Franchise Players: I Turned My Small Biz Into a Franchised Location


Franchise Players is Entrepreneur’s Q&A interview column that puts the spotlight on franchisees. If you're a franchisee with advice and tips to share, email

When Closets by Design was looking to expand, the custom closet franchise turned to someone with experience: Truman Jepson. Jepson founded Closets, Etc., another custom closet company, in 1993. With two decades of business experience in the industry, Closets by Design's leadership team thought Jepson would be the perfect fit to open its new franchised location.

Impressed by Closets by Design's executive team and manufacturing facilities, Jepson and his son, Kevin, decided to convert Closets, Etc. into a Closets by Design franchised location. Here's how the pair grew sales by 100 percent after going from small business to franchised location.

Name: Truman and Kevin Jepson

Franchise owned (location): Closets By Design Seattle/Tacoma

How long have you owned a franchise? 

Closets By Design of Seattle/Tacoma opened in November 2012.

Why franchising?

Franchising gives you a tried and proven business model with ongoing support.

Related: Franchise Players: How I Turned Military Lessons Into Business Success

What were you doing before you became a franchise owner?

We owned Closets Etc. LLC.

Why did you choose this particular franchise? 

Closets by Design actually sought us out to open a new location in the market. They needed someone who could design, manufacture, deliver and install their custom-built home organization products. We met their requirements as we had over 20 years’ experience in the industry. The company’s president, Jerry Egner, personally invited us to California to visit the home office team and their manufacturing facilities and manufacturing team. We were impressed and signed up for the greater Seattle franchise with exclusive rights to operate within the territory. Our manufacturing facility is in Fife, Wash. near Tacoma.

How much would you estimate you spent before you were officially open for business?

Because we had already been in the industry for over 20 years, there was no immediate expense other than for brochures, contracts, franchise business fees, catalogs, etc. and some training. Typical investment levels for Closets By Design range from $124,900 to $296,500.

Where did you get most of your advice/do most of your research? 

We rely heavily on the corporate support team to keep us informed and knowledgeable about company policy and procedures along with advertising.

Related: Franchise Players: 'Marketing Is Still My Biggest Challenge'

What were the most unexpected challenges of opening your franchise?  

We were astounded at the advertising commitment. We spent more on advertising in the first month with CBD than we had the year before as Closets Etc. LLC. Here is where the experience of the franchisor is crucial. Buying enough of the right kind of advertising can make the difference between success and failure!

What advice do you have for individuals who want to own their own franchise?

Shop carefully, talk to some of the franchisees, visit the Home Office and meet the people you will be working with.  Have your attorney look at and approve your franchise agreement. Certainly we would encourage anyone looking to buy a franchise to put Closets by Design at the top of your list. We are very satisfied with our franchise.

What’s next for you and your business?

We are looking to double or triple our business in the next 12 to 18 months.

Related: Franchise Players: Entering a Foreign Market Through Franchising

Take our franchise quiz to find the perfect match for you.