Interview with Lew Bayer of Civility Experts

Date

Aug 17, 2015

1.    Tell us about the In Good Company concept.

In Good Company Etiquette Academy & Finishing School was officially launched as a Business Opportunity concept in 2014. In Good Company is the children, youth, and teens training division of Civility Experts Worldwide. Civility Experts are internationally recognized leaders in the field- there are 65 current Licensees of Civility Experts Worldwide in 23 countries around the world. These affiliates focus on business etiquette and civility training. To meet the growing demands of parents, teachers and caregivers- a License to use the validated, proven Civility Experts model and training materials, In Good Company was created for people who want to deliver essential social skills training to children, youth, and teens. (Ages 4-18) 

2.    How and when did you become involved with (In Good Company)?

In 1999 I left a secure job as Director of Operations for a hotel chain and started a business (we were called Etiquette Ladies at the time) with a business partner. When we ended our partnership in 2009, I took on sole ownership of the company and we are now Civility Experts Worldwide. We have maintained recognition as the leading experts on civility in North America for more than 14 years.

3.    What was your background prior to joining (In Good Company )?

After completing my degree a McGill University, I moved to Winnipeg to pursue a Masters Degree and over the years have held a range of positions. I’ve always had an interest in Social and Organizational Psychology but learned about business by making my way through the ranks in the Hospitality industry. I’ve done everything from clearing tables to designing restaurants, from teaching Courtesy Camp to writing curriculum for delivery in university settings, and from being project manager for large training projects to delivering an average of 150 corporate training events annually.

4.    What are some of the advantages in being a (In Good Company) franchisee?

Wow, the advantages are many:

-       You get to see the “spark”- that moment when a child realizes his/her power to manage him/herself, to impact others, and to choose how to be in the world- this never gets old.

-       You get to be your own boss- can be hard work, but there is a tremendous sense of accomplishment when you see something grow from just an idea to a viable, sustainable business.

-       You can make unlimited amounts of money- you have the power to decide how hard you want to work.

-       There is always something new- something to learn, a new technique, a new audience, this work enables you to stretch and become your best self.

-       You’re never alone. One of the challenges for entrepreneurs is sometimes feeling like no one “gets it”. Well, we get it. The IGC Franchise team is always available to help. We have ongoing training, you get access to a mentor and all kinds of invaluable supports.

5.    Who is your ideal franchisee?

We are looking for Licensees who are truly interested in bettering the lives- and increasing success, for children, youth, and teens. To be successful in this business you have to be a bit of a risk-taker, you have to be unafraid to try approaches and strategies that others might not try, you have to be a continuous learner, and you have to be willing to trust the process, trust yourself, and just take the first step. One of the reasons we need civility training so badly in the world today is because things all around us are constantly changing. Resilience, change readiness, open-mindedness and commitment- I’d say these are the qualities we are looking for. Plus- you can’t be afraid to make money. Some people hesitate to earn an income from civility- but you can’t lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day you are providing a service- parents will pay $35 for a pizza without blinking, why is it unreasonable to expect that they should pay for expertise and social skills training that could make a lasting positive impact in their child’s life. 

6.    Tell us a little about the Industry?

According to market research completed by GrowThink, the segment of the education/training sector that includes etiquette training generates (in the US alone) 4.3 billion dollars annually. With the economy bouncing back, and considering increases in diversity in schools and communities, and considering the heightened competitiveness (e.g., to get into university, to get good jobs) due to world markets, Civility Experts suggests the demand for social skills training will continue to increase.

7.    What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise?

We learned though our work with existing Civility Experts (business and corporate training Licensees) we learned 2 key lessons that we’ve incorporated into the In Good Company Business Opportunity:

Lesson 1: that people need options- every market and every entrepreneur has different needs, e.g., some have existing businesses that they’ve built from the ground up and don’t want to lose; some have no experience at all and want to duplicate our brand exactly. And so, with In Good Company, we offer Licenses with optional branding clauses. And we encourage Licensees to use the resources provided, but also to think about what is best for them. If they want to use the copyright materials but keep their own established brand, we are happy to work with them to make this happen.

Lesson 2: that true entrepreneurs don’t want to have to constantly report to someone, they don’t want to have to justify every action, they don’t want to deal with the paperwork and mental work of daily, weekly, monthly calculation of fees- and so, we are not a typical franchise in that there are no ongoing fees. You buy the License- it’s good for 3 years. You can renew at 10% fee after 3 years- and beyond that, you keep your money!

8.    Do you have a mentor and is this someone you use for inspiration?

You know, I don’t have just one. When it comes to civility specifically- I really admire Dr. P. Forni- out of Johns Hopkins, and I follow his work and theory pretty closely. For day to day business I am a huge fan of Brendan Bouchard- our Australia affiliate introduced me to his work about 6 years ago and I am completely engrossed in his work and message. In terms of personal mentors, I’ve had many. My dad. And some older and wiser women who taught me about character and courage: Edith Houston, Freda Reeve, Mariette Bayer, Rose Rudko, Cathy Shaver. 

9.    What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?

I would say just start…trust your gut. Just take the first step – believe in yourself and your power to be successful and things will define themselves. If you wait for everything to be perfect, you may never actually do anything. In Good Company Franchises are not expensive, and you can make payments, we guide you every step of the way. In as little as 90 days you can be up and running and generating revenue. It really isn’t complicated. Just get started.

10.  In your opinion, why do you think that (In Good Company ) would be a great opportunity for someone?

I’ve always said that “Civility is its own reward” and I’ve found this to be true. If you can invest a small amount of money and then earn a good living AND live your values AND offer children and youth and teens invaluable skills to help them be confident and successful as they find their way in the world- how could you NOT feel good about getting up every day to do this work?

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