So in September 2011, Brinkley, and his wife, Cindy, used their savings to become master franchisees for Anago Cleaning Systems, a Florida-based commercial cleaning franchise. As Anago of the Triangle, located on Kildaire Farm Road in Cary, the Brinkleys are among 30 master franchisees that work with 2,400 unit franchisees in the U.S. and internationally.
Brinkley, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology alumnus, had worked in the software industry for more than 30 years, but started looking into self-employment opportunities after he was laid off by Symantec in 2008 and then Logos Technologies in 2010.
The Brinkleys started exploring franchise opportunities, they said, because they felt they needed an established structure to guide them through the business development process as opposed to building a venture from scratch.
Essentially, Don Brinkley said, “You have a business model that you are cloning.”
Anago of the Triangle connects unit franchisees to cleaning contracts in local businesses in a 24-county area that includes Orange, Durham and Wake Counties. Anago of the Triangle manages and pursues office cleaning contracts and recruits, helps, provides equipment and connects franchisees to opportunities.
“So we are a cleaning company, but we don’t do any of the cleaning,” Don Brinkley said. “What we do is the sales and marketing, administrative and operational support, and we do billing and collections on the back end.”
Anago receives a percentage of the Brinkley’s business revenues and a portion of its initial fees paid by new franchisee units.
In 2010, after Don Brinkley’s second layoff, the couple started working with Daniel Prendergast with The Entrepreneur’s Source, a franchisor that offers business coaching and helps connect prospective owners with business opportunities.
In early 2011, Don Brinkley landed a position at Allscripts in Cary and the hunt to open a business was postponed until he was laid off four months later.
The Brinkleys explored businesses that provided drug testing, senior care and auto repair, but decided to invest their savings in Anago in September 2011 after visiting its headquarters in Pompano Beach, Fla.
“I felt like it would be complicated enough to keep my interest, and also be able to share my business background,” Don Brinkley said about the Anago model.
When the Brinkleys acquired the North Carolina territory, Anago had already established a Triangle office in Cary. The Brinkleys started developing relationships with the about 100 existing cleaning clients and their about 15 unit franchisees, they said. The couple hired an operations manager to help unit franchisees and ensure quality control and a sales manager to identify and secure cleaning contracts, mainly through telemarketing.
Cindy Brinkley, who has a banking background, handles the company’s finances and billing. Don Brinkley oversees marketing and operations.
Since acquiring the business the couple has added nearly 100 cleaning clients and 20 unit franchisees, Don Brinkley said.
By the end of the month, the Brinkleys plan to move Anago of the Triangle to an office in North Raleigh because it is closer to their Raleigh home and because, as the owners, they can.
“I think it will make us more efficient,” Cindy Brinkley said.