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Jeff Dudan Is A Trail Blazing Author, Speaker, And Entrepreneur Who Builds Franchise Brands That Centralize Critical Components Of The Franchise

LUNL 3 | Franchise Business

 

Nick Lopez and Jeff Dudan discuss what it takes to be successful as a franchise brand in a recession or any market for that matter. Jeff elaborates on some of his lessons at AdvantaClean that paved the way for him to create a winning formula for the franchise model. He discusses what Homefront Brands does in the home services industry and how it is paving the way for franchisees to join a franchise with centralized key components of the business. Nick and Jeff discuss what it takes to be successful as a franchise owner and how to build and scale your franchise business.

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Jeff Dudan Is A Trail Blazing Author, Speaker, And Entrepreneur Who Builds Franchise Brands That Centralize Critical Components Of The Franchise

Meet The Founder Of AdvantaClean, The Dudan Group, Homefront Brands, And Author Of The #1 Amazon Bestseller Discernment

Welcome to the show, where we have the absolute pleasure of learning from thought leaders in franchising business and high-performance personal development. Our guest scaled a multi-hundred-location national franchise in the restoration space called AdvantaClean. He was also featured on Undercover Boss. He also founded the Dudan Group and Homefront Brands. Jeff Dudan, welcome to the show.

Nick, I'm excited to be here with you.

I know you're somebody that practices team building and gratitude, so I know you don't say that lightly.

I know that you and I have a lot in common. Our backgrounds both started in the painting industry. I'm real excited about your show here. I know the content's great, and I'm happy to be on it.

Thanks for doing this. Thanks for helping people level up in franchising and entrepreneurship. I know it's something that is a mission that you devoutly are committed to, helping America and the working class and doing it through entrepreneurship. Speaking of which, I know a lot of people don't necessarily have a great understanding of franchising before they get into it. Many times, franchising is viewed as McDonald's or Burger King. There's not always the understanding that franchising is so many other things like painting or restoration. Jeff, I'm curious. How did franchising find you?

 

LUNL 3 | Franchise Business

 

That's so true, Nick. There are so many non-food franchises out there. People drive down the street in this country. They look left and right and see all the great brands there, McDonald's, Wendy's, and Hardee's. You think, "That's a franchise." What people maybe miss is that the people that come to your home and clean your gutters or paint your house or do all kinds of things, like working on your air conditioning system, many of those businesses are also franchised. Franchising is the greatest wealth-creation business model that's ever been invented. I take that from Matt Haller, the CEO of our trade organization here, the IFA. It really is.

 

Franchising is the greatest wealth-creation business model that's ever been invented.

 

If you want to be part of a community of people that are trying to change their lives through entrepreneurship, take advantage of a great system where somebody's already figured out all of the things that you need to, and put the systems, processes, and people to make it successful, franchising can be applied to almost any business. More and more nowadays, it is. I'm very excited to talk about it. Franchising originally found me back in the early '90s. Much like you, I was a college athlete. I know you were a wrestler. I was a football player. I came out to Appalachian State University from Chicago out to North Carolina on a football scholarship. I wanted to stay over the summer.

Much like you, I had too much month at the end of my money, so I needed to find a way to fill the gap. I did that where I talked my roommate into starting a painting business. The first year, we went around the football office and got jobs from some staff members and people working at the university. At the end of that summer, we approached the property managers who manage the student housing. The next year we put together a team of athletes that were there over the summer to take classes. We developed a powerful business painting student housing apartments.

From there, Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, and a buddy who had painted for me called and said, "I'm with this restoration business, helping the people of South Florida recover." It was the end of the painting season, so my partner and I went down there and cut our teeth in the insurance restoration business over the next eighteen months. It was at that point in time when I realized ServPro and PuroClean were there. There were several franchise systems that were operating in the area.

We had worked for a dealership model at the time, but it had a national footprint. I went and took a look. They were headquartered in South Florida. I went and spent a day and looked at becoming part of their dealership network. What I realized in that network, in particular, was they were a little bit behind the times in terms of technology and what they provided. They were a system that had been around for a while. They hadn't moved forward. On the younger end of things, we were working with computers and things like that. It sounds kind of crazy to say, but back in the late '80s and early '90s, I remember it was a rarity for people to have a computer in their dorm room and things like that.

I thought, "If we're going to be in this space, we probably want to leave the door open for us to expand it nationally." That's what we did. We started the business in 1994 in Central Florida. In '95, I came back up here to start our second location. From there, we grew that to a direct business over the next ten years to a $10 to $20 million a year business doing restoration, duct cleaning, responding to disasters and things like that. I pursued franchising in Ernst in 2005, coming back from Hurricane Katrina. We sold our company stores under a franchise model in 2006, 2007, and 2008. In 2009, we launched to the marketplace. We hit it at a time.

What's very interesting about this time now, where we are sitting here at the end of 2022, is we've got some inflation. We've got some corporate uncertainty. We're having some layoffs, which is very similar to when I launched AdvantaClean in 2009 after the great financial crisis. Four years in, we already had 130 operating units out there. Now, when corporations are contracting perhaps a little bit or maybe uncertain about what the future's going to hold, people are more likely to say, "What's a business that I can get into now, come to training in a month, and start making money in a quarter?"

Service franchising certainly fits that requirement. We're very excited over the last year and a half to have put together six brands in Homefront Brands. We're in preparation again to meet the opportunity. We are meeting the needs of people that have a problem to solve in their life for either income short-term or equity long-term or putting kids through college or anything like that. That's the gap that we're stepping into to fill. We're very excited at Homefront Brands to have the opportunity to do so.

What an interesting perspective, Jeff. I don't think too many people are going to say that 2008 poses an opportunity, nor coming up on 2023 with so much looming around, like the recession. Every week now, I'm seeing major tech corporations laying off a lot of folks and the stock going down, yet you're saying that there is opportunity in that, living it out, and having confidence in a similar type of market. I commend you for that, Jeff.

That's the leadership that comes in a franchise system, especially behind somebody like yourself. As you're scaling this franchise business, I'm sure there were some learnings that came along the journey. I'm sure it wasn't all growth and success. I love getting beyond success because that's clearly where ceilings are broken, which leads to success. You've experienced so much growth and success. I'm curious, Jeff. What were some of those learnings along your journey with AdvantaClean?

Specifically, with respect to franchising, we have an obligation to reduce any friction that we can for the franchisees. We've always felt like anything that can be centralized reasonably should be centralized. There are certain things that can only be done in the local market. Building a team, creating a staff, training those people, selling at the front door, fulfillment of the services, networking, being big in the community, and being the face of whatever it is you decide your brand wants to be in the community is important. The right kind of franchise owners believe in your mission, whatever your brand's mission is, and they want to be a visible part of that in the local community.

 

Being the face of whatever it is you decide your brand wants to be in the community is really important.

 

On the other side of that, good franchisors are going to centralize the thing. Don't make your franchisors turn into digital marketers if they don't have to. Don't make them turn into technologists. Things that can be done well and provided in a way are hallmarks of good franchising. We learn that. I've said this a number of times in a number of venues. You got to have people around the table that have some visibility around the corners because you want to make sure that to the greatest extent possible, when you put a franchise system out there, that it's ready for the franchisees and that you don't have to go to them three years down the road and say, "I'm sorry, but we've got to switch technology platforms."

It's going to be a huge hassle for everybody. You may or may not be at a good place in your business to do it, but the switching cost of core systems in a franchise system is very high. A lot of franchises start with friends and family. They operate on the systems that are operating in the single unit and say, "Here, use this and use that." You get that out there, but very quickly, once you realize that you're going to have a mass of people out there that hopefully you've been able to get the right kind of people around the table that have given you the right advice, and you've been able to make the right investments so that you never have to put a network-wide system through an event that's going to interrupt their business and the flow of it and create friction.

