Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Today is a monumental day in the history of The Dwyer Group. Majority ownership of the company by TZP Group is officially complete in a transaction that is valued at $150 million. www.dwyergroup.com/press/ Those kind of numbers used to seem like a dream to me. That kind of growth and financial support seemed like the stuff you only read about in The Wall Street Journal – the stuff other companies, bigger companies, announced. As we prepare for 2011 and the 30th anniversary of The Dwyer Group, I am inspired by how far we have come in three decades as a business. And I’m excited about where we are headed as well. Our management team remains in place, our company name shines brighter than ever, our franchise brands are leaders in the service industry, and we are ready to grow to the next level with our new partners at TZP.
At The Dwyer Group, we like to tell people to “Make it a World-Class Day.” Those are inspirational words that motivate us at every turn. For me, they continue to be ambitious words to do something great with your life. At The Dwyer Group, we are making it a world-class day today. And there will be many more like it in the days, weeks and years ahead. I count my blessings this holiday season for being a part of such a wonderful company. And here’s to a very Happy New Year!

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Veterans Day 2010

As we observe Veterans Day this week and honor those who have served this great country, I invite everyone to find a way to thank our men and women in uniform and all who came before them. There are no words that do justice to the freedom and peace we enjoy as a nation thanks to our brave members of the military. The sacrifices they have made are too great to go unnoticed. So take a moment on this day and every day to find an opportunity and recognize them.

Shake the hand of a returning soldier when walking through a crowded airport. Say a prayer for our fallen heroes during Sunday church service. Give thanks to our retired and active military and fly a flag at your home with pride. No gesture is too small for their duty to serve that is so great.

We at The Dwyer Group also thank them by counting more than 200 veterans as franchise owners who have come through the VetFran program www.leadingtheserviceindustry.com/VetFran.asp. It’s one way to make every day Veterans Day as we continually add to our franchise network across the Dwyer brands with true leaders from the ranks of our U.S. Military. Together, we can all make a difference.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Founder's Day 2010

In less than 24 hours, our company will be celebrating its annual Founder's Day. It's special to us at The Dwyer Group because we wouldn't be where we are today if our late Founder, Don Dwyer Sr., didn't take that entrepreneurial leap of faith almost 30 years ago to start it all.

We can appreciate our franchise family and where we're headed because we can also appreciate where we started and how far we've come. History is important, and we pay homage to our history at The Dwyer Group. We celebrate Don's vision each and every Founder's Day and remember him well.
We invest in time together away from the office. We enrich ourselves in more than work, itself, because we value the people who keep our business thriving and keep Don's vision alive. As our Code of Values teaches, we like "Having Fun in the Process" at The Dwyer Group. Remembering our Founder, breaking bread together, playing games and enjoying what life has given us, is great fun indeed.

We would have none of that if one man, one founder, didn't "Dare to Dream."
That was the theme of our annual convention this past summer, and it merits repeating. We can be dreamers at The Dwyer Group and we can realize those dreams because Don Dwyer dared to be the first. Thank you, Dad!

Friday, September 24, 2010

We live our Code of Values by treating others as we would like to be treated...

Below is an interview I did recently for Operation Franchise, a magazine for the military entrepreneur.

A Driving Force Behind VetFran: Dina Dwyer-Owens Continues Father’s Legacy

Mar. 10, 2010 by Heidi Bohi

One way or another, every undertaking The Dwyer Group® identifies as a priority, leads back to its Code of Values™ that has been guiding the franchise giant since 1981 when the late founder Don Dwyer established this service-industry family of companies.

It should come as no surprise, then, that 47-year-old CEO Dina Dwyer-Owens, the middle of six children in the Dwyer dynasty and her father’s successor, continues to be the driving force behind growing and elevating the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) VetFran Program – also started by her father – which encourages franchisors to offer their best discounts and incentives to honorably discharged veterans who are considering buying a franchise.

Giving back to the country’s veterans embodies the 10-point code that is based on company beliefs such as “loyalty adds meaning to our lives,” and “in building our country through the free enterprise system.” Men and women in the military live by a Code of Conduct that is similar to the Dwyer way of thinking.

“At Dwyer, we believe in treating others the way we want to be treated and if I was in the military and came home and wasn’t offered the same opportunity as others, I’d be disappointed,” Dwyer-Owens says from her Waco, Texas, office. “This is about treating people with respect and gratitude,” which is another fundamental principal of The Dwyer Group creed.

When the Gulf War ended in early 1991, the patriotic Dwyer – who served a two-year military stint in the early ‘50s – was serving on the IFA board and began thinking about the sacrifices the men and women of Desert Storm had made for their country. He wondered what could be done to thank these soldiers who had put their lives on the line to protect free enterprise – the first principle behind franchising – that allowed people like Dwyer himself to go into franchising.

“He had a vision,” Dwyer-Owens says of her father’s original inspiration. “He wanted to give men and women the opportunity to live the American dream – as they were the ones protecting the American dream.”

With the war over, downsizing was the term of the day, and unemployment was at an all-time high of 20 percent. With the help of other Dwyer Group colleagues, he brainstormed the idea of VetFran, officially known as the Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative, and in his unstoppable fashion, wrote one letter at a time to move ahead and ultimately garner the support of the IFA, the U.S. Small Business Administration, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Financing the effort almost completely out of his own pocket, Dwyer was driven by a personal passion for doing what he could to make sure veterans were not unemployed. He was committed to the belief that veterans make good business owners because military personnel are used to living by a core set of values similar to his own company’s Code of Values, and the franchise model is consistent with the way military personnel are trained to think, offering proven systems of success similar to the military’s mission where there is no question of what is suppose to be done, or how it should be accomplished.

