David McKinnon

In business, as in life, there are times when demands for my time, energy and resources can be overwhelming. Business can be up or down, and a leader is constantly bombarded for decisions, meeting requests and information.

I believe Stephen Covey’s Time Management Matrix can help prioritize the most important and urgent tasks. I love this quote by Covey: “I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions.”

By embracing Covey’s message, I learned how to be selective with my choices.

Important and non-urgent actions take discipline, and include long-term planning and re-evaluating strategic goals, which are true measures of our success: growing revenue, profits and selling franchises to help people achieve the American dream of business ownership.

I still refer to Covey’s matrix, and over time, have developed my own nine principles to conquer an overwhelming workload:

1. Ask what would happen if a task does not get done, and be brutally honest. 

The answer will often surprise you.

2. If your To Do list has too much on it, consider what can be postponed for the next 90 days, six months or year.

Learning how to speak Spanish and driving down Route 66 are on the list of things I would like to do, but not on the list of what I have to do.

3. Calendar items blocked out for multiple days should be scrupulously reviewed. Upcoming trips, vacations and meetings requiring travel should probably be rescheduled, alleviating some of the stress you are feeling.

4. Perhaps most of the items on your list are critically important and can’t be postponed. Look at them with a fresh perspective. It sometimes feels like only you can accomplish certain tasks, but you have built a great team. Utilize their talents, trust them to follow through and communicate their progress.

5. Call on outside resources to get through an exceptionally hectic phase. Think about what role would help you get to the finish line. Whether it is a life coach, consultant, personal assistant or temporary, executive-level individual, use the network you have built to mobilize support.

6. Some projects are extremely important but are not the most exciting. If there is any way to make the work more fun, you will enjoy it more and have a better outcome.

7. If you are doing everything you can and it still seems you may miss the deadline, stop and ask yourself if the deadline was even realistic.

If it can be delayed and will still work, then make the decision to change it.

8. Get support and commitment from your team and your family. Your spouse can be incredibly helpful by simply supporting your schedule as you work through a challenging time in the office.

9. Finally, the most powerful tool is to just say ‘no’ to any new tasks or calendar invitations until you are “caught up.”

David McKinnon is the co-founder and chairman of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands International, an umbrella organization that oversees home services brands, including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman and ProTect Painters. Email him at davidm@servicebrands.com

Most successful businesspeople agree with Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote when it comes to strategic planning, “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” A leader’s approach to strategic planning can vary greatly in length of time, measurement of progress, commitment and ultimately in the results.

I would argue that a detailed, strategic plan spanning longer than three years is too long to be relevant. Tactics identified too far in advance cannot keep up with the fast pace of changing technology, new information and changes in the economy to make the plan meaningful.

Here are my three essential elements to the strategic planning process:

Range of specifics

Leading an organization with an established three-year plan creates an environment where your internal team understands where you are going and what you must do to get there. In a franchise organization, this level of planning helps the franchisor foster confidence in franchisees that your plan is to drive revenue and profit — theirs and yours.

All three years of the strategic plan are not created equal. Here’s how plans are structured in my organization:

 

 

  • Current year: Have a one-year very detailed plan where everything is accounted for. Each objective must be specific and outline tactics, deadlines, human and financial resources involved and the method of measurement.

 

 

 

 

  • Year two: This plan has objectives with projected tactics and resources. The specifics will be incorporated during the annual planning process, where previous performance can be factored and available resources are clear.

 

 

 

 

  • Year three: Proposed objectives are the only details required for a three-year outlook. The annual objectives outlined help determine your course of action toward the previously stated five-year overall goal.

 

 

Monitor progress

Second to the importance of planning is tracking progress toward what you set out to accomplish. Quarterly, the board of directors assembles to receive updates from the divisions responsible for driving the collective success. The company’s leadership team has bi-weekly updates and each month, the entire organization gathers to understand the current status and how they can make an impact.

By building in regularly scheduled reviews, you are building the ability to be flexible into your business.

I’ve written about serendipity before as it relates to purchasing Mr. Handyman and being approached by an owner of PuroClean to join forces. Had our set plans been too rigid, we may have steered clear of these acquisitions due to imperfect timing and missed out on the chance to build our company’s holdings of in-demand professional home service franchises. There are times when it makes sense to adjust.

