GF: What are your main goals as the new chair of the IFA?
CC: My principal goal is to support the staff as they focus on our three priorities of “protect, enhance, and promote the franchise business model” around the world. We face a number of challenges to the business model, and our three priorities keep us grounded.
The organization has an incredible culture, and the staff takes great pride in supporting what we franchisors, franchises and suppliers do every day. Just in the past year under the leadership of past chair Catherine Monson and IFA president and CEO Matt Haller, the organization has made big moves to return to in-person meetings, reinvigorate its education offering and member experience and launch a major reputation campaign to connect influencers and decision makers with the value and opportunity of franchising.
My goal is to support the staff and continue these efforts as they benefit the entire franchising community.
GF: What is the biggest challenge that franchisors are facing today?
CC: The franchise model is the democratization of business opportunity and the decentralization of wealth potential. No matter your starting point, you can find success in franchising.
Our biggest challenge is that those ‘outside’ franchising do not understand the franchise model. When someone says ‘franchise’ they generally create a mental image of McDonald’s or the Dallas Cowboys. Two great, great franchises, but they only represent a small fraction of what the franchise model supports in our economy (QSRs represent only 25 per cent of franchises). Our biggest challenge today is educating those not engaged in franchising to be promoters of the franchise business model and of the individual businesses they represent.
GF: What do you find personally fulfilling about the franchising community?
CC: Franchising is a family. When I started painting houses with College Pro Painters in 1982, I never thought I would one day lead the FirstService family of brands. People invested their time in me – like family members do – and I was able to grow.
I’m fulfilled every day by the respect members of the franchise community have for each other. They respect the individual, deliver what they promise and take pride in what they do, no matter their business format.
GF: What is your go-to piece of advice for successful leadership?
CC: Practice continual improvement – improvement in your brand, your systems and yourself. If you are treading water, you’re just slowly sinking. With the pace of change increasing every day, everyone can invest in their brands by investing time in themselves to stay ahead of business trends and to become more empathetic leaders – after all, our work is fundamentally in service to others.
GF: What are you excited about for international franchising in 2022 and beyond?
CC: In the same vein as above: franchising is a family – a family that transcends culture and geography. Franchise business owners are inextricably linked by their brands, their shared experience and community commitment.
It makes me very hopeful in challenging times. And right now, as I think about the challenges of Russia and Ukraine, I’m thankful and excited for the international franchising family.