“The military loves systems,” Dwyer-Owens says. “That’s why they make good franchisers.”

At the same time, the discipline and leadership skills instilled in military personnel is directly transferable to those who go into franchising, and it is a business opportunity that allows them to explore a second career without making drastic lifestyle changes.

But, just as VetFran started to build momentum, Dwyer died of a sudden heart attack in 1994 at the age of 60. Although the program was not discontinued, with his vision gone, it fizzled out until after the 9/11 terrorist attacks when Dwyer-Owens was elected to the IFA board and gave a presentation on her father’s important initiative, convincing the group to make it a full-blown project and priority.

She followed in many of her father’s footsteps, not only as the CEO of the company, but as the unrelenting influence and force behind growing VetFran into a measurable success. One of her first actions was to make the plan as user friendly as possible. Rather than drag franchisors through financing details, she recommended that participating franchisors simply provide the best possible deal they can offer a veteran. She was not shy about reminding franchisors of her father’s vision: The country cannot have unemployed veterans and they make good franchise owners.

Support Systems

While the idea of launching a small business in today’s economy may go against the grain of reason for most entrepreneurs, according to IFA, their efforts to make owning a franchise more approachable for the nation’s military veterans are working. In one year, 129 new veteran franchisees have joined the ranks of small business owners using discounts voluntarily offered by IFA member companies, bringing the number of former military personnel who acquired franchises via the VetFran Program to more than 1,500. The award-winning program was lauded by both Veterans Affairs and the American Society of Association Executives, which last year honored IFA with its Award of Excellence for creating an “outstanding program, which has resulted in significant benefit to American society.”

Discounts offered to veterans by the franchise systems range from reduced initial franchise fees to waivers of training costs and free product inventories. It is up to the individual franchisors to determine what kind of incentive they will offer as participants in VetFran.

The program receives no government funding but is officially endorsed by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Veterans Enterprise, which helps promote small business ownership for veterans.

“Our veterans are coming back to a very weak job market and they don’t make a ton of money in the military to begin with. Then when they come back, they have a hard time taking care of their families. We can help them get into their own business and make it easier to transition into civilian life.”

Comparable Values

Just back from the 2010 annual IFA Convention in San Antonio, Texas, where VetFran was again one of Dwyer-Owens’ favorite programs to advance, she tells one of her favorite stories to illustrate how The Dwyer Group’s work with veterans directly reflects the company’s Code of Values. She was at the Dallas airport trying to get back to Waco, Texas, after the flight had been canceled. After chatting with several Army soldiers who were also trying to return to Waco from Afghanistan, she decided to rent a car and invited the men to accompany her.

As she began telling the men about what she does for a living and explaining the Code of Values, she says one of them handed her a card from his wallet and said, “In the military, we have something similar to what you have,” referring to The Dwyer Group’s Code of Values. In fact, she says, the Army also has a core of values card and, she says, her father may have gotten the idea of developing his company’s Code of Values from the military.

Either way, she says, this is another reminder of why the VetFran Program is so important and why it makes perfect sense for the men and women who are exiting military service to consider becoming a franchisee for their next career.


Friday, July 2, 2010

Thoughts of Haiti

A luxury can mean so many things when you are in a world of few luxuries at all. It could be the ability to use a hair dryer or flush toilet paper down the toilet. Or it could be a breeze on a hot day, or no rain while riding on the roof of a bus.

Sustenance – food – also has very different value. To be in an impoverished country like Haiti, it’s clear that every morsel of every meal had the biggest significance. It was important for Dina to detail everything she ate – and in the case of some questionable local food, what she didn’t eat. It goes to show how much we take for granted, and how automatic our lives are that every Coke we drink is cold and full of ice. What luxury!

No matter how poor, you can still be rich in pride. The observations that women would sweep dirt floors and kids would wear the whitest of white clothes shows that in a world of chaos, people still can pursue and – with the Grace of God – achieve some sense of order and pride. It is by seeing these most precious gifts in the light of disaster that one measures possibilities.

The details of the hot, sticky, sweaty nights…not even a breeze..and the constant bark of dogs….makes me almost feel how tired and uncomfortable Dina and the entire group must have been at times. And yet, Mother Nature reminds us who is in charge when a breeze comes along or a steady rain washes away the grit and grime. That is simplicity and complexity all rolled into one. It reminds us that we are only human, and Nature rules supreme. That is what Haiti has witnessed at the most severe level. It is a beautiful place suffering some ugly times. Nature offers pleasures and perils, both. It is up to the human condition how we accept the two that will always go hand-in-hand.

I love the rituals that Dina shares about the constant playtime with kids whenever there was a break in giving medications, exercising, going to church and the other activities. It achieved in very few words a sense of the innocence of youth, no matter their surroundings. They know no other way of life than the devastation in which they live, and they find total refuge in the act of play with others. How important it is to value “Having Fun in the Process.” These kids prove that. It’s their release. And it reminds me that no matter color, race, gender, status, religion, country, or any other kind of label we put on people – I can’t think of a kid in the world who would not enjoy play time. Too bad we grow up to have opinions and be exclusive in our love for others. Dina has reconnected with that when she describes the happiness in their smiles and the joy in their laughter.

Ceremony seems extremely important. Whether it’s the time the church service starts or the exchange of wedding vows, or the celebration of a birthday. It shows how similar we can be as creatures in the role of ceremony.

In a land of poor people, you often times must take what you can get….the survival attitude can be seen all over. Whether it’s finding an extra 10 people (not in your group) sitting on your bus, or concocting some story about money for a grandmother from the mouth of an orphan…you see a real desperation and their need to act or else suffer the consequences of no action at all.

