Sometimes the road sign just pops up and you have to take the next off-ramp to the new direction in your life.

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That's sort of what happened to Jocelyn Estrada. Having spent 25 years at Paramount Home Media, the home video distribution arm of Paramount Pictures, Estrada enjoyed success but yearned for more.

She had always wanted to own her own business but could never muster the courage to leave a steady paycheck while her kids were in school. That's just when Estrada saw the fast-approaching sign and got into the turn lane.

"As fate would have it, I separated from my company the same week my youngest started her freshman year in college.

I was an empty-nester and for the first time in 20 years I found myself focused on me.

And surprisingly, I felt no guilt in doing so," said Estrada, a 51-year-old Valencia resident.

"I took the opportunity to complete my bachelor's degree in Communication and considered opening the business I always wanted to."

Last summer Estrada became a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers' homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers.

Floor Coverings International Santa Clarita serves customers throughout the Santa Clarita Valley and the northwest portion of the San Fernando Valley. Estrada's experience in her corporate career was in brand marketing, retail marketing and sales, skills she said are a perfect fit for Floor Coverings International.

"But I believe the most critical is an appreciation of customer service and its impact on my company's value proposition," Estrada said.

In Floor Coverings International, Estrada found a company that has tripled in size since 2005 by putting a laser focus on consumer buying habits and expressed desires, its impressive operating model, growth ability, marketing, advertising and merchandising.

Floor Coverings International further separates itself from the competition through its customer experience, made up of several simple and integrated steps that exceed customers' expectations.

Floor Coverings International also has a very strong commitment to community involvement, led by CEO Tom Wood.

"I was impressed by the leadership and completely agree with the company's core values," Estrada said. "I feel that Floor Coverings International is as invested in my success as I am."

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Many years ago, too long for me to accurately report the exact number, I sat in on Negotiation class at the Stanford Law School, given by Robert Mnookin.

Mnookin several years later went to Harvard and was for awhile the Director of the PON Program, Project on Negotiation.

There are several excellent role play simulations that you can review or purchase from Harvard.

Even if you only create an account to review the simulations and don't intend to teach them they are worthwhile.

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Many franchisors spend thousands of dollars trying to recruit franchisees from their website.

But, did you know you can recruit these same prospects for using your LinkedIn page --which is a free product from LinkedIn.

Who doesn't like free?

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'This job has been the best of both worlds'

Scott Brooks has been in situations that most of us will never experience as a former fireman, and though he's no longer in that career, he found a new one that still gives him the ultimate satisfaction of helping others when they need it most.

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The 54-year-old Winchester, Va., resident is the Emergency Recovery Coordinator with Paul Davis Restoration of Northern Virginia, one of the most trusted brands in the insurance restoration industry. Brooks is the first person a homeowner meets when they contact Paul Davis after suffering catastrophic damage to their home from fire, water, storms or other events.

"This job has been the best of both worlds," said Brooks, who has been with Paul Davis for four years. "I am able to help families in their times of need and I am able to continue fellowship and support of my brother and sister firefighters."

Brooks spent seven years with the Chancellor Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department in Spotsylvania County and was a fireman with the Fredericksburg Fire Department for 13 years.

He recalled being a part of teams that were able to revive three people by CPR over the course of three consecutive 24-hour shifts.

"We were simply doing the job we had been trained to do," Brooks said. "I was never a hero, but I was able to work with a lot of people, that are to this day, heroes in my eyes."

Brooks left firefighting after suffering an injury on the job and he and his wife, Erika, moved to Texas for three years. But after missing family they decided to return to northern Virginia and that's when Erika sent Scott's resume to Paul Davis, where his qualifications seemed like a perfect fit.

"I didn't even know that the Emergency Recovery Coordinator role existed and I did not know what the job entailed," Brooks said. "I was thrilled to interview and was offered the position."

Since 1966, Paul Davis has been at the forefront of innovation in the property damage emergency services and restoration industry by pioneering such things as three-day drying and new water damage assessment and monitoring technology. Customer calls are returned within 30 minutes of first contact, teams are onsite within hours and all work is thoroughly documented.

"Since I am the first person the homeowner meets from Paul Davis, my role is critical and takes a person who is understanding and sympathetic to the situation the homeowner is going through," said Brooks.

"I pride myself in helping people by going above and beyond what they may or may not expect. I want to be the person they trust and can count on to be the right person to help them in a very stressful time."

With more than 300 locations in the US and Canada, Paul Davis is continually growing, and it seems like a perfect fit for individuals who have a background similar to Brooks and are looking to either own or work for a local franchise.

"When I arrive on a fire scene, I understand what is happening. I have lived it and experienced it. I can relate to the situation and guide homeowners throughout the process," Brooks said. "A fire scene can be described as organized chaos and staying back and letting the firefighters do their job is critical. Once the smoke is gone and the fire department has left, that is when my work begins."

