Interview with Scott Frith Lawn Doctor CEO and Chairman of Happinest Brands

What is your background, and did it help you get where you are today?

I got my first exposure to franchising when I was 6 years old. My father would sell Lawn Doctor franchises from a home office. He was good at it and constantly refined his craft, seeking advice from others and educating himself. I learned the value of hard work as I watched him work day and night. He was an incredible role model. As a young man, I worked in our manufacturing plant, learning how our equipment and vehicle outfitting was built. To this day, I am amazed by how our team turns raw metal into state-of-the-art machines that are an essential part of our models and generate a lot of revenue for our franchisees. When I graduated from college, I had an opportunity to join the marketing team at Lawn Doctor as an entry-level assistant. I have had many interesting roles in the Company in marketing, development, and management over the span of 25 years. The various experiences enabled me to move into CEO and Chairman’s role, having first-hand knowledge of many of the important business drivers from the vantage point of those seats.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

Candidly, seeing my father create something special was truly inspiring to me. I loved seeing everyone roll up their sleeves in a smoke-filled conference room to solve problems and create strategies. I got a front-row seat and learned what it was like to collaborate with a group of people you really admired. I was hooked.

What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?

Our culture is all about positivity, collaboration, and fun. Life is too short, so you need to have a team that exudes positive vibes and wants to have fun. The work happens almost organically when you have all the right team members in the right environment.

What motivates you?

I’m motivated by creating something truly unique in the world of business and franchising. I want to create a win for everyone involved in our businesses; customers, franchisees, employees, and shareholders. We have been fortunate to create a winning formula that allows us to do just that.

How do you generate new ideas?

Ideas come in all shapes, sizes, and directions. In some cases, our franchisees or team members who are close to the action have the best ideas on how we can do things better. Sometimes I may be inspired by something I see in an aspect of my daily life that creates a “what if” moment. Often ideas flow out of sessions we have together. It is really incredible what you can accomplish when people openly share and build off one another’s ideas to continuously improve.

Do you believe there is a pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

I don’t think there is anyone way or template to become a successful entrepreneur. I do think certain attributes are necessary, such as passion, vision, and resilience.

If you want people to join your quest and follow you, you need to really believe in your where you are going.

While the path to get there may change, you need to have a very clear picture in your head as to what you want to build and be able to clearly share it with others.

As with anything worthwhile in life, there will be failures along the way. Lots of them. You need to have the ability to get up, dust yourself off, and get back in the game. It is OK to fall; you just can’t stay there for very long.

What are some of the mistakes you wished you could’ve avoided?

I have made a lot of mistakes in my career. I try to learn from the ones I make and not repeat them.

In a franchise business, you always have this tension between the need to innovate to stay completely relevant to the customer and the need for good franchisees who are executing the model to have stability in their day-to-day operations. I have tried to strike a balance but don’t know that I have always been successful in keeping us fully aligned as we drive necessary change.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Pursue something you love (or think you could love if you have no idea yet). Things seem to come together when you are doing just that. Never be intimidated by hiring smarter than you and having skill sets you don’t possess. This has been said by many people many times, but often those who have not been there yet hesitate out of a sense of understandable pride.

What is next? Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

Lawn Doctor has evolved from an almost bankrupt start-up to become one of the most respected brands in our category with over 600 locations. More recently, we have embarked on a journey to be a catalyst for young entrepreneurs who want to move their emerging franchise brands to iconic in the right way. Under our new Happinest brand, we have partnered with Mosquito Hunters and Ecomaids on our way to become a world-class home service platform with cool franchise brands in every major home service category. I’d like to be able to look back and see how many lives we have changed through the power of franchising.

Rocco Fiorentino

Interview with Rocco Fiorentino of Benetrends Financial

What was the first business you started?

My first business was a mechanical contracting business which I started with my partner in 1976. I was still very young and had a lot to learn.

What is your background, and did it help you get where you are today?

During the early years of my first business, most of our customers were franchise brands like McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, and many more. This was my opportunity to learn about franchising.

How did the idea for your current business come about?