I much suspect that these rich, Western strangers who rode into town were embraced for their short stay and missed beyond belief when they left. They brought medicine, affection, and a sense of outside interest. And the locals probably relished every minute, hung on every word, competed for their attention. Like all high-profile causes, I read Dina’s journal and wonder what happens when this very needy part of the world loses the spotlight? It already has. The oil spill has taken over our interest. 12 people died on an oil rig and we’re consumed with saving birds and beaches (all very important to the long-term ecosystem and, by default, to our own existence). What about the thousands who died in Haiti? It’s already becoming a memory.

Dina's Journal - 2010 Haiti Trip
Reflections- only a few TVs so many go to church at night and sing/dance, the villagers mostly took great pride in their homes, they swept the dirt yards/ streets, kept fairly clean clothes- especially the whites and uniforms, most of their smiles were beautiful with a lot of white, straight teeth, they want to work, the kids loved to play and acted like kids with some more pushy, especially some of the teenagers, the older kids want to be lawyers, doctors, physiatrists etc.

5/18- 7:45 am we left Waco in a cute, square bus loaded down with bags and about 10 of us. I learned that Steve Raley was husband of Trish and that Donny Buster was joining us.

Dani and I shared the Amish Friendship Bread Cinnamon muffins with the group; they didn't mind that we put too much sugar on top. Daily readings were very clear to me today-

"I am our message, Lord. Throw me like a blazing torch into the night, that all may see and understand what it means to be a disciple." St. Maria Skobtsova

Acts 20:17-27 Paul says "I did not shrink from proclaiming to you the entire plan of God"

"The greatest misfortune is to live and die without knowing God." St. Claudine Thevenet

Spent the first night at a guest (team) house run by Theresa and Jim. The house was very clean and had rooms with bunk beds for all the girls. The guys slept upstairs on cots. We had dinner on a balcony with nice tent cover; we ended up being able to buy a tent from the local tent maker in Santiago for 500.00. We had street chicken, twice fried plantains, potato salad, pineapple and key lime juice-- delish! We slept with sheets and fans and did fine. We all shared 3 bathrooms; this is where we learned that you cannot put toilet paper in any of the toilets. Breakfast was eggs, toast, some funny grape jelly, papaya, bananas and sausage. We had Rica OJ and passion fruit juice.

A van showed up instead of a truck to carry our luggage to the border and somehow they managed to fit all our luggage, except the boxes. We ended up with the new tent in the floorboard of the bus. Dani, Steve and I sat on the containers in the back of the bus- we got a little air when we hit some nice bumps in the road- ouch!

Day 1- It's 5:00 am and as I write a lady across the street is sweeping the dirt in front of her home, what pride. We played with the kids for a while, clap games- double-double- this-this and just tickled, talked and swung them. We had twice fried plantain, stew (I think goat and chicken but Dani and I bypassed goat), rice and beans and dessert for a late lunch. There's no ice for the drinks so a cool coke was a treat. We went back out and played for hours with the kids. They loved getting hugs and being tickled. It rained and they wanted to jump rope so we did and got nice and muddy. I had the bright idea to give the kids gum and almost started a riot. The kids were pushing and the gate keepers helped control them. The adults wanted gum just as much. The children loved Dani and were gathered around her for hours. I think I was one of the last ones out spinning the kids- from the naked little boys to those dressed in their Sunday best. One little boy wanted all the attention so he hung on to the back of my shirt to swing behind me. The teenage girls were different- they wanted my sandals, hats and earrings and one girl really wanted my attention and was swatting the back of my legs with some grass as I was walking back into the house. I had to make it clear to her that her behavior was unacceptable. Dinner was porridge, too hot for me, and bread. We got the mosquito nets up and the therma cells going and the night went quite well. I stayed up until about 10:00 helping lay out the wedding goodies for Eade to review. I slept until about 4:30- the generator, chickens and dogs were all going at that time- no wonder Janet had earplugs on the packing list. I am getting ready to run/walk with Kathy and Donnie.

Day 2- we spent most of the day traveling by bus to the Haitian border. Dani and I volunteered to sit in the medicine containers at the back of the bus since we were out of seats. The back takes the greatest bumps and one pot hole (they call them Wacos in Spanish) bounced Dani and me 4 feet up. I banged my face on luggage rack and roof and Dani banged her head on roof. The driver seemed to be a little more careful after that :). Cassie (BU student) was nice enough to swap with me after 2 hours and I got a real seat- awe! Janet got us thru at the Dom Republic border without us getting off the bus. Thank goodness she paid for us to drive across without having to unload everything, which would have been an amazing feat. We spent close to 2 hours at the Haitian Immigration trailer. We all had to get out and they inspected our medical boxes. Jackson met us and we were going to switch from our bus/van to his pick up. Janet whined/negotiated enough that she got our DR drivers to drive to Ferrier. We arrived at about 2:45 and the people's faces were lighting up as they watched the bus pass. Many villagers greeted us as we drove up to Jackson's. We got the luggage unloaded and went out to play with the children on the dirt street (much cleaner than the dirt streets we played on in Mexico.)

Day 3- Kathy, Donny and I walked about. 1 .5 miles, ran 1 and worked out on playground with some locals. One guy put 2 heavy rocks on the see-saw and pushed one side for his tricep work out. Jimmy gave us a tour of where world hunger started and then we walked to the land where they are going to build the new school. Jackson's dwarf daughter, Dah, is the one who bought the land with him. We worked in clinic in pharmacy counting meds- everything from IBP to diabetes meds and antibiotics. We saw over 90 patients from 8-12. On our walk home to lunch there were guys playing dominos and those who had the clothes pins on their face where the ones loosing. We had white rice, beans, chicken soup and... Twice fried plantains for lunch. We also had a deep fried donut for dessert- like a cookie. The cold coke was so good- all the other drinks are room temp. Jimmy gave us a short tour of Zanus' church and new clinic. The little kids always come up and hold our hands and want to hang around us. The clinic was slow this afternoon. Dani took over my job of using the pill counter. BTW- we were dripping with sweat all day long. There was a nice breeze when we went back to the house at lunch. God please bless these people and help us to help them to know you. We did treat the mayor today for high blood pressure and an 82 year old man who said he will see us in heaven. We learned that people can get worms that burrow in the feet- eek.

