There are similarities and differences in leadership when it comes to working for a company and running your own business as part of a brand. Rohit Chande, previously Chief Transformation Officer and now Chief Operating Officer at Authority Brands, made the leap to buy a franchise with his wife, Gauri Chande, in 2020. Homewatch CareGivers, LLC, is one of the brands owned by Authority Brands, and was one of the leaders in the home care industry since its inception as a business back in the 1980s.
Q: What are the similarities in being a corporate leader vs. being a leader as a franchise owner?
A: A successful franchise owner, in my view, is the one that is able to understand both the financial and operational aspects of their business, and able to grow the business by focusing on strategy, and this is similar to roles in a corporation.
A second common theme is people. One of the earliest lessons in my career was you can’t be the smartest person in the room, that no way you are going to know everything on all of the topics. You have to surround yourself with people who have the expertise you don’t have. It’s the same exact thing to be done as a franchise owner.
Q: What are the differences in being a corporate leader vs. being a leader as a franchise owner?
A: When you are part of large corporation, there are almost unlimited resources in that you can tap into the entire marketing department or financial department. As a franchise owner, you have to shift your mindset to that of being an entrepreneur. You have to think, where do I need to invest my precious dollars because they are coming from my pocket, right? The right investments are the biggest ROI (return on investment) for you. It is important to have good sources of capital while simultaneously focusing on cashflow to ensure there is appropriate level of liquidity.
The second difference is going to be around, how do you scale a business from zero. We have zero revenue today because we are not open yet and we have costs going out the door. We need to figure out pretty rapidly how to scale the business so we can break even within a year, an that’s the goal. That’s really different. And to achieve this, one has to be prepared to roll-up sleeves and perform any and all roles. For example, you need to be prepared to go and take care of customers as a caregiver if an employee does not show up for scheduled shift.
Q: What is transformation (in business)?
A: There are different types of transformations: there is what I call “All-in” transformation that focuses on improving business performance by focusing on strategies and processes. The second type is focused on productivity improvements also called digital transformation and looking at how to leverage technology. To me, business transformation really starts with a strategy, a clear vision and creating the roadmap of systemic and cultural changes. To support this strategy, you have to often change the culture with the people in the business along with systems and processes that support the business strategy and this leads to a successful business transformation.
Q: What makes a good leader in business?
A: A good leader should be able to cross the chasm, as they say. A leader in my view is the one that finds the best in people and nurtures their talent, maybe a talent that they didn’t even think they had. This will serve the leader well in any setting, whether they are part of a sport team, part of large corporation, or the owner of a franchise business. The difference though is when owning a franchise, you need to be able to do everything, to get your hands dirty, and to know all aspects of the business.
In all the organizations I have been part of, as part of the onboarding process whether it was an executive or a software engineer or an accountant, I used to ask them to go spend a week in the field where we make the money. If it’s in hospitality, go work in a hotel, spend time interacting with customers, then you see the importance of the work that our employees do. If you don’t have the understanding and appreciation of their working environment, then you can’t support them effectively.
Q: Any other thoughts on business success to share?
A: I think this whole concept of clarity of purpose and vision, whether you are starting a franchise or you are a corporate leader, is most important. You have got to have that clarity, and once you accomplish that, it will help you determine your next steps. I am an engineer by training, and I look at what’s the critical path of success, what will be the challenges for me to get to that path. Another important aspect is to focus on self-care. You need to have a daily routine that will allow you to renew your energies to manage daily stress and emotions.