Contractormag 2626 Dwywergroupheadshots

Dwyer Group, Mr. Rooter & the future of contracting

Oct. 5, 2015
Thompson is excited to be in her new role and looking forward to working with franchisees. She is excited to implement best practices across all 10 brands, including Mr. Rooter and Aire Serv. James is excited to apply some strategies he used at Aire Serv to Mr. Rooter and to tap into Mr. Rooter franchisees’ greatest successes while overcome any obstacles they may be facing.
WACO, TEXAS — Last month, CONTRACTOR magazine had the opportunity to do a one-on-one interview with Mary Kennedy Thompson, the new COO of the Dwyer Group, a franchisor of 10 service-based franchise brands, and Doyle James, the new president of Mr. Rooter.

Dwyer Group is an impressive organization. From their business best practices to their Live R.I.C.H culture (Live R.I.C.H. stands for respect, integrity, customer focus and having fun in the process) employees at every level of the Dwyer Group are always upholding the values of the company culture and going above and beyond to be innovative and strategic.

Thompson is excited to be in her new role and looking forward to working with franchisees and implementing best practices across all 10 brands, including Mr. Rooter and Aire Serv, at the Dwyer Group. James is excited to apply some strategies he used at Aire Serv to Mr. Rooter and to tap into Mr. Rooter franchisees’ greatest successes while overcome any obstacles they may be facing.

Dwyer Group’s executive promotions will grow best practices, Live R.I.C.H culture

Mr. Rooter adds to the customer service experience by using iPads

In their own words

Mary Kennedy Thompson.

 And now, here is Mary Kennedy Thompson in her own words.

CONTRACTOR: What are your immediate goals as the COO of the Dwyer Group? How will you, in your new position, and Dina Dwyer Owens, executive chairwoman of Dwyer Group work together?

Thompson: I will be working on best practices across the board — it’s about learning and leveraging these good ideas and implementing them. For example, we just rolled out a Franchise Consultant University to educate our franchise consultants across all the brands. I will also be coaching, growing and helping my brand presidents. I will be a resource for them and help them take their teams to the next level.

I will work with Dina on keeping the values of this company front and center with all things we do. We call it Live R.I.C.H, and this drives better customer interactions and recruiting and retention of employees. Plus this drives strong metrics, profitability and strong growth in our company. That’s how Dina and I interact, and we work on this weekly — I focus on this internally and she focuses on this externally. I work on the “how” — how do we make that happen, how do we get there, etc.

CONTRACTOR: How did your previous positions, executive vice president of Dwyer Group and president of Mr. Rooter, help you prepare for filling the role of COO at the Dwyer Group?

Thompson: I have always been blessed with all the jobs I have had from being a waitress to being a franchise consultant, etc. Each one of these experiences has given me bits and pieces of the puzzle and made me who I am today. At the Dwyer Group and Mr. Rooter I have learned about leadership, getting the job done, how you make it happen, how to lead a brand, how to grow franchise executives — I consider the Dwyer Group an incubator for leaders. I believe each one of those jobs have helped prepare me to create this incubator for leaders to take the Dwyer Group to the next level. I think that’s why we are growing so fast. We believe in growing leaders around us.

CONTRACTOR: How have mentors played a role in your success?

Thompson: I talk about mentorship a lot. I tell people they need to go out and find a mentor. Walk up to people you are impressed with and ask them if they can be your mentor. Mike Bidwell our CEO has been a mentor of mine. He helped me see when you have a challenge or opportunity look at it from your mind’s eye. Don’t get caught up in the emotions of it. You need to be able to dissect it and see it. Because of this he has really impacted me. Dina has been a great mentor too. She has taught me by her actions how to interact with people in a way that makes them feel special. My dad has always been a mentor of mine too. I learned some of my first leadership lessons from him. I had a lot of great mentors in the Marine Corps also. They put me on the path of wanting to study about becoming a leader and learning about leadership, and knowing that there is always something to learn — you never get done learning. And all the brand presidents here — I learn from them all the time. I’ve been so lucky to have so many mentors that really helped me grow and become a stronger person.

CONTRACTOR: What are you most looking forward to doing in your new role?

Thompson:  I’m looking forward to learning. When I sold my Cookies by Design shops I came to the corporate headquarters to start their first field program. In that first year I did 130 site visits and learned as much as I had running my businesses. Every time I went to a shop I learned something new. As I am working with brand presidents here, and diving into their strategy and direction — I am learning so much from them. I always tell people you can only grow your brand and organization as fast you can grow yourself. So I am very excited about doing that — seeing the best practices, sharing this across the board, and helping the Dwyer Group grow to the next level. For us these are really exciting times.

