Young Ones to Watch: Scott Thompson
Young Ones to Watch: Scott Thompson

How Scott Thompson went from fitness franchising to the forefront of the billion-dollar cleaning industry.

Commercial cleaning is a billion dollar industry, as in $50 billion in the U.S. alone. Ditto for residential cleaning. And Scott Thompson, vice president of franchise development at Premium Franchise Brands, is at the forefront of both segments well before his 40th birthday.

Premium Franchise Brands is the parent company of both JAN-PRO and Maid Right, leading franchises in the commercial and residential cleaning segments, respectively. It’s Thompson’s job to ensure the growth of these companies continues. Fortunately for the brands, Thompson, who is now 36, has been winning in the franchise game since his early 20s.

If his career trajectory so far is any indication, the sky truly is the limit for Thompson and the companies he represents.

How did you end up in your current role?
I started my career with Fitness Together Franchise Corp in 2001at the ripe age of 22 years old. At 24 years old I put together an investment group to open 20 to 30 locations for Fitness Together up and down the East Coast. I moved to New York City in 2005 and put the plans together on how we were to grow. After three years and a lot of blood, sweat and tears, we had opened 22 locations and had sold 30 locations. In 2008, things began to change and the growth came to a screeching halt. I was spending most of my time trying to help and support the businesses that we had open and not selling any new markets because financing dried up and most people cut their discretionary spending on personal training.

In 2010, I decided I would go the corporate route of getting a job with a franchise company. I interviewed with a few companies before settling on Desjoyaux Pools out of St. Etienne, France. They were looking to come to the U.S. and franchise their unique 100% recycled plastic pools. I moved to Atlanta, Ga. in July of 2010 to begin the process of setting up the U.S. subsidiary for Desjoyaux Pools as well as their franchise program. During this process I became heavily involved with the Southeast Franchise Forum and the IFA. I completed my Certified Franchise Executive program during my tenure at Desjoyaux Pools and helped set up their entire business here in the states.

In 2013 they decided they did not want to franchise the model anymore and that they would maintain the one location we had built in Roswell, Ga. I decided that my passion was in franchising and I wanted to stay in the industry. I had worked for FranConnect for a short stint until Kathryn Rookes, our in-house counsel, reached out to me to discuss the possibility of joining Premium Franchise Brands.

I joined the executive team in July of 2013 and have not looked back since. We have added 37 regional master franchise licenses for Maid Right since launching the brand in 2013 and I have been able to sell some key markets for JAN-PRO, such as New Orleans, Detroit, the Panhandle of Florida, India, Peru and Nigeria.

What have been the biggest challenges you've faced?
I would say my biggest challenges were in 2008 when most of my franchisees were just starting their businesses and struggling because of the economic downturn and recession. I spent months working on renegotiating leases and putting people on royalty assistance plans to save them from going out of business.

On a personal note, because our franchisees were not performing, our investment was not either and we had to sell our business back to pay back the debt on it. This was also when I had to take a job and move to Atlanta with over $130,000 in personal debt. This caused me to live below my means and slowly pay back the debt from the business. I have since then paid off all remaining debts.

What has been the most important lesson you've learned?
The most important lesson I have learned is that with perseverance and hard work, you can accomplish anything. I also learned to stick to your personal values and show compassion and empathy to others. It will come back to you ten-fold.

Did you have any mentors along the way?
I had many mentors along the way. My first was the CFO for the Celtics when I owned my business in Massachusetts. In franchising, my mentor is Melanie Bergeron of TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®. I met Melanie through FranShip at the IFA and she would speak to me weekly while I was setting up the Desjoyaux Pools franchise program.

What has been the accomplishment you’re most proud of so far?
The accomplishment I’m most proud of is being recognized as a 40 Under 40 recipient in Westchester County, New York in 2006.

I’m also very proud of how I have been able to reinvent my career three different times at a young age and adapt to the economic changes.

What would your advice be to the next generation of young men and women hoping to make their mark on the business world?
I recommend young people seek to understand before being understood. Stay humble and curious and never let someone tell you that you can’t do something. Dream big!

In your own opinion, what is the formula young executives should follow in order to mature into established business leaders?
Young executives should surround themselves with people they want to emulate in their career. I would also recommend studying success daily and stick to your career plan and have lots of grit to get through the difficult days.