Please bless the Dwyer group team and my family. I had a conference call at 4:30 followed by a 40 min call with Tom to review the pp presentation. All the time as I was sitting on the stairs to the roof there were little girls trying to get my attention- one still stood in the rain and we played a mime game while I was on the phone. A family of 12 little ducks also marched thru the puddles proudly behind their mother in the street below. We had a bday dinner for Eade, consisted of what Janet calls "cookie dough pudding", like a porridge and was pretty good with a little sugar. We also broke out the extra crunchy Jiff and our team loved it with some soft white bread. The bday cake was good but I only had half a piece. We quieted down for the night and I read and was asleep by 10 or so.

Thank you Lord for our blessings and help us to be your light.

Day 4- up at 4:30 again, the light of day begins then and the generator comes on about 4:45. Donnie, Kathy and I went to exercise at 5:15, we walked approx 1.5 and ran maybe 1 and then did a 15 min cross fit work out at the playground. Young people gathered around at 6:00 to watch us- I'm sure Kathy and I looked pretty funny doing squats. We had spicy sausage spaghetti, pineapple, pineapple/lemon juice, bread and PB, mayo, strange jelly for breakfast. We went on a tour to Jackson’s farm and to the school to see how the kids started their day. The clinic opened again at 8:00 and served over 120 people. Some of the translators were sneaky in that they let people pay them to get them to the front of the line. Janet, Jimmy, Kathy, Dani Julie and I went to meet with Zanus and Dasney. Their 10 adopted kids found their way to Dani and she ended up going out to play. We discussed the micro-loan program and agreed Dasney would be paid monthly for her part-time work to oversee the loan program. They will have 5 groups of 5 women where only 2 loans will be given by group. The loans will start at $50 and the interest rate will be 3%. They will pay something back weekly until paid off. The prg will end unless all paid back so the loving pressure of the group should hold everyone accountable. Janet shared some bus ideas like shoe sales, reader glasses, pillow case dresses for kids (Carelie was our model). We talked about having a clear code of values for them women to be in a group along with their commitments for kids 6 and older to go to school, have 75.00 in savings plus put profits in savings etc. Janet announced that the woman's group had made 147.00 off their world trade items, they we thrilled. We presented the money to the coop that afternoon and discussed the idea of making 1,000's of plant baskets. Lunch was fried patats (they gave me a taste test when they were hot and delish). We had rice and beans, twice fried plantain, spicy chicken soup and shared only 4 cold cokes today- every sip was a treat. The guys put the tent on the roof while I entertained the kids below by doing aerobics, line dances, macarena, and chicken dance with Janet. We are all looking forward to the thought of sleeping on the roof tonight with a breeze- oh ya! We had a celebration party with the coop group- cold sodas. The kids keep asking us to come and play jump rope so we will tonight. Dinner was thick hot chocolate and pb sandwiches. We went to Zanus' church to worship with the members and then did a hygiene lesson. Janet came up with the idea of spreading her 'glitter' germs to everyone so she can show how germs spread. They did a skit on germs at the water well and how they travel. They show a Debbie doll with clean water in her tummy and then dirty water. The people sing so joyfully and loud. I met the public teacher who has 300, 7-9th grade students. She was very nice. We got to bed after 10 and it was a balmy night with no breeze at all. The dogs had a party all night barking their heads off. I probably slept for a total 3 hours. Jimmy asks us at dinner if we are still solid, happy to say that I am:). Dear God please bless us today to do your will and be our best. Bless our families, friends and businesses in Jesus' name Amen.

Day 5- we hung around the house after breakfast since we weren't heading to Cap until 1:00. I did ask Janet if it was silly to ask if they'd turn the generator on for 10 min so I could dry my hair, she responded honestly that it was too much to ask (I knew it was selfish) and offered her inverse battery and that worked fine. It took longer to dry my hair due to the 100± humidity. I took a short nap on the concrete floor on a blanket, the floor is cooler (we slept bad that not, no air movement and dogs barking alllll night.) I worked with Ricky, the interpreter, to give the girls some magazines. I wanted them to know to share them, they did good. I went down later to show them my photo book of our family. The kids loved seeing the pics of Dani as a baby and child. They knew my mother was my mom by the resemblance. We had chicken stew for lunch, platat, twice-fried plantains and no cokes. We loaded up the bus with about 12 extra people coming to the wedding. 3 of our team rode on the top and said it was great. We stopped at Jackson’s town home in Cap and watched the wedding party and relatives run around and change etc. People were crossing the courtyard in their towels-no place for modesty. I had to stand in the bus since we added another 12-15 people. It was an interesting 45 min ride to the building (a building with a/c). The wedding started late and went for 2 hours. They had 4 groups sing 2 songs each. There were 4 preachers that preached and we actually recognized the wedding rights. They had to be out of the church by 6 so they served the hor'dourves in a small styro box. I only ate a few items since we had no idea how long the food was sitting. They brought out cool bottles of coke and sprite- nice treat. Janet was the maid of honor and sat in the front with the bride looking like a Greek goddess. The cake was iced with cool whip and they had a white couple as decoration instead of a Haitian looking couple. They did not cut the cake because people had to get out for the next wedding. We got out to our bus and it was half full already with people we did not know who wanted a ride. We ended up squeezing in- probably 50 people in a 30 capacity bus and 11 of our team ended on top. It was raining and there was lightning. It was a wild night going thru Cap- people and cars everywhere with their own organized chaos. Our driver scrapped right against a taxi truck and peeled off its side mirror- no stopping to exchange info. We were relieved when we stopped and unloaded about 15 people. The rain started pelting those on top but most wanted to stay. We put our side flaps down but the rain still found its way in. Denise (funny nurse) said she'd get hit by a tree and then yell to the others "tree"- she's a nut. She has a schnauzer that’s getting a bday gift when she gets home. We were thrilled to turn the corner on the dirt road since we knew we were getting close to Ferrier. Many of the children were waiting in the rain for us to come home. The cooks had cookie dough porridge waiting for us. I stuck to a PB (no jelly) sandwich. Most of us slept really good. I wore ear plugs and even put the sheet on part of me in the night. Dani slept like a rock. Thank you Lord for a great night's sleep.

