With a lot of people who enter franchising, you hear the moniker, “Second Act” of their careers. But with Debbie McMahon, proud owner of a Big Frog Custom T-Shirt franchise in San Antonio, TX, we’re talking fourth or fifth act. Debbie has enjoyed an illustrious career that has taken her all over the country and then some. She actually started her career in electronic engineering, logging 25 years in the industry. How did she follow that up? Went back to school, earning a Bachelor’s, Master’s and PhD in Applied Sociology along the way! The educational achievements led her to a teaching position at Baylor University. While it all sounds good on paper as you’re reading it here, there were still the nagging complaints many current franchisees remember about Corporate America. It was no fun. Salaries plunged. Workload skyrocketed. Debbie made the same decision most franchisees come to make. Enough was enough.
“I was completely ready to try something else,” stated McMahon. “I like learning. I like doing new stuff. And I once ran a business of my own in the past—a machine shop and maid service. What a combination, right?” Debbie was primed for a moment that would lead her to a new chapter in life—franchise ownership.
Debbie made the decision to visit San Antonio’s small business center and it was there that she was referred to Merri Cronk, FranNet representative for central, south and west Texas. The visits and assessments with Merri were eye-opening experiences. “I’m a Sociologist, per my education, so I can really assess people,” stated McMahon. “As a professional, Merri was thoughtful, personable, concerned and had a business integrity that was obvious. I had no idea what kind of franchise I was cut out for and I was ready to explore all avenues. Merri took a data-driven approach, which worked perfectly on me because that’s how I think. She used great tools to guide me and I loved the testing and assessment because I have an innate understanding of methodology.”
What McMahon wanted most was the autonomy to own and operate a business of her own. She was willing to listen and explore. She ended up heading down the retail category path, with Big Frog Custom T-Shirts becoming a natural candidate. “I’m a workaholic, a bit introverted, but I still wanted to have a way to give back to the community,” stated McMahon. Big Frog offered all three possibilities. It was the franchise Discovery Day that really sealed the deal. “I could see the ethos of the brand and its franchisees,” stated McMahon. “They were family oriented. Invested in the entire franchise and very authentic.” Keep in mind, McMahon knows how to read people.
What’s been the biggest change in her life since opening her Big Frog franchise in May 2018?
“The challenge of it all is exciting,” says McMahon. “I no longer work from home. I have to get up and put on my shoes every day now. There’s a little less time than before and a little less relaxation, but the thrill of running a business of my own—you can’t put a price on that.”
As McMahon plans for the future, she’s working towards a goal of building the business up to a sustainable level, where a semi-absentee ownership model would enter the picture. The Big Frog franchise definitely fits into her retirement plans, though she’s not ready to hang up her screen printing machines just yet.
“Working with FranNet was a life-changing opportunity for me,” says McMahon. “People should know that their advice and navigation of the franchise landscape is extremely valuable. These are data-driven representatives and I would know. They have real expertise. They have their finger on the pulse of the industry and aren’t trying to hawk a certain business. They’re in it to find your true match. I just think that’s a thoughtful way to do business.”