I recently shared a guest column I wrote for Franchising World about how “Private Equity Can Help Franchise Businesses Thrive.” And that message continues to ring true.
Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of speaking at The 9th Annual Women’s Private Equity Summit in Half Moon Bay, California. The event included more than 450 private equity and venture capital leaders from across the industry. And for me, it was not only a chance to share our remarkable journey of growth and success at Dwyer Group with our private equity partner Riverside Company. I was also equally inspired to share our example of how values (ethics) deliver value (profits) to our business.
A strong code of values can impact the bottom line in business.
Our Code of Values across our service brands at Dwyer Group has supported a very special company culture. I am reminded on a daily basis with examples from across our franchise family that our values make us unique and successful in our space when compared to our competitors.
I’ve said it many times: “The profits are simply the applause we get for doing right by taking care of people.”
Those same values impact our private equity journey too. The panel that I participated on in California touched on that. The topic was: “It wasn’t just the price. Why we went with the PE firm that we did.”
At the Women’s Private Equity Summit with (L) Barbara Beck, CEO of Learning Care Group, and (R) Kathy Warner, retired partner of Adams Street Partners.
When meeting with private equity firms at Dwyer Group, we didn’t want to just command a premium price. We also wanted to forge a strong relationship with an organization that would appreciate our values and our culture when advancing our organization to the next level.
We found that with The Riverside Company. They valued our business not just based on our bottom line, but also on the corporate culture that produced those results.
That relationship was incredibly beneficial. And it set the pace for a private equity journey that has exceeded our expectations every step of the way.
Values must drive action. Only then can your business realize its full potential.
It’s been said that 95% of companies that have a code of values don’t even use it. That led me to write my book Values, Inc., and showcase how the Dwyer Group and other companies have advanced by living and leading with values at the forefront of business.
Specific to Dwyer Group, these are not arbitrary statements that are hung on a wall. These values are “operationalized,” so that we can examine on a regular basis if we are living up to those values. It’s that quantifiable aspect that PE organizations can appreciate as well. But don’t just take my word for it. Here are endorsements from Riverside for Values, Inc.
“Dina and the tremendous success of The Dwyer Group stands as irrefutable proof that there is no contradiction between doing the right thing and generating wealth for your stakeholders. In fact, she is a compelling case that the world in fact works in the way we would wish it to and that the good gals and guys win.” Stewart Kohl, Co-CEO of The Riverside Company.
“Dina tells great stories in her newest book Values, Inc. These stories are the best way to bring her theme to life: time and again, people and companies who do the right things for a broad constituency, meaning consumers, employees, communities and even competitors (!), create the most value for all stakeholders and are the most successful. And, that doing the right thing is contagious.” Béla Szigethy, Co-CEO of The Riverside Company
As we have seen in our PE partnerships (Riverside Company, 2003-2010; TZP Group, 2010-2014; and back to Riverside Company, 2014 – now), being accountable to our values alongside investments and growth goals has made a lasting impact. And speaking of growth, Dwyer Group President and CEO Mike Bidwell and our leadership team have accelerated the pace at an astounding rate! Since being reacquired by Riverside in 2014, Dwyer Group has grown by more than 50 percent.
We attract top talent to our organization because skilled individuals admire our values impact and culture. We welcome strong franchisees to our service brands who point to our values as a reason to join our network. We have acquired like-minded businesses because they operate in a similar space and with a value-driven purpose as well. And collectively that has translated into a rapidly growing organization that now accounts for more than $1.3 billion in annual system-wide sales. The end-user customer will pay a premium price for services across our brands not based on the cheapest option, but on the most valuable one. Our values impact have played an integral role in making that happen.
So, don’t just think of business success in terms of dollars and cents. It’s also about the way in which business is conducted. A strong code of values will separate the leaders from the others, not by saying…but by doing.