Andy Stecher was formerly the CEO and President for North America of a German plasma manufacturing company. Although he enjoyed his career there, the frustrations of corporate life and consistent international travel became exhausting. A conversation with a friend who happened to be a The Cleaning Authority franchisee led Stecher to begin seriously considering purchasing a franchise himself.
Liking the brand’s technology and support, while being able to provide a much needed service to the area he lived, Stecher chose to join the system. Now, having taken over The Cleaning Authority of Highland Park, Illinois in late 2017, Stecher is growing his business and embracing the differences and learning experiences along the way.
“I’m dealing with a different environment as a franchisee than I was as a CEO,” said Stecher . “I was used to dealing with white collar employees that were educated in college or had some sort of advanced form of education or work experience when I was a CEO. Now, as a franchisee that owns a cleaning company that primarily provides residential house cleaning, the staff I’m dealing with is now in the blue collar environment, and many of the employees typically don’t have significant education, and English might not be their first language.”
But even though the types of people he is hiring differ, Stecher is still able to use his experience in hiring from his CEO position and apply it to his role as a franchisee.
“Although I have hired in both roles, I’m hiring different types of people,” said Stecher . “Running my own business is all about hiring and firing, dealing with people, holding people accountable, monitoring performance, and that’s identical to my former CEO position.”
He elaborates that the parallels between being a franchisee and CEO are close. At the base is a solid understanding of the fundamentals to any business that need to be lived up to, adhered to, and supported, which doesn’t change in the business world. He likens it to building a house.
“Either you build a house for yourself or you get contractors to build the house for you – the actual building of the house is the same,” Stecher said.
He also discusses the differences and similarities in who he reports to, what he is responsible for, and how he is funded. As a CEO, Stecher reported to one single owner, and he commented that some CEOs might report to a board, but primarily, he had people reporting to him and ultimate budget responsibility. He points out that all of these things are the same as a business owner. However, funding sources are different. He goes on to explain that as a CEO, others might be funding the company, but you still have to make sure that the cash flow is there. In his own business, he now has to make sure that the funding sources through his lines of credit are there.
Having been in the business world for more than 30 years, he acknowledges that the experiences of having “been there, done that” helps him on a daily basis.
“As you get older, something you learn to appreciate is the wisdom you’ve picked up, something you cannot learn in school,” Stecher said. “By having a great deal of experience, when an issue arises, it helps you calm down and say this can be dealt with, I’ve seen this before. That helps put things into perspective. It doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a sense of urgency and just because you did something 20 years ago doesn’t mean that it has relevance for what happens at this very moment; however, if you put it all in context, in my opinion, having experience and having been around helps you to go through situations, helping shape opinions and modulate the approach. There’s no guarantee to be successful, but it gives you high-level assurance in your mind that it will be alright in some shape or form.”
Stecher looks at life as a continuous journey. He notes that he’s had a lot of experience in the boardroom and now, his experience is in the bathroom, being someplace his franchise cleans, he said with a laugh.