CEO Q&A: Bryan Park, Founder and CEO of Footprints Floors
After graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy and serving a stint in the U.S. Air Force, Bryan Park was laid off from his job at a flooring company in 2008. He not only turned lemons into lemonade, he turned that layoff into champagne, founding his own flooring company, Footprints Floors, a few years later.
“I enjoyed flooring. I knew how to do it, and I knew the industry would benefit from a more sophisticated approach and a higher level of customer service,” he says. In founding Footprints Floors, the Colorado native tapped into an underserved market and has built a successful business that continues to grow today.
The brand has been franchising for nearly a decade now and has built a network of nearly 80 owner-operators in 164 territories. The flooring industry is lucrative and should continue to grow, says Park. Americans spent $420 billion in 2020 on remodeling their homes, and flooring alone is a $24 billion industry.
“Customer service is the differentiator. We call people back. We show up on time. We’re responsive. We won’t wrap a project until it’s really done—and done right,” says the 40-year-old. “Those things aren’t common in the industry.”
Park’s dedication to service and quality is just as important when it comes to his management team and the franchisees. “I firmly believe that good leaders surround themselves with a competent and capable team and invite them to provide valuable insight and feedback,” he says.
The future looks bright for Footprints Floors. “If a business is actively providing a good solution to a real problem and treating customers well, growth will come naturally,” he says.
What follows are excerpts from an extensive Q&A with him. For the full interview, see the digital edition of our Q4 issue of Franchise Update magazine (page 10).
What is your role as founder and CEO? I provide strategic direction and vision and work with all interested parties to ensure that we operate according to our mission and core values.
How has Covid-19 affected the way you have led your brand? Covid-19 didn’t have any adverse effects on our brand. In fact, we experienced extraordinary growth in 2020 when many companies were cutting back or shutting down entirely. Amidst the continual stream of conflicting information, I encouraged my team to remain calm. With regard to interactions that we or our contractors had with customers, we continued to do what we have always done: place a premium on respecting their homes, their wishes, and of course their health as a primary concern. We place a high value on being transparent and providing the best service we can, even during the difficult times we experienced over the past 3 years. We also took as many precautions as possible to protect the health of our employees and our valued partners and subcontractors. Being properly prepared before and during a project helped ensure the safety and well-being of not just our workers, but the homeowners as well.
What is your biggest leadership challenge? People are always the most underestimated aspect of running a business. People are your biggest asset and your biggest challenge. Everyone has their own dreams and trials in their personal lives, and that’s inevitably going to affect your business. That’s okay. Sometimes people need to quit, or they just can’t do what you need them to do. Lives are messy, and business doesn’t like messy, so you need to learn to anticipate and accommodate that messiness in your business model.
Advice to CEO wannabes: I think growth in business comes when customers are treated well—often and consistently for a long time. When businesses fail to treat their customers well, they lose them, and without customers businesses die. When running a business, a plethora of things can distract, draw attention, and take time away from the things that really matter. It’s important to always return to the basics and remember why your business exists and who your business is for.
What does your management team look like? Our executive team is composed of seven members who come from different backgrounds but share the common goal of supporting all employees and franchisees in the development and deployment of their God-given talents and abilities.
How does your management team help you lead? I’m surrounded by a group of people I fully trust to make decisions that are not just in the best interest of the company, but that represent the values and convictions of a higher calling. I respect my team not only because they are effective and excellent professionals who lead their respective teams well, but because they are not “yes men.” They provide ideas, feedback, and even pushback when warranted.
What makes you say, “Yes, now that’s why I do what I do!”? I love to see the success of others.
What are you expecting from your market in the next 12 months? We don’t have any of the costs associated with storefronts, so we are positioned well to adjust to a changing economy. We have experienced tremendous growth over the past 3 years and don’t anticipate any type of slowdown. In a recession, people stop looking outward toward new purchases and instead focus on maintaining and improving what they already have. According to a joint report published by the National Association of Realtors and the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, the two projects proven to improve a home’s value beyond the cost are hardwood floor refinishing (ROI 147%) and hardwood floor installation (ROI 118%).
Are your franchisees bullish or bearish about growth and adding units? Bullish a month ago, but turning bearish.
How do you measure success? We show up on time, we call people back, and we do what we say we are going to do. And that has been enough to make us a leader in our segment. There really is no magic to it. I’ve done probably 12,000 estimates, and I must have been asked 9,000 times why the prospective client should choose us. My answer is always that we are good at what we do, but, more importantly, we do exactly what we say we are going to do. No surprises. And if anything goes wrong, we make it right. That’s our not-so-secret sauce.
What can we expect from your company in the next 12 to 18 months? Things are going extremely well for us today. All the grit and hard work that got us through those early days resulted in a rock-solid foundation for our business. We are lean, mean, and very profitable. You can expect us to continue our franchise expansion nationwide. And as I mentioned, we are also launching a fund where we are donating 25% of our profits to nonprofit organizations in our community and around the world. We’re hoping to really have a huge effect and influence on the nonprofit community, and we’ll have more information on this soon.
What are your long-term goals for the company? To continue to expand opportunities to others who are driven to be successful while maintaining a work/life balance. In addition to expansion, I want to continue to bolster the support infrastructure we provide to our current employees and franchisees so they have all the necessary tools at their disposal to help make them successful. Another goal—and one that is deeply important to me—is the expansion of the Footprints Floors’ First Fruits Fund. We’re in the early stages of organizational development, but our ultimate goal is to donate 25% of our profits to other like-minded, nonprofit organizations—namely, ones that provide adoptive care for orphans.
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