The current businesses I am currently involved in have all stemmed from my early days as an entrepreneur. I am always wondering what else we can do to serve our customers better and what other products we may provide to them that would fit our current model, and we would be able to execute with “Best in Class” service.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

Since my first job at the early age of 14, I wondered what we could do better, whether it was the restaurant that I worked in as a busboy or any of the jobs after that. When I could start a service business since I was already in the business working for someone else, I knew I wanted to do it, and I knew I had the passion for doing it better than anyone I have worked for in the past. Since then, I have always enjoyed entrepreneurship, and I truly enjoy going from one mistake to the next… Very enthusiastically!
I enjoy taking risks, and I try to take a calculated risk, and I enjoy the opportunity to see some of my vision come to reality in whatever I do.

Did you raise funding for your business or bootstrap it?

As a young man, I always was interested in engineering, and I wanted to go to trade school. My dad thought I was just wasting time, and we made a deal. I would pay for the engineering school while I was attending by working nights and weekends. If I did graduate, he would have the money waiting for me and re-inverse to my tuition. I graduated at the top of my class, and my graduation present was my full tuition returned to me by my dad. I used that tuition money to start my first business, buy my first service truck, and purchase the parts I needed to get started in my business.

How did you build a successful customer base?

I always pride myself on building personal relationships, especially with the initial customer base for any of the businesses I have been involved in.

Customers are just simply people who need a product or service. Any of us in business has a unique opportunity to serve and provide that product or service better than anyone else.  Customer service and customer relations are what I love best about business in general.  Regardless Of the product or service, you will always know what Is best for your customers and your employees if you have passion.

Which marketing tactics have been the most successful for you?

Marketing tactics continue to change and evolve and are certainly different in the many businesses that I have been involved in. Technology has allowed us to step up our game and be much more effective and efficient in our marketing efforts. I always try to focus on the messaging as I believe it is very important in any marketing type. My philosophy is “keep it simple” No need to overstate or over-engineer your message to a consumer who may not be aware of your product or service.

My rule of thumb in marketing is “always state the obvious.”  How many times have we all seen a commercial or an advertisement and have no idea what the company does or what the product is?

This is a simple rule that everyone should follow in whatever you are marketing or advertising can certainly be done in the simplest format.

What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?

Culture is a very tricky word. All entrepreneurs aspire to develop an amazing culture within their organizations. That is certainly a tall order. Culture typically comes from the top but not always. How many times have we seen mission statements that are so long that no one can remember them? I’ve been a trans financial, and our mission statement is simple.

“We make every client a champion.”

All of the staff members at Benetrends Financial can certainly remember that line and can certainly practice our simple policy and mission to make every client a champion. Culture also requires the senior leadership team to live the culture and mission statement in the most obvious ways. That allows The entire organization to be aware of their actions at all times. It is not prudent to allow the culture to get in the way of building a solid profitable organization that is dedicated to the customers and the employees and is an organization that everyone is proud to be part of.

Can you describe your typical day?

My day starts at 5:30 AM. I usually do not set the alarm, but my body clock wakes me at 5:30, whether I like it or not. I typically take 20 to 30 minutes in the morning to get my thoughts together, walk on the treadmill a little bit, make my coffee and get my day started.

Time management is something that many entrepreneurs struggle with. I’ve taken several time management courses over my years, and humbly enough, I have learned how to better manage my time and have become better at managing my time and schedule with my direct reports.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

Family life and work is always a balancing act for every entrepreneur. Today, it is even harder to separate ourselves as we carry our mobile phones and devices with us everywhere we go, whether it’s the office, the car, or our homes. We have access to everyone in our personal and professional lives, making it even more difficult to balance. There are times when my personal life and my family Are certainly my priority, and there are times when my professional life is my priority. That doesn’t mean that you have can’t do both. When I am on vacation, which is not often, I will always take time every day to view my emails, make a few calls and take care of business. Conversely, if I am in the office for long periods of time, I will always check in on my personal life and take care of anything I may need to do. I think the secret Have a good balance has been for me to prioritize and manage my time as best I can.

What motivates you?

I am a servant leader, and I am very philanthropic. What motivates me is when I can help others become more successful and help those that may be less fortunate than others.

How do you generate new ideas?

