Considering a franchise?
Christy Wilson Delk was a 15-year franchise owner, well-known speaker, author of Adventures in Franchise Ownership, and a business professor at Rollins College in Florida.
Christy Wilson Delk teaches the 4 Pillars Approach to franchising: Layers of Loyalty to strengthen, Strategic Leadership to protect, Money Metrics to grow, and Method Management to be focused.
Learn more about how Christy Wilson Delk can bring wisdom to your franchise by listening to this episode of The Thoughtful Entrepreneur above and don’t forget to subscribe on Apple Podcasts – Stitcher – Spotify –Google Play –Castbox – TuneIn – RSS.
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All right with us right now. We've got the Christy Wilson Delk. Christy, you're here locally here in Orlando, and you are an author. You are a well known speaker. You're well known in the area. You're an educator. You are I guess you're a university professor. Now and you're the title your book is titled Adventures in Franchise Ownership. And I think what I'm really excited to talk about is the things that you've learned in the franchise world that every business owner should really take heed of, in growing their own business. We're going to talk about systems. And and and you've also agreed to kind of geek out a little bit on kind of the state of franchises right now, which is a subject that I kind of, you know, as a both a consumer guy, and, you know, one who really loves studying business trends. I know you have a pretty good pulse on. So thank you so much Christy for joining. You're
absolutely so happy to be here with your audience.
So if you could just start off by you know, how did you get into your very first franchise?
Oh, okay. So, like a lot of people that find their way to franchising or entrepreneurship period. I had been laid off probably fired once or twice. had actually just had one child and had him and then boom got laid off after nine years with the company. Oh, it was okay. I mean, you know, I landed on my feet. But that's when I realized, you know what, this is it I really need to find something that I can call my own and started looking at franchising, because, and this happens a lot to in the industry and with all business owners, somebody had kind of been whispering in my ear. Hey, you really ought to look at this. You know, I think you could. I think I could see you doing this. And it happened to be a great lifestyle choice, which was an early childhood education center called kids, our kids Academy. So yeah, so it wasn't overnight. And it wasn't like some bright bulb went but you know, like so many of us It took a little time and then I knew the time was right.
So kids are kids we've we've seen I've seen them around. Yeah. And so why why that one is
I'm so sorry. So it's a relationship. You know, just like so many other things. I have never coughed on a podcast or an interview.
That's okay. Human humans cough and
I know Yes, we did
someone think that this is an overly produced show. No, we Yeah,
it is not. There you go. It's a, you know, it's a relationship business and the person that had been saying that, to me, had a particular relationship with the franchisor. So I went and explored a couple of other locations and went to an open house and then started doing research. And I loved the idea of that space for me, you know, raising a child not wanting to travel anymore. So, again, so much about franchising, so much of about about it applies to other kinds of businesses, but it was a passion and and I thought, I Be good at it, you know, like kids, like customer service like HR light marketing, because there's a lot of marketing. So I settled on that one. It was just a really good fit for me and still is. I'm speaking at their conference in May.
Oh, wonderful. So, when you are looking at franchises, is it is it typically, I mean, my impression is that some of these franchises are kind of hard, high barrier. Is that is that true? Yeah,
some of them are very high barrier. This particular brand and a lot of the early childhood are pretty high because you're buying the land, you're building the building and so on. So your standalone buildings. Usually you would consider pretty high barrier because you've got to do that. Now. There are other brands like chick fil a and and several others that have a business model that allows you to To Work your way into an ownership position, so there's really no one way that it's done. But the least the lowest barrier is something speaking of trends that is been growing faster and faster is different in home franchise business. Travel super big. There's a company called cruise planners and other one dream Dream vacations, which is the division of world travel. And there's home inspection. There are you know, Home Services. I squeegee squad, just clean my windows, you know, mosquito So, service business. franchising is a huge trend. Yeah, and in home, you can do it now eventually want to grow, you know, as your listeners know, you can't you can't stay home forever, but yeah, So some of them are low 20 $500
you know, we have one of our clients has a green carwash, and that's his he franchises that model, and it's 1500 dollars to start and I mean he and I want to talk about the I mean so it's so really there are really accessible things you can start and hopefully advantage to joining a franchise think about starting a kids are kids but you brand it yourself and you start from scratch. What was the advantage to going through a franchise model as opposed to trying to come up with all this stuff on your own?
