From Patent Attorney to CertaPro Painters Franchisee, Woman Shines in Male-Dominated Business

by Nancy E Williams
August 7, 2018

There are currently over 2,500 different categories of franchise businesses in the US today. That number can be overwhelming when trying to consider what type of business to purchase. While some people lean toward areas they are passionate about (e.g. Senior Care, Children’s Services, Pet Care, etc.), sometimes it’s simply about doing something different and fun. That was the case for Leisa Lundy. She never thought about owning a painting franchise. When the No. 1 painting franchise, CertaPro Painters, was presented to her, she started thinking about her own experience as a longtime homeowner in Manhattan, and how she had challenges finding a residential painting business that was reliable and professional. Then she thought about how she would enjoy working with homeowners, real estate agents, and designers to create spaces families love. Not to mention, the residential and commercial painting industry is a billion-dollar industry!

Lundy practiced patent law for 21 years, 14 of which were as a partner at important firms. While it may be hard to believe, professionals can get to a point in their careers where they have achieved all that they wanted to achieve, and begin to look for new challenges. Such was the case for patent attorney Lundy.

“I always tell young people who ask me for advice,” said Lundy, “that patent law is exciting, challenging, and fulfilling, but it was time for me to move to a new challenge and have some time to myself to reflect and decide what my next chapter would be.”

FATE STEPS IN
While decompressing and re-energizing, Lundy found herself having lunch with a franchise consultant. The consultant offered to help her explore franchise ownership options, and she was open to it. “By then I had taken a few years off and I was ready for something brand new,” shared Lundy, who always felt that one day she would own her own business.

Although she grew up in a household where her parents had traditional careers, she was always drawn to entrepreneurship. While attending the University of Pennsylvania getting her JD, she also interacted frequently with classmates and associates who were attending the Wharton School of Business, which increased her interest. What Lundy didn’t know, was exactly what type of business she wanted to have.

KNOW YOUR SKILLS
It’s easy to question what skills a patent attorney would have that would translate to owning a painting business. But that’s what’s so great about franchising. It’s less about the industry and more about transferable skill sets that most professionals spend their whole lives doing. To become a CertaPro Painters franchise owner, you must be good at sales and customer service and have great “people” skills.

As a partner in her law firm, Lundy spent ample time bringing in new clients and new cases. In addition, because she was working with Fortune 100 companies, there were expectations of impeccable customer service. And working in a male-dominated industry? Well, that’s exactly what she did as a patent attorney. Now, as a CertaPro Painters franchisee, she manages teams of male painters, none of whom—to date—have left her team due to management issues. She’s built a great rapport with her employees and contractors. Lundy finds that homeowners are very comfortable with her and often ask for other decorating advice. Their comfort level with her has been a major benefit. “People will hire us and give me the keys when they go out or out of town. They have complete confidence that all will be well and the job will be scrutinized and managed well. It’s a trust that I try to build with my customers and they are very responsive to it thankfully.”

Lundy’s advice for those considering buying a business:

Consider taking a break between ending your career and purchasing the business. That time to re-energize is invaluable.
Really know yourself! Take the time to understand your strengths and weaknesses because in the beginning, you’ll be performing all the tasks, but you will quickly need to know where you fit best and what roles you need to hire.
Any skills that you lack or don’t have an interest in are the ones that you should hire someone for. Marketing and making appointments, for example, may not be your cup of tea. Find an assistant who loves those tasks.