Dina Dwyer of The Dwyer Group part 2
Roy: Do you anticipate more involvement with yourself and your executives in relation to supporting the UK?
Dina: When I was getting ready to fly over I thought ‘This is wonderful.’ We have a head office in the UK! So yes, we are going to have a much greater presence. We have Jeff Meyers who is travelling often to the UK. And we have Philip Milburn on the ground representing us. Mike Bidwell, our CEO, is completely supportive. We have private equity investors who also have offices in Europe. And Mary Thompson, our Executive Vice President, has been very helpful with our work in Germany.
Roy: The financial market obviously plays a significant role in franchising; are you doing anything in relation to non-traditional funding?
Dina: We are looking at possibly implementing our model from North America where we provide some financing to qualified candidates.
Roy: Has The Dwyer Group considered creating its own crowd funding initiative?
Dina: We tried it in North America and we didn’t find it to be successful. We are looking to launch a program for Veterans in the near future. We would mimic the program we have in North America. The Dwyer Group was the originator of the VetFran program in the US, and we have contributed more than $2.3 million in financial assistance to military veterans who have been a franchisee with one of The Dwyer Group service brands in the US.
Today, VetFran is an official program for the IFA and includes hundreds of franchisors who give their best financial incentives to military veterans in the US. We are also considering launching our Public Protectors Program which provides financial discounts for first responders.
Roy: What do you consider the main benefits today for people starting a franchise business?
Dina: There’s a popular saying that in franchising you are in business for yourself, but not by yourself. That is certainly one of the strongest benefits of being part of a franchise. Similarly, you have access to strong vendor relationships that support that business, you receive business training and marketing support, and you have the collective brainpower of a peer network that you would not have as an independent business owner.
Roy: What is your vision for The Dwyer Group for the next five years?
Dina: To continue to grow. We have reached $1 billion in system-wide sales and the goal is for our franchisees to be so successful that we reach $2 billion by 2021.
We used to have a goal of 10,000 franchises, but that is a lot of people to support. Now we say why even worry about the number of franchisees? Why not just focus on the system-wide sales, because that means every franchisee on average is performing beautifully if we reach $2 billion in system-wide sales. At the same time, I want to maintain the special culture that we have worked so hard to create all these years. At the heart of our business success across our service brands, The Dwyer Group Code of Values has been our roadmap on this journey. It will continue to be the foundation for our future as well.
Second interview with Philip Milburn, Head of Mr. Electric and Aire Serv in the UK
Roy: In relation to the UK market in your experience, how do you see the substantial change in the franchise market over the last 30 years? What is the main difference?
Philip: I don’t think there is much of a difference. I think it is still people from all walks of life, all in the trade, who for a variety of reasons, maybe want a better work-life balance, are fed up with their job, maybe because they are ambitious, there are a variety of reasons why they want to be on their own, but not on their own.
Roy: In relation to Mr Electric, where do you see the biggest growth to actually bring on-board new franchise owners?
Philip: That’s easy. We are an electrical contracting business, but the hottest topic in this country at the moment is energy savings. We have a unique suite of energy-saving products, so we can talk to people like McDonald's and say we can save them money on their extractor fans, chillers, air conditioning and car park sites. And we do it for the corporate sites or for the franchisees, so that is just one example. Everyone likes to save money, but also everyone likes to do their bit for the environment, which is what makes it such a unique hot topic.
Roy: Have you clearly identified the profile of what you consider to be your perfect franchise owner?
Philip: No, if I am honest, we are still looking for people in the trade, so small electrical contractors, and maybe they see that they can do a lot more work if we follow Mr Electric on energy saving. Remember, we are an electrical contractor business that uses energy saving to open the door. It is easier to talk to someone and say ‘can I come and talk to you about saving energy?’ There is no obligation; we will do a survey for free and while we are there talk to them about LED lights, about doing their electrical work, and they can talk to us when they have a power outage. But in my opinion it is easier to sell energy saving than it is a service to replace your sockets.
Roy: I recently spoke to someone who was interested in purchasing a Mr Electric franchise and they asked me whether you would allow them to specialise in one sector, in this case lighting, specifically replacing lights in buildings. I said it was a good question, so what is the answer?
Philip: I think if that is what they wanted to do, do it, but I’m pretty sure I could persuade them of the benefits of going into other sectors so you can work with call centres, data centres, hotels, gyms, office buildings, restaurants and private houses. I think that is the uniqueness of what we have. Every single business and person in this country wants to save energy and that is where we are gearing up.
Roy: One of the reasons why franchise owners fail is often that they don’t get sufficient training in their first year. Is this something you feel is prevalent in your sector and if so what are you doing to address it?
Philip: They may need training on how to run a business; often they will have run another business but will still need training in how to use our systems. So we give them a great IT system that helps them develop the business. They also need to know about customer service and how to make the phone ring.
Some people think I am obsessed with making the phone ring, but you can have a franchise that does everything. If they don’t get involved with the marketing they won’t get those calls, and that is what I have been telling people today. It is reverse selling I guess; if you want to come on board you have to be involved in local marketing, canvassing, you have to know how to answer the phones, and when we send out emails on your behalf you have to follow them up and make appointments. We do that for them initially but if they can’t do that further down the line then people will say no.
Roy: What would you say is the most significant reason why our readers should consider your franchise?
Philip: Because no matter what happens with technology or social media marketing, you will still need a man in a van who gets up at 3am and unblocks your drain or fixes your power, so yes, the way we deal with customers and technology will change, but you will still have a man in a van. I don’t particularly worry about competition or new technologies wiping me out, because you will always need a man in a van who covers all our sectors, comes to work and delivers great customer service.