Trust is an interesting concept. Mine's evolved. I trust people to be who they have shown me to be, but you don't have to make the same decisions I would face with the same situations for me to trust you. It's as long as you're consistent. As long as people know where they stand, they're usually okay. If you want your franchisees to trust you, the more research-tested and proven your systems are, and the more thoughtful you've been about how they're going to spend their time, energy, and dollars, it's important to get the fundamental set early.

It's all out there. You might have to run around and talk to a bunch of people to get it. Depending on who you run into, they might not want to give it away for free. The information is available. If you're diligent in doing your research, you can get over the target of what quality responsible franchising looks like. When I get into systems that get stuck at 30, 40, or 50 units, a lot of times, it's because there's too much complexity inside of the model because simplicity scales and complexity fails. At some point, the wrong type of complexity is going to create friction and entropy in any business system.

It sounds like those were some lessons. It's getting as much of that work done upfront to minimize friction, simplify, and streamline. I love what you said there. Simplicity scales and complexity fails. What a quote. That quote is so profound. Simplicity is genius. That simple statement is so genius. Jeff, as you're scaling a franchise, you alluded to Homefront Brands and the amount of brands that are within that platform in the home service space.

You're now to a point where you have completely scaled a nationwide company, made it a household name, and are onto doing that with multiple brands. As you're bringing on a franchise business and thinking about scaling it, what are some of those cycles the business goes through? Many times, it's thought of in number of locations, 0 to 10, 10 to 50, 50 to 100, and 100 to hundreds. What are some of those categories that you think of as you're approaching the maturity or growth of scaling a franchise?

I don't want to answer it in numbers, but let me tell you the three things that we think about every day. First of all, we think about awarding great owners to the brand. David McKinnon, the Founder of Molly Maid, shared this with me. He was a brilliant man. He was very generous in sharing the things that he learned. There are a couple of things. He said, "Always stay close to the development." I don't care if you're McDonald's or anybody else. An average franchise system's going to have a continuity rate of 93% to 95%. There are going to be some people that age out, somebody got sick, had tremendous success, or want to sell their business.

There's always going to be some churn in your system. The best systems keep that to 5% to 7%. To replace that plus to have net new growth, you've always got to be adding new and awarding great new franchise owners into the business. They bring their thoughts, ideas, energy, resources, and contacts. If a system has the right culture and is set up in a transparent way to accept these people and onboard all the things they bring into the platform, a rising tide lifts all boats and brings it in. You constantly got to be awarding new franchises into the system. It doesn't matter if you're Subway or whoever you are. You're constantly working on attracting people to the brand.

The second thing we think about is the average unit volume. It costs the same to support a $200,000 business as it does a $2 million business. Make sure that the territory structure is right to support larger businesses and that we've got the building inventory so that every franchise owner has the opportunity to perform in the way that we know the business can perform. Happy and profitable are the two metrics at the top of the house. People will only be happy for so long if they're not profitable. You got to be happy, and you got to be profitable. The bottom line starts with a good top line. You can't have a great bottom line without a top line. If it makes dollars, it makes sense. That's it.

 

The bottom line starts with a good top line. You can't have a great bottom line without a top line.

 

The last thing is NPS, Net Promoter Score. From our franchisees, we want to survey and test them in different ways at different times but always getting around the fact that this is something that they would do again and what we need to do from our perspective. I'm not saying we enable franchisees. We hold them accountable. It's about an adult relationship and holding them accountable to do the things that they need to do and us being held accountable to do the things we need to do to make sure that we're getting their satisfaction with it, and then net promoter score out to the end user customers.

It's about growing the system because we owe that to our franchisees to have a steady stream of new people constantly coming into the brand to take over their units if they're ready to retire or do something great and then adding new points of distribution so that we can continue to be more relevant in the marketplace, growing average unit volume, and achieving a certain level of net promoter score. If you pay attention to those three things and all of the underlying things that go into it, you're going to be over the target.

I love that. I always talk about when we're coaching, we're very much a sales organization. When we're coaching sales on a location level and to our sales folks on the sales system within LIME, I often talk about behavior goals as opposed to number goals. It's easy to say, "I'm going to sell this amount this year." That's the traditional salesperson mentality. The reality is it comes down to the behavior. If you set the right behavior goals, those sales goals you have will come to fruition. Your approach there is right on par. If you focus on the fundamentals, the behavior that takes a franchise system throughout its lifespan, you're going to break those ceilings along the way.

Clearly, number one is franchise owner profitability, and secondly, customer satisfaction, that net promoter score. There are a lot of components that surround and create that. At the end of the day, that will take a franchise system through its lifecycle, which you're doing not just on a singular approach but with multiple franchise companies. Thanks for sharing that, Jeff. I leveled up. You're going through all of these learnings. What are some of those ceilings that you can reflect on and those key milestones that happened for you with AdvantaClean?

I'd love to answer that. Can I tap on something that you just said about goals and behaviors?

Absolutely.

Think about where we are. I pull up here, and there are a lot of dark offices. People are working from home. They're getting our work done, but people are traveling to see their families. Next week, it's going to be a recovery week, and we're going into the holiday season with parties and stuff like that. You got Christmas and New Year, but what happens on the 31st for most businesses? The scoreboard becomes permanent. At the end of the year, that's what it is. That's your sales, numbers, and profit. Without any funny accounting, you're going to post the score, and that's going to be the end of the game. The new game starts on January 1st, 2023. There are a lot of distractions and excuses.

If you're off your target goals now, there are 5 to 6 weeks here to hit your numbers. If you're missing your goals, you don't compromise your goals. You increase your actions. We have certain businesses that we know. I also own a fitness platform called Thrive More Brand with beam lights, a sauna, and RockBox Fitness. By the way, I bought the RockBox Fitness brand right before COVID. We're launching a fitness brand. I owned it for about a year. We had gotten development going. We had been selling deals, and it was going great, and then COVID hit. We might have had twenty locations open at the time or something, but we were small enough to be nimble, and we had a choice.

We can shut everything down and be fearful and all that, or we can double down on growth now because this isn't going to last forever. If people joined us now by the time we're coming out, where people's health is going to be more important to it than ever, and there are great people available that have been furloughed from other national fitness chains, so we're able to go out and find some great people, then we grew a fitness concept that was emerging right through COVID. We'll have 57 open and 160 sold. We just did three deals. You choose the perspective you take on external things outside your control.

You can't control that, but you can control your reaction to it. You have to take a look and say, "What would be the least fear-based reaction that I could take and be opportunist inside of that?" In that business, if you do a certain number of tasks a day and do the behaviors, it's going to lead to a certain outcome. There's a direct correlation between the number of behaviors you do and the outcome you get. Any business is the same way. As you get into the end of the year here, and you're saying, "I'm off my sales goal by $50,000. I need to sell a few more paint jobs or whatever it is," there are actions.

 

If you do the behaviors, it's going to lead to a certain outcome. 

 

You can do a boiler room. You can go back into your funnel and look at every job starting with the last 90 days and call every single one of those people that didn't close and see where they're at and offer them a discount. You can go back to the 90 days before that and go back through your pipeline. You can call them and ask them for a referral. There are things that you can do to increase your actions. You can accustom your team to winning in the big moments. Maybe you don't want them to work the Friday after Thanksgiving, but maybe there are some days in here that people are usually going to say, "Nobody wants to hear from us because it's the holiday season."