Yeah. So So I you know, people enter franchising at all different ages, and I hope we talk about some of the things that millennials are doing. But I was like, you know, early 30s or so. I had been in sales and marketing Josh but really branding the the marketing funnel lateral, the PR all that I had not been exposed to. So I just really didn't want to deal with that. Number one, number two. I love children, but I'm not an educator by trade. I, you know, I teach college level now, but that's very different than writing curriculum. So in this particular arena, the curriculum is a really big thing. The but but the thing I think that is most relatable is franchising is sort of a hybrid between owning a business and doing it completely on your own. You've got that good corporate support. And for some folks like me, that I needed that and I liked it. And to this day, you know, like I said, I still have a relationship with them. But for me, that was great. For others. They're a lot smarter than me. Maybe they don't need that, huh?
No, I'm, so we're going to talk about kind of the lessons and kind of the four pillars that you've come up with In your book, you know, I'd really love to kind of get your and I know you go to a lot of industry events, you're a well known speaker. And so I'm really curious about what other trends you're seeing in the franchise world. So think of restaurants, other businesses that you might find in strip malls may be new and emerging businesses that like really haven't been under the franchise model previously. I'm curious what you're seeing.
Yeah, it's good timing, because I spent the last couple days at it's called the International franchise Association Conference, so not an expo but a conference. So I saw some more that I had not been aware of, wow, there's so many things. So I would say you know, the major trends and these may not be huge surprises, but for sure it's fitness, but it's not just Anytime Fitness or 24 hours. Planet fit. It's not just those. We're now getting into where the people that started orange theory. Oh, you had a guest on your on your show a couple weeks ago that was involved in fitness.
Yeah, yeah, he had a different he took he out and he had physical locations. So a little while ago. I swiped We've had a few martial arts dude, he still has martial arts studio, but one. So he had a gym. He closed the gym. He's all online now. Wow.
Wow, that's amazing. So individual sports, like rolling, like the polities is really growing, the spinning that's really growing so it's not just it's not gyms so much that's growing but still Yes. But the different segments, beauty products, eyebrow, eyelash, you know all that kind of stuff. Now and now professional services.
those that segment. But But I go back to that biggest one being service and what I mean by service, I'm thinking, maintenance. commercial building, yes, but more home, because what do we not have no time. And so all those things that you might have done on the weekend or had the power washer, but you never pulled it out, you know, there's people that want to do all that and has consumers in the US we know some of those things like finding the right plumber or finding the right, you know, carpenter and all that is hard sometimes, or they're so busy, so all of that's getting franchised, but also, one more that I wanted to add, and that's, it used to be at least when I was buying uniforms and hats and all that promotional stuff is so fun. You know, it was always it mostly was a you know, Mom and Pop Forgive me, but I use that term. But now, embroidery shops, patches, all kinds of promotional gimmicky things not all under one roof, but select. And then what they do is they go after a particular niche, you know, like franchises or podcasters or you know, so this is very broad, but almost anything you can think of.
Yeah, yeah. You know, one thing that I know enough not to get into this industry, but the restaurant industry is going through a lot of changes. And I think we're going to see a lot of changes over the next five years. In particular, what do you see in your tea leaves?
Yeah, well, one of the things as we know, and and I said I'm not an educator by trade, but I do teach college students at the very you know, basic level but business courses. So we talk a lot about what they what they like and need and want. So millennials going up to what? 20s, late 20s so they want this experiencial stuff. That Top Golf, you know, I'm pretty sure that's a corporate Corporation, not a franchise. But you know, anything where I can go and sit with my friends. Oh, I met someone the other day that is coming out with a cannabis. Not a shop, but a place where you can go you know and sit in a
bar. Yeah, like a bar. Yeah, those are definitely going to be popping. Yeah. Right. As they as they become legal around the country. Yeah.
So anything experiential. So when it comes to restaurants, one of the things that they're they are finding In fact, I have a story in my book about it's under the competitive chapter. If you build it, they will come but will they keep coming back? Yeah. And and the notion that you I mean, forget staying the same for five years. We all know you can't do that. But you really need to be changing every year. And so this this fella, his name is Matthew core, and I've never met him, but I read an in depth article in some franchise, probably franchise times. He has freshy. And I don't think they're in Orlando, they probably are, but I haven't seen one. But anyway, as he goes around the country, and trains and, you know, visits franchisees, he notices trends, he gets out of the freshy box and notices trends. And so they their niche is that they change their menu almost monthly. So if I'm a millennial, I'm going to go in there and go, what are they having now? I'm coming back. Because that's another thing that's a trend as we like, change, you know, we want to know that there's going to be something different there. So that's a big thing that though, the older guys you No are going to have I say, guys, the older brands, you know, they're going to have to find a way around and they are, you know, Golden Corral now serves breakfast. You know, there's a lot, you know, my favorite carrot salad is no no no, no longer offered at chick fil a no,
isn't No, no.
