The Triangle Approach to Franchising Culture
Franchisees who believe in your mission are the key to a successful company culture.
By Matt Wiggins
Office Evolution is a national B2B franchise that offers co-working spaces, virtual office services and fully furnished offices and suites. The company built and operated seven business centers across Colorado before entering the franchise world in 2012. The brand currently has 53 franchise locations throughout the U.S. Franchise.org spoke with founder and CEO Mark Hemmeter about what it takes to fully operate a business, and what type of person and company culture it takes to keep it positively functioning.
Franchise.org: What is your background, and how did you get involved with franchising?
Hemmeter: I was a real estate developer working out of my house with three young daughters, but as many who work from home know, it was hard to stay focused. I found a small, virtual office company down the street and remained a client there for two years. I loved the support that they offered; I held my meetings there, they answered my phone calls, and handled my mail. After a while there, I left and started Office Evolution.
"Many people believe that the relationship between the franchisee and the franchisor is a two-way street; we see it as more of a triangle."
Franchise.org: What made you take the leap?
Hemmeter: I love being surrounded by and serving small business owners. They are brave and are our heroes. We are helping thousands of entrepreneurs across the country achieve their dreams.
Franchise.org: How does Office Evolution participate in community outreach efforts?
Hemmeter: While we don’t require our franchisees to get involved in their local communities, it’s strongly encouraged. Our franchisees are helping small business owners succeed which has a lot of influence in the overall success of their local community. We’ve found that the more we nurture that relationship by giving back, the stronger that influence becomes.
Franchise.org: How do you improve the franchisee-franchisor relationship, and how does culture factor into this relationship?
Hemmeter: Many people believe that the relationship between the franchisee and the franchisor is a two-way street; we see it as more of a triangle. We have ongoing communication with our franchisees, but our franchisees are also there to support other franchisees. The Office Evolution culture is all about family and helping people as they need it.
Franchise.org: How would you describe franchising’s impact on the overall economy?
Hemmeter: Most people don't understand how big the franchising network really is. The industry’s influence is extremely significant. We’re empowering local owners to become their own boss with the backing of an established system. Not only are we contributing to their success, but we’re also contributing to the growth of the economy.
Franchise.org: What do you consider to be the greatest strengths of the franchise business model?
Hemmeter: Unquestionably the greatest strength of franchising is the franchisee. You can’t replicate the efforts or mindset of a local business owner. The biggest challenge is getting the franchisees to follow a system. Our franchisees are very successful professionals, and they want to make sure the system we’ve developed will yield solid results. Balancing the mind of an entrepreneur with the needs of a system is an ongoing challenge.
"Ohana trickles down into every conversation we have with our franchisees and clients."
Franchise.org: Why did you decide to puruse a franchising as a business expansion method?
Hemmeter: At Office Evolution, we operated our own locations for the first 10 years. When we started growing outside of the Denver metro area, it was a natural to franchise, because at our core we believe in local ownership and the power of small business owners. Who better to operate our locations than other owners?
Franchise.org: What does “ohana,” or family, mean to the company?
Hemmeter: At Office Evolution, ohana means a group of people working together for a common purpose. That purpose or “why” is serving owners as they pursue their business dreams. Ohana trickles down into every conversation we have with our franchisees and clients. We truly believe that we’re all in this together, working towards one common goal.
Franchise.org: What traits do you look for when evaluating potential managers?
Hemmeter: They have to be a competitive and aggressive business development individuals who understand the soul and the mission of our company. We don’t look to build a book of business when we sign a new client, we look to build relationships with every person that walks through our door. They also have to exemplify “ohana” and also understand that we’re here to serve our clients.
Matt Wiggins is a former IFA Intern who recently became the IFA Foundation’s first VetFran Fellow. He is a student at The George Washington University majoring in Political Science.