Small Business and Franchise Success Stories

Bob Burke decided to seize the opportunity to help small businesses turn perception into reality…. while along the way improving a few of his own in the process.



Perception is reality. In difficult economic times many businesses can’t afford to lease expensive office buildings, hire administrative staff or maintain highly professional operations and workspaces – without dealing with the financial burden of significant overhead costs. Yet many businesses feel that without the perceived and tangible advantages created by professional office spaces, dedicated conference rooms, skilled receptionists, and experienced administrative specialists, they will not be taken seriously by customers, vendors, and suppliers.

Bob is hardly a newcomer to the needs of small businesses and the realities of corporate life. He worked in chemical manufacturing for seventeen years, spent twenty-one years as a national sales manager for a global corporation. Later he found a productivity improvement firm where he consulted with businesses that needed to cut costs, improve efficiency, and optimize manufacturing and production processes.

Bob was extremely successful but over the years grew tired of the heavy travel demands. He decided to find a new business opportunity that would allow him to cut back on travel, stay close to home, and work full-time with his son.

“My son had just gotten married and was building a family,” Bob says. “My wife and I have three children, three grandchildren with another on the way… I traveled a lot while our kids were growing up and I wanted to help my son build a business so he didn’t have to live the same way. Granted, starting a new venture is always risky, but improving our family life makes it worth the risk.”

Bob has also received full support from his wife. “She’s enthusiastic and sees the big picture,” says Bob. “She’s willing to accept short-term hardship if it creates a better lifestyle for our family over the long-term.”

Since family concerns are a major motivator for Bob, it’s no surprise he found the opportunity he was looking for through his family. Bob’s son was working for Intelligent Office Systems, a Colorado-based provider of shared and virtual office systems and services.

“My son had been with the company four years, helping new franchisees and start-ups get established,” Bob said. “As a result he really understood the business and what it took to get started.” After a number of discussions and a lot of research, Bob and his son decided to become partners as Intelligent Office Systems franchisees. Together, they opened for business in June, 2008, with thirteen office spaces and three conference rooms located at a high-profile Denver business address.

Their location provides fully-furnished offices, conference rooms that can be rented by the hour, remote and on-site receptionist services, and comprehensive administrative support. Shared office solutions are available on an a la carte basis, which allows small businesses to pay only for the services they need.

“Perception is reality with many companies,” says Bob. “Our clients get a professional image at a much lower cost – and they get additional services they couldn’t otherwise afford.”

Bob’s goal is to maintain a 90% occupancy rate, leaving remaining 10% open for clients to use on an occasional, spur-of-the-moment basis.

While the business hasn’t grown as quickly as he expected – June 2008 was not the best time to offer new office space since many companies were feeling the effects of a staggering economy – growth has been solid in recent months as companies begin to understand the opportunity Bob’s franchise offers. “What they don’t realize at first,” says Bob, “and it’s one of our marketing challenges to inform people, is how many services they can get for a dramatically lower cost. Companies need offices but they don’t have a lot of money to spend. Right now receiving great service at a low cost is incredibly important for businesses working hard to survive and thrive.”

What has Bob learned from opening a franchise? “Cash is king,” says Bob. “I’m not comfortable with debt, especially in today’s market.”

The business has also taken longer to mature than he anticipated. “If you think you need $100k, find $200k so you’ll have a cushion if cash flow is a problem early on,” he says. Bob received help from Guidant Financial Group to purchase his business. Through Guidant he learned how to invest his retirement funds in the business without taking a taxable distribution. This provided him an alternative to investing in the stock market and allows him to directly impact the value of his investments.

Where cash is concerned, Bob offers another thought. “If you have a business plan and the cash to support it, you’ll succeed,” he adds. “If you don’t have the cash to support the plan, you’ll fail. And if you do have cash but you don’t have a great plan, you’ll also fail.”

Yet he also readily admits that even with his experience and background he doesn’t have all the answers. Who does Bob turn to for advice? The support provided by his franchise system.

“Don’t just choose a good franchise opportunity – choose a franchise that can support you,” says Bob.

“Everyone needs help – make sure you can get the help you need to be successful.”


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