I got up at 4:30 and fell back to sleep, Cathy woke me up at 5:10. Donnie, Kathy, Chris and I went for 45 min "Kathy Cross- cultural/cross fit program." We ran, sprinted, did 200 reps, 50 squats etc.

Day 6- Sunday- Cathy and I decided to walk instead of work out. We went about 2.5 and took time to visit with the people; many are up at 5:30. We met a man sharpening his machete, talked to a boy on his chivalle (horse) and walked to the river down a muddy trail with some guys holding machetes- thank God it is safe here. We meet 3 teenage girls who really wanted to try to speak to us. Some kids were walking and studying- the study orally and walk around outside where it's light. We are getting ready for church and people of all ages are carrying 40lb water buckets on their heads. I tried to carry one and it was neck/shoulder breaking. Please bless Mary, Derek, Chris and our 3m guest to have a safe journey here. We played with the kids for hours today out in the field. We did wheelbarrow races, foot races, red rover etc. The kids did much better with games that didn't have objects- they like to hoard. Two kids ran off with the volleyball. We jump roped and tried to fly kites but they tore them up trying to get them. We rested and went back out to play. There must have been 60 kids by the house. I taught them the macarena, chicken dance etc- they love saying wiggle/wiggle and hop. I had to break up a fight- one hurt boy was about to throw a small bolder at the kid that hit his head. I got him to calm down while getting the other kids to back away. Some wanted to get in the middle. The girls braided Dani's hair and wanted Cassie and Zach to get married. We had empanadas for dinner- one was enough since we did not know what was in them. Some of us went back to church for 75 minutes and sang away. We got out early because a storm was brewing. We made it back just in time. Thank you Lord for the storm, it made for a cool night that required a sheet. The ladies were drying rice on tarps in front today. Got to bed about 10.

Day 7- got up at 4:30 after a great rest. The sky was beautiful, the mountain range was clear. Kathy, Donnie, Chris and I went for a walk/run and did Donnie's work out of the day- 21/15/9/ reps of dips, pikes, pushups- my arms were shaking bad on last push up. Finished off with 10 knee/elbows and 20 bicycle sit ups. Inquired about the Catholic church by the playground and mass is at 6. Chris and I are going Tuesday before we leave to the Citadel. He's been going to St. Joseph's and wants to convert. I offered to sponsor him at RCIA. Dani is helping woman with crafts today while I work the children's clinic. The kid’s clinic was non-stop. One little girl, maybe 2 was our little mascot coming around to hug us throughout the morning. The people come to the clinic very clean. The school children came for wellness check ups, we gave all multi-vitamins (mv). We were to close at 12 and ended up working until almost 2. Some of the kids that we played with showed up late saying their tummies hurt, their ears hurt or they had infections- we checked those that were serious and gave the rest mv. Derek came into the clinic to let me know they arrived and he was sweating like a pig, I told him to get used to it. I saw Chris filming in the distance. On the way back to lunch I cut my big toe on a sharp rock and was bleeding a lot- happened to be walking with Doc Crawford and I had an alcohol swab and he had band-aid. We meet everyone for lunch and I got to see Mary and Satish (3M rep). I gave them a tour of the house- no toilet paper in the toilet bowls. We went for a tour of Jackson's land and he gave us his vision. The children took to our home team right away. Derek was trying to process it all; his mind seemed to be wandering. Chris borrowed Janet's guitar and played/sang- awesome songs from the balcony. We played with the kids; Mary was teaching them hand games. Dinner was porridge- this time we added some of our granola stash- yum. We found sleeping spots for the guys on the roof and Mary got a foam pad to put on her metal bunk frame- comfy:). Many did not sleep well that night due to dogs barking- Kathy and Julie tried to scare off the dogs with flash lights but they kept coming back.

