Franchise Spotlight: Dan and Kara Synwolt
Tell us a little about your background
I have been very fortunate to have worked for several organizations in my career, that include both small and Fortune 500 companies. My background is fairly diverse as well, with experience in production management, stock brokerage and sales to both small, medium businesses, as well as large enterprises. I currently own two companies that include a commercial cleaning business, and an Office Evolution franchise. I’ve been described as somewhat of a workaholic, but I’m trying to accommodate a more reasonable schedule these days to spend more time with family.
I currently reside with my wife and son in Chicago, which is the I was born and raised in. I’m also a life-long Cubs fan and fitness enthusiast.
What makes you unique?
Based on a diverse career history along with several years now of business ownership, I feel that I can easily relate with people of all backgrounds. That includes everyone from company janitor, to the CEO of a given organization, for example.
Why did you decide to open an Office Evolution franchise?
With technological advances over the years, people now have the ability that allows them to work wherever and whenever they want, and the gig and “on-demand” economy also continues to gain momentum. Our business centers provide an excellent professional environment for entrepreneurs and business people by providing fully furnished offices & conference rooms, office amenities, high-speed internet and even the coffee that can help people be more productive. Our centers offer a nice distraction-free alternative for people that may work from home or a local coffee house.
Tell us a bit about your Business Center Manager
My business center manager was the first one hired at Office Evolution/ Chicago/ O’Hare and is also my current BCM. An interesting story about Cheryl is that after her first year as the initial BCM, she met a guy who rented a conference room in our center, and they ended up hitting it off and the relationship became more serious. Unfortunately, her beau was relocated by his company out of state, so he asked Cheryl to make the move with him, and understandably, she accepted. But unfortunately for him (and admittedly, fortunate for us), the relationship ended after a while, so Cheryl ended up moving back to the Chicago area. Of course, she was welcomed back and she is now back as BCM.
Cheryl is a tremendous asset to the business center here. One attribute is that she is one of the most genuinely positive people that you’ll ever meet. She also has that “do whatever it takes” mindset, to help accommodate our member’s and guest’s needs.
Tell us a bit about your members
We have a very broad range of members. This includes members in the trades, financial services, trucking, financial services, real estate, not-for-profits, and therapists, just to name a few. For a while, we even had a member who was a chiropractor which is somewhat unique and was very convenient for our members and tenants that reside in O’Hare Plaza building complex. One of our recent members started as a virtual office vendor, then as his business grew, transitioned into a dedicated office. This grew to two offices, then three, and then four offices. His business grew to the extent of his requiring his office suite. We also have an energy drink manufacturer/ distributor that is following this same progression.
What makes your location unique?
Few details make our location unique. First, we are a 5-10 minute drive (or cab/ Uber) from O’Hare Airport. We have several people that rent an office and conference rooms just based strictly on our convenience to/from the airport. Our pricing structure is extremely reasonable and flexible when compared to renting conference rooms at the area hotels/ motels. Parking is free and time savings is substantial rather than traveling to a downtown Chicago venue. Being located at the intersection of two expressways (I-94/ I-294) makes it easy for both members and guests to reach us from most areas of Chicagoland. Lastly, our building complex includes many amenities where you step away from multiple foodservice options, a convenience store, hair salon, vending, a fitness center and even a car detailing service, all on-premise.
How were you able to see success?
One of the keys to our success is observing, and hopefully contributing to the success of our members. If we have helped in this success, even if it’s a very small part, then feel that we have done our job. This is one of the most satisfying parts of this business.
Advice for future Office Evolution franchise owners?
There will always be a more cost-effective option as both prospective and existing members evaluate their office and co-working alternatives, so you can only influence the financial decision to a certain extent. After all, the decision to work from home for some may have zero financial cost to the person evaluating their options. But focus on the part of your business in which you have full control, and that is by providing excellent customer service. The goal is to never lose business due to a lack of quality service.
Anything you’d like to add?
Being a franchisee for this particular type of concept has been extremely helpful in leveraging a proven system rather than trying to figure out all the details on your own. The franchisee group has been very collaborative as well in collectively improving our business model. The franchisee group consists of people from diverse backgrounds as well, and many bring unique perspectives and ideas that benefit the entire organization as a whole. We are all always striving for continual improvement in what we do.