From the Floor Up: A journey of service, quality, and success
Name: Bryan Park
Title: Founder, CEO
Company: Footprints Floors
Units: 79 owners, 164 territories
Years in franchising: 9
Years in current position: 14
Bryan Park knows what it means to serve. He attended the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs and served in the U.S. Air Force. That commitment to service has followed him throughout life in his family, his community, and his business.
When Park got laid off from a flooring company in 2008, he decided to turn lemons into lemonade. “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 need and has built a successful brand around it.
“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.”
The brand has been franchising for nearly a decade now and has built a network of 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.
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 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.
Describe your leadership style. Others would describe my leadership style as transformational or visionary. I surround myself with good people who share the same goals, values, and vision and then empower them with the creative freedom to develop and deploy ideas that will be beneficial to the company over the long term.
What has inspired your leadership style? The life of Christ who modeled servant leadership. To be great, a leader must be willing to serve others and operate in the best interests of others.
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.
How do you transmit your culture from your office to front-line employees? Through consistent leadership and consistent messaging.
Where is the best place to prepare for leadership: an MBA school or OTJ? OTJ.
Are tough decisions best taken by one person? How do you make tough decisions?
While the buck ultimately stops with the CEO, the Bible teaches there is great wisdom in seeking counsel from other sources before making a tough decision. No one person has infinite wisdom and knowledge. And since we all have blind spots to varying degrees, it is imperative that leaders surround themselves with trusted advisors who can speak into difficult situations. I find that my closest ally and most trusted confidant is my wife. To begin with, I’ll speak with her in general terms to make sure I’m operating in accordance with my principles and values. From there, I’ll consult trusted advisors, along with my executive staff, and ultimately make a decision.
Do you want to be liked or respected? I think both are necessary to run a successful team. There must be camaraderie as well as a healthy respect for everyone working to uplift the business.
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.
Describe your management style: I base my management style on three key pillars. 1) Integrity. Our entire model is based on that point of differentiation I mentioned earlier: just showing up and doing what you say you are going to do. C.S. Lewis said his definition of integrity is doing the right thing even when no one is watching, and we take that to heart. 2) Trusting in reason. You must believe in the data and results you see and act accordingly. That can be harder than it sounds. You can’t just go by gut. When we went national a few years ago, it cost us $500,000 to take that leap. It felt like a tremendous risk, but our model was sound, and the numbers we saw made sense, so we took that leap of faith. 3) Putting people first. If you love and respect other people, you can build something great. I don’t mean this in any sort of karmic sense, like good things will come back to you. I mean that if you run a business for yourself, you are inevitably going to run it by yourself. This philosophy has helped us retain employees while our competitors struggle with labor.
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.
In what ways are political/global issues affecting the market and your brand? Politics and global issues hurt customer confidence and decrease market spending. That tightening, whether based on facts or not, greatly affects residential construction spending.
What time do you like to be at your desk? In the morning.
Exercise in the morning? Wine with lunch? Exercise mid-morning. No wine with lunch.
Do you socialize with your team after work/outside the office? We socialize because of overlap in other parts of our lives (children, church, serving, etc.), but don’t necessarily schedule social events to get together.
Last two books read: Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray and The Wingfeather Saga by Andrew Peterson.
What technology do you take on the road? Because our team is all remote, I use the same technology on the road as in the home office: a smartphone and a laptop.
How do you relax/balance life and work? When operating a business, there’s always a great temptation to sacrifice family at the altar of success. I’m mindful of that and strive to keep the first things first. What this looks like in practice is prioritizing my faith, family, and work in that order. I know I don’t always get it perfect, but I do my best to maintain those priorities. My wife is the executive director of a Christian youth theater in the Denver metro area, so we enjoy a lot of time together as a family developing, producing, and participating in musical theater.
Favorite vacation destination: Moab, Utah.
Favorite company product/service: I enjoy my interactions with Southwest Airlines. They just seem to do it right. You call, and somebody answers. I feel like they put their customers’ needs first, and they’re well priced, too. It’s not like you’re paying a premium for customer service and a great experience.
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 Floorings’ 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.
How has the economy changed your goals for your company? We have tempered our goals, but we have continued to pursue rapid growth despite the economic slowdown.
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 has been your greatest success? My marriage and my family have been my greatest successes. They are the foundation of everything else we’ve built, so I owe it all to them and the support system we’ve created together.
Any regrets? I can’t say I have any regrets necessarily, but there are a few things I wish I had known before starting out. 1) I wish I had known just how much work it would be! I think people often underestimate what it takes to start a business. When I reflect on those early years, I can’t imagine finding the energy to do it again. Then again, maybe it’s better I didn’t know that. Naiveté can be a big asset in that respect. 2) I wish I had known just how rare integrity is. For employers in almost every industry, finding people who can commit to showing up and doing good work is difficult. When I was younger, I assumed that was much more common than it is. 3) I wish I had worked with more experienced people in my industry. Now that I’m older, I realize there is a real desire among industry veterans to share their knowledge and team up with younger people. I wish I had tapped into that wisdom and support available to me. 4) I wish I had known that not every challenge is a doomsday scenario. When I was younger, I would get so scared of people quitting on me or a job going south. I always thought, “This will be the end. This will sink my business.” Even a bad review would send me spiraling. Years later, I realize that these things are part of running any business, and you just have to keep pushing forward. 5) Probably the most important thing I’ve learned over the years, and the thing that everyone should learn as early as possible, is that you have to be intentional about spending time with your family. If you don’t make a point of being present and holding that part of your life as sacred, it will fly by, and you can never get it back.
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.
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Franchise Update Magazine: Issue 4, 2022