Franchise Update Magazine Issue I, 2017 - Page 24

FINDING THE Suite Spot industry as a whole. It’s fun and exciting and is hopefully setting a good example for the next generation,” says Sun. “They’re a great example of seeing that women don’t see a glass ceiling in franchising. They see they have every opportunity along with anyone else to make their mark. It just takes determination and hard work and a passion for what they’re doing—and I don’t think that relates to gender.” The sky’s the limit “I can remember the seminal moments of development for me as a woman in franchising,” says Meg Roberts, president of Molly Maid. “One of them was walking up and introducing myself to Shelly Sun at the IFA in San Diego 8 or 9 years ago. She was a panelist in a small breakout session—you’d never see her in that role any more! She wasn’t as intimidating to me as an up-and-comer Women in the Trades About 15 years ago, Dina Dwyer-Owens was eating at a restaurant and observed how hard the waitresses were working, and what a good job they were doing serving customers. At the time, her company was short on technicians, and had only a few women working on the front lines. That’s when the idea hit her: start a program to train women to be drain cleaners for the Mr. Rooter brand. It was the beginning of The Dwyer Group’s “Women in the Trades” initiative. She tested a 2-week program at a nearby technical college in Waco, training women who were on welfare. She lined up a woman-owned Mr. Rooter franchisee in Dallas who agreed to hire anyone who completed the program. She would pay them $35,000 a year, mentor them, and teach them to be a plumber. But that franchisee was too far away, and none of the women took her up on the offer. “That didn’t work the way we hoped it would,” says Dwyer-Owens. But she didn’t give up on the idea. About 10 years later, in 2012, she appeared on “Undercover Boss.” In that episode, millions of viewers watched a young lady working on the front lines for Mr. Appliance. “Within two weeks of that show airing 647 women contacted us to say, ‘How do I get a job like that?’” Later that year, Dwyer-Owens, now co-chair of the company her father founded in 1981, revived the Women in the Trades program and added a scholarship component. To date more than 24 women have received scholarships. “My goal is to award at least 50 scholarships a year to women who are interested in getting involved in the trades,” she says. And it’s not just the licensed trades, she adds. The $1,500 scholarships can be applied at a trade or technical school of their choice for HVAC, plumbing, electrical repair, glass repair and replacement, appliance repair, restoration, painting, landscaping, residential cleaning, and handyman services. “My vision for those women who want to own their own businesses is that they will have a career path. They can start with a franchisee and learn the business while they’re earning a living, and the longer they work for a Dwyer brand franchisee the greater discount they can receive toward the purchase of their own franchise territory,” she says. “That’s the vision: showing these women that they can run their own business one day—start at the front line, but one day be a small-business owner and employ other women and men.” then as she might be now, but I could tell this was someone who was going to be remarkable. So I walked up, introduced myself, and made sure I created an impression. Since that time we’ve been in constant contact.” Roberts says there are two lessons to be drawn from that. One is that women who stand out and have something to say need to make sure they keep doing it. Second, she says, women in leadership positions need to extend their hand, introduce themselves, and take the hand back from today’s emerging female leaders. “I’m sure Shelly stood out to a lot of people in the room, and I don’t how many had the courage—which I think is something that as women we need to remind ourselves to harness—to not to be held back because of something as simple as gender,” she says. Roberts remembers that as a very important moment at the beginning of her franchising career. “Certainly any woman reading this will fall into that spectrum of already having achieved where Shelly is now, having been in the spot she was in then, or where I was then as a first-time attendee,” she says. “I hope people recognize the incredible contributions women have made to franchising already—whether they’re the founder of a franchise organization, the offspring of a founder who has done amazing things since then, or a brand president or CMO. I think the sky’s the limit in franchising for women, and the more we support one another and encourage young women to appreciate the endless opportunities, the more amazing, successful women we’ll have.” After a decade in franchising, Roberts says she can see the path to success in ways she couldn’t when she was younger. “It really boils down to polish and professionalism and having a precise focus on what you want to achieve in your future and making a plan to get there. There are so many people who want to help you execute those plans if you’ve got it figured out.” When Roberts made the shift into franchising she was accustomed to the competitive, individualistic culture of the advertising industry where she’d been working. She contrasts that with the collaborative, familial nature of franchising. “It’s much more of a team sport,” she says. “I recall 10 years ago being told that 22 Franchiseupdate ISSUE I, 2017