Tammy R. Berberick is President and CEO of Crestcom International, a leading franchising organization that sells and delivers award-winning leadership, management, and sales training programs.
I understand that Crestcom International is a leadership development franchisor, what do you actually mean when you talk about developing leaders?
Tammy: It’s common to find people promoted into management positions because they’ve excelled with their technical skills, but knowing the technical side of business is really not the same set of skills that are needed to manage and lead others. We also commonly work with leadership teams that have been together for years, but considering how rapidly we all have to adjust to changes in the marketplace, multi-generational shifts, and new psychology, I realize how challenging it can be for seasoned leadership teams to stay in front. I had a conversation with the CEO of a fairly large company about the interpersonal demands on the company’s managers and about learning soft skills. The CEO made a comment after we looked at the challenges and expectations of his managers; he said, “I don’t know why anyone would call these the soft skills. They’re actually the hard skills.” I think he’s right, and with training and practice, managers can master the hard skills.
Can you tell me more about the organization? What is the Crestcom concept?
Tammy: Thank you, of course. From my point of view, Crestcom is all about abundance. It’s true that we support independent franchise owners all over the world, but no one is ever alone. Probably the most appealing part of owning a Crestcom franchise is the sharing, and talking, and helping that happens among franchisees. It’s a fairly close group when you consider how comfortable people are turning to each other for help or to share their personal success stories.
We’re now in more than 60 countries, and if you look at our 30-year history, the impact our franchisees have had on businesses, and even on local economies, has been transformational.
What do you mean when you say transformational?
Tammy: It’s good to clarify. Our mission is to make the world a better place by developing stronger, more ethical leaders. There’s an urgent need for this. But specifically, I meant that our clients are continually discovering new capacity and measurable improvements. They see the before and after difference, and our franchisees get the credit. That’s how it works.
How and when did you become involved with Crestcom?
Tammy: About three years ago, Progress Equity Partners was reviewing the opportunity to include Crestcom in their investment portfolio. The board of directors hired me to work with them on their due diligence. During that time, I reviewed the leadership training content and assessed the viability of the product in the marketplace. I really enjoyed being involved with the company and became very interested in the concept. About a year later, they asked me to come back and do an organizational assessment and a strategic plan. One thing led to another, and here I am!
The way you said that sounds like you’re passionate about this business.
Tammy: I feel like this job was made for me. It’s all about leadership development and helping to develop people to reach their fullest potential to become great leaders. I have a great deal of experience and passion for leadership and helping others grow as great leaders. I realized that, through Crestcom, I could impact more people and influence great leadership development in a much bigger way. This was, and still is, the most exciting and fulfilling part of my job.
But I’m not the only passionate person in the company. We’re all passionate about diversity, and the evidence comes from our franchisees in so many different countries around the world. That really gives us a unique global perspective. I like to think of leadership as being a universal language that brings us together. No matter where you are in the world, no matter what language you speak, the core of what great leadership is and what it accomplishes and why it is needed is universal.
You obviously came to lead Crestcom at a later stage in your career path. What was your background prior to joining Crestcom?
Tammy: Prior to Crestcom, I owned my own business and coached CEOs on leadership, change management, organization design, and strategy. I also was a chair for Vistage International, and have coached over 100 CEOs and key executives. I spent most of my career holding executive level positions at Coors Brewing Company and later MolsonCoors in finance, information technology, HR, Strategy and Sales Operations. Before I left MolsonCoors I was the Corporate VP of Worldwide Services. Prior to Coors, I worked as a CPA and small business consultant for Arthur Andersen & Company.
Put me in the shoes of the owner of a Crestcom franchise. What are some of the advantages in being a Crestcom franchisee?
Tammy: Having a shared purpose with a strong and supportive global network is the key advantage to our Crestcom franchisees. If I were starting in this business, the thing that would really appeal to me would be the content and training support. That’s why this business makes good sense. Generally, our franchisees are passionate about getting directly involved in improving the leadership skills and the results in other companies. They like that relationship, and it’s a great way for them to leverage their own backgrounds and experiences. But, the advantage is really the peace of mind that comes from having all the tools, sales system, and leadership program in place from day one.
