Q&A with Jeff Oddo
Our team at Franchising USA had a chance to sit down with Jeff Oddo, president of City Wide Maintenance and the founder and president of City Wide Franchise. We discussed everything from City Wide’s beginnings as a cleaning company to Jeff’s current goals for the industry’s best building maintenance management company.
Our questions are in bold. Hope you enjoy reading.
What is your professional background?
City Wide is a family business, so my background has always been growing up in the business and doing every position we ever had, from accounting, to warehouse work, driving the delivery trucks, cleaning – you name it, I did it. After graduating from Kansas State University with my B.S. in construction science engineering, I started in sales at City Wide Chemical Company, which was a chemical manufacturer and distributor of janitorial supplies. I worked my way up in that company and eventually took over as president of City Wide Maintenance in 1999. During my years leading City Wide Maintenance, I transformed the business from a traditional janitorial company to a management company for the building maintenance industry. Our primary focus became sales, management, and providing a world-class client experience. We were having so much success, we started franchising our concept in 2001.
Why did you start franchising City Wide?
I’ve seen the great things that business ownership has done for my family throughout the years, and I have a burning desire to help other people become successful business owners. I believe that helping other families will create a ripple effect and positively influence more people in the community – contractors, employees, and other small business owners. Franchising allows me and my team to make a real difference in the lives of others.
Where do you see City Wide in the next five years?
Right now, we have an established presence in more than 40 major markets nationwide, but there’s still room to grow. In five years, we believe we can increase our footprint so we have offices in every major city coast-to-coast, giving us a truly national footprint. Our ten-year plan is to be a billion-dollar organization, and in five years, we will be well on our way.
What is your advice for those exploring franchise opportunities?
When choosing a franchise, the most important thing is finding an organization that is in alignment with your passions, values, and goals. There are hundreds of concepts out there – it’s incredibly important to choose the one that fits best for you and your family.
Buying into a franchise looks different for different people and different companies – there are opportunities where you’re essentially buying a job, others where you’re a passive investor, and yet others where the focus is leadership and teambuilding. Any one of these is good, but you need to begin your process by asking yourself why you’re getting into franchising. Once you decide this, it should be easier to weed out the categories that don’t meet your needs.
Additionally, there are many different types of concepts. In my opinion, the best concept is the one that meets your business objectives as defined above, as well as one who you feel really good about and 100 percent trust their senior-level leadership. At the end of the day, your trust in the ownership group is every bit as important as the franchise concept itself
How do you motivate your franchisees?
The best way to motivate franchisees is to understand what they want to achieve and give them the tools they need to succeed – whether this is mentorship opportunities, feedback and encouragement, or specific support. At City Wide, we provide multiple types of coaching and support positions because the talent of each party really varies. We strive to provide sales coaches for those who have sales needs and operations coaches for those who want to improve their operations. Helping our franchisees find success as quickly as possible is a great way to motivate others!
In addition to these franchisee consultants, we have support centers for HR, IT, accounting, and marketing. Every aspect of business ownership is covered through specialists in each area. We invest a lot in our franchisees – time, energy, and money – because we truly believe that our success is dependent upon one another.
Do you have any hobbies or interests?
My family is my number one priority, hobby, and interest! I love spending time with my wife and three daughters. Watching them grow up has been a true blessing. When I’m not with the family, I enjoy spending time with my friends, running, reading, and playing the guitar.
Jeff Oddo is the president of City Wide Maintenance and the founder and president of City Wide Franchise. City Wide is a management company for the building maintenance industry with more than 40 locations based throughout the United States. Jeff is the author of The 10 Kidmandments, a parenting book. He is also an accomplished public speaker.