A Franchisee’s Journey: Getting to Know…Robert Stapf

When Corporate America decides that employees are expendable, downsizing becomes a reality for many in the workforce. The ripple effect of lost income is usually just the beginning. But for some, it goes even further, sometimes leading to a loss of self-confidence and worth—even with those who have spent decades building their own personal brand. How you respond says more about you than the company that’s left behind. Many finally get to the “nothing to lose” phase and decide to fulfill a lifelong dream of becoming their own boss. Robert Stapf is one such example.

This is the story of an amazing journey to entrepreneurship through franchising. 

A native of Germany, Stapf studied marketing and business administration before launching a career in the fragrance and cosmetics industry. His acumen and leadership skills led him straight up the corporate ladder, culminating with an offer to move to the United States in 2003. As a newly minted executive, Stapf eventually became the U.S. operations manager. For over a decade, life was great—until it wasn’t. The victim of a global downsizing operation, Stapf found himself newly wedded and with no steady employment. The change left him with time to ponder his choices. An outplacement company introduced him to FranNet, via a presentation by Jack Armstrong. And Stapf became intrigued.

Thus, he began his serious consideration of going down the franchising route. Still, Stapf has the usual doubts. What about business failure rates? What about a lack of capital to get the concept off the ground? The job interviews he was taking no longer appealed to him. And he felt like he only had one shot to truly make things happen. Eventually, he came to believe that he had nothing to lose by trying.

“Franchising appealed to me because the business model is a proven system—a roadmap for success,” says Stapf. “I realized I could use the strengths I brought to the table to make a franchise a successful operation. And I wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel to do it.”

Stapf began the investigative process under Jack Armstrong’s tutelage. After taking a personal assessment, he came to realize what many others do—franchising is not just fast-food opportunities, but rather a whole world of concepts to choose from. “The FranNet process was easy,” remembers Stapf. “After we assessed my needs, interests, and goals, Jack narrowed my choices down to five concepts. But only one was what I considered a clear winner for a business I’d eventually call my own.” 

That franchise business was British Swim School, which is exactly what it sounds like. Children of all ages can learn to swim and understand rescue techniques that will stay with them for life. 

What did Stapf find appealing about British Swim School? “First, it was the feel-good factor. That I would own a business that was community-minded and helped people. The entry-level financial commitment was doable and the business required no build-out or inventory.” The school opened in June of 2017 and now has over 2,000 students and employs 75 people. In fact, Stapf is now the brand’s number-one franchisee in the entire nation. How does he describe the success he’s enjoyed? With one word, “unbelievable.” 

According to Stapf, FranNet played a key role in guiding him to become a successful franchise owner. The connections provided by Jack Armstrong led to sound financing options, legal assistance, and other service providers, all of whom played a key role in helping establish the business.

“As a FranNet client, you’re taken care of every step of the way,” says Stapf. “I recommend them to my friends and colleagues—any of whom are looking to start a business that they can own. It’s really simple to explain how underrated they are as an asset. I call them the ‘eHarmony’ of franchise consultants. They really will find you the perfect match.”

Do you feel that you’re ready to get started? If this article has inspired you to investigate a franchise opportunity, click here to find your local FranNet consultantYou can also find out which franchises are available in your area by visiting our Franchise Directory.


Mar 16, 2020