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Flipping the Script: How Mold Medics CEO Tim Swackhammer Grew From Franchisee to Franchisor

After getting involved in the franchising space as a teenager, Tim Swackhammer continued to grow in the space, ultimately launching his own franchise opportunity. After wearing both hats, here's what he's learned.

By Morgan Wood1851 Franchise Contributor
SPONSOREDUpdated 11:11AM 09/01/22

Tim Swackhammer, CEO of Mold Medics, has franchising in his blood. Though he currently spends his time leading the emerging mold remediation franchise and getting his hands dirty with the team, he wasn’t always in charge.

Swackhammer’s first introduction to franchising came when he was young, accompanying his father to various family franchises. When he was old enough to work, he became an employee of the family’s Dollar Store.

“My experience really starts with the generation before me — it starts with my father,” he said. “My father grew up as one of six children in a single-parent household, living in government-funded housing for most of his childhood. Through entrepreneurship, and particularly franchising, he made it so that my brother and I had a dramatically different upbringing than he did. He was a serial entrepreneur, and that’s why I’m so passionate about this.”

As Swackhammer approached the end of his college years, he decided to join his brother and father in growing a number of Verizon Wireless stores. In search of some diversification, the group invested in other franchised concepts. Nearly a decade down the line, Swackhammer founded Mold Medics. 

After working as a franchisee for many years and experiencing the model, franchising “just made sense” as a method to grow the brand. Though he is not fully removed from franchisee roles, Swackhammer certainly considered his previous experience when building his own franchise opportunity. Now, as an established franchisor, he meshes his knowledge of both sides of the coin to maintain the healthiest franchise possible.

“One of the biggest ways my time as a franchisee influenced the foundational levels of Mold Medics was that I knew the attributes that make a strong franchisor. So much of what makes a franchise great is the process and systemization,” he said. “Having, ‘This is the way we do things,’ ‘This is the path we follow’ and ‘These are the systems that we utilize’ so ingrained in my day-to-day operations made it very clear to me that those same things needed to be baked into Mold Medics very early on.”

Without these processes, businesses have a challenging time scaling and sometimes even fail.

Carrying this knowledge and a few other key sentiments, Swackhammer has built a franchise with a strong core.

Stick to the Plan

“Don’t go chasing shiny objects,” he said. “Having been involved in both franchise businesses and independent businesses, one of the great things about a franchise is that a lot of it is already figured out. There’s already a plan in place.”

While franchising can require time and patience, a proven business model has been provided, and a franchisee has chosen to invest because of their confidence in both their personal ability and the brand’s ability to succeed. When putting blinders on and focusing on the plan at hand becomes difficult, Swackhammer says to remember the foundation of franchising.

“As a franchisee, you don’t always realize how much of what a franchisor is doing is allowing you to focus on the most important parts of the business,” he said. 

Respect the Relationship

Swackhammer explained that having franchisees is very different from having employees, and reporting to a franchisor is not identical to reporting to a direct supervisor.

“Having the experience as a franchisee has really influenced my perspective on what the franchisee-franchisor relationship looks like. In many cases, they’ve got their entire livelihood, all their life savings and family time involved in the business. Understanding and respecting the nature of the relationship is absolutely huge.”

In some ways, the franchisees within a system are the biggest investors in the company. Because of this, leading in a way that inspires complete confidence in the business plan while maintaining a cooperative relationship is critical.

After becoming a franchisor, Swackhammer says, he began to realize just how turbulent franchisors’ relationships with the franchisees can be. On each end of the spectrum, entirely detached franchise systems are no better than heavily involved, highly combative ones. Ultimately, everyone has the same goal in mind. 

“We’re all rowing the boat in the same direction; we all want to go to the same place,” he said. “Let’s figure out how to get there.”

As Swackhammer reflects on his experience, he says he’s in an incredibly unique position. Wearing both the franchisor and franchisee hats allows him to view all business practices from all sides. Maybe this means giving his franchisors a bit more grace, or it might mean providing a clearer vision and plan to his own franchisees.

“They influence one another very well because I still get to go to other brands’ conventions and see what they’re doing, take really great feedback from excellent leaders and see what they’re doing,” he said. “Then, I think, ‘How can we implement something like that into our business?’ Or, ‘There was an example of leadership that I saw that I really liked. Let’s take that and implement something similar.’ It’s been really cool to see things from both sides.”