I don't think that's true. They're probably more open to hearing from you because everybody else has stopped calling them. Get out there. I like to say that music is made between the notes, and we get rewarded in public for the things that we do in private. I find that this time of year, not only gratitude, taking stock of where I am trying to do some goal setting for next year, but also some of the things that you know should have been done, making an effort to get those things done, and in the time working on a few of the most critical things when other people are maybe saying, "I'm going to just phone it in here, whatever the results they're going to be." I've always found that you can swing a deal or influence an outcome if you sprint hard to the finish line.

One of the things you said there was how you deal with fear. Oftentimes, fear steals opportunities. It can steal opportunities over weeks, months, quarters, and years. The reality is that fear doesn't just come along and say, "I'm fear. I'm holding you back. I'm stealing opportunities." It's a little bit trickier than that. It's generally what you mentioned there, "It's the holidays. I'm not going to have the results or engagement I would otherwise have." Maybe it's the recession, "I'm going to sit back and follow the narrative." The big tech companies are laying people off. Maybe you just got laid off. It's doom and gloom.

It's easy to take a practical example of whatever it is that will allow you to stay handcuffed and paralyze you from taking action. Much of the execution is about gaming yourself. Everybody's different. Some are more analytical, and some are more people-focused. You have to understand yourself and whatever inner voice and voices from the outside that contribute to keeping you from executing. At the end of the day, it comes down to execution and very simple behavior goals.

Jeff, you're speaking to some pieces of wisdom here. If you were to talk about how franchise owners become successful, what are some of the themes of a franchise owner being successful? I'm sure there are some universal themes, whether in the fitness space, Homefront Brands, or back to the AdvantaClean days. What are those themes that create a successful franchise owner?

I'm going to talk out of both sides of my mouth here. I'm going to tell you one thing, and I'm going to tell you the other thing and the balance between the two. Number one, it's people that do the people piece well. Generally, that's important as the owner of a franchise team because you've got to build a team. You've got to be an inspired leader, meaning you have to be able to connect what's in it for you, what's in it for the business, and how that aligns with the world. If you can get an individual's purpose aligned with the purpose of the business and then some broader purpose, that's when things tend to go well.

You said culture eats strategy for breakfast, but execution trumps everything. If you are going to build a team where you want the same thing to happen in your absence that happens in your presence, understand all of the things that go into building that team, building a place that's good for people, giving them clarity, showing up with energy, and creating, creating the right kind of environment that people want to come and stay so that there's a Law of Attraction to you. If you have those kinds of people, when you're not on the phone, and those people are on the phone with the customer, that's going to come true.

These people are going to like what they do. They're going to be bought into why you do it. All of that makes a difference. I will say, too, that painters get paid by the hour, your salespeople get paid commission, but leaders get paid by the conversation. The conversations that you have leading a business with customers, vendors, other business owners, referral partners, and your employees are the things that people remember forever. It only takes a moment to create a moment with somebody. The thing is, people are going to hang on to the words that you say.

Pointing out something that somebody did well at the moment and taking a moment to slow down and be present with somebody, those types of moments, the compound interest on those to the velocity and the quality of your business over time is unmeasurable. People will refer you when you're not there because our names travel farther than we ever do. On the other side of it, great managers use numbers, not words. It's accountability. If you're training once a week or have all calls once a month, you need sales KPIs and bright spots, "Here's somebody that got a great sale. Here are sales updates."

You got to make sure that your owners understand that they should never be far from revenue. As a business owner, if you're not working on revenue, you're driving somewhere to work on revenue. At the end of the day, when that stops, you got a problem to fix. Being at the tip of the sword as a business owner, especially in the service industry from a revenue perspective, is always important. Make sure that there are clear KPIs. How can you manage people's activities and behaviors if you say, "Do more?" That's not good instruction. It's like, "Do eleven." If I do eleven additional tasks every day, the compound effect of that on my business over time is immeasurable.

Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. If I own a hotel and didn't rent a room yesterday, that $89 is gone forever. You can never get that Tuesday night hotel room rental back. You got to make sure that every day if you want to get the compound interest on your activities and behaviors, you measure, execute, and follow through. Doing the people piece well is a leader's job, and also, making sure that you're following through on the things that need to happen every day from a numbers perspective that is going to lead to the outcomes that everybody's agreed upon.

These are things that are most certainly skills. These things don't come naturally. They're not easy. Creating accountability, having tough conversations, casting vision, having a culture with a vision that's big enough to fit everyone on the team's vision, and aligning it, as you were talking about, are skills in the same regard as getting the right folks on the bus that can execute, willing to be coached, and are willing to be held accountable because they know that you, as their coach, is ultimately getting them to their goal.

Together, they're more powerful than just that singular salesperson trying to hit their quota or bonuses. You mentioned KPIs. That's a skill as opposed to saying, "Be better. Do better. Make more sales." Those are very broad. It's a skill to focus on leading indicators and be proactive with those lagging indicators. Those are skills that have to be acquired as a franchise owner if you want to scale beyond yourself. You want those behaviors to be done when you're not there, as you mentioned.

 

LUNL 3 | Franchise Business

 

If you think about it, the first thing an entrepreneur say is, "What do I need to do to be an entrepreneur? What advice?" People ask me that all the time. The first thing is to know thyself. Confront the brutal facts about yourself and who you are. We use a tool called Culture Index across our entire team. We all have a blueprint that we are not good at everything. Nobody's good at everything. If you're the first person in the boat, you've got to figure out what your skillsets are. What are you great at? What are the strengths that you can leverage as a franchise owner?

Some are going to come in with the sales talent, and they're going to be rainmakers. They want to go out and sell everything. Other people are going to be more operational and things like that. That doesn't mean that's not good or bad. What that means is you've got to build a team of diversity. You should have diversity and skillset, diversity and personality, diversity and education, tools, race, and all of these different things, but you don't have diversity and values. Everybody should align on what the business values are and buy into that. Here's the thing about values. I'm not saying altruistic-type things. The values that go with the business need to fit the business, serve the business, and serve the customers of the business.

The values are like rules. They provide organizational boundaries. They let people know what's expected when you're engaged with other team members, the general public, and customers. The leader of the business, the franchisee, and their key people need to be the ones that exemplify the right behaviors, live the values of the business, bring energy, provide clarity, and all of these things inside of the business. They also need to understand that you're not going to get the team right unless you're honest with yourself. Here's one of the mistakes that a lot of small business owners start when they first start. I saw it online.

Somebody was like, "I can tell in the first 30 seconds whether I like somebody and want to hire them." You like them because they're just like you. A bunch of people like me running this business over here would go nowhere because there are things I don't do well, and you need other people that want to sit in that seat and do that. Know yourself and have intellectual humility around who you are. It's okay that you don't know how to do everything, but it's not okay if you pretend that you can do everything and resist training, education, and learning. You're going to hold the business back. Why do so many small businesses stay small businesses? It's because they rise to the level of competency and the intellectual humility of the owner.

Jeff, what is your Culture Index profile?

I'm a trailblazer.

I'm a technical expert.

We would work extremely well together.

We started using Culture Index a couple of years ago, and I love it. It's the inner technical expert in me, the inner nerd that enjoys a platform like that. You mentioned the rainmakers. We've realized that the rainmakers, persuaders, and, surprisingly, the craftsmen and the tech experts do good in our sales role. There are eighteen profiles. Time and time again, we have franchise owners that do a tremendous job with their craftsmen. Clearly, that is taking a process and lining it up and knocking it down. You talk about execution. The craftsmen do such a great job of that naturally.

