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: I like how you used the words “recession proof” because that’s -and every so often when I do these interviews too—Christy, the hot question always is what industries to look towards and children’s services is usually the one that pops out: children’s services, senior care industry, pet care industry and things of that nature. You became very, very successful in franchising and I think a lot of people probably say to you Christy “what’s your secret?” It’s not a secret because you share everything that you know with your audience which I think is so wonderful. You don’t leave anything out, but if someone were to ask you “Christy what was your secret? Why were you so successful in franchising?” how do you typically respond to the question?
Christy Wilson Delk: I reflected on this a lot after I sold and realized I had three o general areas (of the business) that I focused on most intently. For me as an owner, it was hard to stay disciplined at times with all the distractions and demands and so I developed a process to help me stay focused. I sort of jokingly say it was the way I retained my sanity because business ownership can make you a little crazy at times! I definitely recommend coming up with a weekly or monthly and quarterly process to stay focused if you want to grow consistently.
The general areas that I mentioned, or Pillars, as I call them now are Developing Money Metrics, Building Layers of Loyalty and Leading Strategically.
In my view, really knowing your numbers, I call it Level III Knowledge and then literally planning your profits are the keys to growing your business, franchise or otherwise, long-term. That’s Developing Money Metrics.
Number two would be to have a plan and a program to build loyalty layers. With the right program, even your former clients will actively refer people to your business. Your staff, community, and your franchisor should all be considered here.
And then the last most important one is leadership. It’s not the traditional leaderships that we see all over the place which sometimes is helpful, but strategic leadership because you’re just one person trying to run and grow a successful business. I like to ask, “What kind of a leader do you need to be this year to move your business forward?” Start with that first.
All three of those things, those Pillar Marty have to do with just this year. You heard me slap my thigh there. I am slapping my thigh because that’s very important. You can plan long term but if you don’t stay extremely focused and super strategic about your coming year and then execute, then you’re going to lose ground that year. Stay on top of the here and now and lead strategically to achieve the goals you set for the current year.
So, you asked me “what was my secret” which is really flattering, and this was it. I used the franchisor business blueprints, operations manual and programs and then fortified the structure, my franchise that is by staying focused on these 3 Pillars. This allowed me to consider and differentiate and strengthen my business in the local market and stay completely aligned with the franchise brand and the benefits of being of franchisee.