Salad is good, too but, you know, just, you know, keep it and then also being able to, you know, be accessible being
you know, delivered and all those things. So, yeah,
you know, you don't one of the best things that I think, you know, the there's an advantage inherent advantage to being part of a franchise. I think the biggest thing is the marketing because I don't think that most folks really comprehend how much of their time they need to spend with sales and marketing and growing that foot traffic and growing that business. And most people say, Well, I really enjoy this trade. So, I'm just going to do open up, put up, put my shingle up and start doing it. And the and the business will just bow out, you know, people will find me they'll see my sign on the street in the strip mall or something like that. And it'll just magically come and you know, a franchise, a franchisor will have a lot of experience and be able to say, no, it's gonna take a lot more than that. And so here's what we have a lot of data on, here's exactly what you need to do. We've done this before you just follow this system, and you should be able to have a good five year plan to get up to that point where you should start to be profitable.
Yeah, that that is true. The marketing is definitely a wonderful part and every again, every brand might do it a little bit different some contribute to a fund. Maybe they do it by region, those kinds of things. But when it comes to marketing it Talk about in the book about the four pillars build layers of loyalty. Because even if you open up in that shopping center and people keep people start coming to you, how do you ensure that they they'll keep coming back even if you're, whatever you opened up, say it's a pizza place, you know, was fantastic, you're going to have competition and your franchise zoar really wants you as a franchisee to be really ingrained into your local market so that people aren't thinking it's a chain, but rather it's a small local business. And so building loyalty with your clients building loyalty in your community, with your staff. And also, of course, with the franchisor if it's franchising, so marketing can never be taken for granted, that's for sure.
But how do we build how do we build those layers of loyalty then?
Okay, so with your clients, you can do it in, you know, many different ways. But first of all, showing appreciation And if you're a newer business or you're having a, you know, a little bit of a tough year, it could be something very small. I mean, it can depending on if you have a storefront it could be, you know, coffee and cookies or some little CHATZKY to give them and sometimes even cards appreciating the business noticing them on their anniversary, I think is a big deal. My marketing person that I work with, always does that. And it's it's super meaningful, so or even a loyalty program. I got out of my box of the childcare industry thinking and and I really highly recommend people step away from their business and I don't mean just for an afternoon sometimes, but look at other industries for ideas. And I came back thinking this might be sort of a no done now because it was several years ago, but you know, why can't I have a loyalty program? You've been here five years, I'm going to give you two vacation weeks, you know, boom, that's that's, you know, four or five hundred dollars, make it count. So, when I talk about strategic leadership, I mean, you're only one person. So you have to be strategic, make it count, make it all count with your employees, you know, career development is super important. helping them develop exposing them to different things. Maybe it's a, again, maybe you're on a budget, maybe it's a chamber event or a networking event. Hello, employees love that stuff. So I used to do that same thing, anniversaries, birthdays, etc. but helping them achieve their goals but knowing what their goals are really important. Noticing if they're having a bad day, hey, you know how what's going on. You seem like you're you're not quite yourself, just taking the time to notice things. Then we can get into the real good stuff, the benefits the paid time off, you know, a paid holiday For example, I have a story in the book about during the hurricane times, you know, we closed, I hadn't been open that long. But you know what? I paid hurricane days or partial hurricane days or something, because, you know, they weren't getting paid. So things like that, but it's really important, but the idea of the layers, and then all stuck. But the idea of the layers is that you do one thing, Josh, and then if you find that this is no longer impactful, like I offered a gym membership for a year, you know what it started off great, but then nobody went second, get away. So you could put something else in there, building layers, you just want to keep building it up, but you can take away you can change. I did a Marriott program. This is a really great one. I'm going to share this one real quick. I did a Marriott program. Because one thing that we business owners are hard. It's hard to do is hold people accountable. Have your managers hold people accountable? So, I developed a merit program, which also had a demerit side. Somebody didn't do something and they had already been verbally, you know, talked to about it, then they got a demerit. But if they got a merit because they did something really terrific. After three, they got a full paid day off. That worked great, except the implementation was a little rough. I didn't scrap the program. I reworked it and kept it for years. So you could get creative, but just to show your continued to thinking about your business.
