Aaron Kent, Senior Director Franchise Development at Dale Carnegie & Associates, talks about the essential qualities of a successful franchisee.
Can you tell us a little about your professional background?
I have been with Dale Carnegie for nearly 20 years – most of my professional life. The first 14 years I didn’t work for the franchisor, but rather a franchisee. In my early years, I was a top performing sales rep at a franchise. I then served as a general manager, running two franchise territories on the owner’s behalf. Then I became a Dale Carnegie franchisee myself. Over a seven year period, we nearly doubled the revenues of my franchise. This led to the opportunity for me to very profitably sell my franchise. It was at this point that I joined Dale Carnegie & Associates.
What made you decide to become a franchisee?
I joined Dale Carnegie with the intent to make a career out of it, but not with the expectation that I would become a franchise owner. A few years into my Carnegie career I read the book The E-Myth by Michael Gerber. I was hooked and certain that I needed to own a franchise. My next thought was, well that seems like a realistic possibility since I already work for a franchisor. From there, it was a matter of earning the right and seizing the opportunity to become a franchise owner when it came my way.
Would you tell us about your current job?
I am the leader of the Global Launch Team, which onboards new franchisees and helps them grow their franchises for their first two years in operation.
I also lead the Franchise Partner Academy, which is our training program that all new franchise partners complete as we introduce them to our operational procedures, which we call the Dale Carnegie System.
I have a product consulting role as well. I am an advisor for Dale Carnegie Unlimited, our subscription-based training product suite. My role is to help franchisees integrate this rapidly-growing product suite into their business model.
I’m also an advisor for the New York City Center of Excellence, which is a model franchise owned by Dale Carnegie & Associates. My role here is to guide and coach our center leaders, much in the same way I coach our Dale Carnegie franchisees.
What do you like best about your job?
What inspires me the most is to walk along with a franchisee through the entirety of their journey, from their initial planning all the way through to achieving their vision. That point in time at which their vision is realized is one of the most gratifying experiences I have ever been a part of in my professional life.
What qualities do you think are important for a franchise owner to have?
Above all is their commitment to the success of the franchise. Having worked with so many franchisees, this seems to be the make-or-break critical factor. When someone is fully committed, they can overcome almost anything and still succeed. On the other hand, when a franchisee lacks this commitment level, they can have the best territory, best team and the best trainers in the world but they will often still fail or underachieve.
What would you like potential franchise owners to know about Dale Carnegie?
When you become a Dale Carnegie franchise owner, you are truly in business for yourself but never by yourself. You have an iconic brand, culture of excellence, and support system that would be hard to find anywhere else. While success is never guaranteed, you can expect a high probability of success if you come in fully committed and sustain this level of commitment over time.
Businesses had to change in response to the pandemic. What changes did you see? Were any of the changes positive?
Fortunately, Dale Carnegie had been preparing our response to the pandemic nearly 10 years before it happened. Nearly a decade ago we began building and refining Dale Carnegie Digital. A simple way to think of this is doing everything we do for our client in-person, but in a live online environment. As a result, when we had to postpone or cancel in-person engagements because of the pandemic, we were able to quickly pivot and provide those same programs to our clients in a safe, online environment.
I call it “move the room,” meaning move from a physical room to a live online room. This has been a very positive change for our company as the pandemic forced us to speed up and have a full digital transformation much faster than we ever would have otherwise.
Learning and development decision makers are now seeking out better ways to engage a remote, distributed workforce. Our Dale Carnegie Digital solutions enable our clients to achieve this because all of our training is live and delivered by a world class Certified Dale Carnegie Trainer, which is much more effective than point-and-click courses. More and more decision makers are ditching their on-demand learning libraries and opting to work with Dale Carnegie because we drive employee engagement for a remote, distributed workforce now and post-pandemic.