Steve Bergfeld is the proud owner of a UNITS Moving and Portable Storage franchise in Columbus, OH. UNITS Moving and Portable Storage competes in a $42 billion industry that includes self-storage, on-site storage, self-service moving and long-distance moves. He opened his franchise in Jan. 2020, just before the pandemic hit. Below, Steve opens up about his entrepreneurial journey to date…
On His Career Transition:
“I spent 25 years as a senior executive in healthcare and higher education, accomplishing all I set out to do in that space. After discussing this milestone with my wife, I decided I wanted to do something completely different. I was looking for a creative way to have more flexibility and wanted to build up an asset that I could sell or pass down to family.”
How He Found His Perfect Franchise:
“I spent a couple of years evaluating business opportunities, later fixating on the portable storage and moving market. I developed a set of 10 criteria and this industry met each one of them—surprising me a bit! Rather than reinvent the wheel by starting a business from scratch, I turned to franchising and FranNet introduced me to the perfect fit—UNITS Moving and Portable Storage.”
“When the city of Columbus shut down, I immediately second-guessed the decision to start my own business. But, part of my search criteria mandated that I find an opportunity considered recession-resistant. I was patient, remembering my research showed this industry not only survived—but thrived—during the Great Recession. Since the pandemic, my revenue doubled every month—beating my projections.”
His Advice on Franchising:
“There’s a recipe for following a proven business model. If you can operate your business according to the franchise’s operational plan, you can limit your risk of failure. If you’re too entrepreneurial and prone to bucking the system, franchising may not be for you. It takes organization and attention to detail, but the payoff in terms of joy and contentment is something that I haven’t felt in decades.”
His Mindset Shift:
“My business approach is now driven by the effort to establish relationships with my customers. It’s no longer transactional and focused on closing the next sale. It’s about establishing a relationship of trust with my customers. Many people seeking portable storage are doing so because they’re going through a tough time in one way or another. My mindset has shifted. I want to understand how I can help them.”
On Working With FranNet:
“I’d never given much thought to franchising and FranNet gave me an education, discussing the pros and cons. The investigative process was thorough, focused solely on helping me make the right decision. I never felt pressured by FranNet or the franchisor. I would highly recommend their franchising knowledge and expertise in navigating the journey to business ownership.”
Thriving Through COVID-19
“Thriving through Covid” is FranNet’s new series of inspirational articles featuring positive news, business owner profiles, success stories, and educational updates—all of which demonstrate the resilience of the franchising industry. We want you to know that even during this uncertain time, franchising can offer you an alternative path forward—and a new opportunity to achieve success through business ownership.
Check back with FranNet twice weekly for new articles and let us know when you’d like to begin an entrepreneurial journey of your own!