What are the challenges and benefits to being a franchisee CEO?
Franchising is a unique business model where the various parties are very interdependent on one another. The franchisor relies on the franchisee success and vice versa. What we try to really emphasize is the fact that we have one thing in common and that is the brand, the brand equity, the brand integrity, and the brand reputation. So, when we bring a franchisee into our system and when we are growing our business with independent business owners, we emphasize how important it is and how everybody has the lofty responsibility to uphold that brand equity and integrity. And we have some legal measures in place to make sure we can protect it. These are compliance measures and brand protection measures that protect us in case a franchisee doesn’t uphold the brand standards. We make sure everything we do from a compliance standpoint is really in the best interest of everybody’s investment in the business and the brand of College Hunks Hauling Junk and Moving.
With that mindset, we’re able to create an aligned vision of all the parties and stakeholders. As long as our vision is aligned and we’re trying to grow this brand to the best that it can be…while we may have some disputes or disagreements on various technical or strategic elements…at the end of the day, we’re still rolling in the same direction. And I think that’s a critical element of a franchising business. Everyone keeps that big picture in mind, nobody gets overly self-centered about their own business in their own market and neglecting the bigger picture of what we’ve invested in this common enterprise. So that that’s been our approach and it’s worked.
You started this company from out of college and now you’ve got 2000 employees. What has been the education process been like for you as CEO?
Once I became an entrepreneur, and by the way, I didn’t really even know what that word meant until we had started our business and people would say, “Oh you’re an entrepreneur, you started a business,”… from then on, I became sort of a student of entrepreneurship. I became a very avid reader of books. I would go to entrepreneurship conferences, I would talk to successful business owners who have been there and tried to apply the things that I was learning to my actual living, breathing business. At times, I’ve tried to force it too much. I’ll go away to a different conference and I’d come back and my employees would think I was crazy cause I would give them a list of like a hundred things that we needed to start doing that we weren’t doing yet.
Joining the International Franchise Association was very helpful to us. I joined a group called the Entrepreneurs Organizations, and that was nice cause I was surrounded by other entrepreneurs that were doing high-growth things. I’m now part of a group called the Young Presidents Organization, which is very similar. It has a group of my peers, business leaders that are trying to raise the bar in their own respective organizations. The passion I had for being a business owner and the opportunities and resources that were out there to learn and being able to apply those learnings to our business…was invaluable to the trajectory of the business as well.
Building leaders is one of our company core values, so we want to encourage everybody in all organizations down to the front line, those who are hauling or answering our phones. They’re not just here just to do that. They are here to learn and grow, get better, and improve themselves and in whatever capacity that may be.