Doug Escher is the Chairman and Herb Escher is the CEO of Dale Carnegie Rochester, Buffalo and Boston. We sat down with the father and son team to learn about their experience as franchise partners.
Several generations of your family are involved with your franchise. Could you tell us why Dale Carnegie became a family business for you?
Herb: The main reason is values. Dale Carnegie has tremendous values and holds us to high standards about how we communicate with each other. Doug is the Chairman, and has lasting relationships with our customers. When you have multiple generations and good family members, you are handing the business down and creating a legacy.
Doug: What’s fun is watching Herb grow and take on different parts of the business because he wants to. Culture is one thing we have sustained as we’ve changed roles. I keep out of the way but keep involved.
You have a multi-unit franchise. Why did you decide to expand?
As a business owner, you have to be strategic. We expanded from Rochester to Buffalo because the economies are linked. You have to create the infrastructure first. You need the human capital component to scale up. After the pandemic happened, our virtual training expanded. We didn’t expect to grow our business during this difficult time, but we did. We thought training had to be in person. Once we committed to virtual training, we could be six hours away from another metro area but still make it work. Our Buffalo, Rochester and Boston locations are growing and exceeding pre-pandemic numbers.
Tell us about your territories.
Our first territory was Rochester. It’s an interesting city because it used to be a corporate hub, with Fortune 150 companies like Kodak and Xerox and a corporate mentality. Once those corporations started to shrink, it allowed mid-size businesses to grow. Our clients now include Wegmans, Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, Paychex, and also construction and high tech businesses.
Buffalo is going through a major transformation. There is a lot of hope and passion. It has always been a blue collar area, with lots of manufacturing. Now retail businesses and auto dealerships are great clients in addition to the traditional industries.
We expanded to Boston for several reasons. The talent at the franchise and the great institutional knowledge were helpful for our other locations. It’s also a market with a lot of opportunities. Harvard and MIT have spawned great organizations. Integrating with those clients will inspire us to innovate. It will keep our hunger going and inspire us to never settle. With fifteen Fortune 500 companies located there, we can work with flagship companies and grow strategically.
What systems do you use?
As far as hardware, we use Apple. We also use Salesforce, Zoom and Teams. These tools allow collaboration. Every three years we bring in new technology. Having great hardware and software is good for the employees.
What kind of support do you receive from Dale Carnegie?
When you expand into multiple territories, you have a franchisor that knows your family and legacy. They were integral in our expansion.
Our team collaborates a lot with the franchisor. Every week, the franchise team participates in calls with us, helping to strategize and plan. They look over our plans and provide feedback. They also help us develop trainers. They have the most responsive IT department, which has weekly calls with us.
The CEO of Dale Carnegie, Joe Hart, has personal interest in the franchise partners’ success and really cares about them.
What would you say to someone who is thinking of buying a Dale Carnegie franchise?
Go in with an open mind and know that it’s going to be a learning experience. You are going to work hard the first five to ten years. Be humble and ready to learn. The organization gives you everything you need, then it’s up to you.. If it’s an established franchise, amplify what was done before, then add your own secret sauce.
What advice would you give to a new franchise partner?
You might think you’re saving money by doing everything yourself, but you’re actually losing money. The previous owner told us, “Be the worst trainer and salesperson in your franchise, because it means you’re investing in people.” Find someone to run training for you, then hire a sales person and a marketing person and build the organization. As you’re growing the team, find a person outside of the franchise to be your leadership coach. Your job is to create the culture.
You’re going to write your business plan but it won’t all come true. Have a plan and follow it but be fluid to navigate change. We had a three-year plan before Covid and had to change it. Be a learner and a reader. Having conversations with people will help you strategize.
We’re in a savings mode just now in case of a recession. Our planning now is around our flagship accounts – they want solutions and we provide them. During hard times, they’ll grow with us.