TSS Photography’s Michael Rauen & Jason Jackson Are Recognized as 2020 Franchise Rock Stars by Franchise Business Review

81 Franchise Owners Honored for Franchise and Community Leadership by Independent Research Firm

July 27, 2020 –  Oklahoma City, Oklahoma – Franchise Business Review, an independent market research firm that benchmarks franchisee satisfaction, has announced the annual list of Franchise Rock Stars for 2020.

Each year, Franchise Business Review honors franchise owners who set exceptional examples of achieving success within the franchise model. This year’s Franchise Rock Stars were selected from over 28,000 franchisees, representing more than 300 brands that participated in Franchise Business Review’s research in the past 18 months.

The Franchise Rock Stars recognized were nominated by their franchise brand leadership in one of eight categories as franchisees who set admirable examples when it comes to leadership, business acumen, financial and professional success, and contributing to their community. Categories included: Giving Back, Women, Millennials, Veterans, Family-Owned, “Freshmen”, Top-Performers, and Multi-Unit Owners.

Franchise Business Review, the leading research firm serving the franchise sector, provides ratings of franchise opportunities based solely on survey research that measures franchisee satisfaction and performance. Franchise Business Review publishes rankings of the top franchises in its annual Guide to Today’s Top Franchises, as well as guides throughout the year ranking the top franchises in specific sectors.

“There are so many success stories out there and thousands of inspiring franchise owners who are living their dreams of business ownership that it was incredibly difficult to narrow down the list,” said Eric Stites, CEO of Franchise Business Review. “In the end, we chose individuals who are exceptional examples of achieving success through the franchise model and exemplify a strong work ethic and a real commitment to their business and community. We are thrilled to recognize these individuals as Franchise Rock Stars.” Visit FranchiseBusinessReview.com to see the full list of 2020 Rock Star Franchise Owners.

Jason and Michael proudly served in the U.S. Navy. They opened their first TSS Photography franchise in April 2017 in Corpus Christi, TX and have since expanded into the Austin, TX market.

In their first year they were not only successful in sales but they were already willing to help other TSS franchisees. After one year in business they were honored with the 2017 Rookie Franchise of the Year, for exceptional sales performance. They were also awarded Rookie Photographer of the Year.

In 2018, Jason and Michael were honored with the Growth Recognition award. This award is given to franchisees who have significantly grown their business. They also received the TSS Mentorship award for exceptional service to the franchise by providing information to the franchise system about new ideas they helped to pioneer, presenting at our annual conference and for serving as mentors during our continuing education opportunity called TSSU.

They were also added to the TSS President’s Club which is an elite club for top producing TSS Photography franchises based on a level of growth and/or high performance standards.

Additionally, as an example of their constant community outreach, during the current pandemic crisis Jason and Michael (who are always willing to give a helping hand) offered free head shots to people working the front lines; health care, grocery stores, food delivery and sanitation. These essential workers are able to use the photos to show patients and customers that they are smiling behind their mask.

In a recent interview, Jason and Michael shared their experiences as a TSS franchise owner and their thoughts on franchise ownership for anyone looking to begin their franchise journey. Read their thoughts and advice below.

What advice do you have for someone considering investing in a franchise?

Do your homework! Know your market, know your finances, and know yourself! You have to be willing to invest–not just money or time–but yourself into the business!

What are you most proud of when it comes to your career in franchising?

We started this while serving on active duty in the Navy and were able to transition into this business somewhat seamlessly. Our military training has been invaluable to us having a “can do” attitude. That got us noticed by our peers and franchise leadership very quickly!

What was your career path before you entered franchising?

Jason was an active duty (now retired) Navy Chief Petty Officer. He was a career recruiter, who taught his junior sailors sales techniques, and how to talk with businesses and applicants. He also did quite a bit of sports photography on his own, and then later for a TSS Photography franchise in Florida. Michael works as a network engineer in his civilian career and as a Navy Reserve Supply Corps Lieutenant Commander. He dabbled in photography during his military service in foreign countries. Jason was looking for a career after the Navy, and Michael was looking to re-enter the civilian workforce after a four-year return to active duty (where he ran two recruiting divisions with Jason). Their combined talents made owning a photography franchise a great fit!

As a business owner, what has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome?

The biggest challenge to overcome isn’t rejection. Rejection is easy – you know where you stand and can move forward. The biggest challenge is trying to land a client who won’t respond. The second has been the challenge of keeping a new business going during a business lockdown. Creativity and patience have been key to staying positive and finding work!

What do you like most about your franchise organization?

Working with Candid Color Systems, TSS Photography Franchising, and Glamour Shots Licensing has been amazing! The owners are genuinely concerned about every franchise owner! The corporate business employees treat the franchise owners as friends and not as separate businesses. And, working with the other franchise owners is definitely like working with great friends and family, rather than strangers or competitors!

What is one of the biggest mistakes you made when you were first starting your business? What was your biggest takeaway from it?

Buying equipment too soon. We’d see a deal on equipment and buy it, thinking we would use it–and then end up going in a different direction. It taught us to slow down and really think about what we were buying, what its benefit was, what was its return on investment, and how did it fit with where the industry is going and where we want to go.

Is there a book or podcast you’ve read/listened to that has helped you in starting or building your business?

Both of us have different experiences and ideas that we’ve picked up from books, articles, and from our local Small Business Development Center at our local community college (Thanks to Del Mar College and Jamey Jones, our advisor). It’s hard to pin down one source – but the SBDC has definitely been invaluable!

How do you think your military experience has helped you as a business owner?

We were both enlisted in the Navy and learned to follow orders, delegate, and to get the job done. We eventually rose through the ranks into leadership positions. Jason achieved the rank of Chief Petty Officer and Michael became a commissioned officer with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. We worked together managing eight Navy recruiting offices throughout South Texas and mentored about 30 recruiters and 250 recruits monthly. We learned to trust one another’s judgment and to build cohesive teams–since each office had different personalities, communities, goals, and customers. The sales aspect to recruiting–along with having a shared market (high schools and their contacts)–made for a smooth transition to operating our franchise!

What leadership qualities are most important to you and your team?

Hands down, it’s trustworthiness. Your team has to trust that you mean what you say and that you’re looking out for them. As leaders, we need to be able to trust that our team is going to perform and uphold the values we present to our customers.

What are the biggest work related challenges you are facing during this pandemic? What have you done to address them?

Retaining staff, finding new customers, and retaining existing customers have been our biggest challenges. We hired one person just as this pandemic hit. We made the decision to lower our salaries to ensure that the person could continue working. Our other employees are contractors, so we made sure to keep in contact with them and keep them updated. Finding new customers was a matter of finding new ways to freshen our social media content every day, sometimes 2 to 4 times a day. This meant sometimes photographing our own family members! We created new flyers and emails and did targeted mailings, too.  We did the same thing to market to our existing customers. We kept in touch with them and reassured them that we would be able to transition to new rules and standards quickly and efficiently–bringing our forward technology advantage that TSS Franchisees get with Candid Color Systems!

TSS Media Contact:

Alison Counts
Marketing Director
800-336-4550, ext 814

TSS Franchising Contact:

James Calabrese
Franchise & Customer Development Director
800-336-4550, ext. 114