Restoration 1 and bluefrog Plumbing + Drains’ CEO on getting the work-life balance right, the virtues of franchising and the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
What does success look like to you?
GF: Success is finding a balance between a fulfilling work life and my personal life. I am a CEO who works hard and also plays hard. I have managed our multi-brand franchise organization to historic growth levels and simultaneously enjoyed more time with my immediate family than ever before. I can respect the boundaries that business and family each deserve. At the end of the day, success means living a life that is pleasing to God; having high morals and high integrity; being a great father, husband, Poppy, and friend; and having a desire to always help others.
What are the vital components behind a well-run organization?
GF: Persistence, hard work, the ability to hire the right people, and integrity. And I didn’t learn these things in some fancy business school. Instead, I credit these life-long lessons from growing up in a small country town, and I apply them every day to running Restoration 1 and bluefrog Plumbing + Drain.
What most interests you about franchising?
GF: I’ve always felt that franchising is a great gateway to providing opportunities to people who would not always have the opportunity to better their lives.
When you have the right systems in place, and others faithfully follow the systems, great things can happen.
Who or what inspires you and why?
GF: Don Dwyer, the late founder of The Dwyer Group (now called Neighborly), was one of my biggest inspirations. I worked in development selling franchises at his organization and I would often go up and sit in Don’s office and he took the time to mentor me. That’s when I really started to get excited about a career in franchising. This was the tipping point as I saw that anyone could have success by hard work and discipline. Don was the first to arrive at work and the last to leave. It became a challenge for me to beat him. I also saw him grow a business that led to long nights at the office and time away from his family. Perhaps, by his example, I also have a deep appreciation for finding a better balance between work and family in my own life.
How has the coronavirus pandemic affected your brands?
GF: COVID-19 made it clear that things can change in an instant. As CEO of essential businesses, it was my job to make sure the brands could successfully pivot business to meet the needs of customers. Thankfully, I run a 24/7 network that is used to addressing natural disasters and emergencies. That made our brands well-trained for a pandemic. We put a variety of safety measures and practices in place to minimize the risks to our frontline service professionals and our customers during the pandemic. And, unlike many businesses slowing to a halt during this time, we have experienced an escalating need for our services, and are answering all of them with the highest care for health and safety among our team and across our customer base. The skills of our franchisees and their frontline service professionals are more important than ever.
What advice do you have for entrepreneurs looking to embark on a career in franchising?
GF: It’s important to understand that entrepreneurs make great franchise founders. On the other hand, a great franchisee is someone who can follow a proven system and isn’t interested in reinventing the wheel. Specifically, franchisees get to operate things at the grassroots level without the pressure of dreaming it all up. They don’t have the headaches, trials and errors, and even failures that entrepreneurs might have experienced before them. So my advice to an entrepreneur is to not spend time and money on a franchise opportunity only to try and change a proven system. Embrace the roadmap that you are provided.