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 .