Embrace commitment

Teams must be completely committed to the annual strategic plan. It is the easy way out to simply change the plan when you don’t think you will make it. Finalize the plan, hold your people accountable to it and find ways to achieve what you set out to do.

Create incentives for your team to benefit when the shared goals are achieved. Years ago, we established a quarterly bonus program which has unified my team to work toward our revenue and store-count goals. Team members know what the company is trying to achieve, and they can also earn additional rewards for setting and meeting personal objectives in their area of influence.

As the assembly line inventor Henry Ford said, “If you think you can do a thing or think you can't do a thing, you're right.” Commit to your strategic plans and celebrate the successes of achieving them.

David McKinnon is the co-founder and chairman of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands International, an umbrella organization that oversees home services brands, including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman and ProTect Painters. To contact McKinnon, send him an email at davidm@servicebrands.com

With St. Patrick’s Day quickly approaching, I started to ponder the idea of luck and if it plays a role in our business lives.

Over the years, I have had so many people tell me how lucky I am after hearing about the ups and downs of 30-plus years as an entrepreneur. At times, I’m not sure how to feel about the comment, so I usually just smile and say, “Thank you, I know that I am a blessed man.”

We’ve all heard the great quote from Thomas Jefferson, who said, “I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”

My twist on Jefferson’s wise words would read something like this: “The more we plan our future, the more likely our future will look like how we planned it.”

As business leaders, I believe our role is to plan and implement a preferred future for the business and its employees, customers, suppliers, stakeholders, etc. Though planning for the next year, five years and beyond is part of a leader’s strategic process, there have been occasions where luck became an important part of making a connection or a deal possible.

I remember a time when luck seemingly played an important part in Molly Maid’s survival. I was sitting at a picnic table on a sunny Michigan afternoon in 1989 when I “happened” to meet Lynn Drayton, the former president and COO of Compuware. Before that spring Sunday, I had never met or heard of Lynn before nor could I have predicted how important that meeting would be.

It’s been 24 years since Lynn and I met, and he was the right person at exactly the right time to help me restore prosperity to our troubled company. After sharing the story of Molly Maid’s challenges, we formulated a plan to buy back the company, restore standards for providing great service and re-engage the franchise owners’ trust in the system. As my business partner, mentor and best friend, Lynn’s wisdom, counsel and capital investment was integral to Molly Maid stabilizing and rebuilding.

While long hours, hands-on leadership and open communication are critical parts of growing successful companies, great timing and the ability to remain open to new solutions have certainly been a part of my story as well. Looking back at the day at the picnic table, it’s difficult to imagine any solution other than meeting Lynn and arriving at our “planned preferred future.”

Another part of our history involved adding a second brand to our holdings. By researching the need for home services, we knew there was a demand for a professional home repair and maintenance franchise. By searching trademark records, we discovered David LaValle, the founder of Mr. Handyman.

While the plan to find a partner was intentional, the timing of reaching out to David was serendipitous. If we had reached out to him a year earlier, he would not have been ready to grow. If we had waited too long, another company would surely have captured the opportunity. Perhaps David LaValle’s Irish background had something to do with it or our persuasive request to purchase his concept and grow it with a proven method was too attractive to turn down.

Either way, that partnership created a need for a multiconcept franchisor now known as Service Brands International. The foundation of these two companies paved the way for additional jobs, business ownership opportunities and reliable services to consumers to be possible.

I am a lucky and blessed man to have met such people who have been integral parts of my world, and it started at a picnic table, doing nothing more than watching the world go by.

As you work hard and plan your preferred future, I wish the best of luck to you too!

David McKinnon is the co-founder and chairman of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands International, an umbrella organization that oversees home services brands, including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman and ProTect Painters. To contact McKinnon, send him an email at davidm@servicebrands.com.

Effective communication is the vehicle to bring board meeting decisions, annual strategies and initiatives, and support programs for your constituents to fruition in business.

Without a plan to communicate their importance and implementation, time spent participating in daylong retreats, creating charts, finalizing objectives and enduring the wearisome budgeting process are a waste of your time — and who has time for that?

Today’s technology has created myriad options for sending messages across varied time zones and locations inexpensively. I don’t know any business leader or CFO who doesn’t love to see expenses cut, including me. The challenge for all business leaders is to evaluate your communication approach, considering your audience, budget and desired outcomes using the following four topics.

