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Employees Just Want to Belong, Dwyer COO Says


Mary Kennedy Thompson is the Dwyer Group's chief operating officer.


Everybody is talking about the labor shortage these days, and one of the most respected names in franchising, Mary Kennedy Thompson of the Dwyer Group, has several astute things to say on the topic as well as research to back it up.

I spoke with Thompson for our Top 200+ coverage in October, when she talked about the factors that boosted growth at The Grounds Guys, one of 11 service brands that Dwyer owns and one of the biggest gainers in sales on our list.

Surprisingly, she didn’t talk about corporate initiatives to better serve franchisees or enhancements to the consumer experience, or other typical talking points when franchise execs explain why systemwide sales increased. She didn’t even talk about same-store sales growth, even though she says she has “a maniacal focus” on that metric in her position as chief operating officer.

Rather, she talked about a project she’s heading up called the RARE toolbox, which stands for retention and recruiting employees.

The Waco, Texas-based franchisor surveyed employees, and found: “Their core motivation is belonging. There’s a big difference between belonging and fitting in. They want to belong someplace where they feel that they matter, that they’re respected and part of a team,” Thompson said. “Some of them said, ‘We’re different from the other landscaping companies out there.’”

The research asked “what was important to them, and their top thing was their relationship to the customer, and the next thing was ‘my work feels valued.’” she said.

The company rolled out RARE at its convention last year, and now the 2.0 version is being developed. “It’s become so critical in understanding who we are,” she said. “Millennials in particular say they want to work for an organization that’s making a difference. What’s nice is that’s who we are already.”

Dwyer owns 11 service brands and spends a great deal of time talking about values and incorporating those values into everyday activities. “Every time we have more than three associates gathered together, we cite these values and we use them,” she said. Count her as one exec whose focus is on the front lines.

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

Tom KaiserTom Kaiser is senior editor of Franchise Times. He can be reached at 612.767.3209, or send story ideas to tkaiser@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.
Laura MichaelsLaura Michaels is editor of Franchise Times. She can be reached at 612.767.3210, or send story ideas to lmichaels@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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