I can nerd out and mention all these profiles, and no one will know what we're talking about. The point is to understand who the folks are on your team. What are their strengths? What are your strengths? What are the traits that everybody can fit into their position on the bus and ultimately unite under values, culture, the vision, and get in stride together? Jeff, you've mentioned some tremendous things related to franchise owners being successful. What's the flip side of that? What are some pitfalls you've noticed that are common that franchise owners can learn from?

It's the flip side of the things we talked about. First of all, many times, people will come from Corporate America. Big companies evolve to a certain place where you have to watch your turf. There are a lot of conflicts. It may be healthy conflict, fighting over budgets, territories, or resources to launch your product versus another one, whatever it is, wherever you come from. You then come into a small business franchise, and you have to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. As people get into the franchise business model, it's taking a healthy approach and stepping back and saying, "First of all, there's a plan here."

I have the curse of knowledge because I've been in Corporate America for twenty years, and I know a lot. I'm going to do 1 or 2 things. I'm either going to try to bend this opportunity the way that I've learned to do business, which is going to make me more comfortable, however, probably less successful, or I'm going to say, "There's a system here. I'm going to follow it. Until I'm on the leader board and up on the panels talking about how I'm in the top 20% of the network at franchise conferences or annual conventions, I'm going to follow the plan." One of the agreements we make going out of training is no genius for twelve months. Meaning, give us twelve months for us to prove to you that in all the decades of business experience, why the business needs to be this way.

It's because the longer you put off acquiescing to the systems of the franchise, the longer it's going to be until you get in the shoot and take off. There are a lot of different ways to do things. Do we want to let aggressive salespeople hunt? Are we intellectually humble that if people find a new way to access markets and get business that we're always going to be open? We have forums for sales and things like that every week and month. Following the plan would be the thing.

 

The longer you put off acquiescing to the systems of the franchise, then the longer it's going to be till you get in the chute and take off. 

 

When you become a top performer, you may get brought into the Franchise Advisory Council or on these peer things. Contribute openly for the benefit of the system because the rising tide lifts all boats. I can tell you people will always remember if you contributed and helped them and you came at it the right way. It's being part of a community. Make sure that you want to be part of the community. We always have service in all of our values. It's servant heart and servant leadership. Take a servant approach to the other franchisees and say, "How can we all learn? How can we all get to better?" That's a great way to leverage the community.

If you go off and say, "I had success in the semiconductor industry. I'm going to bring all of my sales practices and systems and everything. I'm going to try to make this business into that because it makes me more comfortable to operate the way I've always operated," there's probably some risk in that. It would depend on exactly what you're talking about. That would fall outside of trusting the process, following the plan, and seeking to learn and understand before you seek to change.

There are more skills that have to be developed. This is probably the most important skill. You have so much corporate and life experience, and here's the opportunity to be an entrepreneur and realize everything that goes into being your own boss, yet we ask for twelve months for no genius to come out quite yet but rather to focus on joining the top twenty in the franchise system. Those are nuggets of gold there, Jeff. Thank you for that. I truly am humbled by you being on the show. I could talk to you for hours about many different things here. I'm curious. You're a visionary and an executor. You've clearly shown a world-class ability to do both. What is your vision for Homefront Brands?

At the core of it, we set out to do with excellence all of the things that I had to sacrifice in building AdvantaClean. Things that we could have done better, we want to do with excellence, everything from territory model to technology. We've invested so heavily in technology in making our data actionable and accessible to the marketing, saying, "If I can do it as close to perfect as I would want to this time around." We're creating a durable, agile company that's going to be here in 100 years. That's the foundation we're laying down. We have a bit of a longer time horizon on this.

I committed to everybody that's joined up to a ten-year time horizon to say this is probably going to be the last. Materially, it's the perfect thing that we've done. We're challenging ourselves every day to make sure that we've left no stone unturned in market strategy, how we go to market, supplier relationships, driving customer leads, and creating an economic model that is going to last forever. There's a half a dozen great service franchise platforms out there, some individual companies. Over the last several years, I've always admired the way this company did this or that, and I knew that it was a key to their success.

We've taken all of that and said, "If we could do it the very best that we could possibly do, what would that look like?" That's what we've set out to do. In this country nowadays, there's a need for entrepreneurship everywhere across this country, in Middle America and all the towns out there for people. You've got massive inflation. You've got interest rates that are going up. There are going to be people that are going to be unintended victims of other people's decisions that we're not theirs, but they still have to keep the lights on and keep the food on the table.

Are people willing to take a little bit more risk, take their future into their own hands, and join companies like LIME Painting or one of the Homefront Brands and say, "I'm willing to step outside my comfort zone. Half a life is showing up. I'm willing to go out there and be the face of this in the community. I'm willing to sit down with people and talk to them about why they should join our company. We're up to something, and we're going somewhere?" If we do that, we're adding to the financial foundation of this country through entrepreneurship and small business. It's meaningful.

The gig economy is one thing. People working remotely, doing things through the gig and Upwork and stuff like that, that's certainly one way to go, but that lacks the community-building aspect of a franchise business and also the equity-building aspect of a franchise business. When you stop taking those Upwork jobs, the revenue is over. Ideally, we're creating businesses where people can go and sit with their families at Thanksgiving and the holidays and all that kind of stuff and still have a valuable asset that's making money.

The vision with Homefront Brands is system-wide excellence from the operations to the tech, marketing, and leadership team. This all comes from learnings, having firsthand experience of doing it and here, over the next ten years, making it into the final stretch. Jeff, you have a huge fan of myself. I commend you for everything you're doing. It's tremendous. You're doing it the right way, and you most certainly have the franchise owners' top of mind in everything that you're doing. Like I said, I can chat with you about these things for hours and hours. Unfortunately, we can't. Maybe I'll have you again. Thank you so much for joining us and helping us level up.

It's my pleasure, Nick. Right back at you. It's been great. I look forward to doing it again.

If anybody is interested in getting in touch with you, how can they do that?

My two best platforms would be LinkedIn. Go to Jeff Dudan. Instagram, oddly enough, is where a lot of people reach out to me. Not that the pictures are that great, but it seems to be. You can always go to HomefrontBrands.com. If you want to see other content I put out, you can go to DudanGroup.com. If you want to get to know me, you can go to Amazon.com and buy my book Discernment: The Business Athlete's Regimen for a Great Life through Better Decisions. It's for people that are looking at a business or growing a business or early in their entrepreneurial career. There are a ton of models of thought and nuggets inside of there that would help you and inform your thinking and your journey with my journey. That's where you can get me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

You read it right from Jeff. Hop onto Amazon and check out the book. I recommend it. If you enjoyed this show, please subscribe. It's how we are able to grow and have more thought leaders, influencers, business franchising, and high-performance personal development to help you level up. Also, like this blog, but more importantly, contribute to the conversation. Please drop a comment. Let us know your thoughts. We covered so many different topics. I'm sure you leveled up. Contribute to the conversation, and share some thoughts around tips for franchise owners and how they can be successful and, as always, level up.

 

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About Jeff Dudan

LUNL 3 | Franchise Business

Jeff is a published author, Forbes contributor, speaker, and consultant to emerging brands. He has served YPO as the Chapter Chair of the Southeast Regional US Chapter, as a member of The Chief Executives Organization (CEO), Novant Health as an Advisory Board member, the IFA Franchisor Forum and FranPac Advisory Board as a member, and is a tireless advocate for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Jeff lives in Cornelius, NC, with his wife, Traci, and three kids, Zack, Maelee, and Jack. He enjoys fishing, coaching youth sports teams, and spending time with his favorite rescue dog, Charlie.

