30 min Real-World Stories: Leader Talk + Q&A with Aaron Harper

real world stories leader talk and Q&A with Aaron Harper and it's led by professor John Dr John Hayes so if any of you in the audience are unfamiliar with Dr John Hayes he's he's an internationally recognized speaker a business coach and Amazon bestseller um he helps franchisors and franchisees reduce costs and increase profit with 40 plus years of experience as in franchising some of you guys might be familiar with the brand home vest ERS or We Buy Ugly Houses and more importantly than that Dr Hayes is um educating the next franchise generation which I'm proud to be a part of and he is my professor from the Titus Center of franchising and leads the advisory um board there so with that said take it away professor and I will be your chairman well thank you Matthew and hello everyone I see uh lots of familiar faces I like seeing a lot of our Advisory board members and it it always uh it's almost overwhelming to have students in an audience or graduates in in the case of the two who are on here it's always U it it jolts me for a second to realize I helped that young person or those young people get into franchising I hope that's a good thing I think it is it it certainly has been for me so there's Aaron hello Aaron hi we're going to uh do a little bit of a Founder story with Aaron Harper so Aaron nobody uh when you're a kid unless your father is a founder of a franchise company or something similar nobody says when I grow up I'm going to to be a franchisor most people in America have no clue what that means most people in America have no clue what franchising means which is why it's so important to be educating young people about franchising and helping them into the 350 some industries that make up franchising so nobody ever says that I'm assuming eron you didn't say that what' you want to be when you were growing up uh when I graduated college I wanted to be a talent agent in Hollywood you had been a good Talon agent I can see that thank You' got that you've got that uh the combination on the dis scale of the D and the I the driver and the influencer which I think most Founders have that combination anyway if you the ones that I've worked with through the years have definitely been high D's um but often times High eyes U even more prominently than the D so at some point Aaron uh like each of us this is probably true of each person on here somebody introduced you to franchising you discovered franchising in my case a guy called me to ask me to write a book for him and I said what do you do and he said I'm in franchising I had no idea what that was he said he was a franchisor I quickly grabbed the dictionary this was 1979 uh sitting in my office at Temple University franchisor wasn't in the dictionary or I clearly didn't know how to spell it at the time um and that opened the door to a career that at 29 at that point I had no idea uh I would end up in franchising and devote my my life to it and now devote my my life to educating young people about franchising so when did it happen for you eron when did uh when did you realize there was a thing called franchising so I was looking for a career change and I reached out to um a buddy of mine from college I grew up in Southern California and went to college at UC Santa Barbara and a buddy of mine um worked at a a carpet cleaning franchise and he's like you should get into franchise development and I was like what's that you mean like McDonald's that's what I thought it was how old so this was 2017 so I'm 36 now so I was 30 yeah do that math do that until you 29 yeah great and when you heard you know you should get into franchise development were you already in sales uh from college to 30 what were you doing so from college to 30 uh so I I graduated college moved to Hollywood um worked in at a talent agency um and uh was on the track to kind of become an agent worked on Will Smith's team worked on Jesse eisenberg's team worked on Melissa Leo's team um and Melissa Leo had just won an Academy Award for the fighter and so I joke like every story that you've heard about Hollywood is 100% true um like I uh I I I um if anyone's seen um uh if anyone's seen on uh Entourage um my life was Lloyd's life like working for Ari uh gold uh so um did that started partying um lost everything and um decided I was going to get sober moved into working in B2B uh sales at um AT&T I am a recovering AT&T employee um and so um then a buddy of mine was like hey you should get into franchise development and um loved the idea of being able to help business owners um become entrepreneurs or people become business owners and um emailed his boss every three weeks till he hired me seven seven different times um and uh been in franchising since then have seen everything I feel like or seen a lot I've seen the Dark Side of franchising I've seen the light side of franchising and um and decided you know after a few years um that I wanted to do it on my own and I wanted to do it differently than I had seen in the past and uh acquired the franchise rights to a 34 year old power washing business in January backing up six years ago uh you were in the talent seeking business and isn't it ironic when I see people like Steve St Leber and Dan Monahan and um others on here who are in franchise uh development or have been or touch on that uh Topic at least um what are they doing they're looking for talent correct looking for the right talent to join that brand and so you already had some good education that that would help you uh in franchise development and what the was it uh did you join franchise development in a carpet cleaning franchise yep yep working for chem Dr okay all right