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50 Innovative Companies to Watch 2019

An Interview with Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team CEO: ‘We Help You Organize, Document, and Market Your Business to be Duplicated as Successful Franchises’

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“Our proven process of helping our clients win resulted in us being named the ‘2018 and 2019 Best Franchise Consulting Agency’ in the US.”

It’s hard to operate a business and grow it at the same time; therefore, franchising makes sense. Although the process is quite daunting unless overseen by industry professionals. Most business owners have limited time and resources and don’t know how to organize, document, and market their business as a franchise that someone would want to buy.

In view of the above-mentioned scenario, we’re thrilled to present Big Sky Franchise Team.

Big Sky Franchise Team helps companies of all shapes and sizes turn their business into a franchise, including the preparation and development of their franchise business plan, operations manual, marketing plan, franchise collateral, and a myriad of other consulting services.

The company was incorporated in 2016 and is headquartered in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Tom DuFore, Big Sky Franchise Team CEO, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.

Why was the company set up? And how did you expand your company and its offerings over the years?

We were formed from a desire to help companies and business leaders multiply their success. Our purpose is to: Inspire and Foster Greatness. It may sound a little ‘Big Sky’ but we truly believe that every person and every company has the ability to reach greater heights. We believe that our job is to help them get there. Some of the unique offerings we have developed to accomplish this has been our trademarked service the Franchise Blueprint and, most recently, our brand-new franchise learning management system called FranLeadership.

What challenges did you face in your initial years? What can your peers learn from it?

We had a couple of challenging clients that we did not fit well with each other. We ultimately parted on good terms but learned a valuable lesson. Try to focus on doing business with people and companies that line up with your company culture and values. If you don’t know your company values then figure them out as a company’s culture stands volatile if not backed by the values. It was challenging to face those early clients as we were unclear about our values at that point in time. We have mitigated many potential client challenges by focusing on doing business with the right client for both parties involved. Essentially, knowing when to say, “no” to a prospective client is sometimes the right thing to do when there appears to be a potential cultural clash.

“Earning trust and respect of consumers all around the world is through consistent focus on delivering high quality in all of our actions.” How do you interpret this statement?

I interpret this as we do just about everything else. Our number one core value is Win-Win Relationships. If we go in with the Win-Win Relationship mindset in delivering our services then it should not matter where a client is located. People are people at the end of the day, no matter where they are located. We are all human beings and if we can serve our clients first to help them with their needs and wants then it will lead to us hitting our goals as well.

Fostering a culture of feedback is crucial to the success of every organization. How is this true with your company?

We have three core values at our company: 1. Win-Win Relationships (as mentioned above) 2. Professional Excellence. 3. Continuous Improvement. This question really targets our third core value. We focus on continuous improvement individually and as a company. Feedback at our company is fairly open with company leadership. You know that you have a pretty good culture for feedback with your team when team members will give you unsolicited feedback via an email, during a regular check-in meeting, or otherwise. They have no fear of a negative repercussion if the team member suggests a potentially unpopular idea or thought.

Technology & Innovation, a perfect fusion. How often do you innovate? Is it only when there is a need in the market?

We think that using technology to innovate is great. The two seem to go hand in hand. We think that there is always a need to be looking for new and better ways to do things. Hence our core value of Continuous Improvement. Essentially, we as a team should be looking for new and better ways to add value to our clients in terms of new client development, product/service offerings, delivery mechanisms, communication channels, and future client needs. My very first business mentor had a saying that stuck with me: “If it ain’t broke, break it.” – I like to use this when we seem to be stuck or in a rut for new creativity.

Do you have any new products ready to be launched?

Yes, we just mentioned our FranLeadership program which is a franchise learning management system. It is a wonderful platform complete with new media content already established as a baseline for our clients to have an out-of-the-box solution and it has the ability for the client to add in their own custom training video for their franchisees. The Win-Win in this is that it helps the franchise to get trained and supported better and helps the franchisor to better support and train their franchisees. We have another big development that is in the works so keep on the lookout! It should be operational in the next six to 12 months.

Where do you see your company a couple of years from now?

We see our company as being the preferred referral for any business looking into franchising. We will do this by keeping focused on our core values of Win-Win Relationships, Professional Excellence, and Continuous Improvement.

Tom DuFore: A Formidable Leader

Tom DuFore is the CEO of Big Sky Franchise Team. He is responsible for company strategy and to support and consult with the company’s clients. Tom has consulted with and advised hundreds of businesses ranging from the largest companies in the world to start-ups. Prior to starting Big Sky Franchise Team, Tom spent 10 years as a Franchise Consultant working for multiple consulting companies. He also served as the VP of National Business and Franchise Development for the Rabine Group, a National Facilities Maintenance Construction Company with 15 business units. In his role, he oversaw companywide sales, marketing, and national expansion initiatives, helping the company expand from $125MM to $185MM in annual revenue in just two years. He helped the company become regionally and nationally recognized three consecutive years as a Crain’s Fast 50 Company, and an Inc. Magazine 500|5000 Fastest Growing Company in the United States.

Tom has been a guest speaker at the International Franchise Expo, International Food Service Show, Chicago Treasury Office Business Expo, and the Franchise Expo South. He holds a B.S. Degree in Management from Elmhurst College and an M.B.A. degree from DePaul University’s Kellstadt Graduate School of Business.

“We have a win-win mentality. We work hard to make sure franchising your business is a win for you and a win for your franchisees.”