What kinds of tools?
Tammy: In the past two years, we’ve followed an aggressive strategy to create fresh branding and new tools, both for selling our live training and for facilitating it. But, I can give you a few examples of Crestcom support.
- We’re connected to each other all over the world, and the weekly information, updates on our current-week and year-to-date sales leaders, and a full library of resources is accessed through an internal site that we call COACH. That’s Crestcom Operations and Communications Hub, but I think we all prefer to say COACH. It really is the go-to place for what’s happening inside the network.
- Another example is our marketing infrastructure-including new websites, social media profiles, branding, and marketing templates.
- I think the most exciting recent development is our Crestcom Learning Portal. This really sets us apart, because, through the Portal, every person participating in our training has a great online experience. We love it, and our clients do too. For the franchisees, it’s a time-saver and an easy way to see what’s happening with their participants 24-7.
Is there more?
Tammy: Well, yes, of course. The nice thing about owning a Crestcom franchise is really the clear path to make money for whatever personal goals you’re planning to achieve. There’s a longer explanation of the tools and the support that interested people hear about when they talk with us directly. The one thing I might add is that within the last year, we’ve added a new subscription based continuing-education program that allows the franchisees to offer year-after-year development to participants on a quarterly basis with fresh new training modules (2016: Emotional Intelligence, Business Acumen, Multigenerational Leadership, Negotiation Simulation). The recurring revenue stream is attractive.
Who is your ideal franchisee?
Tammy: Our network is filled with passionate business owners. That’s important. Since Crestcom is a full-time job but also a job where you build close ties to local and regional business executives, the most successful franchisees have discipline and an appetite for hard work. I really don’t think somebody should try to do this part-time. It’s about building a business in your local area that has a reputation for being the leader in developing leaders. If you’ve got executive presence and are driven, those are ideal attributes.
So much of our business is sales, and we do have several franchisees who came to Crestcom with little or no experience selling, and we’ve trained them well. Generally, though, having sales experience and the tenacity and discipline to keep calling on prospects and to follow our proven process will put you in the top tier.
What could I expect then if I became part of the Crestcom franchise network?
Tammy: To be coached. That’s important really, and we’ve developed an onboarding process over many years that’s designed to get new franchisees launched in the right direction. If you were new to Crestcom, you’d first learn how our successful franchisees conduct this business, the best practices, and then learn the process for closing sales. We call it the Fast Start program.
We want creative people, but it’s equally important that they are coachable and willing to follow the system. We know what it takes to make this business successful, and we need people who understand that this is what they are buying into when they purchase a Crestcom franchise. We’re here to train, coach, and support franchisees all along the way, and so are their peers, but there is very little value we can bring to a person who is not willing to follow our methodology of being successful as a Crestcom franchise or is not open to being coached on how to adjust and improve.
I’d like to hear about the competition. Tell us a little about the Leadership Training Market?
Tammy: Leadership training is a competitive market. There are a lot of choices. In a $350 billion-dollar market, we’re really competitive, and the tangible and intangible gains for our clients keep us constantly looking at current trends in order to keep our training really profitable for them.
When online training hit the market, almost every training company rode that wave and many new training groups entered the industry. Now, we see the counter trend, and we’re well positioned to lead. There’s a gap in the tangible results of online training, particularly in highly personal areas like leadership development. Live, group-centered training is clearly more effective in creating the long-term benefit that our clients really love.
Believe it or not, most of our franchisees find a niche and can close profitable new business year after year. We boldly differentiate ourselves from online training and position ourselves as the model that actually changes behavior for good. The goal of our training is not only education, its application. Application is driven by what happens in the classroom and out of the classroom, in terms of monthly action plans and accountability. In that way, we’re very different from competitors. Every month, their managers get to the Crestcom never got on that bandwagon. We made a conscious, strategic decision to steer clear of online training. We know that people do not fully develop the skills they need to be successful leaders and managers without live, interactive classes and peer accountability that has always been the keystone of our leadership development system.
What are some of the greatest lessons you’ve learned in growing this franchise business?