great that's right so uh you did did you equate it at all to uh okay this is a matter of finding the right person like and it's got to be a person who has certain skills and uh wants to follow a system that's a skill that people don't think about very often or the right way because we have a lot of franchisees who don't have that skill and uh this results in uh you know tragic ends to uh many careers yes and no um the uh ability to help people become business owners was a lot less um arduous than um kind of dealing with really intense Personalities in Hollywood um so I like it was like calm in comparison um in retrospect dealing with franchisees is almost similar to dealing with really big actors like they're just you know uh insatiable at times right um we've all been in franchising long enough um but uh the the uh I was on kind of the tail end of a private Equity turn and so the need to sell units was less important than who you were selling them to um if that makes sense and I didn't know and let's talk about that for a minute since you bring it up and a lot of this goes on uh you you weren't you didn't have a lot of pressure on you to just sell a franchise I had a lot pressure okay to just sell I thought you said that that that uh you could be more judicious about who you sold to no no no no no let me say it again in a different way the need to sell the amount of units necessary was more important than who we were selling the units to all right so we had a lot of failures um we had a lot of uh kind of a lack of support infrastructure that um was disheartening and um and I candidly almost left franchising yeah did it how much did it uh in in in Hollywood the talent business I don't know anything about it but uh you've got to do a lot of schmoozing and you've got to know a lot of people you got to do a lot of networking you got to do a lot of talking you got to be persuasive all those things that a high ey like you uh is good at doing um and maybe it bothered you in Hollywood uh being a talent agent some of the sacrifices you had to make did it bother you in franchise development um you said you almost left what what was upsetting about your situation um so I would I would sell I would sell units or award territories and um I would promise the franchisees that they would receive a certain level of support and I had zero control over whether or not that support was going to be delivered upon and um it's been large reason why I decided to become a franchise or is because if I can sign people up make the promises they're going to get the support and then actually manage and lead the team that's supporting them then um operations and sales are 100% aligned one of the biggest challenges I see in franchising is Operation says one thing and sales says another and then they uh as the business grows um the uh operations teams learns things about the right franchises to bring in and what's working and what's not and then uh sales continues to to sell units and so if they're if they go in different directions what happens is that you have mismatched expectations excuse me amongst the franchisees who sign up so um so anyways I I I would sign people up and then they wouldn't receive the support that I promised that they'd get and uh I I realized that was new to you but now that you've been in franchising even though you've only been in six years that's not really very long um I don't know that there's ever been a Brand where the operations people said W our franchise development people do a great job they always bring us the right skill set in a franchisee and historically that's not the case but you wouldn't have had that perspective was it easy was the job easy could you sell franchises easily so I I could yeah I mean I would say franchise sales is probably the one of the hardest sells um in that I've ever seen because you have to sell someone the ability for them to take a big leap um and chance on themselves and then they pay a considerable amount of money up front and then they're you know beholden to a royalty and so I don't think it's an easy sell for most which is why I think a lot of franchisors are limited in terms of the options and where they can find franchisees and so they uh rely heavily on um you know Outsource sales organizations and broker networks and stuff like that because they're they don't have another option they have a very they're in a very low leverage perspect position um for me it was easy um but you know what what I learned when we we went into patch boys because that was the brand that I went into uh in between rolling Suds and um and chem Dr is basically it was me and a brand president and were the first two employees with a 100 unit franchise system um when it was acquired by the company I worked for and we effectively had to do like a turnaround of the brand and so him and I uh would talk like four five six times a day and we were in lock step with one another um and uh there were some challenges because you know we learned that a franchisee isn't going to be successful and here's why and then I'd have to tweak my sales system and he'd have to TW tweak his op system and but we were we had this immense amount of trust for one another um and we were kind of in the trenches together so my suggestion is it says on one of the things that I've I've done um internally at rolling Suds is that operations and sales have to talk to each other trust each other respect each other and talk regularly so not in spite of that not happening when you first got started six years ago what was it about franchise development that was easy for you but it's it's not easy for many many many I don't know if most but many franchise or particularly