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Mark Ciociola of Discovery Map International, Inc.

It was personal experience that led Mark Ciociola and his family to get into the Discovery Map International franchise business. While on vacation, he and his wife used the product and liked it so much that they decided to open up their own franchise, and others followed soon after. Today, Ciociola owns four franchise business locations with the maps brand: two in Tennessee, one in Utah and another in Hawaii.

Before becoming a Discovery Map franchisee, Ciociola and his wife sold real estate. During the 2008 market crash, they immediately realized they would need to do something else to support the family, especially with a baby on the way. They really enjoyed using the maps themselves and felt it would be a great service to their community, but they weren't sure about starting that type of business where they were living at the time because many local shops were struggling. As they were searching for franchise opportunities, they found that the Discovery franchise location in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, was up for sale. At the time, it was about an hour from where the family was living, so Ciociola decided to commute.

The Past, Present and Future

A typical day for this Discovery franchisee depends on the time of the year. His busiest times are the approximately eight weeks of sales. Each morning, Ciociola does around an hour of office work before marketing on foot for the rest of the day, which sees him going door to door to local businesses to let them known about the maps and connect with other owners in the area.

When first starting out, Ciociola says his biggest challenge was the loss of existing companies on the map from the previous year. They had purchased the business in 2009, when many local businesses were struggling and closing their doors. It did work out for the new franchisee, however, as he says they were able to find many new businesses that needed to advertise more in a slower economy, and many of those businesses are still with one of Ciociola's franchises six years later. The franchisee added that seeing businesses fail is always tough, and it also makes him grateful that he found this map franchise, which has low overhead and does not require a storefront.

Currently, Ciociola plans to consolidate across multiple territories that are easy to commute between. The multi-unit franchisee says that because of the way this brand works, once you have a territory up and running, you can spend just two to three months a year in that area. Having four territories across different areas of the country requires a lot of travel, so having all their locations within one day's drive of each other is a priority.

Part of the map industry since 1981, Discovery Map International allows users to find and explore all sorts of areas of interest in neighborhoods across the US and globally on clear and attractive digital maps. This leading brand currently has franchise opportunities available in many areas, and the initial investment ranges from $35,000 to $43,800.

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