Plaid: So, who is Melissa Wolfe? Where did you grow up? Go to school? What was your career before SMS®? What prompted you to change course?
Melissa: I was born in St. Louis, MO, where my parents were both born, raised and all their families lived. My dad, working for the VA Hospital, got transferred with each new step in his positions. After living in Florida for several years, the job brought us to Texas and we never left. All of my family still lives here, just none of us in the same metro area. I attended college at Abilene Christian University as an Education major. I moved to DFW after graduation and began my teaching career with Irving ISD. During my time there, I worked as a kindergarten teacher for 6 years then an instructional specialist for 5. After getting my Masters in Educational Leadership, I began working as an Elementary Vice Principal where I stayed until I had my first child 3 1/2 years later. After having my daughter 2 years later, the question would often come up if I would ever go back to teaching or what would I do if something ever happened to my husband or his job. This lingering question was always in the back of my mind; stick with what I know or find something new??? In walks SMS® Dallas, which we joined after several friends told us they had great experiences. They were right! Every sitter we had was as good as the previous and after about the 4th great sitter, my husband asked where I was finding them. I explained how it worked and he liked what he heard. That little conversation got me thinking more and more about it. I knew it was a franchise but I had no idea what that meant or that it was an option. Randomly one date night, again discussing how great the new sitter was, I mentioned to my husband that it was a franchise and that they were advertising for more opportunities. His eyes immediately got big and said I know what your next move “could” be. We came home that night and started our research…
Plaid: Why did you choose to purchase a franchise instead of starting something from scratch?
Melissa: We definitely considered it after talking with a few of our business minded friends. After every conversation, I kept going back to the fact that I was not a business savvy professional in my former career. I was excited about the thought of owning something and I know how business minded my husband is but ultimately I would be responsible for making this thing work. It was definitely going to push me out of my comfort zone to be “the woman” in charge and making all the decisions. I liked that the franchise provided a framework and model that was working. We were loving the model with our family so why try to recreate it and start from scratch!? After having my first general information call with headquarters and then getting to talk to some other owners, it confirmed my thoughts that this was the place for me.
Plaid: Prior to purchasing your Sitting Made Simple franchise, did you know anyone personally that had purchased a franchise or started their own business?
Melissa: Yes, we have had several friends that own small and large businesses. Some have had success and some have struggled or even closed the door. One of our great friends was a Director of marketing for a large franchise. Talking with her about how franchises work and some ins and outs only confirmed my thoughts of starting from scratch vs purchasing a franchise.
Plaid: What about this opportunity drew your attention? What was it that made you say “Yes, I want to do that!”
Melissa: I would be talking with friends about babysitters and hear them say, “Oh, I wish we had that over here” and “That’s awesome, I wonder if there is something like that here”. As a mom, I knew how beneficial this service was to my family and I wondered why it wasn’t on that side of town yet. It became a no-brainer.
Plaid: What was the most exciting part of stepping out onto this path?
Melissa: I was so excited about having something of my own that I could really be proud of the service it was providing.
Plaid: What has been the biggest struggle in transitioning from a stay-at-home mom to a work-at-home mom and how did you overcome it?
Melissa: Getting back in to a routine after 3 years of being flexible and going with the flow was tough. It’s something I (and my family) are still getting used to. Having office hours helps so I know I will focus on the business during that time and after hours will be family first. Growing a business from the ground up takes boots on the ground. You can only do so much marketing on Instagram and Facebook. Especially with something so important as who will be watching your children. Having that personal element and meeting with groups of women and moms is a necessary part to growing. That meant getting my kiddos more days at their Mother’s Day Out. For me, its a happy compromise. I can do the legwork while they are at “school” and do the behind the scenes, operations type work anytime on the 2 days they are home. Working from home with kids has been a learning curve. I take breaks to get outside with them and play. Now that it is warmer, I am able to bring the computer outside while the kids play or nap. I have even taken advantage of owning a babysitting service and hired one of my sitters to come in on days where I have bigger projects to finish.
Plaid: What advice would you give someone who is contemplating becoming a franchise owner?
Melissa: Do it! Haha…seriously though, if you’ve been considering it, definitely do your research on that specific franchise. How much support will you get and how much time are you wanting to put in are questions you need to ask. You can’t just expect to purchase something and money start rolling in magically. I’ve had a few questions from people like, “you don’t have to do anything right?” or “It runs itself, so what do you do all day.” That couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s a business and a personal one, that takes personal connection.
Plaid: What, if anything, did you learn about yourself during this process?
Melissa: I learned I can get caught up in details before they are necessary. As an educator, every action and movement is planned out. Being over prepared keeps things from being chaotic and helps manage the day. I am learning I have to take a step back and look more at the big picture to figure details out later! Still having a plan is vital to success but not getting stuck in the mud before it’s needed is harder for me!
Plaid: Can you look back on your life and see the pattern of personal development to get you to this point and can you share that with our audience?
Melissa: Something that continually has shown itself is that I value relationships. Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I would work with, for or around kids. Becoming a nurse or teacher was something I felt strongly pulled toward. Working in schools was not about paychecks. It was about doing what was best for kids and really getting to know them, their families and other teachers. Investing in them and the school community was a huge deal for me. Being a stay-at-home mom meant fostering relationships with my family and making sure everything we do is in our best interest. Now, I get to do the same thing, it just looks a little different. My job is now 2 fold… I have the sitters and I have the families. I have to build relationships with both to have a successful business. With sitters I need to make sure I would have them in my home before putting them in yours. I also want them to know I value them and their time. Meeting them and continuing to get to know them has been an unexpected perk of this job! And finally, walking into a room of moms or answering the phone call from a hesitant mom all falls back on them trusting me. I want families to know I have their best interest at heart and truly want to be a burden lifter rather than the cause of it.
Plaid: What is your favorite thing about being a SMS® franchise owner?
Melissa: Getting feedback from families that the service we provide has eased an area of struggle in their life is priceless. A close second is the sisterhood that has come with SMS® ownership. Getting to chat with other owners and know that these ladies have walked in my shoes, understand my ups and downs and have the same goal makes it a fun ride!
Plaid: What is one thing that made you smile today?
Melissa: Picking up my kids from school today and as we are walking out, my little guy (3.5 yrs) looks up at me and says, Ms. Kristy is my best friend. I laughed but then I thought, I am so thankful that in this season of life, that he loves and trusts his teacher.