How do you come up with these ideas?
Well, I love that you asked that because I think listening to podcasts, yeah, and audience he didn't. We didn't discuss this. But listening to podcasts and getting ideas outside of your office outside of your industry. Really great. If you go in, do your office supply shopping or you're looking through a catalog or You see something, make a note. Because it could be something that you could you can use in your business, how somebody greets somebody, you know, all kinds of things. But the internal, the good stuff that really can change your business that's listening to podcasts that's listening to audio books. That's the kind of thing that I practice every year. I latched on to one and one. Spencer Johnson's peaks and valleys, smooth out the terrain, in life and in your business helped me enormously and that's what made me start thinking about the balance and the pillars.
Now. I would imagine that I hope, at least that that's advice that you give the students is because I know that when we've hired recent college grads, you know, one of the first questions I guarantee, I'm going to ask this question, what podcasts do you listen to? And or audiobooks or like, you know, blog You're reading, and I'm just like, we don't whatever it is, you know, and I just listen. And I mean, I can tell, honestly, I can tell everything there is to know about somebody based on the content that they consume on a regular basis. And it's not that they're a bad person if they're not consuming that South, but it just communicates that, you know, maybe they're not as driven in that particular space that I could make an assumption based on that.
I love that it's a great way to quickly you know, screen out people and that's so important for all business owners. But yeah, and plus, you know, it speaks to how well are they versed on you know, what it is you do, I have a story in the book about a guy. I interviewed top performing franchises like 20 of them and it was so so fun and so interesting. But he owned a I'm thinking oh, you break I fix and Anytime Fitness he had several so this was a real go getter out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. A real go getter. And he did something similar to what you do. He shared sort of his leadership kind of my word Manifesto. Mm hmm. And ask them, Hey, what do you think about giving some time to read it say, Hey, tell me what your thoughts are. And if they weren't, like, rad this is, you know, this is great. I have something similar. This is how I think and yeah, they couldn't have a discussion about it. That was it. Good, whatever. Yeah, your as well. Well, I hope my students will listen to this because they they will get extra credit, john.
So I'm moving on to the third pillar money metrics and is, is Tell me about that. Is this about measurement and, and yeah, having having the CFO wearing the CFO hat?
Yeah, kinda sorta, I, I say in the book, I had to check and look up the definition of metrics just to make sure I didn't embarrass myself but it's really just numbers in what form, it could be a percentage, you know, it could be a decimal, but as it relates to something else. So, in franchising, you know, there are some key metrics that your franchise or should give you, that has to do with the basics, the higher expense items, food, payroll, those kinds of things, but in every business in every industry, you know, those in that will help guide you as to how well you're doing. So, for example, I was I was much more generous with my salaries and my pay and my benefits then my other friend, then a lot of my franchisees in my segment, however, my metric was right in line, no problem because of the way I manage the business. So it was like, hey, it works for me. Great. So the metrics help guide you as to where you could spend more money. Maybe you're not spending enough money on paper. Roll or marketing. It's not all about obviously top line. You know it's also about the lines in between and creating efficiencies. What am I doing different? So the first thing really is that yes you have to measure I have to have a baseline is that what I did last year because I had a great year. Okay, that's fine start with that if you have a couple of other years great throw those in. I would usually do like a rolling three or four years and then break it down into quarters or months if you can and in with some work you can i i professed that working Don't get mad at me but one Sunday a month close yourself up in your office for three or five hours and just play with your numbers will do so much good. It Yeah, it really helps. But then pick three. Not all of them. pics, three that you want to focus on for that year. really measure it really tried to notice. And it's so interesting, you know, like, I had one I was trying to my food budget I knew was going to be high because I was trying to introduce healthy foods, you know, as a competitive advantage, you know, value proposition, things that other people may not have even tried. You know how our culture can be sort of close minded, especially with children. So anyway, I just could not get that number down. I'd do something fancy, not fancy, but something expensive, and then something less expensive. But anyway, I realized one day when I came back from some kind of a meeting, I walked in, and I was early, and I walked into the cafeteria, and the staff was like, horrendous question. Oh, hi. Everybody was turning around and I realized the food is so good. It was meatloaf day, Josh. Yeah, it was meatloaf day. Everybody was helping themselves and you're talking 30 4045 people yeah. That's why my numbers were shot. So, yeah, yeah. So I thought, okay, let's implement a policy. I'm okay, if you have a child sized portion. But you need to sit at the table, you know? Yeah. So you don't need to be like, you know, hamster face. So anyway, but when you know your numbers, you see different things like that. And you can add to the bottom line, which sometimes gets you where you want to be easier and quicker than the top line.
