Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Difference Between Success And Failure

Originally Posted 2.23.09

Cartridge World is a hot new franchise. It’s got a great business format and the timing couldn’t be better. Cartridge World refills laser printer toner cartridges for half the cost of buying new ones.

We learned about the company from an article in a local, Lewisville, Texas paper. The closest Cartridge World was located in Denton, about 15 miles away. I’ll drive 15 miles to save a couple of hundred bucks.

On my first visit, I was impressed by a large business card carousel on the counter of the storefront. I asked an employee about it. She said that the owner built it and talked about it at the Chamber of Commerce. Since then, it seems that everyone from the Chamber has dropped by to drop off business cards. I bet all of them get their cartridges refilled at the store as well.

Unfortunately, the store didn’t have any Okidata cartridges in stock to swap, but they could refill the ones I had if I could leave them for a couple of hours. And they did.

I’ve been to the store several times. More than once, the owner was interviewing people. Apparently, he’s growing. I’m not surprised.

Cartridge World has a winning format, but the Denton store has more than the format going for it. It’s run by a creative, hard working entrepreneur who doesn’t wait for business to develop. He goes out and gets it.

I could see how he built awareness through public relations and the Chamber of Commerce. I’m sure that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Friday, I had more cartridges that needed refilling. I pulled up Google maps to find the phone number of the store to see how late it was open and saw that Cartridge World now has a store three miles from my house. Well, three miles is better than 15, so I called.

I couldn’t understand a thing the guy who answered the phone said, but guess that I had the right number and asked how late the store was open. Six o’clock.

At 5:50 p.m., I pulled into the store. There were no other customers. The owner walked out (I know he was the owner because his nametag said so), took a look at the four cartridges, and said, “We don’t have Okidata.”

“That’s okay,” I replied. “You can just fill them and I’ll pick them up on Monday.”

“We don’t fill Okidata.”

“Uh, I don’t mean to argue with you, but I’ve gotten these filled two or three times at another Cartridge World.” The cartridges were in Cartridge World’s distinctive yellow and blue boxes after all.

“Where’d you get ‘em filled?”


“I’d advise you to take them there.”

Are you kidding me, I wanted to shout. Are you a moron? An idiot? Determined to go out of business as fast as possible?

Apparently so. I didn’t argue. I just shook my head and left.

These two businesses are franchised. They’re identical on the surface. Below the surface they’re as different as the two owners. One is aggressive, hard working, creative, and focused on building a business. The other is not. When he bought the franchise, he merely bought himself a job.

The Cartridge World format is good enough that the guy near my house may survive in spite of himself. Don’t be surprised if he fails. And if he does fails, he’ll probably blame the franchisor, not the guy in the mirror.

The difference between success and failure isn’t the business. It’s the business owner.

© 2009 Matt Michel

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