Franchise brands often reach their full potential under the guidance of strong leaders. Executives are the ones who ultimately determine the culture and environment behind a brand, meaning that they set the bar and standards for franchisees and employees. That’s why a leading independent market research firm, Franchise Business Review, analyzed data to compile a list of the Top Franchise Leaders for 2017.
To identify the best of the best in the franchising industry, Franchise Business Review analyzed 18 months’ worth of data. This data came from approximately 30,000 franchisees across 334 brands in varying segments of the industry, with each franchisee providing feedback on the culture and leadership behind their brand. Data surrounding franchisee satisfaction and the likelihood of owners to recommend their brands to others were also taken into account when creating this annual list.
Franchise Business Review has now teamed up with 1851 Franchise to highlight some of the industry’s top leaders, as ranked by their franchisees. One of those executives is Kathleen Kuhn, President of HouseMaster. In her Q&A with 1851, she explains that succeeding as a franchisor means understanding what your franchisees are facing on a daily basis.
1. What do you think are the traits or skills you possess that make your franchisees believe you are a top leader?
My passion for the business and helping our owners succeed is something that our franchisees regularly mention to me. Even though my father founded HouseMaster, I came into the business as a franchisee. My husband currently is a franchisee as well. That unique insight helps me appreciate out franchisees’ needs and perspectives. I work hard to ensure all our support team members have a good understanding of how things work at the franchise level, not just at the corporate level. This effort helps the support team be more effective and proactive in bringing solutions and opportunities to our franchisees, which in turn inspires confidence with our franchisees.
2. What is your leadership approach?
My approach is to be approachable! Franchisees feel comfortable calling me or texting me when they see the need. I am active on our franchisee communication board, and am very hands on. Our leadership team and I work hard to ensure all support team members are highly responsive and respect the challenges that our franchisees face every day. I have found that this creates a strong support system, and our franchisees respond to that.
3. To other founders, CEOs or Presidents leading franchise brands into the future, what advice do you have to give?
Understand what a day in the life of a franchisee is like. Never lose sight of that. Even if you started the business that you’re not franchising, keep close to their operations because things change. Franchisees are quick to disengage if they think leadership is not listening or does not understand the business model or their needs.
4. Who is the person in franchising who has most influenced or inspired you over the course of your career?
My father. He founded HouseMaster, and put everything on the line to start his own business after leaving corporate America. Then, he did it again to start the franchising concept. He knew nothing about franchising, but he was a master at relationship building. He truly cared about every HouseMaster franchisee. He taught me that things won’t always go well, and you will make mistakes, but if you truly care about the people and the business, you will be able to work through it. And since I started working for the brand, that has been exactly what I have experienced.
5. What does your typical day look like?
I would love to say that I get up and work out, but that is not how I start my typical day! My kids are out of the house now, so when I wake up, I am eager to start my workday. I watch the news and check email. I enjoy getting a few of the easy things out of the way and reviewing my commitments for the day. I prefer to get my exercise in after a productive day at work, whether that’s a long walk or exercise class. My days are often very scheduled with conference calls and meetings, which aren’t things that I would usually enjoy. So, we work to make our meetings fun, and most importantly, a good use of the team’s time.
6. Where do you see yourself in the future?
We’ve just launched a second brand called PatchMasterÔ, which is a same-day drywall repair franchise. I am very excited to bring my experience with HouseMaster to this exciting new concept. I’ve always wanted to apply what I’ve learned to a new, solid opportunity, and PatchMaster fits the bill perfectly. Beyond that, I expect to help launch the success of more “Master” franchise concepts in the home services space. It’s a very exciting time!