Day 8- got up at 4:15 and went for a walk with Mary at 5:00- we thought it was 6. Mary, Chris and I went to mass at 6 and the singing was beautiful. The priest acknowledged we there and the elderly woman greeted us as we left. Dani made Chris and I some peanut butter sandwiches to take on truck to Citadel. 14 of us left at about at 7:15 and stopped 2 blocks up to get fruit champagne- orange soda. Riding in the back of truck was quite comfy, the breeze and scenery were great. We stopped in one town to get ice (glasse) that's bedded under straw. One young teenage boy flipped us off and Terri told me some kids are told that if they are bad the boogie man will get them- we are the boogie man- that made me sad but then I recalled all those that seemed joyful to see us. Dear God- please help us show them that we are their brothers/sisters and are caring and respectful. We dropped 2 men at the drilling rig in hopes that they'd drill a well that day yet on the way home we learned that it was still not working. We arrived at the Citadel and were the only tourists of the day. We paid to use toilet and were bombarded by men trying to make a living that day with their horses and tour guiding. Tatiana's guide really whipped his horse and we were vocal that we did not like that. Ricky's horse was pretty fast. Chris went up the hill on foot and beat the horses by 50 yards. He made it in an hour and we took 2 hours- incl 5 breaks. That was the hardest hike I've ever made- 7k one way. The structure was amazing as well as the story of Christoff. We explored for an hour and were in the clouds on some sides of the palace and other areas the view was so clear and high that I got dizzy and sat down. Denise aka Juanita was sitting on the edge swinging her legs and I told her she made me nervous. The walk down was tough on the steep parts but I got to enjoy the scenery more, it was very pretty. My un-hired guide was now my friend and he needed money to go to school- 60 us per year and to help his grandma. We ate spam like empanadas- pretty good after a long hike. We arrived back before 4 and Mary had Chris captured me- stinky and all- for the taping. They taped many people that day and Eade's interview was so nice. The ladies brought out a late lunch for us hikers. I went out to play with the kids. 2 of the girls took me to their Maisons (homes) to meet their families. They were very kind but wanted help from me for school etc. We had a meeting over dinner (I skipped this meal) and then gave gifts to the workers and Jackson/Eade. We packed and made a pile of clothes etc for them to keep. I finally got in the shower and cooled off, now sweating clean :) bullets of sweat.

Day 9- the generators came on at 3:50 am our last day and I was the first girl up. I sat on the balcony and read and journaled. Mary was next up. We had breakfast at 6:15 and Jimmy gave me my Happy Anniversary message from Mike- I teared up of course. I was looking forward to feeding the orphans who ended up being many of the kids we played with. Most came dressed in their school uniforms. Eade did not have enough utensils so the kids politely shared. I think they recycled all the styrofoam plates/spoons. We finished packing and cleaning and visited with the villagers until the bus came. Mary and the team filled the back of the truck with their suitcases etc- there were 10 of them traveling in the pick up to Port au Prince. Dear Lord please bless them to have a safe and productive trip and for all to stay healthy. They did not know where they would sleep. We said goodbye to everyone and it was sad to me when I looked at a few kids faces. We all had a seat on the bus and tried to sleep. Jimmy did a great job of getting us thru customs with any of us getting off the bus. Someone made an interesting comment that we could have had a bunch of kids in the bus with us and immigration would have missed it. We arrived at our hotel about 3 and it was much nicer than expected, very clean. A transient guy was wondering around us as we unloaded and within minutes fell to the ground in the lobby and had a seizure- foaming at mouth etc. The doctors and Denise monitored him. Doc Steve was surprised by his quick recovery. Usually they are so wiped out that they want to sleep for hours. He got up, drank water and came to us begging for money. We walked to the Mercado for a late lunch. Dani and I had a cheese pizza, salad, mango and chocolate- yum! We got back to the room and I was ready to sleep. We watched TV and I was out by 8:00. The ac was great but a little chilly when I awoke to no dogs barking, generator cranking or roosters crowing. The last few days readings have really spoken to me, I suppose the experience brings clarity to the message God has always sent. "Be generous not just with material wealth but with our gifts of the Holy Spirit" “Cheerfulness strengthens the heart and makes us persevere in a good life. Therefore, the servant of God ought to ALWAYS be in good spirits"" He sent me to bring good news to the poor and heal the broken-hearted".

Day 10- I was up at 4:45 to get ready for our ride to airport. Dani and I really enjoyed a Burger King meal for lunch. I spent some time with Jimmy talking about scholarships etc, there's so much to be done. Our travels went well and we slept a lot on the plane. We heard from Mary that it took 12 hours to get to Port au Prince- with flat tires and heavy rains. I still don't know where they stayed. God bless their travels and thank you for an amazing trip. Please bless the people of Haiti to find strength in you.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Urge Congress to Help Veterans

At The Dwyer Group we support the fine men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces, and we are happy to spread that message and encourage others to do the same. Yesterday, Mary Kennedy Thompson, president of Mr. Rooter, testified in Washington D.C. before the House Veterans’ Affairs Subcommittee on Economic Opportunity. Here’s the very important message she shared in urging congress to help more veterans get into business for themselves.

For her full testimony: http://tinyurl.com/27vvwyo

Thursday, April 29, 2010

VetFran: An Entrepreneur’s Idea Becomes the American Dream for Veterans

From April 2010 Franchising World Magazine

What began as the idea of one entrepreneur who had served in military uniform today has become a path to the American Dream for veterans of the U.S. Armed Forces.

Watching the events of the Gulf War unfold in 1990, the president of The Dwyer Group, Don Dwyer, decided he had to do more for veterans than just cheer them on from the safety of his living room. He considered the traditional ways of support, but saw nothing that captured the spirit on the scale he envisioned.

A short time later, while attending the International Franchise Association’s 1991 annual convention, he conceived the ideal solution: help veterans live the American Dream by owning their own franchised small business.

Initially, his idea drew skepticism, but he persisted, even funding a lobbying and information campaign with his own finances. As franchisors learned more about the idea, they signed on to support the “Veterans Transition Franchise Initiative,” today known as “VetFran.”
Just before Veterans Day, 1991, the program was officially launched during a press conference in Washington, D.C. and soon, more than 100 franchise systems were participating as partners in the effort, providing financial incentives for honorably-discharged veterans.

Fortunately, the conflict in the Gulf was short-lived, but when the attention on military action and returning veterans waned, so did support for the program.