Media

I love my iPad, and in fact, that statement is included in my email signature. Skype is another way I try to tackle communication when my schedule is filled with frequent travel, days with back-to-back meetings and a to-do list with more items than hours in the day.

I appreciate the iPad’s mobility and Skype’s two-way video capabilities to stay connected when I need to.

At the same time, if I have an important point to make or am communicating a new change from an expected direction or have bad news to share, I prefer to pick up the phone or visit the person directly rather than send an email. The immediate connection allows a more substantial exchange with the other person, allowing us both to have a clear understanding of the message, its expectations and to discuss the outcome.

Use a variety of media to ensure the business-building information your team sends is well received.

Frequency

Service Brands International has three home-services franchise companies under its umbrella. Each brand creates six-to-eight annual objectives agreed to by the home office team and its franchise advisory council during a series of planning sessions. If those initiatives were communicated only once, the opportunity for success is small.

A communication is like a marketing message — the sender or the brand will tire of it long before the audience does. If you’ve invested the time and resources to put a plan into place, keep your audience engaged by sharing it at a consistent frequency and with progress updates.

Simplicity

Whether it’s the technology you select to communicate or the written word itself, don’t lose your audience by overcomplicating the message. Use words that are clear, concise and memorable.

I have sat through hundreds of meetings, and I have received thousands of letters and emails throughout my career. I am most impressed by the well-prepared speaker or writer who shares their key points and leaves out unnecessary data and words.

Call to action

A fabulous message that you share across many media channels is not yet complete unless you consider what you’re asking your audience to do with the information. As the leader, it’s your job to create the map to success and make sure your team has a copy of it, understands it and knows what to do with it.

During your strategic planning session, it’s likely you identified specific, desired outcomes of your initiatives. Consider each communication carefully, and decide on your purpose and end result before you begin writing or speaking. Your personal call to action is to measure your results to ensure your communications are being well received and to adapt to your audience if they are not.

These techniques have helped me and my leadership teams manage businesses across state lines, country’s borders and a wide range of tenure and experience. What legend will your vision create?

David McKinnon is the co-founder and chairman of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands International, an umbrella organization that oversees home services brands, including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman, 1-800-DryClean and ProTect Painters. To contact him, send email to davidm@servicebrands.com.

As an entrepreneur, I have spent more than 30 years focused on celebrating the growth of our franchise owners, creating jobs, providing opportunities for advancement and giving back through our company charity, the Ms. Molly Foundation. These activities help foster the overall good health of our organization.

However, a more challenging endeavor is the process of considering my replacement in the event of a tragedy, eventual retirement or desire for a less-intense position than overseeing the day-to-day operations of the business. It is a process I recently went through as we named a new CEO, while I retained my position as chairman of the board.

Succession planning for an entrepreneur is not a task that most are likely to enjoy or look forward to, and I am no different. Many never do it, but that is a mistake.

While the day you don’t go to the office, lead the meeting or make the decisions may not be a savory thought, it is the process that will allow the organization to outlast you. Think about succession planning as your emotional insurance for the preservation and continuation of your life’s work.

Here are four steps to help you through this process.

Planning

Every business owner should first review potential internal candidates who could take the baton from you and continue leading the company’s mission. Take your time during this important first step and consider all of the qualities you want in your successor.

Then, strengthen your bench and develop your team as the next generation of leaders. If no suitable internal candidates are found, you then need to set your sights on an external candidate who you feel meets your criteria.

Whether you’re planning to step away from the business in one year or in 10, this process can take years, so start early.

Selection

Among those who lead teams in your organization, there will be a few who accomplish more than their peers and who more closely mirror your vision for the future. By deciding on a pre-selected candidate to be your successor, it allows you to provide targeted, leadership training, which increases his or her confidence and yours.

Take time to document the succession process and how long it will take for the next-in-command to lead the way. This part of the process can actually generate sincere excitement at the prospect of your hand-selected replacement taking over.

Transition

The slow and steady process of your succession doesn’t have to be a luxury. You have identified and trained your No. 2 and determined the length of time it should take for him or her to take over more of your responsibilities as you put your plan into action. It is imperative to the success of your successor for each of you to be committed to the new roles each of you will take.

