In order for a franchise brand to be successful, it needs to have the right leadership. A company’s culture and work ethic flows from the top down—both franchisees and employees take their cues from those above them. That’s why Franchise Business Review, a leading independent market research firm, sought out to name the Top Franchise Leaders for 2017.
To find the best of the best, Franchise Business Review analyzed 18 months’ worth of data from approximately 30,000 franchisees representing 334 brands regarding their brands’ leadership and culture. The market research firm also took data into consideration surrounding franchisees’ overall satisfaction with their brands and their likelihood to recommend them to other aspiring business owners.
One industry leader who received high marks from his brand’s franchisees is Jeff Bevis, the CEO behind FirstLight Home Care. 1851 Franchise caught up with Bevis to learn more about his plans to continue expanding the brand.
1. What do you think are the traits or skills you possess that make your franchisees believe you are a top leader?
A constant focus on open communications, high trust and respect with all franchise owners. We ask out owners for continual input on all issues, new opportunities and more. In addition, we created very active sub-committees within our National Advisory Council and continually encourage their feedback and ideas, holding them in high value. We walk the talk—no exceptions.
2. What is your leadership approach?
It’s similar to the first answer above. Our franchisees are our customers. We keep an “open book” with them at all times so that they’re aware of the good, the bad—and the ugly if it occurs—so our respect is mutual. In order for all of us to be successful, we must be aligned in belief, dedication to our brand and the greater good for all. I see myself as a developer of people and enabling others to succeed.
3. To other founders, CEO's or Presidents leading franchise brands into the future, what advice do you have to give?
Don’t forget where the end user client is served—and by whom. The franchisee provides the great service and brand if you as the franchisor provide great service to the franchisees every day and in every scenario—without exceptions. Don’t let your ego get in the way!
4. Who is the person in franchising who has most influenced or inspired you over the course of your career?
Being a part of the IFA for the last 25 years, I feel like I’ve been surrounded by giants—true leaders in franchising at near every turn. Although I have not worked personally with these individuals in their companies, it has been through many of their IFA sessions or discussions that have provided me with an amazing influence. My true, early mentor in franchising was Don Himelfarb (President) and Jay Betz (EVP) at Thrifty Car Rental. Then, people such as Don Debolt, Mike Isaacson, Steve LeFever, Cheryl Babcock (Mini-MBA in Franchising sessions), James Young, Susan Black-Beth, Brian Schnell, Bob Gappa, Joyce Mazzaro and Jan Gilbert have all been tremendous influences to shape my approach, leadership and philosophies.
5. What does your typical day look like?
My days are pretty long and very active. I have an early start at 5:20 a.m., and I’m in the office by 8 a.m. We have weekly or every-other week updates with every member of our senior leadership team, so one or two of these occur each day. I also track religious metrics kept to benchmark growth, success and areas needing focus for even greater alignment. This is all done with the #1 priority in mind of how do we better serve our franchise owners and enable them to succeed with their end customer. My typical day winds down between 6 and 6:30 p.m. when I leave the office before working another 60-90 minutes at my home office. It’s also important to speak with four to six owners every week—not on a regular basis every day, but often two to three franchisees per day twice each week. Also, in working with my son—Devin, who is a co-founder at FirstLight with me—he and I most often have at least one conversation each day on a wide range of topics.
6. Where do you see yourself in the future?
Continuing to build FirstLight for the next decade-plus. As we continue to build our leadership team to manage meteoric growth, I see myself becoming even more of a "coach" and "talent developer" in the future than I am now—spending even more time in both of these activities. We also have four to five added services we see to drive even more expansion of the FirstLight brand over the next 18 to 24 years, so the development of each of these services will be an added focus as well.
Photo courtesy of FirstLight Home Care.