While at Paul Davis, Brooks has taken the initiative on several projects that give back to the fire service, including a charity golf tournament that will benefit the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation on an annual basis.

Seeing the commitment Brooks has to Paul Davis, as well as the firefighting community, it's no surprise when he relates the story of a woman who had lost her husband in a house fire. Paul Davis was contacted to secure the property where the woman had inadvertently left her wedding rings after applying some lotion on the day of the fire, which had consumed the entire second floor of the couple's home.

When Brooks asked the woman if she needed anything from the home, she said she would love to have her rings but thought their recovery was not possible. "With her permission, I spent three days digging in the hot July heat searching for her rings," Brooks said. "Just as I was about to give up, I noticed that a pile of debris I had just put in the sifter contained her rings. I was also able to find her grandmother's jewelry. I felt at peace knowing I was able to give her back a precious gift - her rings.

"Paul Davis is more than a company. Paul Davis is family caring for families. We truly care about the people we work for and the community we are in. I am truly happy I landed in this organization and that they allow me to do the things I do and to grow in the company.

There are a lot of restoration companies out there, but nothing like Paul Davis and the people that work at each and every office."

About Paul Davis Restoration

For more than 50 years, Paul Davis Restoration has restored residential and commercial properties damaged by fire, water, mold, storms and disasters.

The experts at Paul Davis understand the complex process of recovering from property damage and provide complete services; there is no need for the expense and confusion of hiring multiple contractors. Paul Davis is a one-stop shop for disaster damage and restoration.

Paul Davis Restoration has more than 300 independently owned franchises in the USA and Canada. The professionals at Paul Davis are certified in emergency restoration, reconstruction and remodeling.

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According to the IFA, veterans account for about 7% of our population but 14% of franchisees are veterans! In addition, veterans are far more likely to hire other veterans for jobs within their companies. It shouldn't be hard to understand why.

Among other disciplined attributes, veterans aren't likely to sweat small problems. Many of them have seen the worst of humanity, have been shot at and more. It's pretty tough to rattle their cages over an unreturned phone call.

Here's what three veterans have to say about their lives as franchisees:

Ron Finch is a franchise owner with Enviro-Master Services, North America's leading health and safety-focused commercial cleaning service that has doubled in size since 2012. A favorite among veterans, Enviro-Master offers a 25 percent discount to former military members. "Veterans are equipped with the most important qualities for running a business," said the 46-year-old Finch.

"I would tell any veteran to keep their nose to the grindstone, because it's going to be a lot of work. However, the reward is great; the ability to make a difference in others' lives, to make a difference in the community where you live and financial independence and autonomy for yourself."

Finch, a Mobile, Alabama resident who purchased an existing Enviro-Master franchise in July 2018, serves commercial businesses throughout the Florida Panhandle and the Gulf Coast regions of Alabama and Mississippi.


Paul Holt served in the U.S. Army for 21 years and after retiring from Fort Bragg, he decided it would be a perfect match to take his attention to detail and combine it with his interest in the residential home market by joining the No. 1 home inspection company in North America, Pillar To Post Home Inspectors.

Said Holt,

"As a soldier I was trained to look at projects in finite detail, as well as from a macro vantage point. Dedication to the accomplishment of my mission was paramount. I work until the job is done, not when the clock says it's time to go home.

These are the characteristics that I counted on when I made the move into my own business and so far they have served me well on this new career path."

Pillar To Post Home Inspectors is a member of VetFran, a program of the International Franchise Association that helps vets purchase franchises and the company has achieved 5-star status in that program, the top ranking possible.

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Keith Young was already a successful franchise owner with FirstService Brands, the leading North American brand in the property services industry. So when he sold his CertaPro Painters of Central Houston franchise after 10 years, he didn't have to look far for his next opportunity.

The 48-year-old Young stayed within the FirstService Brands family and became a franchise owner with Floor Coverings International, visiting customers' homes in a Mobile Flooring Showroom stocked with thousands of flooring samples from top manufacturers. His Floor Coverings International serves customers throughout Houston and the surrounding areas.

Young is also a U.S. Navy veteran, who has put an emphasis on hiring veterans in the past and plans to continue that practice with Floor Coverings International.

"I will be hiring a sales associate before the end of 2019," Young said. "Military veterans make very successful franchise owners and employees since they know how to follow a proven system and take responsibility for achieving their objectives", Young shared.

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We Salute all Who Serve and Have Served on this Veterans Day!

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Here is the obvious point: most restaurants cannot make money on delivery.

Domino's with its industrial strength pizza and 20 years of technology is the exception.

Restaurants need to drive people from their smartphones to the restaurant's location -- you got an app for that Braam? Grub Hub.png

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