LUNL 3 | Franchise Business

 

Nick Lopez and Jeff Dudan discuss what it takes to be successful as a franchise brand in a recession or any market for that matter. Jeff elaborates on some of his lessons at AdvantaClean that paved the way for him to create a winning formula for the franchise model. He discusses what Homefront Brands does in the home services industry and how it is paving the way for franchisees to join a franchise with centralized key components of the business. Nick and Jeff discuss what it takes to be successful as a franchise owner and how to build and scale your franchise business.

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Jeff Dudan Is A Trail Blazing Author, Speaker, And Entrepreneur Who Builds Franchise Brands That Centralize Critical Components Of The Franchise

Meet The Founder Of AdvantaClean, The Dudan Group, Homefront Brands, And Author Of The #1 Amazon Bestseller Discernment

Welcome to the show, where we have the absolute pleasure of learning from thought leaders in franchising business and high-performance personal development. Our guest scaled a multi-hundred-location national franchise in the restoration space called AdvantaClean. He was also featured on Undercover Boss. He also founded the Dudan Group and Homefront Brands. Jeff Dudan, welcome to the show.

Nick, I'm excited to be here with you.

I know you're somebody that practices team building and gratitude, so I know you don't say that lightly.

I know that you and I have a lot in common. Our backgrounds both started in the painting industry. I'm real excited about your show here. I know the content's great, and I'm happy to be on it.

Thanks for doing this. Thanks for helping people level up in franchising and entrepreneurship. I know it's something that is a mission that you devoutly are committed to, helping America and the working class and doing it through entrepreneurship. Speaking of which, I know a lot of people don't necessarily have a great understanding of franchising before they get into it. Many times, franchising is viewed as McDonald's or Burger King. There's not always the understanding that franchising is so many other things like painting or restoration. Jeff, I'm curious. How did franchising find you?

 

LUNL 3 | Franchise Business

 

That's so true, Nick. There are so many non-food franchises out there. People drive down the street in this country. They look left and right and see all the great brands there, McDonald's, Wendy's, and Hardee's. You think, "That's a franchise." What people maybe miss is that the people that come to your home and clean your gutters or paint your house or do all kinds of things, like working on your air conditioning system, many of those businesses are also franchised. Franchising is the greatest wealth-creation business model that's ever been invented. I take that from Matt Haller, the CEO of our trade organization here, the IFA. It really is.

 

Franchising is the greatest wealth-creation business model that's ever been invented.

 

If you want to be part of a community of people that are trying to change their lives through entrepreneurship, take advantage of a great system where somebody's already figured out all of the things that you need to, and put the systems, processes, and people to make it successful, franchising can be applied to almost any business. More and more nowadays, it is. I'm very excited to talk about it. Franchising originally found me back in the early '90s. Much like you, I was a college athlete. I know you were a wrestler. I was a football player. I came out to Appalachian State University from Chicago out to North Carolina on a football scholarship. I wanted to stay over the summer.

Much like you, I had too much month at the end of my money, so I needed to find a way to fill the gap. I did that where I talked my roommate into starting a painting business. The first year, we went around the football office and got jobs from some staff members and people working at the university. At the end of that summer, we approached the property managers who manage the student housing. The next year we put together a team of athletes that were there over the summer to take classes. We developed a powerful business painting student housing apartments.

From there, Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida, and a buddy who had painted for me called and said, "I'm with this restoration business, helping the people of South Florida recover." It was the end of the painting season, so my partner and I went down there and cut our teeth in the insurance restoration business over the next eighteen months. It was at that point in time when I realized ServPro and PuroClean were there. There were several franchise systems that were operating in the area.

We had worked for a dealership model at the time, but it had a national footprint. I went and took a look. They were headquartered in South Florida. I went and spent a day and looked at becoming part of their dealership network. What I realized in that network, in particular, was they were a little bit behind the times in terms of technology and what they provided. They were a system that had been around for a while. They hadn't moved forward. On the younger end of things, we were working with computers and things like that. It sounds kind of crazy to say, but back in the late '80s and early '90s, I remember it was a rarity for people to have a computer in their dorm room and things like that.

I thought, "If we're going to be in this space, we probably want to leave the door open for us to expand it nationally." That's what we did. We started the business in 1994 in Central Florida. In '95, I came back up here to start our second location. From there, we grew that to a direct business over the next ten years to a $10 to $20 million a year business doing restoration, duct cleaning, responding to disasters and things like that. I pursued franchising in Ernst in 2005, coming back from Hurricane Katrina. We sold our company stores under a franchise model in 2006, 2007, and 2008. In 2009, we launched to the marketplace. We hit it at a time.

What's very interesting about this time now, where we are sitting here at the end of 2022, is we've got some inflation. We've got some corporate uncertainty. We're having some layoffs, which is very similar to when I launched AdvantaClean in 2009 after the great financial crisis. Four years in, we already had 130 operating units out there. Now, when corporations are contracting perhaps a little bit or maybe uncertain about what the future's going to hold, people are more likely to say, "What's a business that I can get into now, come to training in a month, and start making money in a quarter?"

Service franchising certainly fits that requirement. We're very excited over the last year and a half to have put together six brands in Homefront Brands. We're in preparation again to meet the opportunity. We are meeting the needs of people that have a problem to solve in their life for either income short-term or equity long-term or putting kids through college or anything like that. That's the gap that we're stepping into to fill. We're very excited at Homefront Brands to have the opportunity to do so.

What an interesting perspective, Jeff. I don't think too many people are going to say that 2008 poses an opportunity, nor coming up on 2023 with so much looming around, like the recession. Every week now, I'm seeing major tech corporations laying off a lot of folks and the stock going down, yet you're saying that there is opportunity in that, living it out, and having confidence in a similar type of market. I commend you for that, Jeff.

That's the leadership that comes in a franchise system, especially behind somebody like yourself. As you're scaling this franchise business, I'm sure there were some learnings that came along the journey. I'm sure it wasn't all growth and success. I love getting beyond success because that's clearly where ceilings are broken, which leads to success. You've experienced so much growth and success. I'm curious, Jeff. What were some of those learnings along your journey with AdvantaClean?

Specifically, with respect to franchising, we have an obligation to reduce any friction that we can for the franchisees. We've always felt like anything that can be centralized reasonably should be centralized. There are certain things that can only be done in the local market. Building a team, creating a staff, training those people, selling at the front door, fulfillment of the services, networking, being big in the community, and being the face of whatever it is you decide your brand wants to be in the community is important. The right kind of franchise owners believe in your mission, whatever your brand's mission is, and they want to be a visible part of that in the local community.

 

Being the face of whatever it is you decide your brand wants to be in the community is really important.

 

On the other side of that, good franchisors are going to centralize the thing. Don't make your franchisors turn into digital marketers if they don't have to. Don't make them turn into technologists. Things that can be done well and provided in a way are hallmarks of good franchising. We learn that. I've said this a number of times in a number of venues. You got to have people around the table that have some visibility around the corners because you want to make sure that to the greatest extent possible, when you put a franchise system out there, that it's ready for the franchisees and that you don't have to go to them three years down the road and say, "I'm sorry, but we've got to switch technology platforms."

It's going to be a huge hassle for everybody. You may or may not be at a good place in your business to do it, but the switching cost of core systems in a franchise system is very high. A lot of franchises start with friends and family. They operate on the systems that are operating in the single unit and say, "Here, use this and use that." You get that out there, but very quickly, once you realize that you're going to have a mass of people out there that hopefully you've been able to get the right kind of people around the table that have given you the right advice, and you've been able to make the right investments so that you never have to put a network-wide system through an event that's going to interrupt their business and the flow of it and create friction.