If done correctly, there will come a day in this process where you will stand back and admire the new leader as he or she steps into the spotlight you once commanded.

Completion

As the preparations you’ve made in your plan come to fruition, the time has come to fully embrace the position you’ve chosen for yourself. I’ve heard this feeling described as being gently placed on an ice flow and pushed out to sea.

By knowing the tenacity it takes to succeed in business, I would bet you’re not the type to be pushed out of anywhere, ever. The survival instincts of a businessperson are what keep the quarterly reports in the black and the satisfaction of your customers and team high.

I can honestly say we now have the right successor in the CEO’s role, and I have welcomed my sole role as chairman. I have renewed excitement about the growth still ahead for our constituents, and I believe this approach will pay off for all of stakeholders and for yours.

David McKinnon is the co-founder and chairman of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands International, an umbrella organization that oversees home services brands, including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman, 1-800-DryClean and ProTect Painters. To contact David, send an email at davidm@servicebrands.com.

When people are looking at business ownership, they are in one of two positions. Like my story, I’d say about 15 percent are just coming out of college and are full of a “taking on the world” attitude.

But that segment is certainly the minority. The substantially larger group, from my experience, does so because they were forced to. Most people say they would like to own a business, but the truth is that most people never start one. It’s only because of a layoff or downsizing that they ultimately say they don’t want another J-O-B.

Like me, most entrepreneurs have found starting out in business to be much harder than originally thought. However, reaching this stage of business ownership, it’s much more rewarding — both financially and emotionally.

Whether it is adding a new brand to your holdings, adapting an existing operating model, or making leadership changes in your organization, I want to share four strategies that have helped me over the past three decades:

  • Have a plan. You don’t know if you’re achieving success unless you have a written plan. This allows you to organize your vision and outline strategies to achieve your desired results. Secondly, the act of planning helps to make you accountable to tracking your progress against your goals. Remember, it is not uncommon for plans to require updates as conditions change. I was asked recently if my career looks the way I predicted it would when I began at 24 years old. It’s entirely different, but that’s OK!
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  • Be determined. An unbelievable amount of determination is required to be successful in business. There are unimaginable road blocks that creep up, whether you’re starting a new business or you’ve been established for many years. The ability to have a goal and adjust to conditions such as competition, the economy and technical advancements showcases your positive mindset on achieving your set goals – even if the pathway to get there has to change.

  • Recruit a board of advisors. Having a group of professionals whose judgments and recommendations I trust and treasure has been crucial to my business success. Look at the areas where you struggle and look for skill sets you need help with in finance, insurance or marketing. Go after high-level experience in the areas you need help with. It’s amazing to me that when I started in business, by just asking someone a question, they were willing to help. I have asked people at the top of their industries to give me an hour a month and they happily agreed. I’d tell them what was going on in my business and then listen to their advice. Share your written plan from step one with those who are willing to hold you accountable.

  • Amass enough working capital. Having enough money, from launch to break-even, is important for a new venture or strategic investment in your business. I’ve learned that whatever number you have in mind, you should double it. I like to compare working capital in business to the space shuttle. In business, it’s money and with the space shuttle, it’s fuel. If you only put three quarters of fuel in shuttle’s tank, it will only go three quarters of the way to orbit, which would have a horrific ending. The same is true in business. You must have enough working capital to get the business into orbit. In business, orbit equates to cash flow, breakeven and producing a profit so the business becomes self-sustaining, and in space, it means free travel in zero gravity. Enjoy the ride!

David McKinnon is the co-founder and chairman of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands International, an umbrella organization that oversees home services brands, including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman, 1-800-DryClean and ProTect Painters. To contact him, email davidm@servicebrands.com

Saturday, 30 June 2012 20:01

David McKinnon: Against the current

A shared pain among business leaders during economic downturns is motivating your internal teams to remain loyal to your company when annual salary increases are not realistic. In addition to managing expenses and generating revenue, weathering financial fluctuations also requires finding creative solutions to attract, retain and motivate top talent.

Whether recovering from a seasonal downturn in sales or a full recession, returning to aggressive growth plans as soon as possible is the No. 1 priority. The upswing can also bring new challenges if preventive steps haven’t been taken — specifically, employee turnover. Once companies in your area begin to ramp up for growth, hiring freezes are lifted and recruitment efforts typically accelerate.

