The first in a series of interviews with successful female business owners. Linda Boyd bought her Instant Imprints franchise 11 years ago and has been a staple of her community ever since. Here is her story.
Tell me about your background
I had a management career with McDonalds for many years. I met my husband Mike at a McDonalds training class at Hamburger University in Chicago. We have 2 adult children, 7 grandchildren and have been married for 28 years. We ended up owning 2 McDonald’s restaurants in Raton, NM and Trinidad, CO. Then our children started having children and they were back in the Denver area and Vancouver, Canada area so we left McDonald’s after 27 years to come back to Denver. I worked at a “job” and Mike had his own business that presented franchise opportunities to people. He was showing Instant Imprints and I went along to see it and really liked the business. I did my due diligence and research and jumped into owning a business in Louisville, CO.
Why franchising (did you consider a startup)?
I grew up in the biggest franchise in the world and was very comfortable in that environment. I wanted the “Plan” with the system and expertise that comes with a franchise.
Why Instant Imprints – did you look at any other options?
I did not look at other options. I found Instant Imprints interesting for personal reasons. All the years I was with McDonalds I wore branded clothing (Polo shirts with logo’s) that were mostly men’s – with the shirts way down to my knees that I tucked in. So it was like “Wow, I can make women’s clothes!” I’ve always been pretty crafty so I was attracted to the idea of all the different branded clothing, the embroidery, screen printing, etc. And I also liked the multiple profit centers – Branded Apparel, Custom T-shirts, Signs and Banners, and Promotional Products. All the ways I can help my customers!
What was the biggest surprise when you opened your business?
I was naïve about marketing. I had done a business plan and when I opened the doors I thought customers would come in! I was in the Chamber, and in a leads group, but I sat behind the counter for about a year thinking “Where’s everybody at”? Luckily that first location was by a Starbucks so we did get some traffic. We picked up a couple of fabulous customers and we built slowly but steadily after that. We have tons of repeat customers and referrals now.
What would you have done differently now that you know what you know?
I would have gotten a business coach and marketing action plan from day one. Instant Imprints now has a very good Marketing Action Plan (MAP) for opening and continued marketing. But that was not in place when I opened my store. I now have a terrific business coach who would have been a great help in the beginning!
What’s been the best thing about owning your business?
As my business has matured, what I really enjoy now is helping other businesses. I consider my customers my friends. During the recession the small businesses here (in Louisville) really helped each other. I’ve always loved customer service but find this personal relationship aspect very satisfying … and all the ways that I can help my customer/ friends. I do this through my work on the Chamber board as well as in my business. I really want to see businesses succeed.
I’ve also really grown a lot personally and professionally over the 11 years that I’ve owned this business. I have established great ties to my community that I value. Most of my employees have come from my customers (they were my customers and then I offered them jobs!) and we have a great time. We’re all ladies and we call ourselves the Ladies of Louisville (LOL).
What’s next for you?
I still work 9am until 7 or 8pm (but just Monday through Friday!). For me, coming from McDonalds, this felt like a vacation in the beginning – I just loved working business hours! Down the road I’d like to work less (or retire) and hope to have people in place to run the business. When I bought the business I bought it as an asset that I could sell someday. It’s a great business now, profitable – and well known in the community.