New ideas are easy for me. I have an amazing vision and see beyond what may be visible. That allows me to expand on whatever I am thinking of or working on. It is hard to describe, but it is so clear in my mind. My theory is that every good business today was just a crazy idea yesterday. If you believe in that and are willing to take some risk, great things can happen.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

Truthfully, my greatest fear is my health and the health of my family. That is something none of us can control. We take good care of our bodies and hope that we are healthy for as long as we can be. None of us have any idea how much time we have left, and none of us can make enough money to buy one more minute when our time is up. We must always consider that as we live our lives To the fullest. When my time is up, I know that there is nothing I can do, and I do not fear death. If I fear death, I will for your life, and I do not want to do that. I want to live my life to the fullest.

How do you define success?

Jimmy, success is the ability to achieve your goals. They will always continue to change and evolve. I also believe that no one can have success unless they also have a failure. There are two words that some up success for me… Health and happiness for me, my family, and the many people in my life.

Do you believe there is a pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

As I share with many of my friends and colleagues, I believe that I became successful the day I lost my ego. I guess everyone has an ego at some point in their life; I certainly did. It seemed to get in my way a lot and prevent me from really being successful in terms of what was really important to me instead of when I perceived what is important to me through my ego’s lens. Having an ego was fun, but I hope I never get one again 🙂

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is very rewarding on a personal level and professional level. My favorite aspects of entrepreneurism are that I can be creative, be independent, help others be successful, and build an organization that all of us could be proud of. Being a successful entrepreneur, he’s not easy for anyone. Every morning when I get up, I know there will be obstacles in my way; however, I just don’t know at what time they will surface or what types of obstacles they will be. I do know, with certainty, but I will overcome those obstacles and get where I need to go at that moment.

That being said, the way you address obstacles defined you as a person and an entrepreneur. At all times, I try to consider what is best, not just for me but also for the organization and the people involved in the decision. All decisions are multi-dimensional, and without multi-dimensional thought, you may make decisions that may be shortsighted in the long run.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

What is most satisfying to me is to see a dream become a reality. That has happened several times in my career and knowing you are capable of building something that is in your mind and making it really is most rewarding.

What are some of the mistakes you wished you could’ve avoided?

The very costly ones!

Truthfully, I have probably made mistakes with people, and I have probably hurt feelings along the way, not knowing that I have done so. Those of the mistakes I wish I would’ve avoided the most. People are the most important thing to me now in my life, and I am very conscious Of treating everyone with dignity and respect regardless of their status.

How did you handle adversity and doubt?

To be honest, I never struggled with doubt. Probably to a fault, I was always able to make decisions and live with the decisions I’ve made. I’ve never procrastinated and doubted myself at times where decisions needed to be made.

Adversity has never been an issue for me. I have a 25-year-old son who was born blind, and his twin brother died at birth. I’ve never considered that a difficulty or a hardship, and instead, I have embraced it. My son is very independent and lives alone in Nashville with his guide dog, and is a very successful music producer. Together, we started a foundation to help blind and visually impaired children adapt and Live a very normal life. I never felt victimized and always looked at an opportunity to see if we can make it better or who we can help with our knowledge.

Are there any books you suggest other entrepreneurs add to their “must-read” list?

My latest read that I enjoyed is a book titled “Thank You For Being Late” by Thomas L Friedman, who is also the author of “The World is Flat” It is an optimist guide to thriving in the age of accelerations.

What is a favorite quote from an entrepreneur that has inspired you?

“ try to be interested… Not interesting“

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Welcome to the wonderful world of entrepreneurism. Try to get rid of your ego as quickly as possible and treat everyone around you with dignity and respect.

Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

I am currently working on a few new projects that are very exciting, and I am very excited about technology and where it is taking us. Stay tuned…

Interview with Andy Cagnetta of Transworld Business Advisors

What was the first business you started?

Does selling coffee and coffee cake jr’s on the 1970’s gas lines count? My first official one was East Coast Cellular selling car phones we installed in cars.

What is your background, and did it help you get where you are today?

I am a serial entrepreneur. My degree is in marketing from Lehigh University, so I always have that hat on as well.

How did the idea for your current business come about?

I moved to Florida and was looking to buy a business. I went to Transworld as a customer. They hired me as a salesperson, and 2 years later, I bought the company.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

I wanted to make money, not a salary. I found a steady paycheck boring.

Did you raise funding for your business or bootstrap it?

