PHOENIX - “Black and White” was the theme of the Clockwork Home Services franchise Congress. The theme was carried out in a variety of ways, from a cleverly modified special use of the Humphrey Bogart black-and-white movie classic “Casablanca,” with Clockwork president of franchise operations Tab Hunter magically added to the cast, to the gala closing banquet with its black-and-white dress code.
But the message itself was simple. If you measure your results, the effectiveness of your systems becomes as simple as black and white. This is the basic message to Clockwork franchises One Hour Heating and Cooling, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, and recent addition Mr. Sparky: results are measurable. The Clockwork methods make them easier to implement and measure, but it’s up to the franchisee to do both.
The business model is well suited for the small business, as evidenced by Mr. Sparky franchisee Patrick Kennedy. “In my heart, I’m simply a good electrician,” he said. Over the years, he came to love the business side of it too. “I recognized a need to get an electrician out in a timely fashion.”
GROWING SUCCESSThe group is growing, both in new franchises and new territories, said Hunter.
In 2007, One Hour increased to 179 franchises in 214 territories. Attendance at the congress was a record, Hunter said.
Clockwork itself recently placed 822 on Inc’s 5000 list. “Life is really good in franchising,” he said.
The company’s Success Academy has trained more than 589 One Hour students in everything from technical skills to communication proficiency, “building consistency in the brand,” Hunter said.
There is still room for increased franchise participation in programs such as Buy Max, which offers rebates on participating manufacturers’ equipment; in training programs such as the One Hour Success Academy; and in a Yellow Pages marketing aid, ckyellowpages, which helps franchise contractors save on their Yellow Pages costs by renegotiating contracts.
MOVING AHEADGetting to the next level of performance in the franchise requires the contractors to make business changes that may be difficult to do, either due to their own inner resistance or the reluctance of staff. “The contracting business is tough,” said Hunter. “I know that. We’re very comfortable creatures.” The ability to get out of that comfort zone may be unsettling, even uncomfortable. Hunter compared it to grinding gears in machinery.
The franchise employees have heard all the reasons why contractors think the business model won’t work for them. When Hunter hears a contractor say, “It won’t work in my market,” he may turn around and ask that contractor, “Do you have a McDonald’s?”
The higher price that the franchises sell at is one of the most common contractor objections. “If you’re here from One Hour and you’ve sold complete packages for $6,000,” he said, these contractors know that prices do not drive customers away if they understand the benefits of working with the franchise.
STAGES OF FRANCHISINGGearing up, Hunter said, is that giddy feeling “just after you sign up and sign your check. It’s a lot of emotion.” Actually carrying out the franchise’s steps is referred to as execution. “It’s the toughest level,” he said. “A lot of people get stuck at that level.”
Acceleration is the stage at which positive results start to happen, but there still might be occasional friction. In general, however, acceleration equals empowerment. In the running smooth stage, “Your system is running on procedures.”
Clockwork’s KASH (which stands for Knowledge, Attitude, Skill, and Habits) is applicable at all stages. The company’s role is in training, consulting, coaching, and distributing KASH. The franchisee, however, is responsible for implementing solutions.
“It’s up to you,” Hunter said. “Document where you are spending your time. When you get frustrated, congratulations: You’ve reached execution. It might feel like you are failing. Forget how it feels. Track your results. Give yourself permission to learn.” Mature franchises balance their emotions and give themselves permission to learn, Hunter said.
“Work your business one day at a time. Plan your day. Work your plan. Get emotional support. Do not play it to lose.”
The key to tracking results in black and white, Hunter said, is keeping close track of key performance indicators (KPIs).
The role of the person who answers the phone is critical to the success of the business. The company uses mystery shoppers to call its franchisees and see how well they are doing something as basic as answering the phone, conveying enthusiasm, and converting phone calls to actual business.
Consistency is the key, not only on the phone, but also in all aspects of the franchise operation, throughout all franchisees. After all, giving customers reliable, consistent service is what put companies like McDonald’s in the big time. “Variation is evil,” said Hunter. “Customers look for the same experience every time.
The problems of all the other competitors, as Bogey said in “Casablanca,” “Don’t amount to a hill of beans.”
Publication Date: 11/05/2007