By David Mielach, Business NewsDaily Staff Writer
When WineStyles Tasting Station CEO Robert Spuck decided to decided to step down last year, he approached franchisees Bryan and Andrea McGinness to purchase the entire franchise. Bryan and Andrea — WineStyles retail store franchise owners since 2006 — were suddenly overseeing the operations of the close to 50 WineStyles locations. BusinessNewsDaily spoke with Bryan and Andrea about the shift to managing the company and how previous experiences helped them in their journey.
BusinessNewsDaily: What did you want to be when you grew up?
Bryan and Andrea McGinness: I had wanted to be something in the medical field, either a veterinarian or doctor. Unfortunately, my pre-med science classes during my first year in college ended those thoughts very quickly. Andrea’s family members were teachers, so she always dreamed of being an elementary teacher. However, she realized after student teaching that she was not cut out to be in a classroom. She switched her major to business during our junior year in college.
BND: What did your parents do for a living?
McG: My mom stayed home to raise my twin sisters and me, and my dad was the lead inspector of roads and bridges for Iowa City, Iowa. Andrea’s mom was the office manager of the Coe College Admissions Office and her dad was a physical education teacher for the Cedar Rapids Community School District.
BND: Can you talk a little about your businesses and how you got your start?
McG: During a return trip from a fishing vacation in 2005 in northern Minnesota, we stayed with some friends in Minneapolis. Our friends knew I had aspired to own a wine store and took me over to see one that had just opened in their neighborhood. We started our due diligence when we got back to Iowa and ended up opening our first WineStyles in July 2006. We had the opportunity to purchase the Area Developer territory for Iowa and western/southern Illinois in 2007 and we were approached about buying the entire franchise in April 2012.
BND: What’s the best part of owning your own business?
McG: The best part of owning our own business is the freedom it provides our family and the sense of accomplishment we have from business ownership. We feel blessed that we can have a flexible schedule when the need arises and excited by all the wonderful people we have met along the way (customers, vendors, and other business owners around the country). Our customers make the difference in everything we do. If you think about it, you can buy wine anywhere.
BND: What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made as an entrepreneur?
McG: When we first opened, I was working on getting phased out of my career with Maytag Appliances as they were moving the Maytag corporate office from Iowa to Michigan. Andrea was working in our children’s school, so we hired a full-time manager to help run the store until I could finish at Maytag. It was a disastrous situation and we ended up letting her go a couple of months after we opened. From that point on, Andrea left her job at the school and ran the store with the help of several part-time employees. We realized that the hands-on approach was the best way to handle our new business.
BND: What was your main motivation in starting this business?
McG: The main motivation in starting this business was my love of wine and food and wanting to have our own business.
BND: What previous experiences helped you in that journey?
McG: I worked in the corporate world for more than 20 years in many different departments including sales, marketing, human resources, operations and general management. When I left Maytag, I was hired as a business consultant to help merge a landscaping company with a local nursery. I was later hired as president of that newly merged landscaping company and was finally able to leave corporate America about a year and a half ago to join Andrea in the store. Andrea had worked in sales for a trucking company and a cellular company, and prior to the move back to Iowa, she was the operations manager for Canon Computer Systems in New Jersey.
BND: What was the biggest challenge you encountered and how did you overcome it?
McG: Our biggest challenge continues to be managing the work-life balance. We still have two of our three children at home — one is in college— so forcing ourselves to leave the store or office can be difficult at best. We really strive to leave the store at a decent time so we can get home to cook dinner, do laundry, help with homework and run children to events! If we have an evening event in the store, we make sure at least one of us is home with the children and the other one stays at the store. We realize that our children are with us for such a short amount of time, so we want to enjoy this time we have with them before they leave our nest.
Another challenge is hiring the best employees we can. Employees are a direct reflection of our business and need to have the same spirit we have in running the business. For the most part, we have achieved that, but we have had a few hiring errors over the past seven years.
BND: What is the best bit of advice you have for other entrepreneurs?
McG: Find a business that you are passionate about, put your heart and soul into it, and surround yourself with great people. When you do that, it becomes less of a job and more of a hobby that you are getting paid for. When you can hardly wait to get to work and don’t want to leave once you are there, you know you have done something right.