Marti McDermmot is a business professor at Kaplan University and hosts a weekly podcast focusing on Franchising and Entrepreneurship. You can find our full interview on his website here: www.FranchiseInterviews.com
Hi everyone and welcome to a very special edition of Franchise Interviews, where for over nine years we have been interviewing the fran–trepreneur.
We have a great show today. We are meeting with Christy Wilson Delk. After 17 years in corporate sales and distribution, Christy Wilson Delk decided to risk it all. In 1996, she sold her house and cashed out her 401K plan for the down payment on the $1.7 million dollar SBA loan needed to buy and build a Kids R Kids Academy franchise in Orlando, Florida. She expanded twice and exited successfully in 2012.
Now, a professor at Rollins College, business speaker, and writer, Christy has turned her focus to helping others realize greater professional rewards through growing a successful business.
Franchise Interviews: When I was watching your video, so many things stood out. One example that made an impression, Christy, was someone came into your office, and I think it was on a Friday maybe, and they said that they were quitting. They didn’t give you much notice, and it was the bus driver! And it made such an impression that here you are, you’re the CEO of the organization/the franchise, and you said, “Okay Folks, I’m going to go out and drive the bus myself, and I’m going to go get a CDL (Commercial Driver’s License),” and you did all that on the same day.
You came up with a solution to the problem and had no ego about it. You said, “Well, I’ll do it.” I think it’s what separates or makes the difference sometimes between others someone like yourself. Anybody could do that, right? They could say, “Okay, well I am going to solve this problem,” instead of panicking and saying, “What am I going to do now?”
Christy Wilson Delk: That’s exactly right; except it took the full weekend to get the CDL! It is, and I think as a franchise owner – sometimes because you’re an instant business owner, It’s pretty easy to fall into that kind of diva or ego driven mentality “oh, no, I’m not going to do that, I’m the owner!” But you can’t do that. Before I even opened, I tried to ask a lot of questions or at least listened well to successful people who gave great advice on this exact subject. But one of those first ones was Janice Vinson. Janice Vinson is the President and her husband, Pat, is the Vice President of Kids R’ Kids Academy. In our franchise training, she said, and they are very, very southern, so here goes:
“Now I’m going to tell you, that if the toilets needed scrubbing and that toilet in the main lobby is dirty, sometimes you’re going to be the one who has to go and clean the toilet.” She said, “I sometimes clean the toilet here too.” And so, of course, you are thinking “Really, clean the toilet? I don’t even like to clean my toilet at my house,” and Janice Vinson is a multi-millionaire! That made a big impression on me.
Another person who gave me good advice early on was my divorce attorney, N. Diane Holmes. She was very successful and down to earth, and so I asked her her secret. She said, “Your staff will work as hard you do, so show them how hard you work and how passionate you are about your business and don’t hesitate to do anything that needs to be done.
So those two individuals, at that very impressionable time said things that really stuck with me. So getting back to the bus driving story, honest to God Marty, on that day there was just no question in my mind that it was Friday afternoon and if I didn’t get moving – right then, we might not have a bus driver on Monday morning.