Dan Steward joined Pillar To Post as President in 2004. Steward’s charter is to support and extend the consistent growth of the company, ultimately touching over 90% of the home buying population in the U.S. and Canada. The success of every Pillar To Post franchisee lies at the core of the past, present and future for Pillar To Post. Steward earned a Bachelor of Business Administration degree and a Master of Business Administration degree, both from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario. A resident of Oakville, Canada, Steward has 4 children and enjoys soccer, kayaking, the outdoors, wine and woodworking.
1. Tell us about the Pillar To Post Home Inspectors® concept.
Pillar To Post Home Inspectors ® is North America’s leading home inspection company, whose professional inspectors work with both the real estate community and the buyer or seller of a home to provide on-the-spot inspection reports that allow for rational thinking about an emotional purchase.
2. How and when did you become involved with Pillar To Post?
I joined Pillar To Post as President in 2004. Pillar To Post was seeking new leadership and I certainly wanted to become a part of the family of First Service Brands, known for their tremendous culture and potential.
3. What was your background prior to joining Pillar To Post?
At that time I had more than 25 years of business experience from my position as Vice President of Fortune 500 ranked Iron Mountain Corp., and prior to that, as Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer of the Shred-It Group of Companies.
4. What are some of the advantages in being a Pillar To Post franchisee?
Too many to count! Of course, I am partial, but we have more than 550 locations in 49 states and nine Canadian provinces. We are the largest home inspection franchise company in North America and were the first to bring technology to the home inspection business with electronic inspection reports. The company has repeatedly been named as Number One in the Home Inspection Category by numerous publications and associations, and Pillar to Post’s franchise business model allows a franchisee to start small and grow the business at a measured pace to create a larger, equity-rich company that meets the growing concerns of home buyers and owners.
5. Who is your perfect franchisee?
There is no one particular perfect franchisee. However, our very family like culture attracts many husband and wife teams; veterans are also big fans because they are in business for themselves, in control, but not stuck at a desk all day. We’ve also attracted many from corporate lay-offs in a variety of industries, such as automotive and the gas and oil industry. An underlying theme seems to be there is always something they loved about homes from building them to just puttering around them. This is a business designed to grow, so one might start out doing inspections which is best and then begin to hire and develop a team of inspectors. And, of course, a people person who understands the need for relationships, in our case with realtors, and others is very important.
6. Tell us a little about the home inspection industry.
According to several major home inspection trade associations, we are a $3 billion industry with an annual growth of more than 4.4%. It seems that it will only continue to grow as prosperity leads to more home development and since our homes are usually our major investment.
7. What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?
That everything is more about people and their goals than it is business. We have a group of franchisees that meet on a regular basis and in this group and in these meetings we determine life goals and dreams and strategies to get there. We want Pillar To Post to be not only the means for a good living, but the means to a quality of life and a secure future for our franchisees and their families.
8. Do you have a mentor and is their someone you use for inspiration?
I have many inspirations among leaders in the business world all around me. In franchising and at First Service Brands there are the most amazing people all around us networking and unselfishly sharing ideas and benchmark practices. In my personal life my wife Sam is my hero for many reasons; not the least of which is her strong role in bringing up our four children, of whom I am very proud.
9. What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?
Two mighty words. Due Diligence. Start with several concepts that you can see yourself enjoy working in. Then narrow those down based on several factors, franchise fees, total overall costs, how long and how far out will you reach your goals and what kind of people and leadership will you be dealing with on a daily basis? Then really research all and talk to as many people and other franchisees as possible. Finally, choose an opportunity that are passionate about, it will be your new life so do something you love, can be great at and that people need and will pay you for.
10. Why should someone become a Pillar To Post Franchisee?
Aside from the answers above, our strategy centers on being the very best in our industry. We will continue to grow by helping our current franchisees to grow their existing business and drive growth by increasing the number of new franchisees in North America. We are dedicating significant resources to supporting the local marketing efforts of our franchisees and driving increasing national brand awareness and opportunities. We are constantly working on value-adding services for each franchisee to provide their customers, thus enhancing the customer experience.