GREENWICH, Conn. – At a time when small businesses are struggling across the country, Rick Freeman decided to leave corporate life to start a money services kiosk tucked away in The Laundry Room in the Byram section of Greenwich.
“I think it’s the only way to prove that I can do it. I want to do something where I feel I can have influence. I worked in corporate life, and I was never in charge of much that I could influence,” says Freeman, who opened Byram Family Financial Center five weeks ago with his wife, Ellen, who works in real estate.
Freeman's franchise financial center offers check cashing, electronic bill payments for credit cards and public utilities, Western Union wire transfers and money orders, prepaid debit cards and gift card buyback, as well as domestic and international phone services.
“It’s basically a bank for the unbanked, and I offer a way around that entire system,” says Freeman. “I decided to start this small to see if the model would work. Five weeks in, I’m liking it a lot.”
So far, he says, residents have been receptive. “I’ve got an audience of people who come here to do their laundry, and they see me and find they can pay their bills and save money. It’s an important set of features that someone can do all in one place,” says Freeman. For people who don’t want to do traditional banking, this is the way to go, he said. Transactions take one to five minutes.
Freeman says he understands the importance of spending time with people to build a customer base. “For the next eight to nine months, this is my wife and mistress, because I’ve never owned a business before. I figured in this economy, why not?” he says. “I’m learning 12 lessons every day. I’d like to expand in the future because that’s how you make money, franchising.”
Freeman worked in audio production for Audible.com for seven years and has a technical background in audio work for television and movies. But he decided that in phase two of his life he wanted something different.
Byram Family Financial Center, a franchise of Family Financial Centers, is open seven days a week at 6 N. Water St.