What’s the Story Behind Our Flooring Franchise? Our Founder and Development Director Tell All!
Footprints Floors Founder and CEO, Bryan Park and Development Director Brian Knuth just did an interview with Vetted Biz, a franchise business data platform. They shared our background story with the platform’s Co-Founder, Patrick Findaro.
You can watch the entire interview on YouTube, but we’ll also cover it here for those who aren’t familiar.
As some of you know, Footprints Floors was started way back in 2008, when Park found himself jobless and out of tens of thousands of dollars of his hard-earned wages by his bankrupt former employers.
Deciding to go into business for himself, Park developed what would become the core of the Footprints Floors business model, a customer-first approach with a primary focus on professionalism, courtesy, and integrity.
The Early Days of our Flooring Franchise
But back then Footprints Floors certainly didn’t always look or work like it does today. The company only became a flooring franchise in 2013. During the past twelve or so years, we’ve grown, worked a lot of kinks out, refined the system, and scaled.
But in 2008 the fledgling business was simply a practical next step for an enterprising husband and father who needed to take care of his family.
That year, Bryan Park found himself out of a job and six months of hard-earned wages. He had been working as a flooring technician for a home services company.
This wasn’t where he’d envisioned ending up for a dream career. But Bryan had recently left the air force and was searching for his next path in life.
He became interested in the flooring industry by chance. Bryan and his wife were just starting their family then. At the time, the Park family consisted of the couple, their infant daughter, and three rambunctious teething puppies. And this gave Bryan his first lesson on why homeowners need flooring services.
“My wife and I had gone out dinner one night. When we came home the three puppies had eaten our carpet,” Bryan said. “They just tore it up and shredded it. The pad was all over the house!”
“So, we called and hired a flooring company to come in and put in hardwood floors,” he continued. “I’m watching this guy install it all and I was like this is kind of cool.”
Seems like Bryan was on the home reno kick long before home flipping and interior decorating turned into such a craze. But what really interested him is the promise of how much he could make.
“I asked him, how much money do you make doing this? He said, ‘Don’t know, 100 grand,’” Bryan recalled.
The idea of a six-figure income from installing floors was an instant winner for Bryan. He immediately started thinking of how he could use that income to fund his other life goals.
“I was like, I can still go to school at night! The vision was that I would install hardwood floors while I was finishing a different degree,” Bryan said. “I was going to be an engineer until that job ended up changing the course of my life.”
Finding Opportunity in Crisis
So, how did Bryan end up short six months of wages at what should have been a six-figure income job? Well, it might have seemed perfect. But the company was poorly managed and struggling to make it in the 2007-2008 financial crisis.
Instead of bringing a fat check home, Bryan ended up subsidizing his employers with free labor. He spent a full six months working without any pay until his boss sat him down at an Arby’s and informed Bryan that the location had gone under.
“I know, I got fired at an Arby’s! They owed me like 35 grand, and they were like, ‘good luck!’” Bryan said.
It was the worst timing ever for him. “I was 30 or 40 thousand dollars in credit card debt, had four dogs, my wife was pregnant with our second daughter, I had a two-year-old, and an 800-square foot house,” Bryan said.
“In that moment I was unemployed in the worst recession since the Great Depression. And that’s when I started Footprints Floors.”
Growth and Success in the Flooring Franchise Industry
So, what was the big idea driving Footprints? Well, there wasn’t one really, at least not at first. Footprints simply started as a way for Bryan to take care of his own family.
“My intentions were to feed my family really,” he remembers. “And that was it, that was all I was planning on doing with it.”
Even so, it certainly took a lot of hard work, pavement pounding, and mental grit to get things running during the Great Recession.
“December 9th of 2008 was our starting date. I’m starting a flooring company in the winter and it’s a seasonal business, so it’s not ideal,” Bryan said.
“We went the next couple months not doing any work. I was walking neighborhoods, putting flyers on doors, hanging out at Home Depot, hitting up customers in the flooring aisle, just trying to drum up any business. Just anything I could to support my young family.”
A few uncertain months without income must have felt like a much longer stretch. But once work started trickling, it was a go for the future flooring franchise.
“And then in February of ‘09, we did our first project. And things just started to roll from there,” Bryan said. “We kicked on marketing, and I ended up doing almost 550 thousand dollars that first year.”
There’s a secret to why Bryan was so successful early on. It’s because he concentrated on generating business and getting the jobs done, while his wife handled reception and administrative work. It was the earliest form of our centralized back-end setup that still delivers outstanding business results.
Bryan kept strengthening the structure until he met Brian Knuth, the VP of development for a Denver-based franchise growth firm called Raintree, in 2018.
“I immediately had an attraction to the business for a variety of reasons,” recalled Knuth about his first encounter with Footprints Floors. “I’ve been closely related to the service industry. And I’ve always been attracted to the needs-based business where there’s an easily identified need from the consumer. It’s not a hard sale per se.”
“I evaluated Footprints Floors,” he continued, reflecting on what drew him in. “It was largely the infrastructure that he and his team have to support Franchise Owners. Bryan’s put [infrastructure] into place to create this operation where you can manage multiple jobs, multiple individuals, and a tremendous amount of output.”
Walking the Talk
Brian Knuth believed in our flooring franchise concept so much that he came on board as part of our executive team in addition to his position at Raintree. Not only that, but he’s also a Franchise Owner, and operates three of his own Footprints Floors territories on a semi-absentee basis. Similarly, Park owns and runs five flooring franchise territories in addition to acting as Founder and CEO.
Because of their hands-on experience, they both understand what it’s like to be a Franchise Owner and use this to help guide their big-picture strategy.
“I think that’s an advantage as a Franchisor,” Park said. “I run a flooring company to this day. Whatever I’m telling a Franchise Owner to do, I’m doing the same thing. Whatever we’re implementing at the Franchisor level, is affecting my day-to-day business as well.
I’m not just talking the talk. I’ve been walking the walk for 15 years.”
Want to Be Part of Our Next Chapter?
Our background story is certainly compelling, but we’re even more excited about what the future holds for our flooring franchise! Our operations may look a lot different now than in those hard first few months, with a robust call center infrastructure and dedicated support team taking the place of flyer distribution and hanging out in hardware store flooring aisles. But to this day, and beyond, our business philosophy and model are still shaped by the same principles of hard work, integrity, and dedication.
The values that made Footprints Floors an early success still dictate the direction of our company, and that is something that will never change. If you share those values and are interested in a flooring franchise, we’d love to hear from you.
Just visit our franchise website for more information.