To reduce workforce attrition, continue focusing on employee engagement as a key strategy to strengthening your bottom line.

Rewards, appreciation and recognition programs play a critical role in demonstrating your commitment to your team. Here are seven ways you can inspire, challenge and communicate with employees to strengthen their connection with your company in good times, or bad:

1. During 2010, we launched the Innovision Project at Service Brands International. Hosted on our existing intranet site, it is a program that allows team members to submit solutions to improve morale, reduce expenses or build sales. With this kind of program, your employees’ ideas are visible for all team members to comment on, and if an idea is instituted, the team member receives companywide recognition and a financial reward.

2. The window between Memorial Day and Labor Day is highly motivating to most Michiganders as we finally forget those winter commutes that begin and end in the dark. Offering summer hours to the office team is a great way to let your employees take advantage of the warm weather.

3. Part of our financial success is bringing on new business partners and selling franchises. To tap into our employee and existing franchise owner networks, we reworked our referral bonus program. If a referral results in a new business opening, home office team members will earn $15,000 and franchise owners can earn up to $30,000 by mentoring their referral over a three-year period.

4. In 2009, an internal, recognition program called “You Make a Difference” was introduced. Each month, nominations were submitted and one employee would be recognized. Earlier this year, the program was enhanced to empower department managers to acknowledge and reward their team members for a job well done. This new approach gives managers the autonomy they desire and continues to show appreciation for excellence.

5. Quarterly profit-sharing bonus checks can be disappointing if companies do not achieve budget goals. I recommend that you evaluate your program and introduce an upward payout. Having a motivated team without a ceiling is a good thing for your people and your business.

6. Keep the lines of communication open. Continue holding company-wide meetings and share business trends and actions being taken to improve performance. A transparent approach builds trust among your employees. If your managers are not already conducting one-on-one meetings with their direct reports, start immediately.

7. Show that you care. When a team member was diagnosed with Stage IV cancer, our company rallied to support the family. When the battle was lost, we wanted to continue to help and offered employee deduction options so team members could help the family. With a company match, we were proud to make a significant contribution to his daughter’s college fund.

After leading companies for nearly 30 years, you can lessen your losses from an economic downturn by focusing on employees. When consumer confidence returns, having an experienced, loyal team makes all the difference.

David McKinnon is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands International, an umbrella organization that oversees home services brands, including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman, 1-800-DryClean and ProTect Painters. To contact David, send him an e-mail at davidm@servicebrands.com.

From 2008 through 2011, some of our businesses — like many in America — experienced some form of slow down. But there are three key takeaways you can use to continue growing during uncertain economic times. During slow periods, carefully-examined expenditures and investments must continue to be made. One of two lenses should be used to make financial decisions.

The first lens is used to survive. Survival is a must in order to have a future. Business leaders can use this technique to consider every expense as essential to continue operating. However, I believe the more important lens is the one that helps you figure out how to minimize shrinking revenues and how to grow during and after the downturn cycle is over.

All economic cycles have a beginning and an end. While no business leader can predict the length of the cycle, what we all know is there is an end to all downward turns.

If you buy that premise, then the question becomes what investments and expenditures should or must be made to ensure minimal revenue loss? What will also help your company greet the end of the downturn with accelerated and even explosive growth?

Marketing

The easiest expense to stop or shrink is marketing, and that is the one most businesses cut. I believe that marketing for new customers must never stop.

If other businesses in your niche cut back on their marketing efforts, this leaves the field wide open for your brand to be seen, and you won’t have to shout your message through the former clutter.

Molly Maid is our residential maid service franchise, and it’s the one most people thought would take a big hit through this recession. It did not. In fact, Molly Maid grew over the past three years and celebrated double-digit growth in 2011.

Why, did the company grow? We never quit marketing, and we increased our investments in new online approaches like search engine optimization, pay-per-click campaigns and social media.

This commitment to marketing yielded growth in tough times and has positioned us for significant growth now that there is an economic tailwind brewing.

Recruiting

Many businesses make a grave mistake and stop recruiting during a downturn.

