As a solo entrepreneur, you end up having to wear many hats. When every piece of your business depends on you, it requires figuring out how to manage yourself and your business in ways that lead to success. In this exclusive Q&A, Trevor O’Bier, a franchisee of Dental Fix Rx, tells us how he manages himself as a solopreneur and what it takes to be productive and successful when it’s just you and your customers.
Franchise Chatter (FC): How would you describe yourself, your business, and what you do?
Trevor O’Bier (TO): I’m a solopreneur and owner of a mobile dental equipment repair franchise, Dental Fix Rx. I’m a local, mobile (it runs out of a van) repair shop with the ability to offer quick on-site equipment repairs and service needs for dental practices. My focus is on being a more reliable and faster repair provider for dentists.
I’m able to fix everything from chairs, vacuum pumps, hand pieces, and more with no travel fee, a free emergency loaner’s service for compressors/vacuum pumps, personalized telephone support, and account management for dentists and their practice.
Although I am part of a network of highly trained technicians, my mobile business is run by just myself. It’s a one man, one van show. Working by myself, I’m able to have a lot more control over the operational and day-to-day aspects than I would with a team or if I had employees.
FC: How did you become interested in the mobile dental equipment repair franchise?
TO: I was twenty-two years old when I started working for my mentor Mike Parker. I had no experience in the repair industry but Mike was expanding his business territory and needed someone who could independently operate a second van for Dental Fix Rx. I quickly learned the ropes of the business and two years later, opened my own Dental Fix Rx business in Orlando, Florida. I’m currently working on expanding to a second territory – just as Mike did.
FC: So what’s it like working as one man in a van?
TO: As a solopreneur, my everyday operations and success relies just on myself. I’m the boss, the repair man, I order equipment, and whatever has to get done is up to me. With no employees to manage, I’m fully able to set my own boundaries, create my own schedule, and strategically plan how I’m going to tackle each repair, task, and delivery week by week. It takes a lot of self-management.
FC: Were you always good at self-management?
TO: No, but over the last five years I’ve learned and grown a lot. Specifically, enhancing my time management skills has proven to be a key component to successfully managing myself. I have a more accurate timeframe of how long a particular repair will take, and my response time on high priority equipment has improved.
I’ve also become much more aware of my time, by scheduling appointments with dentists that are in close proximity to one another on the same day. It took time, but there are several things I’ve picked up along the way that have really increased my productivity and time management.
FC: Besides time management and awareness, what else has helped your ability to self-manage?
TO: There are six key elements that I would say have had a huge impact on my self-management, both in my business and personal life.
1. Finding a mentor: I frequently turn to my mentors when I’m facing an unfamiliar situation or difficult repair. It helps to build a support system of professional relationships with people in different levels of positions within your industry. I have weekly contact with Dental Fix Rx franchisees that have been involved in the business longer than me.
2. Seeking outside counsel: It’s important to get advice and insight from people outside of your business. You can be too close to your own business that someone on the outside looking in might be able to advise you in a way you hadn’t considered.
3. Having a day of rest: My wife Holly and I take every Saturday to spend time together where we don’t do anything relating to the business. We spend time with God, each other, and the company we enjoy being with. It’s important to recharge, and for me it’s playing card games, sipping coffee, and enjoying our friends without deadlines and emails hanging over my head.
4. Mastering response time: One thing I’m always working to improve is my response time on all lines of communication. I want my dentists to be successful in running their practices and I know I need to do my part in quick repair turnarounds.
5. Setting constant reminders: Self-management is about being resourceful and using tools available to you with calendar reminders, phone reminders, helpful scheduling apps, etc.
6. Self-reflection: I’m constantly looking inward and evaluating my performance. As a solopreneur, you have to be the one to call yourself out and give yourself that raw self-evaluation.
FC: What would you tell someone considering owning a small business or becoming a solopreneur?
TO: You will be pushed out of your comfort zone, don’t fear it, embrace it. You will come to realize that you can handle more than you think as you start to gain new skills and conquer challenges along the way. If you micromanage yourself, you have to remember to slow down and appreciate how far you’ve come and how much room you have to grow and learn.