Words of advice from the man who has recruited over 10,000 franchisees in his career
by Thomas Scott, CEO of Brand Journalists
I just returned from two really fun days in West Palm Beach, which is just an awful place to go in March, this time of year, it was beautiful weather. I go down several times a year to spend some advisory time at Palm Beach Atlantic University to help with the Titus Center for Franchising, which is one of the only concentrations in the business school in the United States where you can go and actually learn franchising. So it’s always a joy to be around students who want to be in the franchise industry and to get really excited about franchisors who come to participate in that system and help it grow. It’s the future of franchising is really, really bright.
This week the guest speaker in the speaker series that Dr. John Hayes promotes at that school was Gary Findley, a brand journalists client that we’ve worked with for some time to help grow Restoration 1, which is now the fastest growing restoration business. It’s up to 250 units. We started working with them a couple of years ago, just over a hundred units and it’s just continued to grow. It’s highly ranked by Entrepreneur. It’s gotten a lot of attention. Very high same-store sales, very good validation in general, just a really well run restoration company that does some really interesting things in the restoration space.
Most notably not relying on insurance as the main client. So it’s a really attractive brand that’s been popular and Gary Findley spoke in prep for a new book called the Redneck CEO that he has coming out, but also just about his journey in franchising and man, Gary Findley’s the boss. We’re love to have him on as a guest on our pipeline. Gary is well known for starting out at the Dwyer Group when he was a young man working with Rainbow Carpet Cleaning and then jumping on the bandwagon of a really small fitness concept, which was completely unknown and unproven at the time called Curves.
Many of you may know Curves became one of the largest fitness concepts, well over 8,000 units at a tie point back in the day and Gary Findley is the machine behind that and then went on to grow a series of fitness brands, things like Snap Fitness, worked with kids cooking school franchises and a variety of other franchise systems. Has been involved growing Restoration 1 and Blue Frog Plumbing, both brands that we work with Gary on and have enjoyed growing, and it was really interesting to hear Gary speak about franchise development and his tips to an audience of people, who both students and an auditorium full at Palm Beach Atlantic of franchisors.
He had really three takeaways I think are really worth sharing.
Tip1: Be a Subject Matter Expert
The first was that it’s really important to be a subject matter expert and the best way to learn how to be an effective recruiter in a brand is to actually work in the franchise. So he went, he told a story as a young man, he went to the Dwyer Group and said, “You know, I think I’d really like to sell or franchises or be a franchise recruiter. That sounds like an exciting thing to do. I’m very entrepreneurial.” The head person at the time, he’s no longer there, said, “You know, great. Well, I want you to work for one of our franchisees for a year before you sell franchises. You have to understand the business.”
So he ended up managing a truck I think in Arlington, Texas, somewhere in the Dallas area for a year, and the day in day out of learning how to run a franchise. Being very good at running a carpet cleaning truck, of meeting with customers and understanding the value proposition. In that year of time on the truck made him an extraordinary recruiter of that particular carpet cleaning franchise in its heyday and was able to post quite a few deals in a short period of time, because a subject matter expert is really what somebody wants when they began to recruit a franchise.
I think one of the really unfortunate things in our industry is that the average salesperson slash franchise recruiter is very out of sync. I think franchise navigators stat that we’re really fond of, is 65% of the salespeople and franchising are out of sync with their buyers, out of sync from a personality standpoint, out of sync from an experience standpoint, from a generational standpoint, but most importantly they don’t really understand what it is to be a franchisee in a system.
They understand how to explain the business at a high level, but when you’re talking to somebody who’s owned and operated a business or who’s worked deeply day in day out in a franchise, they’re going to know things about that business that make it come to life in a very positive, reinforcing, and enthusiastic way that propels people through the process. So that was his number one takeaway, was that it’s super important to have worked in the business and be a subject matter expert. He was a big believer in that.
Tip 2: Take the Time to Go The Extra Mile With Prospects
His second one was believe that you’re going to sell. Believe that people will find a way to buy your business and don’t be afraid to meet people where they are. He told a story about how with Curves, he went on spring break right after he started this job as the VP of Development at that little tiny brand and took his family out to Colorado from Texas, and went on spring break and he had only three franchise inquiries. That was all he had. It was just three. He thought, “Well, I’m going to be in Colorado.” They’re all like, one’s in Durango and one’s in another town and they were all close by and so he said, “I’m going to go meet with all three of these people in person since I’m going to be there” and go out of your way to take some personal time and get to know a person.
The very first person, he said no, he didn’t have fancy brochures. Like the brochure looked like a ransom letter. It was really, really poorly created, but I went and met with the person over coffee, and I explained the business, and at the end of the conversation she goes, “I’ll take it. I want it. I want that. That sounds like an amazing business to own.”, and he was kind of shocked, but he didn’t think that she would have recruited, would’ve bought the franchise otherwise.
But the personal interaction and the face time really solidified their relationship because you do have to be an honest person, and a straight shooter, and an enthusiastic recruiter of the brand that you’re working in. So he said, well that must have been [inaudible 00:06:01]. Nobody sells their first inquiry just like that and he went to the second person in Colorado and that person also wanted it. In fact, that person wanted it so much, she didn’t want Gary to go to the third person, who also ended up buying. So he met with three people and sold three franchises and three or four years later, Curves was at 8,000 locations.
So it sounds easy, but what he did in that scenario and he was encouraging franchise salespeople to do, is don’t get outside your box. Make yourself physically available to people, virtually available to people, go the extra mile so that you can actually get to people and get in front of them. That personal connection is often what propels somebody to buy a business. I think that’s so wise in today’s world. Whether that means texting, or if you’re traveling, or if you can do anything you can do to get somebody in person, that becomes a real transaction and you do that.
Tip 3: Build a Team and Use Outside Help to Speed Up Momentum
The last one was very important. He said, “People ask me how did I add 8,000 units at Curves and how have I doubled and tripled the size of Restoration 1 in such a short period of time?” His answer was simply, “I learned this at the Dwyer Group, is you have to build a team.” Like one person can’t grow a system, you have to build a team. The team may be outside vendors that you trust, very similar to the relationship we have with Gary and his brands, or people who are in the industry who know what they’re doing. Salespeople and recruiters, you can work with an incent and pay well to help you hit your goals. Just that you have to build a team, like growing any franchise brand and doing all the stuff that you need to do to make it a success, takes a really tightly controlled team.
Everybody has to be culturally on the same page and work together, but that if you’re going to scale a franchise business, the mistake that most people make is they just don’t build a team. They don’t think they can afford it. They don’t know how to make it.
He’s well known for doing a hundred percent commission sales and I know on Restoration 1, at some points we have five or six salespeople working on that account, mostly on a commission and they’re very well compensated, but he’s able to grow by generating leads and really giving back to the people on his team and making it worth their while to invest the time and effort into it.
It was a really great speech. We’re really hopeful to have Gary on our podcast and I think it was very interesting to listen to him talk about how he’s overcome failures in his life and had successes. Now we’re very much looking forward to his new book, the Redneck CEO, but those are our three takeaways from listening to Gary speak at the Titus Center for Franchising this week.
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