Tony Valle, the CEO of College Pro, gives advice to students thinking about applying to be franchise managers and shares what he looks for in an applicant.
Q. Why should students consider a summer job with College Pro as a career launching opportunity?
A. I will be the first to admit that painting and window cleaning – the services we offer – are not sexy. There’s a reason someone should start there if they’re looking to launch their career or start their own business, and that’s because there is a proven marketplace. There are two things I tell young entrepreneurs: Do you want to go totally new? Or do you want to go where there is a proven market so you can learn business skills? We’re all about learning how to run a business, and learning how to run a bigger business overtime. It’s a good place to start. We’re all about development. Our organization – our mission – is to help young entrepreneurs be better leaders and be better managers.
Q. How does window cleaning and painting fit into your mission and values as a company?
A. It’s home service, [the type of service] where customers will look at a student and say, “Yes, a student can do this for me.” It’s a launching pad for a lot of our other services. The Franchise Company, which is our parent company, is really a group of home services companies and franchise systems. We wanted to make sure we could deliver what we promised to a customer. Painting and window cleaning – we can consistently deliver on that.
Q. What advice would you give students who are thinking about applying to be franchise managers? Do they need to have a business degree?
A. Absolutely not. In fact, if you look at all the executives, they come from different backgrounds – social sciences, engineering, business, arts, history – it does not matter. You do need a certain attitude. You have to have the ability to achieve goals, some leadership ability, ability to self-regulate and manage your own stress. All of those things are critical as precursors to running your own business.
Q. Is there something you really look for in an applicant?
A. Hunger. Hungry to learn. Hungry to do something. It’s the first opportunity that a lot of students really have to prove themselves. I didn’t have a trust fund. I’ve worked for what I’ve gotten. Not that trust funds are bad, but I had to work for what I’ve achieved. And a lot of people have that hunger in them – hunger for knowledge, hunger for profit. If you don’t see that hunger, if they’re just doing it for their resumé, it’s not going to work.
My wife is an artist, and she’s running her own small business. She’s got her entrepreneurial edge. Inside the organization we’re a group of entrepreneurs.