Renaissance Thinkers

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Steve and Bonnie Draga took up a franchise with Computer Renaissance in 2003 and they are now the proud owners of two stores. They share the story of their success...

It was when they both hit their 40s that Steve and Bonnie Draga from Indianapolis began thinking about starting a business together. "We just got to a point in our lives, where we felt it would be great to start up our own business and be our own boss," explains Bonnie.

"We immediately felt that a franchise operation was the way to go; we liked the idea of entering into something where the parameters were already set and a structure was in place. We knew that having a ready-made game plan would give us the focus that we needed to make the business a success." After making their initial decision to buy a franchise, Steve and Bonnie started investigating all the possible options available to them; reading industry magazines and spending countless hours of research on the internet. As America's largest computer franchise, specializing in total computer solutions at great value since its inception in 1988, Computer Renaissance caught their eye.

"Computer Renaissance really stood out," Bonnie recalls. "It's one of the top 100 franchises in America, so we got in touch with them and we really clicked. They invited us down to Florida to meet with them and as soon as we got talking about the business, Steve and I both knew that this was the direction we wanted to go in." With Steve's retail background and Bonnie's experience in tele-marketing, they had a well-rounded skill base from which to draw on, and the fact that they had no technical knowledge didn't stop them from enthusiastically embracing their new venture.

Computer Renaissance"The people at Computer Renaissance were really excited about the fact that Steve had so much expertise in retail. A lot of people assume that because it's a computer business that you need to be very technically skilled to take it on, but that's not necessarily the case, it's just a matter of doing the research and finding the right staff." With a lot of advice and support from Computer Renaissance, the Dragas put together a solid business plan which, combined with the information given to them from the company, helped them to secure a small business loan. They then went on to search for the perfect location to set up shop.

"We had it narrowed down to three possible sites, and then Computer Renaissance sent someone down to help us make the final decision, he liked the same property as we did, so we were all happy! He also brought down more information on targets and figures for the bank and gave us some advice on hiring staff." With the financing in place and the perfect property selected, Steve and Bonnie then travelled to Florida to receive training, where they started familiarising themselves with the company's POS system, as well as procedures for tracking inventory.

"We're still educating ourselves!" laughs Bonnie. "There were some challenging moments; and it can be daunting when you realise that you've put yourself 100% on the line, but as Steve always says; 'if it was easy everyone would be doing it'! For us though, the positives far outweigh the negatives." In fact, the positives were such that just six months after establishing their first store, the Dragas took yet another leap by opening a smaller satellite store, as Bonnie explains; "Once the first site was up and running, we decided to just keep an eye out for a second property, we didn't realise it would come up so soon, but all of a sudden we found something in the right place and for the right price so we just went with it! It worked out well; because essentially we were able to 'ride the coat tails' of the first store, so we didn't need to get another loan." Computer RenaissanceSo now, almost three years down the line from making that initial decision to buy a franchise, Steve and Bonnie are the proud owners of two successful stores, and are delighted that they made the right choice with Computer Renaissance.

"It was great for us to get involved with an organisation where the tools to succeed already exist; the people at Computer Renaissance gave us a lot of help and I really don't think we would have secured the financing without their support. Even now if we have a question or a problem they are just a phone call away; we're both very happy with the structure that's in place." With this support base behind them the Dragas were allowed the freedom to bring their own unique expertise to the business, creating a real synergy that has made it a truly rewarding and successful venture for all involved.

"Steve and I both love dealing with people," says Bonnie. "And when you genuinely enjoy working with the public they are equally receptive to you. Yes, there are lots of places where you can get your computer fixed, but with a trusted name like Computer Renaissance combined with the personality that Steve and I bring to the business, I like to think we offer something that sets us apart from all the rest!" Bonnie's tips for success Do your research; make lots of calls and ensure that you have the knowledge and experience needed from both a retail and technical perspective.

You have to have a great personality with a good attitude and be a positive thinker!

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Computer Renaissance
500 S. Florida Ave., #400
Lakeland, FL

Phone: (863)669-1155
Fax: (800)665-6324

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