Raymond J. Margiano is the founder and CEO of Foot Solutions, Inc. An entrepreneur with more than 30 years in the franchise business, Ray developed Foot Solutions in 2000 to serve people who want to ease foot pain, improve their body alignment, and enjoy stylish, attractive and supportive footwear. Using medical technology in a retail footwear store, Ray has redefined a new market niche between comfort shoe stores and orthopedic facilities. Foot Solutions now has 120 retail locations in 13 countries that provides expert foot, gait and balance analysis, along with custom orthotics and high-quality, fashionable supportive footwear for a growing customer base.
FE: Tell us about the Foot Solutions concept.
RM: "Foot Solutions. We Make You Feel Good!" is the heart of our concept. We are the world's largest wellness franchise focused exclusively on helping people feel good from the feet up. We offer a holistic foot analysis along with foot supports and high-quality, stylish, attractive and supportive footwear that fits properly and supports the feet to improve body alignment, balance and performance while eliminating many of the aches and pains caused by improperly-fitting shoes and lack of overall arch and foot support. We work with a wide range of customer market niches including sports performance, comfort, style, prevention and medical.
FE: How and when did you become involved with Foot Solutions?
RM:AsthefounderandCEO,IstartedworkingontheFootSolutionsconceptin1995,testing andanalyzingthebusinessmodel.Iknewthattherewasagrowingneedtoaddresspeople's foothealthandprovidecomfortforthe30%ofpeoplewhohavefootpain.I startedthefranchise operationin2000withthreeemployees.Today,FootSolutionshasover120franchiseretail locations in 13 countries, and a corporate staff of more than 40 people.
FE: What was your background prior to starting Foot Solutions?
RM:Ihavebeeninvolvedinthefootwear industrysince1979,holdinganumberofexecutive positionsinthecorporateworld. Ileftcorporateandstartedmyfirstconcept—the HeelQuik ShoeRepairfranchise and custom shoe making—which I grewtomorethan700franchiseunitsinover30countries.
FE: What are some of the advantages in being a Foot Solutions franchisee?
- It is still veryyoung in its businesslifecycle,withagrowingtargetmarket.
- We have our own certified training school, the Academy of PedorthicScience
- (www.Academyofpedorthisscience.com)whichiswellrecognizedasaleaderinthe industry.
- We have our own lab and distribution center here in the U.S. (www.shu-re-nu.com ), whichenablesustopassonsavingsof5%to20%onmanyofourproductsandcustom orthotics to our franchisees.
FE: Who is your ideal franchisee?
RM: Our business model, which is about following the established in-store experience and solving problems for our customers, enables us to work with both store owner-operators and absentee owners. Owner operators need to have good listening skills and enjoy working with and helping people. The investor needs to bring management and accountability skill sets to the business.
FE: Tell us a little about the specialty wellness footwear retail Market.
RM: We are in a unique specialty retail niche that crosses over from medical to stylish, comfortableshoes.Ourfocusedsolutionsrequireacustomertobein-storephysically,sowe arenotimpactedbyweb-basedsalesforourcorecustomerbase.Thankstoahigh-qualityin storecustomerexperienceandpositiveresults with solving the customer’s problems or issues,wehaveaverystrongcustomerretentionand referralbase.
FE: What are some of the greatest lessons you've learned in growing this franchise?
RM:Ourmodelissimple,anditworks.Ourmostsuccessfulfranchiseesfollowthesystemand remain focused. I cannot understand why a person would invest in a successful franchise concept,andthentrytoreinventthebusiness.Thebeautyoffranchisingisthatyouinvestina provenmodel,andcan follow that model to success.
FE: Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
RM: I have been blessed first by working with my Dad from when I was 10 years old, to meeting and working with some of the greats in franchising through the International Franchising Association such as Fred DeLuca, founder of Subway and Jerry Darnell, known as the “Mayor of Franchising.
FE: What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
RM: My adviceis simple:
- Find a concept that is still at a reasonable place in the business life cycle.
- Focus on concepts that will have some staying power and will be around for awhile.
- Feel comfortable with the franchisor and key staff members; they will be your coaches and supportnetwork.
FE: In your opinion, why do you think that Foot Solutions would be a great opportunity for someone?
RM:Ifyoulikehelpingpeopleandsolvingproblems inawaythatenablesyoutoseetheresults right there in your store, Foot Solutions is a place you can call home. The overwhelming majorityofourfranchiseestalkabouthowtheyhavehelpedpeople in theirstores. Sometimes customerscrywithhappinessorgivethestoreownershugsofgratitude.We offer a successful, feel-good business model.Check out the thousands of customers who share their stories on our website.