Owning a franchise takes drive, passion and dedication, and Stratus Building Solutions is no exception to that rule. As a Stratus franchisee, you may find yourself rolling up your sleeves and doing what needs to be done to provide exemplary customer service to your clients. Latashia Patterson of Asheville, North Carolina, is no stranger to going the extra mile for clients. She can tell you that while being a Stratus Building Solutions franchise owner takes hard work, it beats working for somebody else, hands down. Here’s her story.
Before Stratus. Patterson is 35 and a mom raising a 15-year-old boy and a 9-year-old girl. For years, she worked at a Dairy Queen, starting off as a 14-year-old part-time employee until she was eventually an assistant manager. From there, she wound up working in the commercial cleaning industry, though not at Stratus and not as a business owner.
“I was doing all of the work, and my boss would get a percentage of it,” Patterson recalls. “I just wanted to go out on my own. I felt I could earn more as an owner rather than just another employee.”
Patterson first learned about Stratus Building Solutions from a friend while visiting to celebrate a friend’s birthday. That’s when she learned her friend had become a Stratus Building Solutions franchise owner.
“She was telling me how the company’s cleaning products were all green and eco-friendly,” Patterson says. “I liked that. I knew all along I wanted to be a business owner, and learning more about Stratus really piqued my interest.”
In fact, at the cleaning company she was working for at the time, Patterson would come home from work with headaches, due to the strong chemicals she worked with all day. A green, more natural cleaning solution was very appealing.
Becoming a Stratus Building Solutions franchisee. Patterson contacted Ralph Sizemore, a master franchisor in her area. His job is to find franchisees throughout parts of North Carolina and South Carolina.
“He walked me through everything and was excellent. He’s a great guy,” Patterson says. “He broke down exactly what it takes to be a franchisee, walked me through the Stratus business model and answered all of my questions.”
She had to pay $1,000 to become a franchise owner, which can be a lot when you aren’t making much and are working for somebody else — but it’s an extremely low entry into the world of franchising. Plus, Patterson adds, “That guaranteed me $500 worth of work.”
She says that within a week, Sizemore had found her cleaning work that brought in a quick $500. But that’s not to say Stratus awards the title of franchisee indiscriminately. Sizemore recognized Patterson’s potential and helped her get a jump start. She still had to complete training before she actually was considered a Stratus Building Solutions franchise owner, Patterson says. “They don’t just put anyone out there.”
Patterson says that Stratus has been tremendously helpful in finding her new clients, though she has found a few herself.
“You can call them when you feel you have the time to take on another account, and they’ll find you more work. Sometimes they’ll call you up and ask if you can take on something else, but it’s basically you, working at your own speed,” Patterson says.
Right from the beginning, Patterson hit the ground running. She often worked nights, and if Stratus offered her an account, she accepted it. “I didn’t turn anything down,” she says.
Life as a Stratus Building Solutions franchisee. It’s been almost four years since Patterson became her own boss, and her financial standing improved almost immediately. She says that about a month after she bought the franchise, Stratus found her an account that brought in $6,000 a month.
The next year, she was given an account that brought in $8,000 a month, and that’s when things started to really turn around for her. Simple math: $6,000 a month and $8,000 a month add up to $14,000 a month. And that was only the beginning!
Currently, her business is making $200,000 a year, though that doesn’t all go into Patterson’s pockets, of course. She has expenses, like occasionally hiring part-time contract workers. Down the road, however, Patterson definitely can see the day when she has full-time employees working for her.
Her kids are proud of her, too. “They love what I do. I have a doctor’s office as a client, and my son will go there and say, ‘My mom cleans the buildings,’” Patterson says.
So, does Patterson have any advice for people thinking of buying a Stratus Building Solutions franchise — or starting any business?
“I’d just say, ‘Go for it.’ It’s going to be rough in the beginning, but don’t give up. In the end, it’s going to pay off,” Patterson says. “Hard work and dedication are key. You have to put in the work to make your business work, but you can do it!”
In fact, Patterson says she wishes she had learned about Stratus long before she did. She says she wasted too much time working behind a counter, serving ice cream.
While cleaning buildings and being your own boss is time-consuming, it’s incredibly rewarding. Patterson says she really likes that if her kids need something or ask her to purchase something, she can say yes.
“It feels so good going into a store and thinking, ‘I can buy this,’ rather than, ‘If I buy this, I can’t buy that,’” Patterson says. “It feels great to have money.”
Stratus Building Solutions franchisees come from all different backgrounds; the common trait is a drive to succeed. For more information on joining the Stratus team, visit Stratus Unit Franchising.