Air Force Veteran Finds Success and Fun in Franchising

An entrepreneur at heart, Melissa Anderson was looking for a new opportunity.

*This story originally appeared on www.atourfranchise.org, a website highlighting the positive impact of franchising on communities around the country.

She spent nine years in the U.S. Air Force stationed at various bases including Little Rock, Ark., Lakenheath, England and Incirlik, Turkey, and five years as an education specialist. She later moved to Florida with her husband and sought out a career change. A frequent reader of entrepreneurial magazines, Anderson began researching her options. She found something interesting.

“At that time, I’d never heard of the ‘Sip and Paint’ industry so when I came across it, it got my attention,” Anderson recalls. “That’s how I found Bottle & Bottega,” she continued, adding that the brand combines two of her passions — art and event planning.

While she had never been to a Bottle & Bottega studio, Anderson was drawn to the concept because it combined her two main interests. As the process moved along, the company’s management team helped her get a better understanding of what is involved in owning and operating a paint and sip studio. Anderson opened a Bottle & Bottega location in Jacksonville in August 2015, becoming the first for the brand in the area and the second across Florida. By opening a franchise location, Anderson also saw this as an opportunity to use skills learned in the military, including perseverance, drive, leadership and the determination to succeed.

Without the franchise business model, Anderson wouldn’t have been in position to own a business. “The idea behind a franchise and what drew me to it correlates to my military experience. Having the operating procedures and back-end tasks done gives you a running start in the brand,” she said.

For others interested in franchising, Anderson offers a few tips learned from experience. “First and foremost, you really have to put yourself out there,” she said, adding that networking quickly became her biggest tool. This was especially important for Anderson, who reached an agreement with Bottle & Bottega before she ever actually lived in Florida. “It was an extremely bold move to sign the franchise agreement prior to having even lived in the territory where we were moving,” Anderson recalls. Upon arriving, she immediately joined the local Chamber of Commerce and started attending networking meetings. “Opening the franchise forced me to really immerse myself in the community, which has been great. I’ve met amazing fellow business owners who are not only associates, but now dear friends.”

Getting involved and establishing “authentic relationships within your community” can lead to success. “You build each other up, and they help you build your business,” Anderson said. The Jacksonville Bottle & Bottega hosts fundraisers and believes that giving back to the community and working with charitable organizations are important parts of establishing a successful business.

Another tip, she said, is to “take action every day and put in the work,” which increases the chances that your location, and the corporate brand, will hit benchmarks and stay on a path of growth.

“Every day, you have to take consistent action, even if it’s small, because eventually all that compounds and builds, and it may be months — it could be a year — before you reap those rewards. As long as you put forth the effort, you will see results.” Also important is making sure you are in tune with the franchise concept.

“Franchising is really about relationships, so when signing onto a franchise, it’s important that the franchisee and the franchisor are a good fit for each other,” Anderson said. “The corporate team at Bottle & Bottega really feels like an extended family.”