Simply listening to the tone of Toni Amenrud’s voice will clue you in to the excitement and ambition she feels as the new owner of her Kitchen Tune-Up franchise. Like many who go on to become their own boss, she began her journey in the corporate ranks. But how she came to realize that she owed her potential to herself—and not others—is an inspiring story we can all benefit from hearing about.
After earning a marketing and communications degree from Concordia Lutheran, Amenrud tacked on a Master’s degree in leadership from Tiffin University. The knowledge gained from these institutions vaulted her directly into a fast-paced marketing career in the manufacturing and industrial sector. “I started as a coordinator and worked my way up into business development,” says Amenrud. “I worked on growth strategies for the electric, HVAC, water utilities, and other public sectors that we promoted through trade shows.” Her work literally took her around the globe, to places she’d only imagined.
For some people, entrepreneurship was always the goal. For others, the decision to strike it out on their own often begins with a series of observations over time. These observations eventually add up, as individuals take note of employer-employee imbalances pertaining to effort and reward. It’s entirely common to reach a final inflection point where enough becomes enough. After 20 years in the corporate ranks, Toni Amenrud had arrived at this same conclusion.
Five years earlier, Amenrud met Wes Roper, Market President, and FranNet’s Consultant for the Dakotas and Minnesota. In 2020, she got serious about entrepreneurship and began to wonder what her life would be like as the owner of her own business. “I’d watched a few of my former colleagues go on to build businesses of their own,” says Amenrud. “I just needed to find one that appealed to me. I mentioned to Wes that there wasn’t a Cold Stone Creamery in my town, but he refuted that idea with logical reasoning. In the midst of the pandemic, he redirected me to consider essential businesses.”
With thousands of franchise concepts to choose from, Roper encouraged her to investigate home improvement business models. The idea instantly clicked with Amenrud, who considers herself a “remodeling junkie.” A few short weeks later, Amenrud signed on to become Kitchen Tune-Up’s latest franchisee. She credits the virtual road map of running a successful business that franchising gives an owner as the key benefit. But as her intensive franchisee training began, the pandemic was rapidly changing the business world.
“It was scary and exciting at the same time,” says Amenrud. “Our 10-day orientation program was underway when the shelter in place order was mandated. But—in a strange way—the lockdown gave me the time and opportunity to stay grounded and get things up and running the right way.” As soon as the restrictions began to lift under a phased re-opening plan for the local economy, her business blew up—averaging 3-4 new customer calls a day. “I almost couldn’t keep up,” she says candidly.
The timing turned out to be serendipitous, as many consumers had cash on hand. “Money saved up for vacations, eating out, fuel and other things are being funneled directly to home improvement,” reports Amenrud. “Families have just discovered that there’s a restaurant in every one of their houses—the kitchen!” As Amenrud’s orders keep coming in, she’s noted there’s not a limited customer niche. “Boomers are selling, Millennials are buying, each has different sets of taste and they’re all remodeling,” says Amenrud.
Amenrud is quick to credit FranNet for pushing her past her ice cream parlor dreams and on to a business model that’s thriving—even under less than ideal economic conditions. “Wes is a humble man, someone who listened and helped guide me where I needed to be,” says Amenrud. “What’s special about how FranNet works is that each of the consultants you work with already live and work in the same community as you do. They have all the local connections you’ll need to make.”
A famous pop song from the 80s encapsulates what life is like for Toni Amenrud, now the proud owner of her own franchise business. “The Future’s So Bright (I Gotta Wear Shades)”.
For more information, please visit Toni Amenrud’s Kitchen Tune-Up franchise website.