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Sharing Best Practices

Saunda Kitchen, CFE, is a multi-unit Mr. Rooter franchisee from California. Kitchen has been involved with franchising since 1996. She and her husband Paul have co-owned and operated various Dwyer Group brands to include Mr. Electric, Rainbow International Restoration and Mr. Rooter. Kitchen is incoming chairwoman of the IFA’s Franchisee Forum and also serves as co-chairwoman of IFA’s Franchise Congress initiative. She can be reached at

KITCHEN: Mr. Rooter Plumbing, as well as The Dwyer Group in general, have many outlets to receive best practices throughout our system. Starting with an open forum via the intranet, franchisees can easily give and get feedback on best operational practices from the home office staff or other franchisees. This enables the franchisees to view, compare and compete through our own regions, a region we’d like to grow toward or on a national level as well. Mr. Rooter Plumbing also shares key performance indicators such has job averages, conversion rates, as well as market penetration numbers. Franchisees can also earn their way into a Peer Performance Group. This is where our mature and pioneer franchisees can get re-motivated and re-energized by peer-based performance accountability. An executive member of Mr. Rooter helps gather benchmarking numbers that include our KPIs, income statements and balance sheets. In addition, this group of six to eight franchisees meets up to three times a year with one visit being at one of our locations. We get open honest feedback about our operations and our targets. We get the opportunity to drill down into our culture, our numbers and systems. This peer- to-peer mentoring helps franchisees push past mediocre or average performance and blast through to consistent brand excellence.

Michael and Laura Pierce own four Comfort Keepers territories in Northern Virginia that cover Fairfax, Alexandria, Springfield and Lorton. They purchased their first territory in August of 2001. Both Michael and Laura have served on Comfort Keepers’ National Advisory Council during the past six years. The Pierces can be reached at

Michael and Laura Pierce: Having served on the Comfort Keepers National Advisory Council, we have helped shape how our franchisor communicates with the franchisees on many issues including best practices. It was determined that they needed to offer many avenues of communication. Franchisees are able to learn “live” about best practices by attending the National Convention, Regional Meeting and thorough visits by their Franchise Business Coach. Other methods include teleconferences/webinars, intranet site, weekly e-mail updates and quarterly newsletters. Many franchisees participate in performance groups set up by Comfort Keepers Franchising, Inc. that allow franchisees to form small support groups that are facilitated by the management of CKFI. These groups guide and support each other by sharing best practices.

Charles Smithgall is CEO of Sei/Aaron’s Inc. Sei/Aaron’s Inc. is one of 150 franchise companies operating Aaron’s stores in the United States and Canada. Sei/Aaron’s Inc. opened its first store on Nov. 29, 1995 and currently owns and operates 88 stores in 9 states including all of the New England States, New York, Kentucky and Indiana. Smithgall can be reached at

Smithgall: Our franchisor, Aaron’s Inc., is a 56-year old New York Stock Exchange company operating 2,100 stores. The corporation operates 1,100 stores and 900 are franchised. Our franchisor gives us the best support available. First, the company operates well-run and highly profitable stores which is a great role model for us. Second, we have very talented field support representatives that give us excellent support and training at the store level. Third, Aaron’s University is an online training program that is available to all franchise and company stores at the store level for new Aaron’s associates. Fourth, Aaron’s has an excellent supply system, composed of 16 furniture factories and 18 store fulfillment centers strategically located throughout the United States.

I don’t know of a better operated franchise system anywhere.

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