getting started and for franchise development why was it easy for you what what was different about you um I don't know what was different about me other than um like than other people who can uh award territories and sell units I mean I have I have an innate ability to influence people and help them make decisions that they find is their decision versus um versus like trying to sell and um I worry that like when a franchise is being sold to someone they're being sold on on a belief that they're going to receive something that they might not end up getting whereas like the way I've always done franchise sales is it's it's their decision they have to come to the decision on their own um and while I'm there as a guide it's not a heavy sales tactic uh pressure type situation um I feel uh I fear that if we kind of continue down this like sales tactic pressure type situation with a lot of the franchise development that I've seen will run the risk of more uh unhappy franchises um it has to be their decision to start a business and um and if it's not and they feel like they've got to buy this thing at a certain amount of time otherwise it's going to get taken by someone else or one of these other Scare Tactics that I've seen um you know they they're just the wrong expectations are going to be set um so how often do you think that's happening across the board if there are and no one knows how many franchisors are actually actively selling franchises uh Fran data IFA we'll say somewhere in the range of 3,000 are actively doing so and there are more franchise there's a new franchise brand popping up every day but there must be a new franchise brand dying every day because we it's been years since we've got Beyond 3,500 or so uh franchise companies uh to be exact it's 600 the last two years open uh file and FDD for the first time and 600 decide not to file the last two years yeah okay but let's say there are 3,000 actively selling franchises you ever think about and I know you don't know all 3,000 or you know even 2,000 necessarily uh right but you you're out there with a lot of people yeah you're you're in a lot of networks and uh you've been around even though only six seven years you've uh you're celebrity almost within franchising because of your responsible franchising gig recently with IFA how much irresponsible franchise development do you think is going on um uh people are going to disagree with me but I think the majority of the franchises that are being sold within the franchise sales organization Community are being sold irresponsibly yeah I I'm afraid you might be right we have no proof of it and you know we could certainly discuss that but I I think it's a larger quick let me let me clarify specifically so I operate within the broker networks I've done all of the deals almost all the deals that I've done with rolling Suds and we've done 187 of them in a year and a half are done with Brokers that I uh I trust I think are ethical wonderful people they know my kids names we've vacationed together um and uh and the reason I know that franchises are being sold irresponsibly is they call me a year after they signed someone up and they told that person because the brand or the fso or whatever told them that they could sell the units as absentee they're getting calls um from these these franchisees saying that they bought five territories they never left their job they were never willing to leave their job and they lost everything and now they're trying to sell their territories but they have no ability to sell it because the business has no value um and and so I believe that franchises are being sold your responsibly I also feel like the cause of it one of the biggest causes of it is the fso points the finger at the Brokers the franchisor points the finger at the fso um and no one's really taking accountability but the fact of the matter is everyone's misrepresenting the opportunity so someone has to take ownership of the issue okay so I I want to keep moving on in the progression of uh of Aaron Harper uh and by the way we're going to do in November at our Advisory board meeting absentee ownership will be the topic that uh we drill down on just as we did responsible franchising with you Erin uh last April at our meeting so you went uh carpet cleaning patch boys what happened um I got the job offer of my lifetime to uh to make a million dollars and franchise a business from scratch and uh start from scratch and get a guaranteed amount of uh commission and increase in pay and it's salary bump with the word president in it and like uh like the crazy entrepreneur I am I said no thank you I can do this on my own I'm gonna go find business why did you say no thank you uh you know I I don't know how many people would have said yeah I'm it's what been waiting for let me do it um I think it's partially because I'm insane um and then also um also like it's Purpose Driven for me like if I'm if I'm GNA tell someone that they're G to get a thing and they're going to invest their life savings in it and I don't have 100% control over the team that's providing them the thing that I promised them then really what am I doing uh and what what what's the point of it if the point is to help people become business owners uh and uh and and give them the opportunity to to to to change their lives and and have a positive impact um and I don't have the control in um helping people get there um uh and and and the only way I was going to do that is if I owned the company majority ownership could make decisions as I see fit could hire people before I thought they needed to be hired could pre-investment could raise Capital at any point that I need to could choose the partners that I