Matthew Relyea was born into entrepreneurship, as his family owned a multi-generational business in Columbus, Ohio that began with his grandfather. However, Matthew was determined to see what Corporate America held for him and embarked on a very successful management career for a blue chip customer service brand. Eventually, circumstances changed, and Relyea began a new chapter – this time as the owner of his own business. His inspirational story is why FranNet of Michigan chose to feature him in our series of client success stories. Assisted by FranNet Consultant Mark Cory, Relyea was able to turn his entrepreneurial legacy into a reality – becoming the owner of a Floor Coverings International franchise. Below, in his own words, Matthew Relyea shares the details of his personal entrepreneurial journey…
“I graduated from Franklin Pierce University in southern New Hampshire, where I was a journalism and sports management major. What I really wanted to do was become a sportswriter or work in the sports industry. But an opportunity came along for me to enter a management trainee program with Enterprise Rent-A-Car. I relied on the advice from my father, as his company would hire their employees based upon their own world renowned training program. I couldn’t turn it down, because I was so eager to learn everything I could about business and customer service. I was a fast learner and pretty soon, I was getting promoted and moving up the ranks. I worked in six different cities in four states over the next 11 years, enjoying excellent results with my teams I developed. I eventually earned a promotion to a regional management position in Detroit, Michigan in Feb. 2020.”
On Becoming an Entrepreneur
“I put in a lot of hard work and years with Enterprise. But one day, new management came in, changed up the organizational chart, and that was it – my position was unceremoniously eliminated. It was upsetting to realize that you can still be treated like a number after all the success I’d had, but that’s the way it goes in Corporate America. I knew that if I ever chose to leave Enterprise on my own, it would be to go into business for myself. My family were entrepreneurs and business owners and it’s in the bloodlines, I guess. In a way, I kind of wanted to keep that legacy going for the family.”
“After I was downsized, I was working with an outplacement contact at Right Management who introduced me to Mark Cory at FranNet. The franchising model was appealing to me because I really didn’t have a proprietary idea for starting a business from scratch. And I liked the idea of simply following a roadmap to success. What I was most interested in was finding a business that was recession-resistant and had low overhead. I took FranNet’s Entrepreneurial Readiness Profile, which is an assessment designed to match you up with certain franchise concepts. I found the results to be extremely helpful. I think it showed how FranNet has a great process for determining where your entrepreneurial strengths lie.“
How FranNet Helped
“Mark Cory and I reviewed about four or five different franchise concepts together. Mark was very patient, and I never felt pressured to make a decision. Initially, I wasn’t sure why I was a match for Floor Coverings International. But after my first call with the area developer, I felt like I could excel with this opportunity. I really connected with all of the brand executives. I came to realize that this was a business that was heavily dependent on providing excellent customer service and a no-hassle experience. That’s what I’d been doing quite well before. And because home improvement is a very personal undertaking, it makes the customer experience that much more important. Knowing many clients have had home improvement nightmares before, I really felt I could make this business work. I had my grand opening on Dec. 21, 2021.”
Where Do You Stand?
“Things really got off to a fast start for me. I beat the initial projections by 50% and did $1.2 million in sales the first year. That earned me the ‘New Franchisee of the Year’ honors – basically, I was the rookie of the year for the brand. I credit that to all of my team members because it really does take everyone’s contributions to be successful. Floor Coverings International ended up being the perfect fit for me because, at the end of the day, we’re solving problems for our customers – and I love problem-solving. I love being the one who provides the solution to challenges and each day brings me a fresh opportunity to do just that.”
How Things are Going
“I’m excited to see what the future holds for my Floor Coverings International location in Columbus. This is a market that’s growing, and it’s expected to reach three million people by the year 2050. The upside of continuing to serve this area is really high, as there’s still a lot of individual and commercial clients out there in addition to great trade partnerships we have established in Columbus just a little over a year in business. Who knows? It could end up being a legacy business for my family someday, but it’s definitely a sustainable operation for my long-term planning. I’ll reassess everything down the road – maybe another five to 10 years, but I truly love what I’m doing right now.”
For more information, please visit Matthew Relyea’s Floor Coverings International business on the web.