It’s been a journey. I have borrowed money from my parents in my early businesses. And for Transworld, I borrowed money from my inlaws Susan and Joel Martin (thank you!). I did raise 3M worth of capital in 1999 from Newtek, which helped us expand.

How did you build a successful customer base?

Do the right thing! Be nice! Answer the phone!

Which marketing tactics have been the most successful for you?

All of them! I always say that there is no such this as bad marketing. Just some more effective than others. In the end, everything works. You have to keep at it.

What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?

Entrepreneurial and collaborative. Lead by example. I do the right thing, live up to my promises, admit when I am wrong, apologize and like to build consensus.

Can you describe/outline your typical day?

Meetings, emails.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

It’s been both tough and gratifying for my family. I work hard and long hours but always made time for my girls.

What motivates you?

The people that choose to work with me. It’s an honor and an obligation. I feel responsible for helping them be successful.

How do you generate new ideas?

Strategic planning and brainstorming. Thinking outside the box, watching other companies, reading.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

I worry about finances and how economic downturns affect our company. I am conservative in our cash management. It helps me sleep at night.

How do you define success?

Tough question. I try to celebrate exceeding goals, but I always like to keep striving. So it sometimes feels like you never declare success.

Do you believe there is a pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

You have to do a lot of things right. And even then, sometimes things don’t go your way. Therefore, no, I do not believe there is a set formula.

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

Being in charge of my destiny.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

Making it through the economic downturn of 2009-2010.

What are some of the mistakes you wished you could’ve avoided?

I have learned from all my mistakes. I have very few regrets.

How did you handle adversity and doubt?

Head on. Build a team and collaborative company, and you can overcome anything.

Are there any books you suggest other entrepreneurs add to their “must-read” list?

Never Split the Difference. Chris Voss.

What is a favorite quote from an entrepreneur that has inspired you?

We are the music makers, and we are the dreamers of dreams – Arthur O’Shaughnessy, also used in Willie Wonka. Not quite an entrepreneur. But I guess Willie Wonka was.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Start early. Work hard.

What is next? Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

I am getting more creative as I age. Have a few fun music projects working. In ten years, the next generation of Transworld owners will hopefully be at the helm, continuing our great legacy in the industry. I hope to be there, helping.

Tom Stemple

Meet Tom Stemple of With A Twist Bartending Service

What was the first business you started?

The first true full-time business I started was Service Telephone Company back in 1990. We negotiated a resale agreement with AT&T and sold to corporate accounts nationwide. Later we add a division selling exclusively to hotels all over North America and the Caribbean.

What is your background, and did it help you get where you are today?

I have always been an entrepreneur and owned my own business. I went to college at the University of Northern Colorado and left in the middle of my senior year to start my first company. (One of my few regrets in my life was not finishing college when I was so close).

How did the idea for your current business come about?

Once you have had some success in life, you find yourself in a season where you get to decide what you want to do next. As a result, I said, “Why not start a company where everyone is in a great mood and happy to speak to you” Thus, With A Twist Events Services was born.

What was your key driving force to become an entrepreneur?

That’s a tricky question… When your young, you are driven by making lots of money. What you learn as you get older is the true value to being an entrepreneur is all the great people you build relationships with and the incredible stories you get to tell. In the end, no one really cares how much you do or don’t have, but the stories you can tell are priceless and worth all the risks along the way.

Did you raise funding for your business or bootstrap it?

I’m a bootstrap guy. Raising money (which I have done) forces you to listen to people who only care about money and never really know the best way to lead the business. For most people, capital is an issue, and bringing in outside money is required. My advice is to set good expectations for investors and never give up control. If you do, I assure you it will feel much more like a job.

How did you build a successful customer base?

I’m a build it, and they will come type of guy. I will ways focus on driving leads and customers first and figure out how to serve them or build the products later. If the biggest problem you have is too many customers and not enough products, then you’re doing something right.

Which marketing tactics have been the most successful for you?

I have done them all over the years, but the one that always bears the most fruit is Business Development. It is costly to build a brand from scratch and too slow for my liking. I prefer to partner with others who have the same or similar customer base and figure out how to work together with them. I have built multimillion-dollar businesses in 12 months and never spent a nickel on advertising.

What kind of culture exists in your organization, and how did you establish it?

