Gary, from food franchises to fitness franchises and everything in-between, you have worked for, consulted with, and led some of the biggest names in franchising. Why has this industry been your passion for so many years? “Regardless of the type of service or product you have in franchising, the process fits them all. It’s never really the “what.” My passion is watching others achieve their dreams no matter their current situation or where they came from. Franchising offers them the playbook to grow a business. You could build your own home, but if you have no experience in building, you would have a lot of trial and error. Some of those mistakes could be devastating, and it could cause you to lose everything. Franchising takes out the “guess work”… that is if you’re in the right franchise.
The other thing is this: be willing to go the extra mile. No one has ever been successful in a business by just getting by and doing the bare minimum.”
Restoration 1 and bluefrog franchisees have a unique opportunity to serve their communities in times of tragedy. You’ve even referred to them as heroes. How do you encourage your franchise network to really go above and beyond in serving the community? “I must say with this group of franchisees that has never been an issue. They understand whether it’s a tragedy on a major level, like having your home flood, or finding mold in your home, these situations are tragic to that homeowner. We teach our franchisees to empathize with the home or business owner. It’s our job to get the work done with the least amount of interruption to someone’s life.”
It’s safe to say you’re not the typical CEO. In fact, many people refer to you as the Redneck CEO. In what ways do you embody this title and how has it characterized your leadership style? “I wear that title proudly. I am not ashamed of growing up in a small town and working my summers on farms or out in the hayfields. It has afforded me the opportunity of really understanding the meaning of a hard work ethic. It also taught me to value those around me and that opportunities can be created by anyone from any background as long as they are willing to work for it.
One common characteristic you will find (but not always) of people that grow up in the country is integrity. This comes from raising animals, knowing everyone in our community, and having respect for others. It is the backbone of who we are and how we live.”
How do you find a balance between being a successful CEO and spending time with family and friends? “Priorities. My family and faith always come first, and business is second. I also try not to get too serious about my work by understanding you can’t sweat the small stuff. A lot of times, everything is the small stuff.”
How have PR and marketing played a role in getting you to the successful point you’ve reached today? “Most franchisors don’t always understand that there are two types of advertising for your franchise. One type is paid advertising to bring clients or new franchisees to your system, but the best way to build credibility in your business is to let others talk about how great you are. Let others talk about your success.
This is accomplished through a great PR campaign. The PR ties together all your other programs, and many times, it’s your best form of advertising. Most franchisors don’t realize the residual effect that is created by PR because sometimes you don’t see the results for months.”
What is it like working with BizComPR to help share your message? “BizCom has really taken the time to get to know me and my business. They work to create a plan that benefits us the most. By getting to know our brands, they know what messages to communicate and how we want to communicate them. They have been extraordinary in social media for me personally and for both companies, and in today’s environment, this is vital. They really keep up with the trends of what is applicable for business and provide a plan to implement. Overall, BizCom has been a great team to work with.”