101 Mobility’s new president, Mark Baker, talks to us about why he joined the international mobility brand, his military history and the franchise’s strong connection with veterans.
Interview by Kieran McLoone, deputy editor of Global Franchise
KM: What skills and attributes did you pick up throughout your military service?
MB: I served 20 years in the U.S. Army, both active duty and in the army reserve. I’m a retired Lieutenant Colonel. I was an infantry officer in the army, and worked with foreign military over time, and attended the Army’s Command and General Staff College, and various other military schools.
So some of the attributes I got from the army? I’m all about the team; you can’t get anywhere without your team. I think that some of the other key things I learned were discipline, consistency, fairness, and drive. One of the big things about being in the military is that once we set our eyes on mission accomplishment – we keep driving for that.
It’s all about team and goal attainment. I think that’s what helped me be successful over the years; I’m a big team player, and always look at who’s on the team. I play to their strengths and try to offset their weaknesses with other people. I recognize the fact that I’ve got a lot of weaknesses and I like to surround myself with people who are better than me and experts in their area.
KM: How did you get involved with the franchise industry?
MB: I started out in franchising for real estate brand RE/MAX, one of the largest franchisors in the world. I don’t have a real estate license and couldn’t sell you a house if I had to; I was always in the operations side, working with individual franchise owners in the field.
“I expect to double the franchise sales over the next couple of years as we grow this business”
I spent 16 years working with RE/MAX, working with individual franchise owners, moving through the organization there. At one time I oversaw hundreds of franchisees across the country. I then joined Clockwork as president of that business, where we had three franchise brands: Mister Sparky, One-Hour Heating and Air-conditioning, and Benjamin Franklin.
I have also served on the board of directors for the International Franchise Association (IFA) for their education committee, served on the board of advisors for Metropolitan State University in Colorado for their franchising initiative, and I hold a Certified Franchise Executive designation from the IFA.
KM: What are some of the main appeals of 101 Mobility for investors?
MB: There were a couple of reasons I joined the business. One: I’m a veteran. My mom and dad were both in the military, my grandfather was in the military, my father-in-law was in the military, my brother-in-law is a two-star Admiral in the navy today. We work with a lot of veterans, and we’ve got a Veterans Administration contract. That appealed to me, and there’s a personal connection there. Another thing is that I looked at the net promoter score of 101 Mobility, and for 2019 the score was 90. That’s unbelievable. I thought we were really good in my previous business, which was in the high 70s, but 90 is unbelievable, and what it says to me is that the franchisees and the technicians really care about what they’re doing. They’re serving the community.
It’s not just the veterans – I don’t want to get pigeon-holed on that – it’s the fact that we’re helping everybody who’s mobility-challenged to live a better life. That was important for me, and why I wanted to get involved in this company.
KM: I saw that 101 Mobility joined the VetFran program in 2015; what’s your experience with that, and what can franchisors do to reintegrate veterans back into civilian society?
MB: I don’t know if you’ve seen 101 Mobility’s core values, they were published long before I started working with the brand, but they focus on customer care, exceeding expectations, operating with integrity, be passionate, be available. Those core values were important to me because it’s about exceeding expectations; it’s about customer care and integrity.
How we help veterans integrate into society? I think it’s a two-part deal. We have a lot of veterans that are franchisees, because they get the connection and are looking to be small business owners. And then we have a lot of employees that are the technicians in the field who are veterans.
“We’re going to put the processes and people in place to help scale the business exponentially over the next couple of years”
We’re looking for the guys and gals who aren’t afraid to work hard. That’s one of the great things about being a veteran; when you’re in the military, there’s no clock. It’s as long as it takes. The great thing about having that work ethic instilled in you at a young age is that it carries through for life.
When we look at how we help people, we’re providing military solutions to veterans, the elderly, the disabled. We’re looking to help the community because we’re assisting people. We’re helping integrate them and give them options to be mobile and do what they need to do.
KM: As the new president of 101 Mobility, are there any particular directions that you want to take the brand?
MB: We’ve recently started expanding in Canada and we intend to continue our expansion there. We will also start to look at the U.S. territories and commonwealth countries that have similar franchising laws.
We’re going to continue to grow this business. I think we’ve been on a great trajectory over the last couple years, and we’re going to put the processes and people in place to help scale the business exponentially over the next couple of years. We’re always looking for good franchisees to join us. When I look at the white space in the U.S. alone, there are hundreds of markets available. I expect to double the franchise sales over the next couple of years as we grow this business.