Episode #26


Scaling Quickly with Smart Franchise Management with Bill Noble

Franchise management needs to be on point when you’re scaling a business quickly. No one understands that more than Bill Noble—who owns 60 Pearle Vision units. You can listen to our previous episode featuring Bill and learn how he financed his empire. In this episode of Franchise Secrets we’ll talk all about how he manages his locations and doing so in seasons of rapid growth.

Bill graduated from West Point with a degree in Engineering Management and went on to get his MBA in Management from Harvard. He took his extensive background in leadership and business and pitched to a group of investors. A few short years later, he now owns 60 Pearle Vision Franchise locations around the country.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:30] How Bill Noble Manages his Franchise locations
  • [2:20] Harvard Business School and networking
  • [7:10] The process of building 60 locations
  • [10:20] Strategic hiring: recruiting the right people
  • [16:00] What is a phantom equity plan?
  • [21:00] Building systems and processes
  • [24:00] What to do when you’re ahead of the franchise
  • [26:40] Why tracking KPI’s is important
  • [32:10] What do you do with the dogs?
  • [38:15] Managing 60 Pearle Visions
  • [44:30] Learn from other high-performing franchisees
  • [48:35] Pearles of wisdom

Strategically hiring the right people is key

When Bill acquired his first 10 Pearle Vision locations he handpicked every single store manager. He wanted to build a management team of driven entrepreneurs who were competent and trustworthy. In the beginning, accounting and HR were outsourced. It was just Bill and his 10 managers.

But he knew this wasn’t a long-term solution—especially when he acquired 18 locations in Michigan and 4 in Indiana.

He hired a regional director to help manage the additional 22 locations. He sought out a CFO. He hired someone to head up HR as his team grew from 30 employees to over 100. Each of them is a critical and integral piece of the puzzle. Keep listening as we dive into incentivizing your chief hires, what a phantom equity plan is, and more.

Get systems and processes in place as soon as possible

When you’re forced to scale rapidly, you just have to take things one step at a time and prioritize. Pearle Vision didn’t have a system in place that they could utilize, so they had to begin to develop processes themselves. They didn’t have the need at the time to build out comprehensive reporting.

But Bill certainly needed a system in place. They needed a way to track their Key Performance Indicators (KPI).

They worked for months to develop a means of reporting that they could export as an Excel document. After all—you’re only as good as the data you input. The process needed to be simple and strategic and track all the intricacies unique to their industry.

How to handle the ‘dogs’

When Bill acquired 22 Corporate locations from Pearle Vision he didn’t get to pick and choose—it was all or nothing. You know you’re going to end up with some high performers, some middle-of-the-road locations, and then some real dogs.

So what do you do with the bottom-of-the-barrel underwhelming locations?

Assess why they’re underperforming. For approximately 8 of the locations Bill acquired, the issue was a poor location. So the plan was to batten down the hatches and ride out the lease, then close the location and move on.

Two locations had poor leadership. Poor management will run off good employees, so he replaced the management.

The other locations were operating without doctors on-site, one hadn’t had a Doctor in-house for over two years. So he made it his #1 priority to hire a Doctor. Once he did, the location became profitable and no longer a money-pit.

It’s all about strategically fixing the issues, even if they’re temporary solutions.

Franchise management is about the million-dollar decisions

You cannot be so immersed in the details of your business that you forget to look at the big picture. You need to hire a superstar team to handle the nitty-gritty while you focus on the million-dollar decisions. You always need to be taking a step back and looking at what you may be missing.

Sometimes, you’ll get punched in the mouth. You will find things you missed, and there will be problems to fix. But how you take a step back and regain objectivity is what matters. Bill and I chat about networking and building relationships with key players in the franchising organization and he delivers some “pearles” of wisdom. Don’t miss this engaging conversation with a high-level operator!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Bill Noble

Connect With Erik

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