An unstoppable dynamic duo.
Susan Baloun and her husband, Justin Baloun, are a highly sought after marketing team in the franchising industry. And for good reason. The knowledge, dedication and innovation they bring to the table is as unique as the niche market they serve. theBLOQparq (tBp) team had the privilege of sitting down with Susan, Wheat Creative’s Co-Founder & Content Director, to uncover the details of their inspirational success story.
Allowing individuals to harness their potential and achieve their entrepreneurial ambitions is one of tBp’s main goals. Without further ado, sit back, relax and enjoy this interview – and begin to imagine the possibilities that await for your own future.
1. Before starting Wheat Creative, what was your professional experience?
I had been a professional advertising copywriter for 11 years, having worked for American Casino & Entertainment Properties for nearly 4 years focused on campaigns for Stratosphere, Arizona Charlie’s and the Sands Atlantic City. I also worked for The Merica Agency on accounts like Cox Communications and the Southern Nevada Water Authority.
Most recently, prior to Wheat Creative, I worked at Greenbaum Marketing. During my time there, I interviewed countless franchise sales executives and franchisees to write the website copy for many notable national and international brands.
2. What was the “aha” moment or the motivating factor that made you decide to take the entrepreneurial leap? Why franchise marketing?
When Greenbaum closed its doors, Justin and I decided if there was ever a time to strike out on our own and start an “agency” this was the time to do it.
Franchise marketing was the world Justin [my husband and business partner] and I had lived and breathed – for me, for 4 years, and for him, closer to 8 years. Marty Greenbaum had taken us to many franchise conferences where we had been able to network and make connections in the industry. It felt like a valuable niche we would be able to further explore.
3. If you had to go through the process of becoming a business owner all over again, what would you do differently? What do you think you got right on the first try?
Oh boy, I’m not sure you get much of anything right on the first try. LOL. But, in all seriousness, I’m extremely proud of the fact that we never had to borrow a single penny from anyone (well, until the pandemic hit and we did apply and get a PPP loan).
The first year of Wheat Creative, Justin and I worked out of our home, usually for 14+ hour days. We did not rent office space or make our first hire until we had earned the money to do so. And so went our growth from that point forward: any new hires or new computers, equipment, office space, etc. were the result of revenue that could support those expenses.
4. What is your favorite part about being your own boss?
The “freedom” to make our own schedule and work on our terms. I put freedom in quotes because it’s a double-edged sword. In general, being your own boss means you call your own shots – but you’re also the end of the line. If something is not done on time or not done correctly, you’re the one paying the price – whether that means sacrificing your own time to make it right or paying the price for a burned bridge or damaged reputation within your industry.
However, we’ve worked hard to create a situation and a family lifestyle where I have flexibility to spend time with our two small boys – and that is priceless. I’ve been able to achieve the balance so many moms strive for: part of my time is spent being a professional and part of it is spent with my children and focusing on keeping our family’s home life in order.
5. How do you foster and maintain successful client relationships and what sets you apart from your competitors?
At the end of the day, results speak for themselves – especially now that so much of our business is centered around lead generation and, specifically, paid search. But that said, we also realized early on that clients want to feel special; they want to be heard and they want timely responses to their questions. It sounds simple, but so many agencies get this part wrong – they fail to establish personal relationships and wind up making clients feel like a number.
In addition to our approach to customer service, we are exceptionally creative in our franchise marketing approach, hence our name. We take the time to truly get to know what makes our client’s franchise opportunity different from others. Once we uncover those nuances – which requires time and effort – we showcase those differentiators via creative design and content. The end results are better because the products (digital and print assets) are better and actually connect with qualified candidates.
6. What are the steps you take to re-evaluate your business that allow you to find ways to improve currently and determine strategies that will help your business to grow in the future? How have you managed to pivot and adjust during COVID?
Being a good business owner means you can never completely rest on your laurels – or your past successes. There is always a better way. The day we stop looking for new ideas or increased efficiencies in every part of our business – from hiring to client communication to revenue streams – is the day we should close our doors.
COVID has 100% forced us out of our comfort zone. Previously, we were not open to remote workers – at least not for those who had not worked for us in person for at least 6 months. And the thought of having an entirely remote team?! No way! Well, turns out there is a way, and it took us revamping some processes and policies.
While we still prefer in-person collaboration and look forward to a time where it is possible to do so safely, this new reality has allowed us to broaden our search to find creative talent outside the Las Vegas/Henderson area and we now have two completely remote employees – one in Arkansas and one in Mississippi.
7. As a Las Vegas native, can you attest to the immense growth and revitalization that has taken place in Henderson? Why do you think it’s a great place to live and to run a business?
As a native, it always bugs me when Vegas gets a bad rap as a place to live and raise a family. We don’t live in casinos and we don’t all live on The Strip. Henderson, I feel is the best of both worlds. It is slightly removed from Vegas and there is more of a community feel. It has great schools and great people. I, personally, love the Vegas access that Henderson affords us – access to the greatest food and entertainment when we want it. It’s easy enough to live a quiet, suburban life without being far from the excitement of a bigger, destination city.
8. Being that you are an expert in the industry, which type of franchises do you believe would be a good fit for theBLOQparq micro-retail or micro-office spaces?
There are many hundreds of franchises that do not require retail-facing office space of any kind. In fact, many people are able to run these types of franchises out of a home office. However, if you do manage a small group of employees (say, you run a pest control or carpet cleaning franchise) or you have the need to interview clients/employees for a tutoring franchise or senior care franchise, it would be great to have a more professional space to do so.
As for retail spaces, franchises tend to have real estate support teams that help identify ideal spaces, both for size and demographics. We did work with a franchise called Flip Flop Shops and one of your spaces could potentially be a location for that.
9. If you were just starting out, what would make theBLOQparq an appealing office space for Wheat Creative?
Our first office space lacked any sort of cool vibe – we had to paint the walls and create an atmosphere that was enjoyable for us and for our employees. In a place like theBLOQparq, a professional, impressive vibe has already been created for you.
10. What about the idea of theBLOQparq coming to Henderson excites you the most?
I love the thought of more people deciding to become business owners – really that’s what our whole company is based on – helping people find the business or franchise that’s the best fit for them and will help them to escape a reliance on the corporate world. theBLOQparq makes the idea of finding affordable, desirable office space achievable.
theBLOQparq offers small spaces built to house big dreams. For ambitious and passionate individuals like Susan, our micro-office and retail spaces are the next step toward making the entrepreneurial leap. We are grateful for the chance to connect with and support small businesses like Wheat Creative as we work to build a community that builds others.
Takeaway #1: When becoming a business owner, nobody gets everything right on the first try. Don’t let the challenges that inevitably come with entrepreneurship stop you from fulfilling your dream.
Takeaway #2: Maintaining successful client relationships means getting the little things right. Clients appreciate being heard, receiving timely responses to their questions and being made to feel important.
Takeaway #3: Henderson is the best of both worlds. It is slightly removed from Vegas and there is more of a community feel. It has great schools, people and business opportunities; without a doubt, theBLOQparq will make it even greater.
Susan Baloun is Wheat Creative’s Co-Founder & Content Director. Driven by a true desire to understand what inspires people, she is able to successfully tap into those emotions, helping customers and prospects alike to connect the dots and take the desired action. When not challenging the office with rom-com movie trivia, Susan spends her free time enjoying life to the fullest with family, friends and her young sons.
Looking to up your franchise marketing game?
See what’s growing on at Wheat Creative.