Down times create a phenomenal opportunity to attract great candidates. As competitors in your field cut back on expenses, they conduct layoffs and lose top performers. The pool of top talent available for your business increases. The opportunity also grows for you to welcome new team members to help you grow and attract potential new customers to your business. At PuroClean, we invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in new training facilities, infrastructure and 30 percent more staff during the very bottom of the economic downturn in 2009 and 2010. I assure you, during this time, not many were hiring. This action resulted in assembling PuroClean’s “dream team” of executives. These executives were drawn to our brand because of the investments we were making, and like us, they too believed in the upside that this would create for our business in the future.

As a result, 2011 was the best year in PuroClean’s history.

Renegotiate

Landlords don’t want to lose good tenants. Even though our lease had two years left on it, we met with our landlord and were able to renegotiate a new lease with reduced rates and better terms netting us substantial savings without having to relocate offices.

Additionally, we reviewed all leases, contracts and other commitments we had, and as a result were able to significantly reduce our monthly obligations.

One of my favorite sayings recently is, “Don't let a good recession go to waste.”

I hope you haven’t let this one go to waste!

David McKinnon is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands International, an umbrella organization that oversees home service brands, including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman, 1-800-DryClean and ProTect Painters. McKinnon can be reached at davidm@servicebrands.com.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012 19:01

David McKinnon on being up against it

Let’s start this column out with my definition of adversity in business: A situation where if not dealt with correctly, significant negative results will occur, including in some severe cases the possibility of the ultimate death of the business.

Every business leader in the world has to deal with adversity at some point in the lifecycle of the business. Adversity automatically comes with the territory of business leadership/ownership and comes in many shapes, sizes and forms.

Early in my career, I experienced two severe and simultaneous doses of adversity. Reflecting on those challenges, I believe that there are four necessary ingredients for successfully getting through it.

Determination

An absolute and resolute personal commitment to get through the stacked odds for failure is mandated and required to even have a chance of overcoming this obstacle.

Confidence

Your hand must be steady and your demeanor, calm and confident. This is necessary as you must project this to employees, customers, bankers and all who intersect with your leadership during this crucial time.

I love the example of the flight attendant who with a smile, simply asks the next row “Anything to drink for you?” after the plane has just hit a big bump. Everyone who is scared is now watching that flight attendant’s reaction with heightened interest, so he or she can gauge his or her own reaction. When the passengers see the smile and hear, “Anything to drink for you?” they know that it must be no big deal. That’s what leaders have to do in times of adversity.

Optimism

You must be able to talk positively about a future that does not include the adversity. This helps others also believe that the adversity has a beginning and an end. It creates a more optimistic view of the future, and more importantly, it doesn’t let the adversity define you or the company.

Faith

Without my faith, I would have never been able to mentally and physically survive two crises, which threatened the end of our business.

In the fall of 1989, it seemed that Molly Maid was doomed to fail.

First, Molly Maid was sued in a class-action lawsuit for tens of millions of dollars by a few of the franchisees.

Secondly, we had partnered with a large and well-financed company with intentions to significantly grow Molly Maid. As a result of the lawsuit, they suddenly decided to remove their financial backing, which put Molly Maid into immediate, virtual bankruptcy.

The lawsuit was going to be very expensive to defend and without financial support, the prospect for our survival was bleak at best. Many of my advisers suggested that I bury the company and get on with a new track.

I instead chose to tackle the adversity head on. I put together a 14-step business plan with measurable milestones. When implemented, this plan would take Molly Maid from having a lawsuit to defend and no money to a place with no lawsuit and dollars in the bank to pay creditors and “keep the lights on.”

I shared our turnaround plan and our incremental results, however small, against that plan with everyone — our franchise owners, our creditors, our landlord, our bankers and potential investors. We even had a large creditor to which we owed over $50,000, to whom we sent a $50 check to each month along with our bank statements and financials. This turned out to be crucial, as our “supporters” loved the transparency.

In 2011, Molly Maid franchise owners had double-digit top line growth over 2010 in what many say is an adverse business climate. In fact, since our 1989 adversity, our business has had significant growth in all but 2 years.

Anything to drink for you?

David McKinnon is the co-founder, chairman and CEO of Ann Arbor, Mich.-based Service Brands International, an umbrella organization that oversees home services brands including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman, 1-800-DryClean and ProTect Painters. For more information, visit www.servicebrands.com.