office representatives are there for us when we need them and the marketing they provide is first rate.
FC: How did you use your prior career experience to your advantage?
VM: First I will say there is no one particular professional background that is ideal for this business. The 101 Mobility franchisees that I’ve met definitely don’t come from a “cookie cutter” background.
In my case, my business and product management experience have been very helpful since those disciplines tend to be universal to any industry. In addition, I have a strong electronics and mechanical background which is helpful but not absolutely required. My family and I are service oriented so seeing people’s lives change by providing mobility products is very rewarding.
FC: How do you plan to further grow your business?
VM: We strive to provide excellent customer service from the first phone call to the product installation and training…and beyond. As a result we have many happy customers who refer us to their friends.
We have recently added new products such as patient lifts and ceiling lifts to our product line. Of course
we will continue to consistently promote the 101 Mobility brand to our local markets.
FC: What do you like most about being a 101 Mobility franchisee? Similarly, what do you like most about working with customers in their homes?
VM: It’s nice to have the independence and control over one’s own destiny that owning a business provides. I find working with the 101 Mobility team and our customers very enjoyable and rewarding. Helping our customers achieve an increased measure of independence is sometimes very emotional to them and gratifying to us.
FC: What advice do you have for others who might be considering franchise ownership versus retiring?
VM: Owning a business is not for everyone. Like anything in life, there are risks and rewards. With a lot
of hard work, the risks can be managed to optimize the rewards. The market we serve is increasing so
becoming a 101 Mobility franchisee can be a good way to increase our net worth leading into retirement.