Q&A Darin Hicks
Our team at Franchising USA had a chance to sit down with Chief Operating Officer Darin Hicks of City Wide Franchising to learn more about the growth and success of the company. Our questions are in bold. Hope you enjoy reading.
What is your professional background, and what led you to your current role with City Wide?
I was appointed Chief Operating Officer of City Wide Franchise in November of 2015.
The move to City Wide made sense for a number of different reasons. For one, I am passionate about franchising, which is why I have been in the industry for more than 20 years. In my previous position, I served as Vice President of Operations for AlphaGraphics. My role focused on guiding and driving the company’s franchise development efforts, which is a key priority in my new position with City Wide. We are hoping to drive the growth of City Wide’s franchise system by 20 percent in the next 12 months.
In addition to bringing more than two decades of experience in the franchising industry, I am a military veteran, former educator, athletic coach, and community volunteer. I share many common interests with our team members and franchise partners, which has allowed me to connect with our people and step into a mentorship role. I am looking forward to becoming a resource for our employees and our franchise partners as I continue to grow within my new position.
How are you leveraging your previous career experience in your new position?
I was fortunate to join the City Wide family with extensive experience in the franchising industry.
One of the defining phases of my career occurred early on in my professional development. I was serving in a key executive-level position for a private equity company that owned multiple concepts. I had the unique opportunity to learn about different types of businesses in a wide range of industries.
During this period, I learned to value the importance of proper business planning and financial forecasting. I recommend anyone who is considering launching a business, especially a franchise, carefully consider the earning potential of the concept before moving ahead with the investment. This is one lesson I came to understand very early on in my career, and have found to be extremely beneficial.
How does City Wide differentiate itself within the franchising industry?
City Wide is a single source solution for building maintenance services. Our franchise partners contract with independent service providers to give businesses access to dozens of interior and exterior services including janitorial, painting, window washing, floor care, and landscaping, among others.
With regard to franchising, the business model has excellent earnings potential. It’s a proven business model with high profit margins, solid unit economics, and a strong return on investment. We offer our franchise partners expansive territories, which allow owners to grow the business throughout an entire region. Many of our franchise partners have the flexibility to travel and enjoy time with their family. For the right investor, we provide a one-way ticket to achieving their income, lifestyle, wealth, and equity goals. It’s definitely a winning business opportunity.
Can you explain the company’s business model?
City Wide’s franchise partners are in the management industry. We subcontract service providers who provide an assortment of interior and exterior building maintenance services to our clients. We serve as an important resource for facility service executives, property managers, and landlords who would typically have to schedule, supervise, and pay providers to complete these services. We allow our clients to focus on caring for their tenants, employees, customers, and others who visit their property, instead of managing service vendors.
We are a one-stop shop in the industry for property management. For this reason, there are so many ways our franchise partners can earn a profit. In addition, because our business model requires our franchise partners to interact with so many different types of people, we have a strong commitment to ensuring our owners are committed to relationship building. It’s through building strong relationships that our franchise partners are able to drive growth both now and in the years to come.
Who is your typical franchisee?
Our typical franchise partner has a background in sales, marketing, or business development. Our owners hire facility managers who schedule and oversee the completion of services. Our franchise partners are committed to selling the services, which is why they need to be effective in driving sales and managing a small team to guide operations.
It’s key that our franchise partners are assertive and work with a sense of urgency and self-discipline. We look for people who are independent, intrinsically driven, and intelligent.
Where do you see City Wide in the next five years? What about the next ten years?
By 2018, I believe City Wide will be widely recognized as one of the nation’s top 200 franchise concepts. We expect to have close to 70 units in operation and $275M in total earnings.
In the past few years, we have achieved a series of awards and accolades with less than 50 total units, so I know this goal is achievable. There is no doubt the performance of our business model is helping City Wide stand out within the franchising industry.
We are one of the best-kept secrets in franchising. I can’t wait until more people learn about our business model and come to see what we have achieved with only about 40 locations. The time is now for us to spread our wings.