But the terrorist attacks on the United States on Sept. 11, 2001, re-ignited military action in the Middle East, this time on a much larger scale. Leaders of IFA quickly revitalized the program and VetFran was activated with the official support of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Since its re-launch in 2002, VetFran has become a popular path to smallbusiness ownership by more than 1,700 veterans who use financial incentives and support services offered by nearly 400 franchise systems and numerous members of the IFA Supplier Forum.

The participating companies and the discounts they offer can be viewed at www.franchise.org   under “Businesses for Veterans.” Incentives range from reduced initial franchise fees to waivers of training costs and free product inventories.

VetFran gets no government funding but is officially endorsed by the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Veterans Enterprise which helps promote small-business ownership for veterans and named IFA a “Champion of Veterans Enterprise” in 2003.

The award-winning program was also tapped by the American Society of Association Executives to receive its Award of Excellence for creating an “outstanding program which has resulted in significant benefit to American society.”

Congress is also displaying interest in helping veterans become franchisees. New legislation designed to aid veterans in buying franchises was introduced recently by U.S. Reps. Leonard Boswell (D-Iowa) and Aaron Schock (R-Ill.). The Help Veterans Own Franchises Act, H.R. 2672, would provide a tax credit for franchise businesses that offer qualified veterans a discounted initial franchise fee. See page 14 for more details.

VetFran, like the ideas of entrepreneurs that become global business enterprises, began as the idea of one franchise entrepreneur–Don Dwyer–whose concern about the postmilitary futures of those who serve to protect and defend their nation propelled him into action.

Fittingly, not only does the VetFran program continue to grow and achieve its original mission, but the program originator’s daughter, Dina Dwyer-Owens, CFE, who now serves as chairwoman and CEO of the franchise system he founded, has long been a strong supporter of the initiative and recently announced a significant milestone reached by The Dwyer Group. In February, the holding company of six residential and commercial franchise service brands topped the $1 million mark in VetFran discounts awarded to veterans.

“Don Dwyer truly had a million-dollar idea,” said Dwyer-Owens. “Providing careers for veterans has been the best way to honor the men and women of our U.S. Armed Forces for the service they have given to our country. And my father would be very proud of the opportunities that have been created in our franchise family to help them transition to civilian life as business owners.”

The Dwyer Group has also expanded its resources to veterans through its own Department of Veterans Entrepreneurship and the introduction of its complementary P.A.V.E. (Program for Assisting Veteran Entrepreneurship) Program, which offers educational and financial resources to veterans and transitioning military personnel who want to buy a franchise.

SBA’s Patriot Express Loan Initiative Available

Program focuses on military community, including veterans, service-disabled, active-duty in transition, Reservist and National Guard, as well as spouses and related groups.

The U.S. Small Business Administration offers the new Patriot Express Pilot Loan as the latest extension to the financial, procurement, and technical assistance programs the agency provides to the military community. Patriot Express is a streamlined loan product based on SBA’s successful SBA Express Program, but with enhanced guarantee and interest rate characteristics.

With military activations and extensions having a profound impact on entrepreneurs in the military community, SBA is committed to helping America’s service men and women. Patriot Express, supported by SBA’s other services, goes directly to the needs of those who wish to start businesses, and in the process encourages job creation and growth.

Patriot Express is available to military community members including veterans, service-disabled veterans, active-duty service members participating in the military’s Transition Assistance Program, Reservists and National Guard members, current spouses of any of the above, and the widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service, or of a service-connected disability.

The Patriot Express Loan is offered by SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide and features SBA’s fastest turnaround time for loan approvals. Loans are available up to $500,000 and qualify for SBA’s maximum guaranty of up to 85 percent for loans of $150,000 or less and up to 75 percent for loans over $150,000 up to $500,000. For loans above $350,000, lenders are required to take all available collateral.

The Patriot Express Loan can be used for most business purposes, including start-up, expansion, equipment purchases, working capital, inventory or businessoccupied real-estate purchases.

Patriot Express Loans feature SBA’s lowest interest rates for business loans, generally 2.25 percent to 4.75 percent over prime depending upon the size and maturity of the loan. Local SBA district offices will have a listing of Patriot Express lenders in their areas. Details on the initiative can be found at SBAs’ Web site under “Patriot Express.”

SBA has expanded through an expansion of its Veterans Affairs Office, increased local outreach and goaling in its district offices and participation in U.S.Department of Labor job seminars.

The small-business agency provides programs and services for veterans and members of the military community wanting to establish or expand small businesses.

SBA has veterans’ business development officers in district offices in every state and territory able to provide military community members full access to the SBA’s range of programs and services. There are also five Veterans Business Outreach Centers located in Albany, N.Y; Pittsburgh; Lynn Haven, Fla.; Edinburg, Texas; and Sacramento.

In addition to district offices, SBA’s resource partners SCORE, Counselors to America’s Small Business; Small Business Development Centers; and Women’s Business Centers provide local and online assistance with: writing a business plan, financing options to start or grow your business, managing the business, expanding the business and selling goods and services to the government.

For those who are already small-business owners and expect to be recalled into active duty, SBA and its resource partners have expertise to assist with preparing their businesses before deployment, managing their businesses, selling goods and services to the government, obtaining other SBA financing and financial assistance, and obtaining loans for economic injury–Military Reserve Economic Injury Disaster Loans–loans of up to $1.5 million are available for small businesses sustaining economic injury because an owner or essential employee has been called to active duty as a military reservist.

The SBA and its Office of Veterans Business Development provides comprehensive assistance, outreach and support to veterans. Each year the SBA assists more than 100,000 veterans, servicedisabled veterans and Reserve Component members. The Center for Veterans Enterprise is an organization within the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs that reports to the Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization who is the department’s advocate for small-business concerns. The mission of the center is to improve the business climate for veterans, to minimize access barriers and to inform the public about the benefits of working with veteran-owned small businesses.