We have a “Servant First” culture. We are here to serve everyone we work with, whether it’s our franchise owners, staff, partners, or customers… we are here to serve. Once you realize the secret sauce of success lies in relationship building and putting others first, you are well on your way to winning.

Can you describe your typical day?

From 5 am – 8 am I quietly think about all the projects or companies I’m working on and focus on how to solve the hardest problems. 8 am – 9 am I focus on the three things I want to complete before the day is over. At 9 am, I turn on my phone and computer and go as hard and as fast as I can all day. At 6 pm, I reflect on the three objectives I set for the day, and most days feel pretty good about what was accomplished. I decompress at night and try not to look at email, which tends to distract me from getting a good night’s sleep, and I can’t afford to disrupt my routine.

How has being an entrepreneur affected your family life?

Work-life balance is important. Being an entrepreneur is a lifestyle, not a job. Once you understand that, it’s easier to make family a priority.

What motivates you?

Winning! What you learn over time is what is Winning? We all like to cross the finish line first, however, building your own business is hard, and most days don’t feel much like Winning. The secret is to set simple goals and drive toward Winning those. Over time you create a culture of Winning in your own mind as well as your teams. As those little Wins along the way build and build, the next thing you know, you’re winning in the big picture too.

How do you generate new ideas?

20 years ago, I used to subscribe to 100 magazines—everything from Family Circle to Teen Beat. I look for trends in the market that cut across lots of different verticals. Nowadays, I read hundreds of blogs and articles on all types of subject matter. Trends present themselves in and across all types of environments. At that point, I solve a problem I believe will soon exist, and there’s your idea. Every business I have ever started was early to market, which gave me an incredible advantage, with no competition.

What is your greatest fear, and how do you manage fear?

My Christian faith gets me through all the fearful times. Having an eternal perspective actually makes every day a blast, regardless of what is thrown at me.

How do you define success?

Success is impossible to define. Some days it feels like you’re losing and you’re not, and other days it feels like you’re winning and you’re not. Success is slippery, and I believe perceived success has crushed a lot of companies. I focus more on Innovation and never being satisfied with what I have done or created. In the end, success does happen, but if you focus on it along the way, you’ll get lazy, and someone will sneak up behind you and pass you right by.

Do you believe there is a pattern or formula to becoming a successful entrepreneur?

I wish! Most of it comes from experimentation and hard work. Learning that failure is not a reason to quit. I never use the word “Trying” like I’m trying to do better or trying to build a company. The word “Trying sets you up to fail because it is not confident and convicted. I prefer to say I’m in “Training” to build a business or I’m in Training to do better. No Olympic athlete ever sets out saying… “I’m trying to be an Olympic swimmer. Like an athlete, I’m always in Training!

What is your favorite aspect of being an entrepreneur?

The feeling you get when the idea comes, the whiteboard is full of ideas, the wheels are in full motion, and what originally started on a blank white piece of paper actually becomes a real viable business is a rush like no other.

What has been your most satisfying moment in business?

I started a company from nothing a few years back and within 4 years sold it to 3M; a fortune 30 company was pretty cool!

What are some of the mistakes you wished you could’ve avoided?

This list is too long to mention. The bigger point is don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you’re not making mistakes, you’re not training hard enough.

Are there any books you suggest other entrepreneurs add to their “must-read” list?

Elon Musk, The life, lessons & rules for success

What is a favorite quote from an entrepreneur that has inspired you?

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do” STEVE JOBS. “Invention, my dear friends, is 93% perspiration, 6% electricity, 4% evaporation, and 2% butterscotch ripple”. WILLY WONKA. “Invention is messy.” TOM STEMPLE.

What advice do you have for young entrepreneurs?

Have a new idea? Stop listening to everyone else and trust your own instincts. Don’t follow the crowd. If you do, when you get to where you’re going, it’s going to be crowded. All the market research in the world will never tell you the truth. The truth lies in you and your willingness to think differently. Trust yourself! Ask lots of questions and never assume you know everything because you don’t. The best entrepreneurs surround themselves with smart people who can give you good counsel, but it’s always up to you to make the call. Remember, you’re always in training!

What is next? Where do you see yourself and your business in 10 years?

My personal time horizon is always 6 months out. I have learned that things can change so fast, it’s better to focus on shorter time horizons. 6 months from now, I see myself 180 days smarter!

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