Plumbing franchisees prepare for success

Washington Despite the economic downturn of the past few months, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, One-Hour Heating & Air Conditioning and Mister Sparky franchise owners, managers and employees traveled to the Washington, D.C., area to take part in the 2008 Clockwork Home Services Congress in mid-October. Congress attendees participated in a variety of sessions geared towards giving franchisees a progressive

Washington — Despite the economic downturn of the past few months, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, One-Hour Heating & Air Conditioning and Mister Sparky franchise owners, managers and employees traveled to the Washington, D.C., area to take part in the 2008 Clockwork Home Services Congress in mid-October. Congress attendees participated in a variety of sessions geared towards giving franchisees a progressive plan for success in the upcoming year.

Congress started off with a golf tournament and reception on Oct. 15. Break-out sessions held Oct. 16-17 covered topics such as creating a positive company culture and building a training plan to building a brand through marketing and recruiting the right people.

“I was struck by the amount of people who came to Congress with legitimate concerns about the current business climate — only to leave with a renewed faith, confidence and action plan to take control of their own destiny,” said Lance Sinclair, director of franchise learning and performance at Clockwork Home Services. “That is truly inspiring!”

Participants in the F.A.C.E. - It's a Mission seminar learned the importance of culture and a positive business environment. During the session, David Speicher, CEO of the Center for Organizational and Relational Excellence (C.O.R.E.), spoke about what culture is and how it impacts a business. Seminar participants shared stories with one another about past business experiences and what they have done to make a positive environment at their franchise.

The Building a Brand for the 21st Century session was presented by John Young, chief marketing officer at Clockwork Home Services. Attendees learned about five marketing vehicles and how to build a marketing plan. Another session attendees gained valuable information at was Leaving No Team Member Behind - Building a Training Plan that Ensures Your ROI. A step-by-step learning process and how to build a daily training plan were the main topics discussed.

“We gained information on the economy and our existing and new business systems,” said Kelly Dean, past comfort advisor and co-owner of Superior's One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning in Warrenton, Va. “We also did a lot of work on company culture - providing the best place to work, tracking our businesses, training, motivating and selling.”

Not only did Congress attendees gain valuable information to help them run a successful franchise, they also networked with fellow franchise owners, managers and employees. Attendees also had the opportunity to meet vendors and talk one-on-one with them about new industry products at the BuyMax Vendor Showcase.

I really enjoy meeting with my colleagues,” commented Linda Stanfield, CEO of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Chandler, Ariz. “They really can teach me a lot and also offer new ideas for me to bring back to my shop. It also helps to know we are all in the same boat with this economy but we face it together, not as one.”

Another networking opportunity was the second First Lady Breakfast Forum held the morning of Oct. 17. The forum gave women attendees a unique opportunity to talk with women involved in Clockwork Home Services franchises.

The panel consisted of Rebecca Cassel, group president of consumer services at Clockwork Home Services; Kelly Dean, co-owner of One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning in Warrenton, Va.; Shelley Etter, co-owner of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Monterey, Calif.; Jacque Hunter, wife of Tab Hunter, president of franchise operations at Clockwork Home Services; Cherie Jester, co-owner of Benjamin Franklin Plumbing and Mister Sparky in Atlantic, Va.; Ann Kennedy, co-owner of Mister Sparky in Sarasota, Fla.; and Karen Speicher, executive vice president of C.O.R.E. in Tampa Bay, Fla.

Women at the breakfast forum asked the panel questions regarding how to reward employees, balance family and business priorities, and train and manage employees.

“Make daily and weekly goals for employees to meet,” said Kennedy. I am a big believer in awards - when you give you get. You need an enjoyable atmosphere at work - this has always been the philosophy.”

Many women in the audience were also concerned about peer support and making networks in a male-dominated industry.

“I learned that there are more ways that we can support each other as women in our franchise group,” said Cassel. “There were a lot of new faces in the room. These women expressed a desire to know who they can network with and how they can be supported in their roles. As a result of this knowledge, we are starting a networking program specifically for women in the business.”

After the breakfast forum, break-out sessions began. At the Prosperity and Progress: Sales Fundamentals session presented by Tom Hopkins, author of “How to Master the Art of Selling” and president of Tom Hopkins Intl., attendees learned about the six key sales fundamentals necessary to improve the bottom line. Hopkins also reviewed effective sales techniques.

“The treat of Congress was the opportunity to attend Tom Hopkins' class live for the second time in my life,” commented Paul Stefano, general manager at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing in Charlotte, N.C. “Hopkins brings so much knowledge and energy to the room that you wish you had your whole company there to witness it!”

Many Congress attendees also learned about the art of out-bound and in-bound calling, and government regulations at Dial Yourself a Farm, a session examining the many aspects of call centers and how to increase business through calls.

Sinclair, Don Lee, president of First Call USA, and Susy Boyter, national sales director at CKYellow Pages, spoke about their experiences with call centers and how to increase out-bound calls.

“I hope Dial Yourself a Farm attendees will become more proactive in generating service by implementing outbound calling and monitoring current performance,” commented Sinclair.

At the general convention, following the break-out sessions, Jim Abrams, CEO of Clockwork Home Services, introduced a national marketing campaign to increase consumer awareness of the company's home services contracting brands. The Win 26K marketing campaign encourages customers of Clockwork franchise brands to compete for a $26,000 cash prize by creating short videos promoting Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning and Mister Sparky.

“This is a first for us,” said Hunter. “We are excited to offer this level of national marketing support to our franchisees. While others may be reducing their marketing investments, Clockwork believes the timing is ideal to boost consumer awareness of the essential home services we provide.”

At the Presidential Gala Award Dinner, Friday evening, Lisa & Steve Pahler, owners of a Benjamin Franklin Plumbing franchise in Atascadero, Calif., won the Franchisee of the Year award for Benjamin Franklin Plumbing. The award recognizes the franchisee who runs his or her business at a high level and has a significant growth in annual sales. The Pahlers achieved 235.8% growth over the previous year and 30% profitability.

“Stay focused on your goals and work towards them each and every day,” said Lisa Pahler. “Don't get too concerned with what others are saying. We see promising growth and many opportunities. We want to be as strong as we can be, so we can weather some poor economic times. People still need our services, and we want to be able to provide the best service possible at the best value.”

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