Trust is an interesting concept. Mine's evolved. I trust people to be who they have shown me to be, but you don't have to make the same decisions I would face with the same situations for me to trust you. It's as long as you're consistent. As long as people know where they stand, they're usually okay. If you want your franchisees to trust you, the more research-tested and proven your systems are, and the more thoughtful you've been about how they're going to spend their time, energy, and dollars, it's important to get the fundamental set early.

It's all out there. You might have to run around and talk to a bunch of people to get it. Depending on who you run into, they might not want to give it away for free. The information is available. If you're diligent in doing your research, you can get over the target of what quality responsible franchising looks like. When I get into systems that get stuck at 30, 40, or 50 units, a lot of times, it's because there's too much complexity inside of the model because simplicity scales and complexity fails. At some point, the wrong type of complexity is going to create friction and entropy in any business system.

It sounds like those were some lessons. It's getting as much of that work done upfront to minimize friction, simplify, and streamline. I love what you said there. Simplicity scales and complexity fails. What a quote. That quote is so profound. Simplicity is genius. That simple statement is so genius. Jeff, as you're scaling a franchise, you alluded to Homefront Brands and the amount of brands that are within that platform in the home service space.

You're now to a point where you have completely scaled a nationwide company, made it a household name, and are onto doing that with multiple brands. As you're bringing on a franchise business and thinking about scaling it, what are some of those cycles the business goes through? Many times, it's thought of in number of locations, 0 to 10, 10 to 50, 50 to 100, and 100 to hundreds. What are some of those categories that you think of as you're approaching the maturity or growth of scaling a franchise?

I don't want to answer it in numbers, but let me tell you the three things that we think about every day. First of all, we think about awarding great owners to the brand. David McKinnon, the Founder of Molly Maid, shared this with me. He was a brilliant man. He was very generous in sharing the things that he learned. There are a couple of things. He said, "Always stay close to the development." I don't care if you're McDonald's or anybody else. An average franchise system's going to have a continuity rate of 93% to 95%. There are going to be some people that age out, somebody got sick, had tremendous success, or want to sell their business.

There's always going to be some churn in your system. The best systems keep that to 5% to 7%. To replace that plus to have net new growth, you've always got to be adding new and awarding great new franchise owners into the business. They bring their thoughts, ideas, energy, resources, and contacts. If a system has the right culture and is set up in a transparent way to accept these people and onboard all the things they bring into the platform, a rising tide lifts all boats and brings it in. You constantly got to be awarding new franchises into the system. It doesn't matter if you're Subway or whoever you are. You're constantly working on attracting people to the brand.

The second thing we think about is the average unit volume. It costs the same to support a $200,000 business as it does a $2 million business. Make sure that the territory structure is right to support larger businesses and that we've got the building inventory so that every franchise owner has the opportunity to perform in the way that we know the business can perform. Happy and profitable are the two metrics at the top of the house. People will only be happy for so long if they're not profitable. You got to be happy, and you got to be profitable. The bottom line starts with a good top line. You can't have a great bottom line without a top line. If it makes dollars, it makes sense. That's it.

 

The bottom line starts with a good top line. You can't have a great bottom line without a top line.

 

The last thing is NPS, Net Promoter Score. From our franchisees, we want to survey and test them in different ways at different times but always getting around the fact that this is something that they would do again and what we need to do from our perspective. I'm not saying we enable franchisees. We hold them accountable. It's about an adult relationship and holding them accountable to do the things that they need to do and us being held accountable to do the things we need to do to make sure that we're getting their satisfaction with it, and then net promoter score out to the end user customers.

It's about growing the system because we owe that to our franchisees to have a steady stream of new people constantly coming into the brand to take over their units if they're ready to retire or do something great and then adding new points of distribution so that we can continue to be more relevant in the marketplace, growing average unit volume, and achieving a certain level of net promoter score. If you pay attention to those three things and all of the underlying things that go into it, you're going to be over the target.

I love that. I always talk about when we're coaching, we're very much a sales organization. When we're coaching sales on a location level and to our sales folks on the sales system within LIME, I often talk about behavior goals as opposed to number goals. It's easy to say, "I'm going to sell this amount this year." That's the traditional salesperson mentality. The reality is it comes down to the behavior. If you set the right behavior goals, those sales goals you have will come to fruition. Your approach there is right on par. If you focus on the fundamentals, the behavior that takes a franchise system throughout its lifespan, you're going to break those ceilings along the way.

Clearly, number one is franchise owner profitability, and secondly, customer satisfaction, that net promoter score. There are a lot of components that surround and create that. At the end of the day, that will take a franchise system through its lifecycle, which you're doing not just on a singular approach but with multiple franchise companies. Thanks for sharing that, Jeff. I leveled up. You're going through all of these learnings. What are some of those ceilings that you can reflect on and those key milestones that happened for you with AdvantaClean?

I'd love to answer that. Can I tap on something that you just said about goals and behaviors?

Absolutely.

Think about where we are. I pull up here, and there are a lot of dark offices. People are working from home. They're getting our work done, but people are traveling to see their families. Next week, it's going to be a recovery week, and we're going into the holiday season with parties and stuff like that. You got Christmas and New Year, but what happens on the 31st for most businesses? The scoreboard becomes permanent. At the end of the year, that's what it is. That's your sales, numbers, and profit. Without any funny accounting, you're going to post the score, and that's going to be the end of the game. The new game starts on January 1st, 2023. There are a lot of distractions and excuses.

If you're off your target goals now, there are 5 to 6 weeks here to hit your numbers. If you're missing your goals, you don't compromise your goals. You increase your actions. We have certain businesses that we know. I also own a fitness platform called Thrive More Brand with beam lights, a sauna, and RockBox Fitness. By the way, I bought the RockBox Fitness brand right before COVID. We're launching a fitness brand. I owned it for about a year. We had gotten development going. We had been selling deals, and it was going great, and then COVID hit. We might have had twenty locations open at the time or something, but we were small enough to be nimble, and we had a choice.

We can shut everything down and be fearful and all that, or we can double down on growth now because this isn't going to last forever. If people joined us now by the time we're coming out, where people's health is going to be more important to it than ever, and there are great people available that have been furloughed from other national fitness chains, so we're able to go out and find some great people, then we grew a fitness concept that was emerging right through COVID. We'll have 57 open and 160 sold. We just did three deals. You choose the perspective you take on external things outside your control.

You can't control that, but you can control your reaction to it. You have to take a look and say, "What would be the least fear-based reaction that I could take and be opportunist inside of that?" In that business, if you do a certain number of tasks a day and do the behaviors, it's going to lead to a certain outcome. There's a direct correlation between the number of behaviors you do and the outcome you get. Any business is the same way. As you get into the end of the year here, and you're saying, "I'm off my sales goal by $50,000. I need to sell a few more paint jobs or whatever it is," there are actions.

 

If you do the behaviors, it's going to lead to a certain outcome. 

 

You can do a boiler room. You can go back into your funnel and look at every job starting with the last 90 days and call every single one of those people that didn't close and see where they're at and offer them a discount. You can go back to the 90 days before that and go back through your pipeline. You can call them and ask them for a referral. There are things that you can do to increase your actions. You can accustom your team to winning in the big moments. Maybe you don't want them to work the Friday after Thanksgiving, but maybe there are some days in here that people are usually going to say, "Nobody wants to hear from us because it's the holiday season."

