Sharing the vision Featured

7:00pm EDT January 29, 2008

Maureen Herrmann believes that knowledge is power, and she wants all her franchisees to believe that, too. Herrmann is co-founder and co-president of Ageless Remedies Franchising Co. LLC, which combines a medical skin care treatment center and a retail apothecary into each of its stores.

Herrmann and Jennifer Curtin, also co-founder and co-president, have developed a comprehensive training program that prospective franchisees must take to receive certification. Then it’s their job to pass that training down to employees.

Since founding the company in 1999, Herrmann and Curtin have grown it to 11 locations in five states with more than 100 employees, all of whom have a voice in the company.

Smart Business spoke with Herrmann about how to ensure your employees have a voice at your next management meeting.

Q. How do you train your leaders?

Jen and I started the original store; we learned a lot from having that business. We worked internally to where we felt we could create management by inspiring our workers to work as a team. One of the important things within that was to support ongoing learning and study for them in almost a mentor environment.

So if we brought someone on, we’d really want to mentor them and really create that teamwork and that learning environment. Everyone learns from everyone.

We also want our leaders to direct others in ways that make the brand more cohesive. So it’s important our leaders all incorporate a certain belief, value and knowledge of the brand.

We also support a lot of communication. Our leaders need to influence people by communicating and incorporating them into the team.

Q. How do you make the brand more cohesive?

They have to really understand the vision and what we like our leaders to share to understand our vision. Not everyone works together on a daily basis, all the employees from other locations or other regions. That’s why it’s important for us to come together through workshops or conference calls, so we can really keep to the core of the vision.

That’s what I mean by cohesion: The leaders at the top like to communicate together so the cohesion of the overall brand stays consistent.

Q. How do you make sure your message filters down through the ranks?

We have trainings and workshops at the management level on down. The leaders direct to the managers, and the managers are the ones who hand the information to the team. They work together.

It’s important that our managers work for the team and the employees — not the other way around. This allows our employees to excel and feel as if they are part of the company. It is the managers in the individual stores who actually take the information, take our vision and incorporate it into each individual center.

We encourage them to motivate and empower the individual employees by mentoring them and [through] effective ongoing training to help them gain the new skills and keep the promises we put in place.

Q. How do you empower your employees?

Allowing them to have a voice within the system has empowered them. We include them in the decision-making process. That allows them to make a difference, and we really encourage feedback from them.

If they have concerns or ideas, we are very open to that. If there is a consensus from a lot of the different centers, we do make changes. If it’s an effective change, we will strongly consider it.

Q. How do you attract and retain quality employees?

We’ve put together an employee manual that creates a very positive working environment, and we expect our franchisees to follow that. The intense training and professionalism that our concept and vision incorporate really helps us to retain employees.

We definitely look at talented, empowered human capital as a prime ingredient of any organization, as far as success, and it is very costly. We understand that cost when we bring on employees and lose them.

So what we try to do from the front is create incentive, a very fair, aggressive pay scale and growth system for them to do really well in. Then we provide a good amount of training and skill to employees.

We’ve created this environment in such a positive way, that it would not behoove them to leave unless they want to relocate because the location was too far away. We have a strong retention rate for employees because we listen and we support them. We try to make it a win-win for both Ageless Remedies and our employees.

HOW TO REACH: Ageless Remedies Franchising Co. LLC, (404) 816-7550 or www.agelessremedies.com