How does an international brand enter the United States? It’s a question many franchisees ask themselves, and for laundry services brand Mr Jeff, which was founded in Spain and has sold more than 2,000 locations worldwide, its entry into the United States came from an unlikely source. Likely: A humble franchise hopeful named Sergio Aguirre.
Aguirre lives in Miami and spent years working in hotels. He considered opening his own restaurant, but his aspirations changed after visiting Mexico to see friends. That’s where he found out about Mr. Jeff. He asked if the company was expanding to the US, and at the time it wasn’t, but a few years later, in 2021, he got the call. “We’re ready if you’re ready,” a representative for the brand told him.
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Now Aguirre’s store is open and he is helping to introduce Mr. Jeff to the United States. (The brand does its customers’ laundry, with pickups and deliveries scheduled through an app.) Here, he talks about what it’s like to be a pioneer and the importance of connecting with customers.
How does it feel to be the first Mr Jeff franchisee in the US?
All the feelings are there. I have a big challenge, which is to prove something here that has no proof yet. The first few months were crazy and I started thinking: Why did I do this? But thanks to the help of the mentors, I know it will be a year of growth. I need to take it easy and not get stressed.
How was the beginning?
It’s important for new franchisees to know that opening a business doesn’t mean it’s up and running right away. You have to be there every day for the first year and constantly make sure you’re growing. I’ve never opened anything by myself, and I’ve hit the wall a few times, but I’m like, Well, what do I have to do now? Because from there I am the one who has to make the decision. Some people are very scared about it, and it can be very stressful. As a first franchisee, I’m taking in all those little details and learning. I still have a long way to go, and I just need to make sure I don’t get lost.
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You used to work in hospitality. Did your hotel experience help you with Mr. Jeff?
At the hotel brand I worked for before, the idea was to maintain standards and quality across its 300 locations. It wasn’t a franchise, but it’s the same idea. It’s about knowing your customers and maintaining that communication.
It’s important for customer service to find out what went wrong and figure out how to fix it. People like to talk and know that you are in the know. For example, there is a woman who is very consistent: she downloaded the app and signed up for a plan, but she doesn’t use the app to place orders. She trusts me to do everything. I can’t tell her that she should use the app, because yes, that would make my life easier, but sometimes it’s more important to adapt to to them. In the end, I am offering a service.
How do you handle the stress of this big challenge?
It’s a matter of maintaining my daily routine. One of the most important things is just having my coffee, or having a good lunch and enjoying those little moments to keep thinking and motivate myself. If you are stressed from morning to night, then you can’t sleep and then you can’t rest. And if you don’t rest, then you can’t perform well the next day. Even if a big storm is coming, you just need to stay calm and decide on a strategy.
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