Work about more than Glide-Out shelving for this former program manager
Cynthia Comito opened ShelfGenie of San Diego with two territories last October. In just under a year, she’s established ShelfGenie as a leading force in changing the lives of customers through our solutions-driven Glide-Out shelving products.
A 31-year veteran program manager for a large government contractor, Cynthia found ShelfGenie through a franchise consultant. As she got to know people in the system, she became convinced that the Glide-Out shelving franchise was a great opportunity.
“The more I called and talked to franchisees, and the more I dug into it, the more I realized ShelfGenie was perfect for my lifestyle,” says Cynthia, who opened ShelfGenie of San Diego with two territories last year.
ShelfGenie is a Glide-Out shelving franchise with more than 50 franchise locations and 160 territories in the U.S. With startup costs beginning at $70,100, ShelfGenie is poised for explosive growth. Territories are available across the country, and we’re actively seeking entrepreneurs who, like Cynthia, are ready to take up our mission — taking away homeowners’ frustration with their space and turning it into enjoyment and love.
Solutions for a more accessible home are most needed by America’s 76.4 million baby boomers, the wide majority of whom want to age in place. AARP reports that “87 percent of adults age 65+ want to stay in their current home and community as they age. Among people age 50 to 64, 71 percent of people want to age in place.” This is the core market for ShelfGenie products, and Cynthia immediately connected with the company’s culture of improving their lives.
She recently shared her ShelfGenie story.
How did your life before ShelfGenie prepare you for your new career?
I worked for one company for 31 years as a program manager, overseeing multimillion-dollar contracts across the country in the IT world, primarily for law enforcement. I had clients my entire life who stayed with me for 31 years, and so did my employees. Creating those relationships is very important to me.
ShelfGenie is quite different and yet not. We’re not just building stuffed bears or something. What we do matters, and that has always been very important to me — to know I was going to work and doing something that mattered. It feels really good to do something that helps people.
What has your experience been like so far?
Those who purchase our product love it. We’re selling solutions — the design consultation, the customer service — and then we’re selling the best system out there. The response from our clients has been wonderful.
I go back to their homes after their ShelfGenie products are all installed, and they’re so excited to show me. They love showing me the solutions we developed, how we’ve organized their lives. You can see how happy they are when you’re done, how you’ve improved things in their home — and that just feels really good.
What do you like about the direction of ShelfGenie?I like the vision and that they want to be the best. They want ShelfGenie to be a nationwide name, and they’re always looking for improvement. We have the opportunity to deliver real input to the company, because I think we all have a voice.
If you have a thought, a concern or an idea, they’re more than willing to listen. I don’t feel like they dictate and we follow through. Instead, it’s a cooperative agreement where we all work together to make it what they’re wanting ShelfGenie to be.
How does ShelfGenie help franchise owners succeed?They have really great systems in place, from the WishPortal software system to managing the business. It helps keep the franchisee on track, aware of everything. You know where every one of your clients is in the design process, where the orders are, how sales are going, everything. You can’t miss anything.
That’s helpful, too, because you don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time. You can track your progress and see how you’re doing on the dashboard, how well you’re doing or areas where you need to improve.
What kind of ongoing support is there for ShelfGenie owners?
The management team is there should you need help, to reach out to them. They do everything they can to provide assistance, and they’re never more than a phone call away.
Also, all the franchisees are willing to help one another be more successful. When I contact another franchisee — I’ve never been met with a poor response. They’re eager to help and share their knowledge. Those who’ve been in the system awhile have already skinned their knees, so to speak, and they know how to help you avoid the same missteps.
Why is ShelfGenie’s corporate culture so special?
To be successful in this business, you have to be that person who wants to help change lives. You’re not selling a Glide-Out. You’re selling solutions to improve people’s experiences in their homes. And that’s true top-down and bottom-up, throughout the company.
Everyone in the system can tell you warm and fuzzy stories about every client. The typical business doesn’t care about that stuff. We do. That is what sets us apart.
How does this focus on ‘warm and fuzzy’ translate into sales?
So many of the clients, once their work is done, will call back and say, “Let’s do this next phase,” or, “Let’s do something else.” I’ve had several clients who started adding on projects in the middle of their current project.
Others will call back and tell me they’re going to do more work after they get through a kid’s wedding, passed graduation, or some other major life event. They plan on bringing ShelfGenie into other areas of the home.
Outside of the kitchen/bathroom installations, where are customers putting ShelfGenie’s products?
Anywhere there is a built-in cabinet, ShelfGenie can improve lives. In addition to kitchens, bathrooms and hall closets, we’ve placed them under stairs, in laundry rooms and other places.
Once, we placed them on the back side of a kitchen island — where there was dead space with no cabinets. We cut into it, made a cabinet and put in Glide-Outs. I do know a franchise owner who installed Glide-Outs in a car. The client was a painter and wanted his supplies to be easy to access.