After working for an accounting firm and dabbling in real estate, Ron Balchandani opened his Minuteman Press franchise in North Ridge, California in April 2014. He was 19 years old.
Now 21, this print and marketing wunderkind spends his time building his business, managing older employees, playing polo and imparting investing advice to young adults.
So how did Ron get here and how did he do it? Let’s find out…
What was your background before franchising?
Ron Balchandani: “I attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and worked as an associate at a commercial real estate firm as well as a mutual advisory firm.”
You started your own business at such a young age (19 years-old). How did you do it?
Ron Balchandani: “I had worked at an accounting firm when I was 17. I learned a lot about business financials. I really think that has helped me to understand how a small business operates and makes money.
My strategy is to keep the customer and employees happy. Treating my employees with respect and working as part of the team is one way that I keep my employees happy and motivated. When they see my commitment to the business, they work hard to take care of the customers’ needs. The biggest challenge in this business is keeping costs down. I have been able to grow sales significantly in the year that I have owned the business.
The team at Minuteman Press is very open-minded. Not every franchisor would agree to allow a 19 year old to open a business with their brand on the line. I truly appreciate their faith in me, and I believe I have proven that they made the right decision by trusting me.”
Why did you choose Minuteman Press?
Ron Balchandani: “Most franchises have strict rules and regulations on how to operate a business not to mention outrageous and expensive demands that you must comply with. Usually these expenses promote the franchisor’s brand more than your specific store location. These costs are in addition to the royalties that must be paid. Minuteman Press is different. Minuteman Press has been very respectful and helpful to me as a franchise owner. Rather than demanding expensive and superfluous branding, Minuteman has always earned their royalty fees, which I don’t mind paying thanks to their helpful approach. Moreover, the team at Minuteman Press is fantastic. It’s like a huge family. When visiting their office, the chairman of the company takes the time to meet with you personally.”
What stood out when researching Minuteman Press?
Ron Balchandani: “I was able to meet with other Minuteman Press franchisees and ask for their advice while learning about their own success, and I really appreciated that Minuteman Press had a full training and support program in place. I had no printing or marketing experience before opening my franchise, and I’ve appreciated all of the training and support I’ve received from the corporate office as well as my local support team that Minuteman Press makes available to me. My Regional Vice President Dan Byers and field marketing representative Jack Panzer are just great to work with on the local level, and this type of ongoing local support really does set Minuteman Press apart from other franchisors.”
What is it like managing your own business and being a young entrepreneur? From managing older members of your staff to speaking with other business owners in your area, what has been your approach? What do you think works best?
Ron Balchandani: “Always keep your ego in your pocket. Never be demanding or condescending. They can see that. Work as a team. Get your employees opinions/suggestions that way they become part of growing your business. Treat your employees with respect. After all they are making money for you!”
What are some of your hobbies?
Ron Balchandani: “I absolutely love playing polo (not water polo). It gives me a great outlet.”
What is one recent positive customer story or service experience that really stands out to you?
Ron Balchandani: “As I was closing shop, a customer had called last minute to do a small job. I waited about 15 minutes after hours to help that customer. That customer has now become one of our biggest clients. The point is to never refuse any business regardless how big or small the job is. Never let a customer go. Period.”
What is your formula for getting repeat business?
Ron Balchandani: “Always be genuine with your customers and take care of them by going the extra mile. I find that direct mail is one of the most effective ways to get new customers locally.
As far as repeat customers, help them market their business. Don’t sell them like just any other shop. Go out of your way to help them succeed. They will notice and they will definitely come back.
It’s also important to have or develop a niche that way you can stand out from your competitors.”
What are your 5 quick tips for success that you would like to share with young entrepreneurs like yourself?
Ron Balchandani: “Here are my tips based on my own experiences:
1. Take care of your employees, customers, and your financials. You’ll always be at the top.
2. The thicker the spread, the wider your profits margins will be. Pay attention to your cost and expenses. They constantly creep up on young business owners and in no time they realize they are in debt. So keep your costs as low as possible.
3. You can use new and emerging technologies to reduce costs and expenses.
4. Listen to what your customers have to say. There is always something you can sell to your customers.
5. Lastly, the stars don’t shine until the sun goes down. Never expect results quickly. It takes time to be successful.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Ron Balchandani: “In my spare time, have been working on a book meant for young adults to learn about investing. I’d like to say that students should learn to invest. Universities and colleges rarely teach students to budget and make money without having a job. Most of all they prepare graduates to work for someone else in a normal 9 to 5 job. Young adults must learn to purchase appreciating assets. I was taught early on that I should, “spend the return, never the principal.” It is better to invest what you save, and spend only the profits. I strongly believe young adults need to understand this concept early on.”