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Candid Panel of Pros Admit to Making Mistakes


Mary Ann McConnell, president of FranWise, received the 2015 Crystal Compass, an award that recognizes extraordinary leadership.

Early on, Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid, said her hiring style was more academic, more judgmental. She was more interested in applicants’ CV and education. Now, she told the audience at the Leadership Conference at the International Franchise Association convention in February, she’s more focused on their aptitude and attitude, because skills can be taught, attitude can’t. "If a candidate is a 'maybe,' it’s a no," she said, and "if they don’t fit in, free up their future for other opportunities."

John Rotche, president of Title Boxing Club International, pointed out to franchisors that when their franchisees are engaged corporate has better compliance and less litigation. “Not hearing from your franchisees is not cause you’re doing everything right,” he warned.

He also advised franchisors to identify what business they’re in. For instance, he said, when he worked for Domino’s, their product was not pizza, but rather delivery. Competitor Little Caesars’ product was value.

When the panel was asked to share a mistake they had made, Rotche said he liked everyone to live in “Happyville” with him, so when franchisees started posted what he deemed negative responses on the company discussion board, he originally took them down. He learned that if you aren’t open to all forms of opinions, good and bad, the conversation will move elsewhere. In his case, to a franchisee-only forum with anonymous postings.

Roberts said her mistake was to overcommunicate and then get defensive when franchisees or employees said they didn’t know what she was talking about. To solve the problem, Roberts started filming five-minute videos, with the idea that if she could make them laugh, they’d remember what she was asking them to do.

Heidi Ganahi, founder of Camp Bow Wow, admitted her biggest mistake was hiring friends and families when she first started her business. “It’s a reality show,” she said, laughing.

Keynoter Amit Kleinberger, CEO of Menchie’s Frozen Yogurt, said a mother’s day promotion went horribly wrong when they emailed a gift certificate offer with the headline: “Your mom emailed us and this is what she wants for mother’s day.”

The chain received lots of angry calls from people who took offense at the notion that their mothers—who had passed away—had emailed Menchie’s. Since Menchie’s goal is to make their customers smile, it wasn’t a happy-face moment.

A moment that was happy was the crowning of Mary Ann McConnell, president of FranWise, as the 2015 Crystal Compass recipient, an award that recognizes extraordinary leadership.

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About This Blog

The latest news, opinions and commentary on what's happening in the franchise arena that could affect your business.

Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@franchisetimes.com.
Beth EwenBeth Ewen is senior editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3212, or send story ideas to bewen@franchisetimes.com.
Nicholas UptonNicholas Upton is restaurants editor at Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3226, or send story ideas to nupton@franchisetimes.com.
Mary Jo LarsonMary Jo Larson is the publisher of Franchise Times Magazine and the Restaurant Finance Monitor.  You can find her on Twitter at




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