We spoke with Tim Gilbreath, the owner of two franchises in South Carolina, about his history with Dale Carnegie and insights on the industry.
Could you please tell us a little about your professional background and how you started with Dale Carnegie?
I went to Clemson and did door-to-door sales after graduating. I did well and took a sales job in a tough hiring market. Someone challenged me to take a Dale Carnegie course. The course gave me the courage to take another job in the food and beverage industry. Then I started my DC sales career. I started a health care staffing agency and worked as a trainer. Eight or nine years ago, I realized that my real passion was Dale Carnegie and I purchased a franchise.
What are your territories like?
I have all of South Carolina plus Augusta, Georgia. It’s made up of Upstate, the Midlands and the Low Country. In the east, food and beverage and technology are the major industries. Upstate and the Midlands are manufacturing-heavy, with tier 1, 2 and 3 manufacturers.
You purchased a second franchise during the pandemic. What inspired you to expand your business at that time?
It was a combination of things. It was partly opportunity – I wanted to expand to all of South Carolina. I told the other franchisee that I was interested if she ever wanted to sell.
The other was confidence, knowing how to do this. My mentor, Emily Carter, used to own the Upstate South Carolina franchise. She coached me, validated me and inspired me to do this.
What changes did your businesses make during the pandemic?
You know, we teach our clients to be agile and flexible and this was the toughest time for us. We went Live Online and figured out how to teach in a way that was really powerful. Our clients really like the blended program. All of us became certified digital trainers, with the support of our digital team and corporate.
Could you tell us about the technology that your businesses use?
We use Salesforce, PowerPoint, Teams, WebEx and Zoom. It has changed a lot in the past few years. We can do more meetings in a day and be more productive.
What kind of support does Dale Carnegie offer to franchise partners?
Lots of support. The first is from Andre Goldstein during the purchase. There’s an amazing team led by Aaron Kent, the Franchise Partner Academy, that teaches you best practices and must-haves and helps you find out what will work best for your business.
The franchise team is with you for a year, giving you what you need from a sales and marketing perspective. Whatever resource you want, it is available.
What advice would you give to a new franchise partner?
Surround yourself with people who are better than you – hire the best trainer, the best salesperson.
People get into this owner-operator mentality, but you should run your business like any other business. You shouldn’t be the most important piece of the puzzle. Others should be able to step in and run the business if you are out.
What would you say to someone who is thinking about buying a Dale Carnegie franchise?
You have to love people. I’ve seen trainers who have a lot of potential but aren’t passionate about people, and that comes through. You have to like developing people and seeing them grow and succeed.
One time an employer hired us to train a group of concrete workers. It was rough. They questioned everything and didn’t know why they were there. On the last day, one of the workers – a young guy – walked up to me and said, “This program changed my life. I think it saved my marriage. We were going through a rough patch and the things I learned helped.” If that doesn’t motivate you then this isn’t the right business for you.