I don't think that's true. They're probably more open to hearing from you because everybody else has stopped calling them. Get out there. I like to say that music is made between the notes, and we get rewarded in public for the things that we do in private. I find that this time of year, not only gratitude, taking stock of where I am trying to do some goal setting for next year, but also some of the things that you know should have been done, making an effort to get those things done, and in the time working on a few of the most critical things when other people are maybe saying, "I'm going to just phone it in here, whatever the results they're going to be." I've always found that you can swing a deal or influence an outcome if you sprint hard to the finish line.

One of the things you said there was how you deal with fear. Oftentimes, fear steals opportunities. It can steal opportunities over weeks, months, quarters, and years. The reality is that fear doesn't just come along and say, "I'm fear. I'm holding you back. I'm stealing opportunities." It's a little bit trickier than that. It's generally what you mentioned there, "It's the holidays. I'm not going to have the results or engagement I would otherwise have." Maybe it's the recession, "I'm going to sit back and follow the narrative." The big tech companies are laying people off. Maybe you just got laid off. It's doom and gloom.

It's easy to take a practical example of whatever it is that will allow you to stay handcuffed and paralyze you from taking action. Much of the execution is about gaming yourself. Everybody's different. Some are more analytical, and some are more people-focused. You have to understand yourself and whatever inner voice and voices from the outside that contribute to keeping you from executing. At the end of the day, it comes down to execution and very simple behavior goals.

Jeff, you're speaking to some pieces of wisdom here. If you were to talk about how franchise owners become successful, what are some of the themes of a franchise owner being successful? I'm sure there are some universal themes, whether in the fitness space, Homefront Brands, or back to the AdvantaClean days. What are those themes that create a successful franchise owner?

I'm going to talk out of both sides of my mouth here. I'm going to tell you one thing, and I'm going to tell you the other thing and the balance between the two. Number one, it's people that do the people piece well. Generally, that's important as the owner of a franchise team because you've got to build a team. You've got to be an inspired leader, meaning you have to be able to connect what's in it for you, what's in it for the business, and how that aligns with the world. If you can get an individual's purpose aligned with the purpose of the business and then some broader purpose, that's when things tend to go well.

You said culture eats strategy for breakfast, but execution trumps everything. If you are going to build a team where you want the same thing to happen in your absence that happens in your presence, understand all of the things that go into building that team, building a place that's good for people, giving them clarity, showing up with energy, and creating, creating the right kind of environment that people want to come and stay so that there's a Law of Attraction to you. If you have those kinds of people, when you're not on the phone, and those people are on the phone with the customer, that's going to come true.

These people are going to like what they do. They're going to be bought into why you do it. All of that makes a difference. I will say, too, that painters get paid by the hour, your salespeople get paid commission, but leaders get paid by the conversation. The conversations that you have leading a business with customers, vendors, other business owners, referral partners, and your employees are the things that people remember forever. It only takes a moment to create a moment with somebody. The thing is, people are going to hang on to the words that you say.

Pointing out something that somebody did well at the moment and taking a moment to slow down and be present with somebody, those types of moments, the compound interest on those to the velocity and the quality of your business over time is unmeasurable. People will refer you when you're not there because our names travel farther than we ever do. On the other side of it, great managers use numbers, not words. It's accountability. If you're training once a week or have all calls once a month, you need sales KPIs and bright spots, "Here's somebody that got a great sale. Here are sales updates."

You got to make sure that your owners understand that they should never be far from revenue. As a business owner, if you're not working on revenue, you're driving somewhere to work on revenue. At the end of the day, when that stops, you got a problem to fix. Being at the tip of the sword as a business owner, especially in the service industry from a revenue perspective, is always important. Make sure that there are clear KPIs. How can you manage people's activities and behaviors if you say, "Do more?" That's not good instruction. It's like, "Do eleven." If I do eleven additional tasks every day, the compound effect of that on my business over time is immeasurable.

Compound interest is the eighth wonder of the world. If I own a hotel and didn't rent a room yesterday, that $89 is gone forever. You can never get that Tuesday night hotel room rental back. You got to make sure that every day if you want to get the compound interest on your activities and behaviors, you measure, execute, and follow through. Doing the people piece well is a leader's job, and also, making sure that you're following through on the things that need to happen every day from a numbers perspective that is going to lead to the outcomes that everybody's agreed upon.

These are things that are most certainly skills. These things don't come naturally. They're not easy. Creating accountability, having tough conversations, casting vision, having a culture with a vision that's big enough to fit everyone on the team's vision, and aligning it, as you were talking about, are skills in the same regard as getting the right folks on the bus that can execute, willing to be coached, and are willing to be held accountable because they know that you, as their coach, is ultimately getting them to their goal.

Together, they're more powerful than just that singular salesperson trying to hit their quota or bonuses. You mentioned KPIs. That's a skill as opposed to saying, "Be better. Do better. Make more sales." Those are very broad. It's a skill to focus on leading indicators and be proactive with those lagging indicators. Those are skills that have to be acquired as a franchise owner if you want to scale beyond yourself. You want those behaviors to be done when you're not there, as you mentioned.

 

LUNL 3 | Franchise Business

 

If you think about it, the first thing an entrepreneur say is, "What do I need to do to be an entrepreneur? What advice?" People ask me that all the time. The first thing is to know thyself. Confront the brutal facts about yourself and who you are. We use a tool called Culture Index across our entire team. We all have a blueprint that we are not good at everything. Nobody's good at everything. If you're the first person in the boat, you've got to figure out what your skillsets are. What are you great at? What are the strengths that you can leverage as a franchise owner?

Some are going to come in with the sales talent, and they're going to be rainmakers. They want to go out and sell everything. Other people are going to be more operational and things like that. That doesn't mean that's not good or bad. What that means is you've got to build a team of diversity. You should have diversity and skillset, diversity and personality, diversity and education, tools, race, and all of these different things, but you don't have diversity and values. Everybody should align on what the business values are and buy into that. Here's the thing about values. I'm not saying altruistic-type things. The values that go with the business need to fit the business, serve the business, and serve the customers of the business.

The values are like rules. They provide organizational boundaries. They let people know what's expected when you're engaged with other team members, the general public, and customers. The leader of the business, the franchisee, and their key people need to be the ones that exemplify the right behaviors, live the values of the business, bring energy, provide clarity, and all of these things inside of the business. They also need to understand that you're not going to get the team right unless you're honest with yourself. Here's one of the mistakes that a lot of small business owners start when they first start. I saw it online.

Somebody was like, "I can tell in the first 30 seconds whether I like somebody and want to hire them." You like them because they're just like you. A bunch of people like me running this business over here would go nowhere because there are things I don't do well, and you need other people that want to sit in that seat and do that. Know yourself and have intellectual humility around who you are. It's okay that you don't know how to do everything, but it's not okay if you pretend that you can do everything and resist training, education, and learning. You're going to hold the business back. Why do so many small businesses stay small businesses? It's because they rise to the level of competency and the intellectual humility of the owner.

Jeff, what is your Culture Index profile?

I'm a trailblazer.

I'm a technical expert.

We would work extremely well together.

We started using Culture Index a couple of years ago, and I love it. It's the inner technical expert in me, the inner nerd that enjoys a platform like that. You mentioned the rainmakers. We've realized that the rainmakers, persuaders, and, surprisingly, the craftsmen and the tech experts do good in our sales role. There are eighteen profiles. Time and time again, we have franchise owners that do a tremendous job with their craftsmen. Clearly, that is taking a process and lining it up and knocking it down. You talk about execution. The craftsmen do such a great job of that naturally.

