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Life, death, pool boys and other things that count


Sometimes franchisors just don’t get it. Thanks to Bage Anderson of E.H Anderson PR, who had to teach me a new skill, I Skyped with Nicolas Desjoyaux of Desjoyaux Pools in France the other day. Desjoyaux was explaining in a charming French accent that because of the ease of owning one of their swimming pools, pool owners could do the maintenance themselves, thus eliminating the need to hire a pool boy.

I sighed deeply. “You are threatening the fantasies of every red-blooded American woman,” I cautioned.

I’m not sure if Nicolas will take my advice and make the pools a bit more labor-intensive for the women of America, but if he doesn’t, I suggest his franchisees at the very least provide the best-selling “Fifty Shades of Grey” trilogy to customers as a consolation prize.

The lady doth protest way too much

Conventional wisdom 101 says never fly on business in something you can’t wear to the meeting the next day if your luggage gets lost. I, however, was confident American Airlines wouldn’t lose my luggage because I had paid $25 for its ticket in steerage. They owed me good service.

Both legs of my flight to Fort Lauderdale for the Professional Athletes Franchise Initiative conference at NOVA were delayed, so instead of landing at 6 p.m., I arrived at my hotel at 2 a.m., sans luggage. I was gifted a toothbrush from the front desk, but that was it. The airline cheerfully volunteered to deliver my luggage by 3 p.m. the next day.

The reason I’m telling you this story is not so you’ll feel sorry for me—although if you do, that’s a bonus—but because it’s an interesting business dilemma. When you show up at a conference in jeans and a casual jacket, do you tell everyone you meet that the airline lost your luggage and that’s why you look under-dressed? Do you talk to people with your hand partially covering your face as if in a pensive mood to hide the fact you’re not wearing makeup? Or do you face up to the fact that you’re too old to do that—which is why you need makeup in the first place?

What’s the lost-luggage protocol?

I am embarrassed to say that I started out the day explaining my  appearance to anyone who would listen. At one point I contemplated grabbing the microphone from the founder of PAFI, Michael Stone, to make a general announcement to the group and just get it over with. Even the athletes were dressed better than me—when did they start wearing slacks and polo shirts? What happened to the sweats from years past?

The bottom line is that no one really cares why you’re wearing jeans instead of a suit. If clothes make the man, then the man makes a better impression not calling attention to them. On short trips from now on, I’ll always pack and carry. Even though it’s a rare man today who helps a lady place her luggage in the overhead bin.

Getting fired up over relatives

When former football player Angelo Crowell was asked at the PAFI conference what he considered his biggest mistake as a franchisee of Jersey Mike’s Subs, he said it was hiring a close friend. The friend’s bad attitude was poisoning the entire team and he had to let him go. It may have even been at Christmas. “You’re in the people business,” he said in defense of his action. “I’m trying to hire the Peyton Mannings, the Drew Brees.” So in other words, don’t hire a friend unless he’s a famous quarterback.

I thought that was tough, until a woman who sat next to me at the Women’s Foodservice Forum executive conference told me she had to fire her husband from the manufacturing company she owns with her brother because of his attitude. And, yes, they’re still married, but not happily.

And then Michael Seid of MSA Worldwide told a story at the Faegre  Baker Daniels Franchise Summit about a franchisor who had to fire his mother. “She sued,” he said, “but lost.”

Shouldn’t mothers be a protected class? My son Zack once threatened to turn me into child protection services because I turned off the TV and asked him to clean his room. But I don’t think he’d ever fire me—but only because he’d never hire me.

Executive Editor
Nancy can be reached at 612-767-3200 or at nancyw@franchisetimes.com

One more bit on being fit

By the time you read this the great franchise adventure into stepping will officially be over. I was one of the few people who voted to continue logging our daily steps in a contest between four teams of both active and sedentary people. The winning team will be honored at an unofficial  gathering at one of the Washington, D.C., watering holes during IFA’s Public Affairs Conference this month.

I had intended to continue counting steps on my own so I could prolong the feelings of inadequacy when I failed to log more than the bare minimum of steps each day. I also knew I’d miss the hope that the next day I would—as God is my witness—never be inactive again. But then, alas, my Fitbit pedometer made the decision for me—it died. It seems a Fitbit can survive a dip in the toilet, but not a swim in the washing machine. I tried for two days to revive it— there were signs of life once when it attempted to light up its empty battery icon, but then it faded away never to be seen again.

I tried counting steps without a pedometer, but the sheer tediousness of counting that high made me lazy.

Owning a pedometer is akin to owning a dog. You’re always chasing after the latest thing: an iPod, iPhone, iPad in the case of technology; your shoes, wallet, the Thanksgiving turkey in the case of the dog. They complete your life, only to cause a deep sorrow when they die—even though both force you to go on walks. But all too soon you start looking forward to your next one. And the one after that­—ahh, technology is so fleeting.

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