Yeah, inspect what you expect. The fourth pillar is method management. Tell me about that.
Okay. So I say method management is how you focus on your business and that anyone in any any realm of business, it's the top performers are those that super that really focus on their business. And by doing that, I mean having systematic approaches to almost everything, and you, my friend are very systematic and what you do your the number of podcasts you're putting out that is prolific. Alyssa with the pre call that the follow ups. I mean, it is It was so fun. And I learned something from you a couple of things actually very clever. But having if there's more to
come Just you wait. You know, I had honestly like anyone who wants to be a guest on this program who like just just to experience what we've learned over many years, is that, you know, to be able to produce that much content. If you're not systematizing it you're Yeah, it's just gonna, it's just going to eat you up. I tell I talk to other podcasters and you know, we're up to nine episodes a week. And it's so, so good for our business. And I tell that to other podcasters and they're like, I can't even wrap my brain around doing more than one a week. I'm like, Well, then you're not really systems focus that, because that's what it requires.
Yeah, it is. And it really shows with you. That's cool. Yeah, I even forwarded to my marketing team at South Street company here, glow plug, a couple of your things. I said, look at this. This is so cool. But anyway, it's more than just systems though. It's also keeping them in balance. So again, you're one person in a job. I say, what do you what do you need to accomplish this month, this quarter this year, and that's what you focus on? Yeah, your long term stuff is here, of course, but that's what you need to focus on. And a lot of very successful people think that way. The chick fil a founder was dead set on saying short term focused. But with that in mind, you don't get all off track, and you can stay systematized and so I even have I even had And it's in the book. I won't say that anymore a meeting plan for the year. In other words, these are the second Tuesdays that our staff meetings are on no excuses. These are our monthly managers meetings, because there they are. Why not? You know, but that way you hold people accountable. And who else do you hold accountable? yourself? That Yeah,
yeah, it's, you know, a lot of times, I think meetings don't happen, just because we're like, well, we got these, or it's the meetings are all about just putting out fires, or, you know, it's, it's all very immediate as opposed to thinking more long range or long term or what should we be working toward? Unless, again, it's kind of like if you're on a fitness program or a weight loss program, it's like, you know, you got to think about what the end goal is, and then break that down into activity goals to ultimately get to what it is that you want. That's a great analogy.
Yeah, and you have a more or less preset agenda, you know, and it's not like new business, old business. It's like red flags. Okay, what should we what what do we need to be looking at? white flags for us? We're okay, we had closure on these things, new ideas, and you can't what it does to is it cuts out all those interruptions, hey, I have an idea or somebody wants to see, you know, you know, that's something was put it on the agenda for the next meeting, right? You know, it really helps. So then really, it's just super critical things that you need to deal with. So, you know, that's what method management is, and I didn't obviously, coin method management, and people can call it whatever they want. But they have to have a frame work for running their business. And so the pillars are, how the business is built, but the methodology, the mass, you know, is sort of the framework for that.
Yeah. So Christy Wilson delk your book is adventures in franchise ownership. It's on Amazon. It's on Barnes Noble. And it's available on the web at ChristyWilsonDelk.com. So Christy, thank you so much for joining us. This has been fantastic. What else? What else would be a great aside from the book? Um, I think you have some, you have some free resources that you give away, is that correct?
That is correct. So I just put them up for for podcast listeners and and created them and just put them up. So if they go to you don't even have to give me your email. If you go to Christy Wilson delk.com and that's Christy, C H Wilson delk with a D.com forward slash listeners. There are four pillar worksheets and you can use them for any business. You can download them and copy them whatever you need to do and then on my website, Do have a four pillars like a pictograph? guide, but that they do need to give me their email for that you can download that. But then yeah, of course the book and it's going to be on Audible and yeah, fantastic audio, I should say.
Thank you. It's been really fun.
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