Painting with a Twist Franchise Review: Amy Horrey of Arlington, Texas
The biggest piece of advice for running a Painting with a Twist franchise? Know how to run a business and follow the franchise formula
Amy Horrey has a lot of interesting career experience: 25 years in retail. Ten years living abroad manufacturing and importing bed linens. Another 10 years in real estate. And then in 2010, she bought her first Painting with a Twist franchise in Arlington, Texas. Today, she and her husband, Doug, own that studio and another in Bedford, Texas, about 20 minutes away. She happens to be a bit of a rarity among Painting with a Twist franchise owners, because she was an art major in school and actually teaches some of her own events. But that is far from her most useful experience in running her successful studios. She shares that story in this Painting with a Twist franchise review.
Wow, you have a very diverse career background.
And my husband was also a CFO of a big conglomerate in Canada, so we both have different work backgrounds. And we play off of each other because I don’t do finances, and he does nothing but finances.
Do you have any background in art?
Yes. I was an art major in school; I was actually a fashion art major… and my mother was an artist. So I do teach some of my events.
How did you first learn about Painting with a Twist?
My mom had died, and just two years later, my dad died in 2010. In 2010, real estate sucked. And I had inherited some money, and I was like, I don’t know what I’m going to do. I was miserable in real estate because people weren’t getting treated fairly when they were selling their homes. And I said I needed a break, and a friend of mine, who’s also a Realtor, said hey, I tried this Painting with a Twist in Dallas, it is so much fun, you and I have to go do it, you’d be great at it. I went to Grapevine and came home and applied for a franchise that next day.
Wow. Did you ever look at other brands in this segment?
No. The Painting with a Twist was the first. I mean that it was definitely the first of its kind. And in the Fort Worth area, when I opened, there was only Grapevine, Garland, Frisco and Fort Worth West.
You’ve seen some changes over the years. How do you feel about the direction of the brand right now with the new leadership?
We needed it. I’m on the Franchise Advisory Committee (FAC), and we instigated the leadership change.
What does your typical day look like? What does your management structure look like?
Well, I’m going to say I’m a little bit more unique because my husband and I run this as a couple. Cheree (Gallant) in Mason, Ohio, is probably the closest to doing things like us, since she and her husband are like us. He (my husband) does all the finances, I do all the management, and scheduling, and calendars, and marketing. But a typical day for me starts about 6 o’clock in the morning and goes until 6 o’clock at night. I have a little reputation with Painting with a Twist in that I have three cell phones.
It just works for my brain. And I don’t recommend it to other people, but it works for me, I have one cell phone per studio, I do not have phones in the studio. I don’t like phones ringing in the studio. In the event.
My husband and I should be retired, but this is our retirement. And we work from home. I can’t concentrate when there’s stuff going on in the studio.
Let’s talk a little bit about the things that franchise headquarters does to help you. Do they have support systems that would be helpful for a new franchise owner?
All the systems that they’re putting in place now are good to have when you open. It is not easy to teach old dogs new tricks. So being in it eight and a half, almost nine years, some of it’s just harder for me to make the change.
But I believe that somebody new coming in has the opportunity to use all of those new systems and tools, learn them, benefit from them and start their studio right.
What do you personally find most rewarding about owning a Painting with a Twist?
Seeing people have fun in a safe environment where they can come and relax. They don’t think of anything outside that door that went on all day — the traffic they had, the arguments they had, whatever. They’re in the studio concentrating on a painting, and it is two hours of the outside world going away.
And when I’m the artist, making the connection with them, seeing my artists make a connection with the people. Just seeing people doing something they never thought they could do.
That’s really impactful. How important is an art background in being successful?
I see very successful owners that have no art background. They understand the guest very well because they don’t see it like I see it. I see a painting very differently, but I’ve learned over time how they’re seeing it and it’s very different from how I see it. So, they have other strengths that I don’t, probably.
I don’t think franchise owners have to have an art background.
They have to have a management background. They have to be flexible. But most importantly, they’ve got to know they’re part of a franchise. That is huge. They bought into a franchise, they’re not a mom-and-pop owner.
What are the pros of being part of an established franchise brand?
Marketing. Brand recognition. The nationwide community of franchise owners that are willing to share, wanting to help each other. Just knowing that you’re part of a group that has done this, been there, experienced that — that’s great.
The people that get into it that are just in there to own their own business and make a buck, it doesn’t translate into a fun event setting.
Right. And that’s what it’s got to be to keep people coming back, to keep that recurring revenue.
Yeah. I have a high return rate and my people come back. I get to know them, I see them out in the public; that, to me, is huge.
Tell me about your management structure. How many artist-teachers do you have?
My management structure is me for all activities in the studio and marketing. And then Doug does all the inventory and finances. Between my two studios, I need about eight artists and two assistants. And they move between the two studios. I have independent contractors; I do not have employees. And I have a desk manager for weekends.
Where do you hire them from?
Well, for eight years, they have just fallen out of heaven for me. I ran an ad on Facebook and I got a ton of people that had no clue what the job was. I got one assistant, but he does not want to be on stage. But in the past, they’ve just come. A friend will refer them. It’s important to tell them it’s nights and weekends, and that they need to be available.
Elementary school teachers are a great resource. And sometimes I hit people up that are really good in the studio.
How many people do you generally have in each event?
So, what I want every night — it’s not possible every night, but I want a minimum of 20 people in each room. I know what I have to earn in a week to make a profit.
Is there anything else that you feel a prospective buyer should know?
Well, their finances have to be so secure. And they have to know how to negotiate a lease. They need to know what they need in a week to make their business work. I mean, it’s a blast, it’s so much fun to do this. This is a great business if you have a business sense. You need to know that you’re going to be doing inventory, you’re going to do reports. You have to be willing to hire accountants and people to help you through, so you have to make sure you have the money to do that.
It’s fun and it’s rewarding, but it’s so important that you’re not stressed about your finances while you’re growing your business. With all the new programs that they’re putting in at the home office, if you use them, you should be successful.
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