By: Wayne and Cindy Minks, AvenueWest Franchise Owners, Colorado Springs
This article was originally published in the November edition of Franchise Journal Magazine
I enlisted in the military right out of high school and I spent my military career as an engineer working on and building mobile bridges for waterways. My military career ended with a medical discharge and I am now a disabled army veteran. It was then Cindy and I put our heads together and mapped out what we want our life together to look like. We set our goals and began searching for ways to achieve them. When you have your “why”, the “how” will come.
Education is very important to us. Neither of us went to college – it was right out of high school and into the military I went. I wasn’t interested in school, I wanted to own my own business; but like anything, we had to educate ourselves. We read every book, listened to speakers, attended conferences – if it helped make us better business people, we did it.
One of our friends was very successful building a business with Amway, so we signed up as independent business owners to see what it was about. Together we attended their conferences and built mentoring relationships that allowed us to really grow our entrepreneurial skills. Our goal was not to build an Amway business, but to be around professional entrepreneurs, because that’s what we are – entrepreneurs.
In 1993 we sold our mechanic business in St. Louis and moved to Colorado Springs where Wayne’s brother was living at the time. We invested our money from the sale of our mechanic business into Rocky Mountain Internet. It was around that time that we adopted our daughter. Cindy began looking for a job that allowed her to have more flexibility and spend time at home with her daughter. A good friend of ours suggested that Cindy look into real estate and in 1999 Cindy was a licensed realtor. Both Cindy and myselfI are licensed realtors. I got licensed in 2004 but not with the goal of selling real estate, I just wanted to educate myself. Cindy spent the first part of her real estate career working for Coldwell Banker’s real estate department as a part of the real estate relocation team. As you can imagine, it didn’t take long for us to realize that Cindy’s hard work was making other people rich.
Around 2008 – the market dips. It was around that time that Cindy responded to an ad in the local paper taken out by AvenueWest. Cindy applied and got the job! Back then, AvenueWest was not a franchise, but a corporate housing provider. That’s when we met Angela. When AvenueWest was looking to franchise, we knew we wanted in as AvenueWest’s very first franchise owners. There was one obstacle – we needed ten thousand dollars in cash to buy into an AvenueWest Franchise, which we did not have. Cindy was still working as a realtor and the local real estate office picked 10 houses, and the realtors who listed and sold the houses would be entered into a drawing for, believe it or not, a ten thousand dollar prize. We were on our way to the award ceremony, not knowing who the winner of the prize would be, arguing about how in the world we were going to come up with ten thousand dollars in cash. Low and behold – Cindy won! It was then we knew that we were supposed to buy into the AvenueWest as the first AvenueWest Franchise Owners. It was where we were supposed to be.
We were the guinea pigs. As the first franchise owners, there was no onboarding process in place yet. Our training was a lot of “go get ‘em tiger”s and we were figuring it out as we went. Going from employees of AvenueWest to actual AvenueWest franchise owners was very overwhelming, difficult, and even scary at times. Oftentimes, in order to get to the next level, we have to push ourselves, but what did we know about owning corporate housing property? We knew we wanted to be real estate investors; we knew that everything we had been doing was preparing us for this; and we knew we needed to continue to educate ourselves. It was a process. We have always been entrepreneurial, but we haven’t always known how to be entrepreneurial. We invested in educating ourselves in finances and real estate mortgages, we read A LOT of books, anything and everything we can find on real estate investing. You know, they really trusted us. To this day we are still so grateful that AvenueWest took a chance on us.
Today, we have exceeded our goals. AvenueWest has afforded us the opportunity to follow our dreams and to reach the goals we set for our family over 30 years ago. I would even go so far as to say that AvenueWest helped us see opportunities in properties that we would have otherwise overlooked. Cindy and I own 11 properties, five of which we were able to purchase from AvenueWest program homeowners in a short-sale and always at market-value. They did not have to foreclose on their properties and, for us, it was very low risk because we knew what the rental return was. It was a win-win for everyone involved. It was a no brainer!
For our family, AvenueWest is our legacy. Our daughter works with us and AvenueWest has afforded her the opportunity to learn about real estate and to learn our business. Our goal is to one day pass our franchise down to our daughter, and then for her to pass it on to our granddaughter. AvenueWest is not only the vehicle that made our dreams come true, but it has allowed us to continue to dream bigger than we ever thought possible. My biggest regret is that I wish we’d dreamed bigger, had we known what AvenueWest was going to make possible for us.
I want to give you some advice. The key is – you have to know where you want to go. We had a pretty clear vision of where we wanted to arrive. Now that we are 60 years old, we are sharpening our vision for our end-game. You have to map out exactly how you want to live, what type of income you want to have, and what you want your life to look like. After you set clear goals, it’s a matter of plugging in the right vehicle, and for us, that was AvenueWest.
About the Author
Wayne Minks is the owner of AvenueWest Colorado Springs, a part of the AvenueWest Global Franchise family. Wayne spent 7 years as an Army Sergeant and ended his career as a disabled veteran.