It’s February. The month when northerners begin to experience winter battle fatigue, when New Year’s resolutions have elapsed, and when candy company Necco produces 100,000 pounds of candy hearts daily in order to meet the holiday’s demand. That’s right, we are smack-dab in the middle of the month which invokes Saint Valentine and all things love. And while millions of Americans are selecting the perfect card for their sweethearts, and while children are carefully addressing commercially exploited card sets for their pint-sized friends, some married couples across the nation are considering a much more serious commitment – owning a business together.
The TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise system boasts several successful businesses franchised by lovebirds. One very brave couple took on three of the most life-changing (and stressful) events in a matter of 10 months. A marriage, a cross-country move, and the launch of a business in less than a year would be challenging for anyone; too much to consider for many. But this passionate and practical couple truly made their experience look like a breeze.
Alicia Sorber Gallegos and Pedro Gallegos married September 2011. Within 10 months their lives were packed into a trailer, and with a solid business plan and a lot of love, the couple set off on the adventure of a lifetime: opening the first southern California TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® location.
Alicia: We met in college when I was studying abroad in Ecuador. Pedro is from Ecuador and he had just returned from studying abroad at Michigan State, where I went to school. We never met at MSU but coincidentally ended up meeting at an MSU get-together in Ecuador.
Q: Pedro, can you highlight Alicia’s and your educational and professional backgrounds?
Pedro: Alicia has a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish, with a focus in business. Her professional experience has included marketing and communications. She worked in a variety of sales and marketing roles for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, and her last position was marketing manager for a group of franchisees with locations is Chicago, St. Louis, and Salt Lake City. I have a Bachelor’s degree in economics, a Master’s degree in finance, and my work background is primarily in corporate finance. Prior to opening the franchise I worked as a financial associate on the valuation team for a large public accounting firm.
Q: Alicia, at what point did you decide to open up a business together?
Alicia: Interestingly, owning a business was something we always wanted to do individually. I became more interested in opening a franchise after working in a start-up environment at the Chicago TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® location. Over time, Pedro and I developed professionally and realized our skillsets complemented each other very well. It made sense to be business partners, and it was a positive decision.
Pedro: We researched the area, and the demographics fit what we were seeking. We were attracted by the fact that there are no other TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchises in the area, which has its disadvantages from a brand perspective, but it allows for expansion in our local market. And, let’s be honest. The weather in San Diego is amazing! It was important for us to find a place where we would want to put down roots; San Diego offers a great lifestyle.
Q: Alicia, now that you have been open for 1.5 years, share your biggest challenges?
Alicia: In general, the biggest challenge has probably been managing our expectations and staying patient as we build momentum. It’s hard to know what to expect when you are going into a new market, and there was less brand awareness than I anticipated.
Q: And, Pedro, what has most surprised you about running a business with your spouse?
Pedro: I’m surprised how well we work together. It’s actually been very easy; we’ve learned a lot from each other.
Q: What is your favorite part about running a business with your spouse, Alicia?
Alicia: We get to share the adventure of starting a business and all that comes with it. Less than a year after we married, we packed up all of our belongings in a trailer, drove across the country and started a new life in San Diego. There are stressful and demanding aspects of what we do, but we are genuinely having fun. Starting a business demands a lot of time and energy, so I’m grateful we’re in it together.
Q: How do you divvy up the workload, Pedro?
Pedro: Alicia and I are responsible for different areas of the business: I manage operations and finance, while Alicia oversees sales and marketing. We work hard to stay within our areas of responsibility as much as possible so we don’t step on each other’s toes. With that said, we cover for one another when necessary.
Q: Alicia, what is your advice to spouses opening up a business together?
Alicia: In order to make it work, I think it’s important you share a vision of what you want to accomplish. And you and your employees need to have a clear understanding of who is responsible for what. Opening a business might not be for every couple, but it’s been such an incredible experience for us. I couldn’t have picked a better business partner.
Q: Pedro, how will you celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Pedro: We’ll probably do something low-key, like a nice dinner at home and drinks at one of the restaurants by our place.
In their first full year of business, Alicia and Pedro’s San Diego franchise grossed $765,000, launched local Movers for Military and Movers for Moms® initiatives, and added 20 jobs to the local community. While love may not conquer all, it certainly can be an inspiring and motivating factor in owning a business together. With a strong foundation and managing expectations, love can build a franchise.
For more information on starting your own TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® franchise location and the performance information available to prospective owners, click here.