At the International Franchise Association’s 2022 Annual Convention, Authority Brands CEO Rob Weddle sat down with Seth Mattison, CEO of FutureSight Labs, to discuss the big ideas franchise systems are using to thrive in a landscape shaped by major challenges like COVID-19 and The Great Resignation. We’re excited to share Rob’s insight on our blog.
Authority Brands has a straight forward mission: positively impact the quality of life of our franchise owners, customers, and staff. This simple mission is at the heart of everything we do, and ultimately, it’s why our brands lead their industries.Centering Franchise Owners
Everyone in our organization has one thing in common— We’re there to help our franchise owners succeed. If they don't succeed, we don't succeed. Making sure everyone is aligned on this can be a challenge at a high-growth company.
We've quadrupled the size of the business in three years, so we’re always welcoming new people into this culture. It was important to understand early on that a lot of people coming in didn't necessarily have a deep understanding of how central franchise owner success is. But it's built into the bones of Authority Brands. I’ve built my leadership with franchise owners, current and former. Nearly 75% of senior leadership either currently owns a franchise within our system, or formerly owned a franchise in some kind of system. So all of our work is led by people who really get it and can continue to drive that home within our organization from top to bottom.
Our commitment to putting franchise owners first guided our approach to managing change around COVID-19. In March 2020 the world kind of stopped. We didn’t know what a pandemic would really mean, but we knew something big was happening. And so right after the world stopped, we had a team meeting and agreed on the number one thing: we needed to focus on maintaining our franchise owners' success during an unprecedented event. So we started looking across the brands to find ways to support franchise owners and keep them going. Internally, we took pay cuts across the board. Everyone making over a certain salary took a pay cut, including me. I’m happy to say that we were able to pay everyone back after that initial period of uncertainty about the pandemic.
We also dramatically increased our communications to owners, offering help on a daily basis for the first three months—from in-depth guidance on PPP loans, to leveraging BuyMax (our buying organization) to secure all of the PPE we needed. That put us ahead of a lot of our competitors and kept our folks out in homes providing essential services.
Authority Brands brings together top home services brands because we believe in the strength of this industry, and that was vindicated by our franchise owners and brands having record years in 2020. That’s also great news for our customers, who were able to get the services they wanted and needed in uncertain times.
Showing Consumers What’s Possible
Consumers will gravitate to brands that make it easy to do business with them. We’re cutting steps out of the old process for finding reliable home services and embracing consumer apps and transparent pricing. That’s a game changer for home services. I don't think many people understand just how affordable a lot of home services actually are. In the past, maybe these things were luxuries, and now many people can get these things done.
For example, one of our phenomenal brands, DoodyCalls, is a pet waste removal business. A lot of folks probably don’t realize that service exists, or they assume that it’s out of their price range. But the reality is, for less than the price of a daily latte, you'll never have to pick up pet waste again. It’s all about giving people the right information to help them understand that these services can be very affordable. When we introduced transparent pricing and online booking at The Cleaning Authority several years ago, the customers loved it. And our competitors have copied it.
Inspiring Staff to Grow With Us
Behind the scenes making all of this happen is our talented staff. We have corporate employees in 26 states, and our high growth means we’re hiring all the time. Keeping the best people doing their best work has always been critical, but in the age of The Great Resignation, the companies that succeed are the ones that have put real consideration into their culture.
Within Authority Brands, we’ve formed committees, and charged them with answering one big question: What do you need? As they brought all that information back, we found that what everyone wanted is more engagement. So we've really tasked the brands and the business units to continue to engage their employees. One big project that’s come out of that for us is our Diversity & Inclusion initiative. As part of that we recently gave out 20 scholarships in a program that was open to franchise owners, children of owners, franchise employees, and children of employees.
Our latest innovation is an employee volunteer policy. We found that our younger staff in particular are really socially engaged and want to give back with their time. Now everyone has an extra two days of PTO that they can devote to service in their community. We’re really excited to see what kinds of an impact our employees are having out in the world. Like a lot of other CEOs, I'm maybe more of a traditionalist, used to giving back through donations. But we have to listen to what our people want so we can offer them personal and professional growth opportunities. At the end of the day, doing that for our staff benefits Authority Brands and all of our franchise owners.