With over 40 years in the franchising industry, Walter Ewell of Home Clean Heroes has some words of wisdom to share with industry newbies.
In the mid-70s, Walter Ewell was asked to be the Vice President of Franchise Development Econo Travel Motor Hotel Association. In his mid-twenties, Ewell didn’t know anything about the franchising, but loved the thrill of the hotel industry and working with large investors. He was hooked. Now the VP of Franchise Development at Home Clean Heroes, his passion and drive are stronger than ever.
“There are three things I have always loved about the franchising industry: the people, the support staff and the education,” shared Ewell reflecting fondly on his time in the industry. “I love being involved in the launch of franchise companies -- helping put it all together. The marketing, vision and messaging.” He went on to explain the importance of the special relationship created with a franchisee looking to build a new life and being a part of the team helping people realize their dreams and find their own path to success.
Ewell’s many years in the business gives him a unique perspective on spotting the right candidate. For him, the key differentiator is having a vision. “What I consider to be a great franchisee is one that catches a vision. I want the franchisee who pictures themselves on a chair in the Bahamas while their business runs itself,” Ewell continued. “Then, they have to be willing to work the system. Good franchise companies have a system for how to build the business. The ones that work the system are going to be successful.”
Ewell prides himself on his ability to educate potential franchisees on the industry and the opportunity. That’s why franchising is so amazing, according the Ewell, because you’re in business for yourself but not by yourself. But the industry has changed a lot since the 70s, mainly the rules and regulations around Franchise Disclosure Documents (FDDs) and when you can and cannot speak with franchisee candidates.
“Nowadays, you have the FDD and you have to stay strictly within that and you can’t really talk about anything outside of that document. Like, you can’t speak about numbers from the current year, you can only reference the previous year outlined in the FDD,” shared Ewell. “Also, when you updated the FDD, some of the states just rubber stamp it when you send the update and other states drag it out. So you can’t talk to anybody until they approve it.”
According to Ewell, the red tape surrounding FDDs has also stopped franchisors from getting involved in the financing process. As many franchisors know, the financing process is a big challenge for potential franchisees and in the past, franchisors would work with prospects and build out a business plan together in order to set franchisees up for success. This process created a strong trust between the franchisor and franchisee, it made franchisees truly feel the partnership between the corporate team. Now, franchisors are required to be very hands-off in the process, and Ewell feels as if that’s a loss.
But the changes throughout the years haven't dulled his passion. He still loves watching franchisees live out their dreams when they work hard to build a successful business. Being a part of the support team that provides the training and guidance that allows franchisees to build confidence when they are starting out with a new brand is what has driven him to be at his best since day one.
Shared Ewell, “My responsibility isn’t to sell franchises. My responsibility is to educate franchisees on the opportunity and if they catch the vision, they catch the vision."