CVE creates opportunities for veteranowned small businesses by collaborating with like-minded individuals and organizations who passionately believe that veterans in business are still serving the United States. Its partner organizations provide local support to veterans through local business and face-to-face meetings on the belief that such encounters are imminently better when considering business ownership, seeking financing or making marketing calls.

CVE supports acquisition teams through procurement coaching, free market research, awareness briefings and awards for noteworthy achievements.

With its strategic partners, the center continually seeks to stretch performance and improve benefits for veterans in business.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Sunshines in Waco

Last week, I had the pleasure of giving my Design Your Life seminar at new franchise owner training, and Peter van Stralen was among my guests. Peter’s family started a business in Canada that The Dwyer Group is now franchising across the United States as The Grounds Guys. Here’s a little story of how our businesses got together:

Peter van Stralen is the president and CEO of Sunshine Grounds, a landscaping business headquartered in Caledon, Ontario, Canada. One of 10 brothers, the whole van Stralen clan has been involved in what is now a growing franchise. But like the Dwyer family, the van Stralens experienced the trials of wanting to be big while still maintaining that closeness that existed from day one. And how do you do that when the company evolves to include more than your brothers?

“In the last five years, we began franchising,” Peter said. “And that was a new dynamic for us. Now we had locations that ran across a large geographical area. We needed our code of values to be more clearly stated.”

That’s about the time Mike Bidwell, The Dwyer Group’s President and COO, read a story about Sunshine Grounds and shared it with me. We called up the company and met with Peter. What we heard was déjà vu. The family was growing up. And so was the company.

I sent Peter a few copies of my Live R.I.C.H. book for his team to see how The Dwyer Group addressed its growing pains over the years.

“I got it in the mail and started reading and couldn’t put it down,” Peter said. “We always tried to live by our code of values but never formalized it or wrote it down. Her book came right at the right time for us.”

With 24 locations and a reach that had extended into the U.S., the van Stralens were looking to safeguard their culture. Like so many great leaders, Peter and his team already had a strong sense of self. In their marketing materials, they said the very thing that made them special: We CARE. After reading Live R.I.C.H., they used their own motto to formalize values and action items that would make sure every franchisee and every employee knew what it meant to CARE as well. Today, they have a Code of CARE that says:

We show that we CARE, by putting the needs of our
Customers first, by always having a positive and helpful
Attitude, and by treating everyone and everything with
Respect. By living our code of values we
Enjoy Life in the process.

The connections that The Dwyer Group made with the van Stralens during this free exchange were too strong to ignore. They knew grounds care and we knew franchising. More importantly, it was clear how much our companies valued a strong, ethical corporate culture. We knew we could do more together that would be mutually beneficial to both of our organizations. Earlier this year, The Dwyer Group announced that it would begin marketing The Grounds Guys franchise opportunity across the United States. It’s the seventh franchise concept for The Dwyer Group. And each new franchise owner who joins the system will receive the superior technical training that the van Stralens have perfected. Together we are doing great things to Live R.I.C.H.

Business Ethics Start With What You Believe

The ethical recession is not new. Corporate America was founded in the 1600s on the backs of slaves and indentured servants. But it was also founded on cottage industries, small family-run businesses. Corporate America’s challenge that it has never quite been able to solve is how to translate family values to the large-scale corporate workplace.

At The Dwyer Group we’re working to help make America a better place specifically as it relates to business ethics. First you need leaders who believe ethics are important. Then you have to have clear written values. And once you have clear written values how do you integrate that through your organization? That’s something we’ve been practicing at The Dwyer Group since 1981. When my father, Don Dwyer, founded the company he had a clear Code of Ethics. His ethics were emotionally based beliefs. If you could walk into our main office building on the wall you would see the original Code of Values as we call them. They are sayings like, “We believe loyalty adds meaning to our lives.” I see them every day as I walk to my office. My favorite is, “We must re-earn our positions every day in every way.” So as I see my father’s face in the picture on the wall and I read that value I say, “OK today I’ve got to re-earn my position today.” It doesn’t matter what I did yesterday - what am I going to do today to make a difference in the lives of my employees and my customers?

I challenge you to define what you believe. Start with one thing, the most important thing. At The Dwyer Group, our most important value really could be considered our vision statement, “To be a world class company admired for the excellence that customers, franchisees and associates experience with The Dwyer Group.” You can copy that for your business if you want (download our belief statements here). But you have to define what you believe, or it will not stand up to the winds of change that always sweep across America.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

The Ethics Recession

Do you believe the current recession that we’re in has something to do with the lack of values in corporate America? I sure do. In fact, I think that we’re in an ethical recession that’s resulted in a financial recession.

I truly believe if more corporations did something more with their values than wrote them on a piece of paper and tucked them away, we’d have better decision making in corporate America, decisions that are the right decisions for the right reasons versus for greedy reasons.

I don’t think it stops at corporate America either. We actually have an ethical recession at the consumer level as well. Consumers have made some pretty bad decisions. They have not made prudent decisions because they have used fast credit and easy loans to get in way over their heads and now they can’t afford it. Now they’re stuck with debt, now they can’t pay the banks, and it just becomes this vicious cycle that has turned into a financial recession for all of us.

Here’s the solution. In franchising we create systems that entrepreneurs can implement to build a successful business. We need to systematize values in business the same way we systematize finance, marketing and operations. But it starts with leadership. You have to have good strong leadership. You have to believe in values and believe in doing the right thing for the right reasons. Then you have to stand up for what you believe. Do you believe? If you do, stand with me.