She continues to teach while also learning to delegate as president and CEO. Each day presents new opportunities for the growing the company, which hit $7.5 million in revenue last year and expects to grow more than 20 percent for 2006.
Smart Business spoke with Evans about how she manages growth and works with franchisees to improve the company.
How do you manage growth?
We project how many franchises we would like to sell in a year. How many can we train at one time? There isn’t a magic number, but if we were to grow and try to train 80 franchisees next year, it would hurt the entire system. It would be difficult to manage that many franchisees and still support the 100 we already have.
It’s one step at a time. It just goes back to your basics. Baby learns to walk just one step at a time.
We have a lot of resources that bring a lot of potential candidates to us. We’ll always continue that screening process. If it’s a good fit for the new franchisee as well as the existing franchisees and franchisor, then it all works for everyone. It hurts everyone if it doesn’t work.
How do you make it work?
There’s a lot of communication within the system. Everybody here is assigned a franchisee to work with. It could mean just a monthly phone call how are you? This is what we’re doing open communication on a regular basis.
It could be a weekly call. They may need that touch a little more, so keeping informed about what their needs are so we can assist them, but keeping them informed, too, of what we’re doing on a regular basis.
They like that because they’re part of it. They want to have their input for what direction we go in.
What do you look for in people?
The drive for success, and in that drive for success, knowing that it’s not just going to drop out of the sky, and a dedication to hard work and loyalty.
I want them to be excited about what they’re getting into. If they’re here saying, ‘Oh, it’s another thing I’m looking at,’ I’m not interested. They have to come with a great deal of passion, the wanting it.
It’s like that senior who can’t wait until that senior year, who doesn’t know that there’s college behind there. I had a senior last year, and he thought, ‘Oh yes, I can’t wait until senior year.’
And now his first year of college is hitting him and he says, ‘I don’t know why I was so excited to get here I’m still working hard.’ They’re constantly looking for the next thing.
What most inhibits a company’s growth?
If we get too excited and we start to grow too quickly. We have to harness it ourselves because we have so many strong candidates that want to be part of our franchise.
It’s hard to control that and say we can’t grow too quickly. We know what will happen. We have been caught in that before, and you learn from your previous mistakes. We have full potential of growing and going to where we want to go, but we have to be careful that we don’t too quickly or too slowly.
If we grow too slowly, then we’re not bringing in the revenue that we need in order to implement new programs.
What challenges have you faced in growing?
We all want to have total control. We can do it ourselves. That need to be filled, and I have the expertise, and I can do it all.
Being able to delegate and let others take responsibilities so I don’t have to, that’s one of the challenges that we all have because it comes from the entrepreneurship and the entrepreneurial thinking I can do it, and I can do it on my own without delegating.
We can’t grow as a company if one person is responsible for all departments, and a franchisee can’t grow, either. They can’t teach and market at the same time. I can’t, as president of the company, monitor and support the 100 franchisees that we have, and build partnerships and relationships that would better the system if I’m focusing all my attention on individuals.
What helps you grow the business?
I go visit other franchises because we can all learn from one another. No one has that magic answer, and I think it’s fun if companies can work together. There’s no reason why we can’t all grow.
Even people we consider competitors, we work closely with them. We all learn from one another. My franchisees, too they’ll work with a competitor for another program. Sometimes if you partner together, you both succeed, and it’s a win-win for everybody.
How to reach: COMPUTERTOTS/COMPUTER EXPLORERS, www.computertots.com