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Bouncing It off of a Peer Group 

We just finished another amazing week. Mary Kay went to a summit in Cleveland, Ohio, for independent business owners who are linked through a trade organization in the painting industry. As the president of Five Star Painting, she is always anxious to learn all she can learn about that industry.

Sometimes we both take franchising for granted. After all these years, we are accustomed to seeing franchisees sharing best practices with other franchisees. In Cleveland, she experienced independent painting contractors sharing their stories with others in the same business with the hopes of everyone leaving Cleveland smarter. Iron sharpening iron. Great stuff.

While she attended the event, I flew into Cleveland and spent the weekend with my son, his wife and two of our amazing grandsons. Stop me at Auto Glass Week and just say, “If you buy me a drink, I’ll look at your grandchildren’s pictures with you.” It‘s worth it.

We left Cleveland Monday for a meeting with the 11 U.S. presidents of the Dwyer Group brands at our Ann Arbor, Mich., offices. On the way, MK and I made a presentation to the employees at Clarity – a partner of ours that offers VOIP phones for all the Dwyer Group brands’ franchisees. I remember being introduced to VOIP phones several years ago, and, finally, understanding how much money these phones can save a business owner.

The founder of Clarity is a good friend of ours. When he introduced us, he said, “If you are going to pick knowledge from a tree, make sure it has good fruit.” He felt we offered some “fruit” for his employees. Why?  Because we’ve learned so much by doing the same.

As I thought about what the peer groups learn from each other and what, hopefully, Clarity’s employees learned from us, I remembered the words of the president of Valpak—the company where I met MK. He said, “About the time you are tired of saying it, they are starting to hear it.” Bear with me if you think I’m repeating a message you’ve read before!

In less than two months many of us will be at the Palm Beach Convention Center for Auto Glass Week hopefully “picking fruit” from our peers.

When MK and I arrived in Ann Arbor, we were interested in seeing their offices. MK’s sister and brother-in-law are Molly Maid franchisees. (MM is our sister company.) Just walking through the halls of that building I gathered some ideas for a few things I should be doing in Waco.

In the two days I spent in Ann Arbor, I took copious notes of what the presidents and staff of the other brands were doing. Meetings like this are my favorite of the year. Why? Because I’m learning from my peers! I’m learning from people who have the exact challenges that I have.

Whenever I attend an event like this, I come away appreciating the knowledge and experience of my peers, and I hope I contribute as much as I take away.

When we got home I had a meeting with five of my franchisees on plans for our future. Five franchisees from all over the country. The one with the least experience had 15+ years in the glass business. Again, more copious notes.

I’ll keep preaching and asking this—who is in your peer group? Who, in our business, makes you better?  Who challenges you to take your business to the next level?

If you don’t know—get to West Palm Beach. You’ll meet the right peers there. Have a great week.

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