Franchising: The View from the Top
Execs say individuals must be ready and willing to maximize the franchisee experience
HVAC contractors who join national franchises can expect to reap a number of benefits. However, to maximize their investments, they must be prepared to commit themselves and their companies to the franchises’ systems and protocols.
Aire Serv has 210 HVAC franchises nationwide.
One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning has 363 HVAC franchise territories nationwide.
Truett and Latuff spoke with The NEWS about the benefits of joining a franchise, which companies are good candidates to be franchisees, when is the best time to join, and how to be successful with franchising.
THE NEED FOR CHANGE
The first step an HVAC company should take when considering joining a franchise is to simply recognize the need for change, said Truett.
“Someone has to recognize that things need to change in order for the company to achieve its goals,” he said. “We have people who come to us from all different phases and aspects of an HVAC business, and the common denominator is that they recognized they needed to do something different, and they needed to start doing it today.”
Latuff, who had run an HVAC contracting business in Minnesota that joined One Hour about 10 years ago, speaks from experience.
“In my view, the ideal franchisee candidate is an individual who is eager and willing to be the dominant player in his or her marketplace,” he said. “Many people feel that way, and they have big aspirations, so that takes care of the eager part, but they don’t always know how to get there. So they also must be willing to listen and try a new system to get them where they want to be. They must be willing to get out of the truck and start working on the business instead of in the business. They need to let go stop trying to be the CEO — chief everything officer. That’s very difficult for many business owners, especially in HVAC.”
MAKE THE COMMITMENT
Not every company that joins a national franchise is going to achieve astronomical success. But, Truett and Latuff said the best way to ensure success over time is a commitment to the franchise and its programs.
“The most successful franchisees will tell you the reason for their success is that they use the materials we provide,” Latuff said. “They made the decision, ‘If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it all.’ They don’t backtrack, fight the system, or pretend their old ways worked. They leave it behind and move forward.
“The fact is what they’re really buying from us is a roadmap to their success,” Latuff added. “We provide a guidebook we call Operational Excellence. It shows them everything they need to be successful no matter where they are in their business when they join us. On top of that, they get a coaching staff. Our franchise business consultants help our franchisees get engaged, excited, and networked across the country with other franchisees. Plus, we have an entire training team that will help set up a training plan for every person in that business, from the owner all the way down to the warehouse person.”
Truett agrees that truly embracing and committing to the franchise system leads to success.
“There is certainly a direct correlation between how involved and engaged someone becomes with our programs, people, and other franchisees, and how quickly and completely they’ll become successful,” he said. “If they want to transform their businesses, they must be dedicated and committed to it. The key is to become engaged, embrace change, and start implementing our policies, programs, and procedures.
All this won’t all happen at once. To think it may could lead to a new franchisee becoming overwhelmed by all the materials and resources available to him or her. But it’s important to establish a commitment to the new direction.
“If there’s one mistake we see people making it’s due to a lack of dedication and commitment,” Truett said. “But there’s an old saying, ‘Don’t let work you can’t do keep you from doing work you can.’ So, we really encourage our franchisees to start implementing the resources we offer.”
A LEGACY FOR THE FUTURE
Contractors who are considering joining a franchise may be concerned about how the decision might be received by customers and employees. The basic message to convey here is that by joining a national franchise, the business is creating a legacy for the future.
“The playbook for most small businesses isn’t necessarily written down,” Latuff said. “It’s typically only in the owner’s head. Being a part of a franchise gives customers and employees the security of continuity to maintain the systems and processes that everyone knows. It puts the business on firm footing for the future.”
Truett added that a key to employee acceptance is to explain to them the reasons that led to the decision.
“Show them the why and not just the what,” Truett said. “If you just say, ‘We’re going to do this,’ without sharing any of the bigger picture, it makes success more difficult than if you share your reasons and intentions. Those may differ from company to company, but, in most cases, it goes back to recognizing and sharing with employees that the company is not getting to where we want or need to be by doing what we’re doing right now, so we’re going to bring in a system that’s going to help us get there.”
THE BEST BENEFIT OF ALL
Truett and Latuff enumerated additional important benefits that come from franchising, including national marketing power and access to preferred vendors. But the most important benefit of all is joining a team of like-minded franchisees and gaining a valuable new support system.
“Everyone who’s a part of the One Hour brand wants to help each other,” Latuff said. “They’re not in competition. They become a band of brothers that shares information, cheers each other on, and really wants each other to succeed.”
These network connections are invaluable not only to the individual franchisees but to the franchise company as a whole.
“When one person is successful, it helps the brand,” Latuff said. “Successful franchises enable us to add more franchises, and everyone’s business becomes more valuable.”
Truett said The Dwyer Group’s code of values is an important document that serves to unify Aire Serv’s franchisees both professionally and personally.
“Our code of values uses the acronym ‘Live RICH,’ which stands for respect, integrity, customer focus, and having fun,” he explained. “It sets forth a value system we all try to live by and reinforce for one another. Having a support system of like-minded people all striving for the same goals is one of the coolest parts of being a franchisee.
“There’s an old saying that if you’re walking through mine fields, you look for footprints,” Truett concluded. “One of the things the franchise business provides is footprints. Other people have been there before. Between our franchise consultants, marketing team, and franchisees, someone is always there to help you succeed.”
Publication date: 11/21/2016