partner with and and that to me was then in 2022 a non-negotiable and forever it will remain a non-negotiable um and based on everything I've seen that's the only way that I can actually accomplish the goals that I have and that was about uh when you got this big offer president million bucks were were you about five years into your franchise career yes okay okay um and so you you knew that wasn't the right path even though maybe it would have been an easy path to a million dollars but you it was a matter of your conscience and and uh your desire which the eye personality has a desire to help people truly help and influence people so that surely uh comes out of you um you so go ahead what then then then you decide said no I'm not going to take that route I'm going to take another route so I decided I was going to look for a business to franchise from scratch so so not an existing business that has been franchised not one that already had franchisees that I'd have to fix the situation one that I could start from scratch um partner with the right people so I raised capital from David bar and Brad Fishman who are have been mentors of mine um and could provide um a long-term uh m sship uh as I was referred to as intellectual Capital helped me uh Dodge bullets potentially um figure out who to hire you know they've done this before um met a 34 year-old power washing company out of Philadelphia um and a family business called rolling Suds um and uh they had built a you know two plus million dollar power washing business um and uh I uh met them they were interviewing other franchisors who uh they didn't feel confident that those franchisors would honor their family name in the way that I uh in the way that we've been able to and um and so we uh I we partnered I met them in September of 2022 uh acquired the franchise rights in January of last year um and um built a franchise system um raised a significant amount of capital and um we uh We've turned away a little over $10 million in revenue from franchise startup cost so about 59 franchisees wanted to ride us at $200,000 check and we said no um and we've signed up now 51 franchisees who have purchased 187 territories and every single one of those franchises will be open by September okay and going back a little bit again uh the 51 franchises have come from your broker Network who you referred to as people who you know they know your kids' names and you vacation with them uh there are a lot of Brokers out there and um don't they all want to get on the bandwagon for Rolling Suds and uh how how have you managed to hold this to and I don't know are you talking about six Brokers are you're talking about 16 brokers who are doing the work no I I do Mo most of my work predominantly with one network as you know Alicia visanti and I are very close um minut thank you so I have uh I make it very clear to the Consultants when I start working with them who my candidate and my buyer is and who that who it isn't and I also make it very clear to them on how to present it to that candidate so here are the bullet points here's how I present it and also here's what happens if you bring me someone who isn't that person um and so as I go into the relationship with that consultant they have very clear expectations set of like this is you you can send me that person but I'm going to give them back to you and and here's why um but there's a whole element of broker management that needs to be done um before you actually start presenting your brand because otherwise you're just going to have a bunch of brokers who throw spaghetti at the wall and then you're going to waste a ton of time talking to the wrong people so you spend a lot of time I I met you I think at the Fran serve convention at leis is a member of our Advisory Board and provides a mini internship to one of our students coming up in July one of my students will be there among all those uh Brokers and franchisors again so it's a wonderful uh opportunity you spend uh what percentage of your time discussing the world of franchising uh by Aaron Harper with Brokers uh so before I started selling patch boys I spent about seven months um developing relationships with Brokers trusting it was the middle of covid so we didn't have Broker Community like Network like we didn't have events so it was cold calling Brokers um and making sure they understood who I was most importantly and also that um I wanted to understand who they were as people um you know they're not just lead sources they're people um they have wants and desires and values and they like certain brands and they dislike certain brands and I think the challenge that some franchise or get into is he just thinks they're lead they just think they're lead sources and they're going to pay 30 grand or whatever and get leads and that's not the case um I have the lowest membership at possible but I have the deepest relationship um and so I don't need to pay the extra amount of money because it's it's a waste of money due to the relationships that I have and so anyone who's trying to sell units um or find franchisees needs to establish very meaningful relationships with the Consultants or the Brokers that they work with I think that's so important what you just said uh and again it takes a high eye to realize that this is uh the way to go in franchising you you emphasize building relationships you have not emphasized how much money you have to pay to be part of the network Matthew I I know we're up against the clock so Aaron it's a great story and I'd like to uh continue it in some way some other time probably Matthew thank you for having me I appreciate it this been great

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