BRYCE ON MANAGEMENT
- How a Mister Sparky franchise is changing things.
There are lots of people out there looking to make a quick and dirty buck, but every now and then you come across someone who does it right. Someone who not only has found a good business venture but is cultivating it properly. Enter Dennis Bryant, a Mister Sparky franchise owner located in Dunedin, Florida.
Founded in 1996 by Pat Kennedy in Atlanta, Mister Sparky is a company specializing in residential electrical services. In a day and age where local tradesmen come and go, Kennedy has brought brand name recognition which is quietly replacing local electricians. Kennedy stresses the development of a professional image of his company, thereby bringing consistency to all of his franchises and encouraging people to contact a Mister Sparky regardless where they live. Although the company started in the South, it has quickly flourished and gone coast-to-coast.
Dennis Bryant’s operation started in 2007 in tiny Dunedin, but has quickly taken over the whole Tampa Bay market and then some. I have known Dennis for a number of years, but recently sat down with him to discuss his operation. The first thing you notice about Dennis is his unbridled enthusiasm for his company. He developed a bond with the founder whom he strongly believes in. As part of buying into the franchise, Dennis and his people had to spend three days of training with Kennedy where they learned not just the business, but administration, marketing, and particularly customer service.
What I found most interesting about Dennis is his approach to his employees. He realizes to be successful, his people also need to be successful. To do so, he doesn’t hold their hand or micromanage them, instead he manages from the bottom-up. This means he empowers his people, delegates responsibility, and turns them loose, which is something you rarely see anymore in the corporate world. By doing so, Dennis is basically saying to his people, “Look, you’re an adult and a skilled professional. I should not have to supervise you; you should supervise yourself. That’s what professionals do.”
He also affords them ample training to keep them abreast of their business, the industry, and the development of skills.
By treating his employees accordingly, Bryant is building a bond of trust with his workers. And it appears his employees are responding positively to this treatment. Morale is high, their sense of professionalism is excellent, and they are more amenable to learning and improving. His technicians come dressed in uniforms, are neat about their appearance, and have been trained to act courteously. If they feel professional, they act professional.
There are also some excellent information systems supporting his operation. This does not just include the usual administrative tools for managing finances and personnel, but inventory and scheduling are all tied together with an emphasis on customer service. After a service call, the customer is encouraged to do a simple evaluation, either on-line or through the mail. This data is compiled through Mister Sparky’s corporate office and sent back down to the franchisees. Bryant can then see how he is doing in comparison to other Mister Sparky sites.
The company’s obsession with customer service is of paramount importance. This, coupled with treating employees fairly and encouraging their participation is the real secret to the success of Dennis Bryant’s Mister Sparky. “I don’t believe in sweating the small stuff,” he said, “I just want us to stay focused on what we do best, service.”
Whereas many companies today have evolved into politically correct bureaucracies, where supervisors sit over workers with a whip and a chair, thereby resembling gulags, Bryant has done just the opposite; he treats his people like professionals, stresses simplicity, and remains focused on customer service.
What is refreshing here is that Bryant is being successful not by any slight of hand or dirty tricks. He is doing it with some good old fashioned hustle, and respect for the dignity of the human spirit.
Dennis Bryant and Mister Sparky are doing it right.
Keep the Faith!
Note: All trademarks both marked and unmarked belong to their respective companies.
Tim Bryce is a writer and the Managing Director of M&JB Investment Company (M&JB) of Palm Harbor, Florida and has over 30 years of experience in the management consulting field. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Copyright © 2013 by Tim Bryce. All rights reserved.
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