CONTRACTOR: How did you transition into the new role?

Thompson: One and a half years ago I was promoted to executive VP of the Dwyer Group. I have grown a lot under Mike. He will put you in a role, to allow you to start learning in an organic way. I already knew my fellow presidents, so I worked with them one at a time. When we acquired Service Brands we found it was time to add the COO position. It’s a step-by-step organic process. It allows you to grow at a pace that is fast since you need to learn, but not so fast that you can’t go deep into it.

CONTRACTOR: With so many changes in the industry what do you think the future holds for contracting?

Thompson: I see a couple of things. The economy is stronger, so it’s harder to find contractors. The consumer wants things to be easy. She wants to press a button or make one phone call and have all things taken care of. We offer 10 different services they can come to us for, and when the customer goes back for more service it’s the same kind of experience. Many companies are trying to simplify this process — from Amazon to Google to HomeAdvisors — they are all trying to do this. The difference is that they don’t own the “last mile.” This is the technician or contractor showing up and providing a world class service. The future is marrying the technology to make it seamless for the consumer while owning the last mile and being able to deliver on it.

The future is being able to deliver on the service — a world-class service. The customer experience is key — a contractor can say I’m not going to worry about it because I have more customers coming down the road, but that won’t always be the case. It’s about how the contractor makes the customer feel when they come into their home.  

Doyle James.

And now, here is Doyle James in his own words. 

CONTRACTOR: What are you immediate goals as the new president of Mr. Rooter?

James: My immediate goals are to understand where franchisees are having their greatest successes and to understand and see how to multiply that and to find out what their biggest challenges are. Then I can help them remove those challenges and obstacles.

One of these challenges is recruiting and finding new people. This is an industry issue. People aren’t going into the trade through family businesses anymore. It’s just not something that kids are thinking of regarding careers. However, the trades are something they would like to do, but they don’t know how to get their foot in the door. We need them to understand that we can get them paid training. Ultimately they can do this for the rest of their lives and have a good living.

CONTRACTOR: How has your position at Aire Serv Heating & Air Conditioning prepared you for being president of Mr. Rooter?

James: I have been at Aire Serv for the last 18 years. The biggest differences have been with the seasonal side of the HVAC business. Plumbing is not seasonal. With HVAC you need to be proactive and generate business. Because of this I take a very proactive approach to what we do. This is educating customers about things that are available. When you go on a customer’s property you find there are things that they need (things they don’t even realize). For example, we do a plumbing checkup for free and will let them know what kind of issues there may be. It’s a lot less expensive to get it done at that time instead of waiting for something to happen. This is a proactive approach instead of the reactive approach. It’s taking more of a consulting approach to the customer to find more solutions that they need.  

CONTRACTOR:  What are you most looking forward to in your new role?

James: I enjoy meeting with franchisees. I know a lot of them since I’ve been with Dwyer Group for some time. I look forward to building relationships with them, finding out what they are doing that is working well and sharing it and also helping them with their challenges. Of course one of those items is to find new and innovative ways to bring new people into the industry and help them grow.

CONTRACTOR: How did you transition into your new roles?

James: What’s cool about this company is it’s not like I’m coming into a role where someone has left — Mary is still here and available to work with. What is unique and different is we can take what the previous person has built and build on that. There is enough synergy between brands that I already know how a lot of things are done, but there are still unique areas that I can help with — I can put a new set of eyes on the brand. If I take the best of both companies and marry them, I can share this and we can grow the Mr. Rooter brand even more.

CONTRACTOR: With so many changes in the industry, such as technology, IoT, etc., what do you think the future holds for contracting?

James: The future of contracting is exciting for companies that have positioned themselves well with the correct culture and organization and best team members — companies that have positioned themselves to be a truly world class organization. The transparency of the consumer has made it so the consumer has a lot of choices and they will pick the companies offering the best of all that. Our companies are positioned well here.

From a business perspective, we are in a world where you need to be part of something — part of a company that will help you get there. All of the regulations, new technologies, marketing, etc.  This is a lot for people to keep up with. We have a team that is continually working on all these items — we have the ability to support all of this. The industry has continually changed and being part of an organization to help you grow to the next level is so important.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Contractor, create an account today!