As President and Co-CEO of promotional products supply firm Proforma, I take pride in keeping things simple. Mission statements and strategic plans are a case in point; they tend to be encyclopedic in length, covering myriad issues and disguising the core value that the business presents to employees, vendors, and customers.
Clearly outlining those principles from the start is imperative, illustrating how businesses goals can be met. As head of a growing company, my core mission is to make the dreams of franchise owners come true. Starting the company in 1978 with only $200 in hand taught me the importance of getting others on board with a great idea through simple communication, avoiding the complicated jargon that typifies so many businesses. My team and I realized the benefits of this in the 1980s, when we envisioned a new franchising model that would leverage a nationwide network of independent distributors to achieve strong relationships with suppliers. By following a simple path of recruiting great franchise owners and helping them start their paths to profitability, we were able to fulfill our vision of success. Today, we enjoy the results of this simple yet effective approach, having achieved recognition on the Inc. 500 list along with sales that have surpassed $350 million annually.
One thing that my approach of keeping it simple has taught me is to withhold judgment and let people’s performance and results speak for themselves. In the past I thought I knew what made a successful franchisee, but I have been proved wrong so many times that I no longer look for specific qualities in members of the Proforma family. Indeed, some of the most motivated and profit-driving franchisees have joined the company with relatively little fanfare and with minimal expectations on our part. One individual had few of the outward characteristics that define success, yet generated millions of dollars for Proforma over the years. For this reason, we keep things simple at Proforma, simply drawing up a list of qualities we do not want in prospective franchisees and staff. A criminal background and bad credit are nonstarters with our company, and we also engage in personality tests to ensure overall compatibility. I encourage anyone with leadership potential and a drive to succeed to carve out a niche within our network of printing, promotional, e-commerce, and multimedia solutions providers.
About the Author: Past winners of the U.S. Small Business of the Year award, Greg Muzzillo and his wife Vera were honored in 2010 for their work with Proforma through Counselor magazine’s 2010 Person of the Year award.