Meet the Team: Mark J. Bollman, President and Co-Owner, Creative Colors International
Talk to us about your decision to join Creative Colors International. Why did you decide to go into the repair and restoration business with your family?
I was sort of around the business since 1985 when I met my wife, so I’ve been familiar with the business since high school. The business always intrigued me, and I was excited about the services they offered. I worked on and off with them after high school and I enjoyed doing the work. When they started franchising in 1991, I felt I could be a good asset to Creative Colors since I had the technical knowledge and I already had my marketing and management degree. I thought it was a good fit to start with CCI as a field consultant to help franchisees in the field.
As a family owned and operated business, many of your franchisees are also family-oriented folks. How do these shared family values impact franchisor/franchisee relations?
Well, we try to encourage and keep the same culture on the forefront with CCI HQ and all franchisees. We build a family-oriented approach into our franchising. We feel that building a franchise business should be what gives you the freedom to spend your time how you want, so we ask our franchisees to continue to do what they value.
You emphasize the importance of excellent customer service in your customer service philosophy. Do you find this makes a difference in customer loyalty?
I truly feel it does make a difference, as we are not only creating a sale for the company when a service is performed, but we are also educating the customer on how we can provide long-term value to them.
What are the biggest challenges you face in providing this level of service?
Education is the biggest process. People tend to think their upholstery should last forever, so having to explain why certain substrates fail, like a sofa in their home or the long-term damage to the car, can be pretty challenging. But it’s a challenge we all embrace!
Creative Colors International, works with a variety of industries, including restaurants, automotive companies, commercial properties, and boating and recreational vehicle dealerships. How do you balance the different demands of those clients?
As the need continues to expand the business, so does the challenge in finding great employees to perform these services. But we always look to grow our business based around the manpower currently in place. This means we are not going to try and pick up large national accounts if we cannot effectively provide them with the top level service they expect to have. So as our locations add new staff, we then in turn look to add new clients nationwide in all these sectors.
Do you run into any hiring or staffing challenges?
Absolutely. We realize that there will be some job candidates and/or new employees who don’t naturally possess the work ethic and customer service philosophy required to be an effective CCI team member. Therefore, we work tirelessly to help these folks develop those traits/vales when they join the CCI team.
What did you do before you joined Creative Colors International?
I worked all over the place! I worked for Anheuser Busch (Budweiser Distributorship) working on delivery trucks as a helper for a couple years before being promoted to merchandiser. I also worked as a busboy at a local golf course and took on various part-time landscape jobs throughout the summer. I’ve always been willing to get my hands dirty and do whatever it takes to do any job well!
How did your prior experience inform your work here?
Well, by working the “unskilled labor” jobs, I performed a lot of physical labor, and I think they helped me develop the strong work ethic I have today. I knew I didn’t want to perform back breaking work for my career and I felt that being a part of CCI would allow me to step away from that.
What advice do you have for people who are considering their first franchise?
I would recommend they take the time to do the research and find the right opportunity for themselves. They should find a business that that they’re passionate about and one that is based around their hobbies and activities. There are a lot of opportunities out there in franchising from brick and mortar locations to home based, to service business.
Perhaps you could share 2-3 big tips to help folks make a smart decision when they are looking at franchising options?
Take the time to do the necessary research and validate the franchise with existing owners (including newer owners, some that have been in the business for 4-5 years and those who have been successful 10 years or more). They can provide you with great insight about the company, services, training, etc., and will be able to share real work experiences. Attend the franchisors Discovery Day to meet the executive team to ensure you like the company, staff, and concept. Commit some time to visualize yourself in the business marriage.
What have been the keys to Creative Colors’ franchisee recruiting success?
I truly feel our franchise model itself is one of the strongest reasons why people join our team. We have a service that is greatly needed in our marketplace and it yields great profitability. Our sales folks do a great job in sharing our great opportunity and connections within the franchise coach/broker industry space. And referrals are always a great source. A happy franchisee will share his success with his friends and families, and will encourage them to come on board and join the CCI team.
What traits are most important for a new franchisee’s success?
People who are energetic often perform best as CCI franchise owners because they have the people skills to grow and develop a team. Intrinsic motivation to do well and build a business for yourself and your family is a huge asset, so people who are self-starters are at an advantage. We want our owners to be “Business Builders.” We do not want people to view this as just a “JOB.” It’s way more than that for them and the staff they bring aboard. We want them to develop and add employees who want to build a career with CCI.
What is your competitive advantage at Creative Colors International?
Way too many to mention here, but in short, it’s the following: Product Development, Training Programs, Management and Marketing Programs, Advertising and Marketing collateral and information to help ramp up CCI in all markets. These programs are our way of providing the best support and foundation we can for franchisees, and it shows in our franchisees’ success. And in turn, our customers keep coming to us because we provide excellent service and equip them with information about how to extend the life of their materials.