I can nerd out and mention all these profiles, and no one will know what we're talking about. The point is to understand who the folks are on your team. What are their strengths? What are your strengths? What are the traits that everybody can fit into their position on the bus and ultimately unite under values, culture, the vision, and get in stride together? Jeff, you've mentioned some tremendous things related to franchise owners being successful. What's the flip side of that? What are some pitfalls you've noticed that are common that franchise owners can learn from?

It's the flip side of the things we talked about. First of all, many times, people will come from Corporate America. Big companies evolve to a certain place where you have to watch your turf. There are a lot of conflicts. It may be healthy conflict, fighting over budgets, territories, or resources to launch your product versus another one, whatever it is, wherever you come from. You then come into a small business franchise, and you have to resolve conflicts in a healthy manner. As people get into the franchise business model, it's taking a healthy approach and stepping back and saying, "First of all, there's a plan here."

I have the curse of knowledge because I've been in Corporate America for twenty years, and I know a lot. I'm going to do 1 or 2 things. I'm either going to try to bend this opportunity the way that I've learned to do business, which is going to make me more comfortable, however, probably less successful, or I'm going to say, "There's a system here. I'm going to follow it. Until I'm on the leader board and up on the panels talking about how I'm in the top 20% of the network at franchise conferences or annual conventions, I'm going to follow the plan." One of the agreements we make going out of training is no genius for twelve months. Meaning, give us twelve months for us to prove to you that in all the decades of business experience, why the business needs to be this way.

It's because the longer you put off acquiescing to the systems of the franchise, the longer it's going to be until you get in the shoot and take off. There are a lot of different ways to do things. Do we want to let aggressive salespeople hunt? Are we intellectually humble that if people find a new way to access markets and get business that we're always going to be open? We have forums for sales and things like that every week and month. Following the plan would be the thing.

 

The longer you put off acquiescing to the systems of the franchise, then the longer it's going to be till you get in the chute and take off. 

 

When you become a top performer, you may get brought into the Franchise Advisory Council or on these peer things. Contribute openly for the benefit of the system because the rising tide lifts all boats. I can tell you people will always remember if you contributed and helped them and you came at it the right way. It's being part of a community. Make sure that you want to be part of the community. We always have service in all of our values. It's servant heart and servant leadership. Take a servant approach to the other franchisees and say, "How can we all learn? How can we all get to better?" That's a great way to leverage the community.

If you go off and say, "I had success in the semiconductor industry. I'm going to bring all of my sales practices and systems and everything. I'm going to try to make this business into that because it makes me more comfortable to operate the way I've always operated," there's probably some risk in that. It would depend on exactly what you're talking about. That would fall outside of trusting the process, following the plan, and seeking to learn and understand before you seek to change.

There are more skills that have to be developed. This is probably the most important skill. You have so much corporate and life experience, and here's the opportunity to be an entrepreneur and realize everything that goes into being your own boss, yet we ask for twelve months for no genius to come out quite yet but rather to focus on joining the top twenty in the franchise system. Those are nuggets of gold there, Jeff. Thank you for that. I truly am humbled by you being on the show. I could talk to you for hours about many different things here. I'm curious. You're a visionary and an executor. You've clearly shown a world-class ability to do both. What is your vision for Homefront Brands?

At the core of it, we set out to do with excellence all of the things that I had to sacrifice in building AdvantaClean. Things that we could have done better, we want to do with excellence, everything from territory model to technology. We've invested so heavily in technology in making our data actionable and accessible to the marketing, saying, "If I can do it as close to perfect as I would want to this time around." We're creating a durable, agile company that's going to be here in 100 years. That's the foundation we're laying down. We have a bit of a longer time horizon on this.

I committed to everybody that's joined up to a ten-year time horizon to say this is probably going to be the last. Materially, it's the perfect thing that we've done. We're challenging ourselves every day to make sure that we've left no stone unturned in market strategy, how we go to market, supplier relationships, driving customer leads, and creating an economic model that is going to last forever. There's a half a dozen great service franchise platforms out there, some individual companies. Over the last several years, I've always admired the way this company did this or that, and I knew that it was a key to their success.

We've taken all of that and said, "If we could do it the very best that we could possibly do, what would that look like?" That's what we've set out to do. In this country nowadays, there's a need for entrepreneurship everywhere across this country, in Middle America and all the towns out there for people. You've got massive inflation. You've got interest rates that are going up. There are going to be people that are going to be unintended victims of other people's decisions that we're not theirs, but they still have to keep the lights on and keep the food on the table.

Are people willing to take a little bit more risk, take their future into their own hands, and join companies like LIME Painting or one of the Homefront Brands and say, "I'm willing to step outside my comfort zone. Half a life is showing up. I'm willing to go out there and be the face of this in the community. I'm willing to sit down with people and talk to them about why they should join our company. We're up to something, and we're going somewhere?" If we do that, we're adding to the financial foundation of this country through entrepreneurship and small business. It's meaningful.

The gig economy is one thing. People working remotely, doing things through the gig and Upwork and stuff like that, that's certainly one way to go, but that lacks the community-building aspect of a franchise business and also the equity-building aspect of a franchise business. When you stop taking those Upwork jobs, the revenue is over. Ideally, we're creating businesses where people can go and sit with their families at Thanksgiving and the holidays and all that kind of stuff and still have a valuable asset that's making money.

The vision with Homefront Brands is system-wide excellence from the operations to the tech, marketing, and leadership team. This all comes from learnings, having firsthand experience of doing it and here, over the next ten years, making it into the final stretch. Jeff, you have a huge fan of myself. I commend you for everything you're doing. It's tremendous. You're doing it the right way, and you most certainly have the franchise owners' top of mind in everything that you're doing. Like I said, I can chat with you about these things for hours and hours. Unfortunately, we can't. Maybe I'll have you again. Thank you so much for joining us and helping us level up.

It's my pleasure, Nick. Right back at you. It's been great. I look forward to doing it again.

If anybody is interested in getting in touch with you, how can they do that?

My two best platforms would be LinkedIn. Go to Jeff Dudan. Instagram, oddly enough, is where a lot of people reach out to me. Not that the pictures are that great, but it seems to be. You can always go to HomefrontBrands.com. If you want to see other content I put out, you can go to DudanGroup.com. If you want to get to know me, you can go to Amazon.com and buy my book Discernment: The Business Athlete's Regimen for a Great Life through Better Decisions. It's for people that are looking at a business or growing a business or early in their entrepreneurial career. There are a ton of models of thought and nuggets inside of there that would help you and inform your thinking and your journey with my journey. That's where you can get me. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

You read it right from Jeff. Hop onto Amazon and check out the book. I recommend it. If you enjoyed this show, please subscribe. It's how we are able to grow and have more thought leaders, influencers, business franchising, and high-performance personal development to help you level up. Also, like this blog, but more importantly, contribute to the conversation. Please drop a comment. Let us know your thoughts. We covered so many different topics. I'm sure you leveled up. Contribute to the conversation, and share some thoughts around tips for franchise owners and how they can be successful and, as always, level up.

 

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About Jeff Dudan

LUNL 3 | Franchise Business

Jeff is a published author, Forbes contributor, speaker, and consultant to emerging brands. He has served YPO as the Chapter Chair of the Southeast Regional US Chapter, as a member of The Chief Executives Organization (CEO), Novant Health as an Advisory Board member, the IFA Franchisor Forum and FranPac Advisory Board as a member, and is a tireless advocate for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.

Jeff lives in Cornelius, NC, with his wife, Traci, and three kids, Zack, Maelee, and Jack. He enjoys fishing, coaching youth sports teams, and spending time with his favorite rescue dog, Charlie.

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