Tammy: I’ve learned that there is always a value and a challenge in everything that we do. For example, the fact that we are in so many different countries is a wonderful value and opportunity for us to spread our mission and our message. It also presents a challenge because everything we do has to account for cultural differences, and our materials must be translated. It adds a layer of complexity to our change management process from a corporate perspective.
Along those same lines, I’ve also learned just how important change management really is in a franchise organization. I’m certainly no stranger to organizational transformations and change management, but working with such a large, diverse, and independent network of franchise owners has really developed me personally in this area. As a franchisor, you have to make sure that you are effectively managing change through clear, open dialogue and communication. This is not always easy, but it is so important to hear voices and perspectives from the franchisees that are in the field and on the front lines with our clients every day. The franchisor-franchisee relationship is a partnership, and you have to make sure that your franchisees are coming along on the journey with you.
I’ve also learned just how important it is to partner with the right franchisees. As in any business, the Crestcom franchise opportunity is not going to be a fit for everyone. Mainly, we are in a very dynamic industry where things change constantly and quickly. Our industry is not going to look the same way it does now five years from now. So, we have to make sure we are bringing on franchisees who are agile, who can adapt to change and stay positive and innovative in the face of change. We are not interested in complacency. I am personally interviewing all new franchise candidates because having the right franchisees is the key to our brand and our abundance together.
Do you have a mentor and is there someone you use for inspiration?
Tammy: I have a lot of different role models. I look at various people and aspects of their greatness and I create a virtual role model for myself. But, specifically, there was a CEO that I had the opportunity to work with and I saw his ability to transform the business. I saw how he patiently created a very strong diverse team that worked together, and how he didn’t lose himself. Even though he was the CEO of very large corporation, he always remained grounded, accessible and humble.
What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a Franchise?
Tammy: First, I would say ask yourself: Is this the right time? Am I ready?
This is a big personal and financial decision and it requires commitment to be successful. For many people, the leap from being employed to business ownership can be challenging. I recommend having a support network during the transition.
There’s a lot to read and understand. Our Franchise Disclosure Document isn’t the most fun part of the discovery process, but understanding the FDD and qualifying Crestcom with validation calls will be helpful during your due diligence. Franchisors are legally not allowed to disclose specific information, namely anything that might be considered an income claim, so find out what other franchisees in the system are experiencing first-hand, understand what makes them successful and what challenges they face. Remember, they were new too and can give you good perspective. In any franchise organization, there are franchisees that are very successful, others that are not successful, and every step in between. Talk to as many as you can to get a balanced view.
One of the things that we do differently than many other franchisors is to be transparent early in the process. It’s a big decision whether or not to buy a Crestcom franchise, we train our franchise candidates before they make their purchase decision. This is very unique in the franchise industry, but we want to make sure that we are being totally forthcoming so that our potential franchise partners know exactly what it takes to be successful. Training begins with field experience shadowing one of our franchisees where you can see what happens day-to-day, and that leads to a trip to our Denver corporate headquarters, the final step. That’s where we cover everything we do, from marketing to sales, how to operate your business and conduct training sessions. Plus, you get to meet the staff and executive team. You will spend time with our executive team whose job it is to really understand what you are looking for, determine if you are ready, and ultimately determine if you are a good fit to partner with Crestcom.
Tammy, I’ll ask one final question. In your opinion, why do you think that Crestcom would be a great opportunity for someone?
Tammy: I can’t possibly tell you if Crestcom is the right opportunity for you; this has to come from you. Our training is powerful, relevant, practical, and impactful. We offer clear and concise tools, techniques, and strategies on how to become a more effective manager and a better leader. Our clients continually show a strong ROI on both the financial and time investment that they’ve made.
We hear time and time again about how our training improves leadership in the workplace but that it’s also life changing, in a good way. also has a lasting personal impact as well.
I can tell you that, if you are looking for a home-based business opportunity where you control your own hours and you get to work with people and make a real difference in their lives, this is a great time to partner with Crestcom. We’re in the middle of a transformative change strategy that has really strengthened our brand but more importantly the growth opportunities for everyone on our Crestcom team worldwide. It is a very exciting time.
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