The Franchise Development Veteran Has Strong Resumé in Home-Services Arena
Empower Brands, a corporate franchisor of commercial and residential home services, has announced R. Scott Sutton will be its new chief development officer. As CDO, Sutton will execute development strategies across Empower Brands’ portfolio, which includes FRSTeam, Archadeck Outdoor Living, Outdoor Lighting Perspectives, Conserva Irrigation, JAN-PRO, Intelligent Office, and Superior Fence and Rail.
“Our impact is embodied in our name – empower. We live by our mission to champion the success of franchisees. And while there are others that have achieved success in our categories through multi branded platforms, Empower Brands possesses a unique blend of proven brands, passionate team members, experienced leadership and stakeholders that are focused on growing the right way, with the right people in the right markets at the right time,” Sutton said. With this approach, Empower can “set a new standard of how franchising can provide entrepreneurs [with] an opportunity to achieve the dream of business ownership.”
Sutton is excited to work with the corporate franchisor’s leadership teams “to expand the reach of our brands into markets where our franchisees can provide industry-leading solutions to consumers.”
Empower Brands’ leadership team, which recently grew under President Thomas Welter, is thrilled to have Sutton on board. In welcoming Sutton, Scott Zide, CEO of Empower Brands, said the franchisor “had a milestone year across our network, and Scott will be a crucial part in continuing momentum in franchise development. Scott brings years of experience and a wealth of knowledge in the franchising industry with a passion for growing small businesses. We look forward to seeing him propel our growth even further.”
Home Services Trends
Empower is part of the booming home-services industry. In terms of home-services trends, specifically home remodeling, Sutton notes that despite macroeconomic pressures and revenue compression in other categories, consumer spending in this area is expected to grow by 2.6% this year compared to 2022. “This is down compared to prior years when Covid played a huge part in the increased demand for services. But on a market size of $485 billion, the presumed increase is substantial and further validates the consumer need and access to potential business by our franchise owners.”
Sutton brings strong home-services franchise experience to his new position, having previously served as chief growth officer for Threshold Brands. He also was vice president of business development for Deluxe, a payments and business technology company.
He discovered franchising as a student at the University of Oklahoma when he landed a summer internship with a fast-food franchisor based in Oklahoma City. “The exposure to franchising allowed me to tie all those academic business principles I’d been learning to the real-world opportunities and challenges of owning and operating a small business.”
Sutton says the best part of that internship – and what has continued to be his favorite aspect of the franchise business model – was interacting with entrepreneurs who are unafraid of taking risks. “The passion, focus and intensity to succeed are common threads amongst franchisees that are part of organizations with franchisee-first cultures.”
The IFA and Being a CFE
Sutton is an active member of the franchise community. He currently serves on the Board of Trustees of the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) Foundation and is also part of the IFA’s Legislative Action Group. To Sutton, the IFA provides an incredible amount of information, guidance and networking related to franchising.
“Advocacy matters to ensure protection of the business of franchising. It’s a community of like-minded business professionals focused on entrepreneurial success through the franchising business model,” Sutton said. “The IFA provides networking and resources that help companies identify” solutions to business challenges.
As a Certified Franchise Executive, Sutton believes this designation represents continuous learning on “best practices and adherence to the highest compliance and ethical standards” as well as “access to incredible like-minded professionals who offer a wealth of experiences and perspectives related to the business of franchising.”
Sutton is also a merger and acquisitions adviser and predicts the trend of brands joining forces will continue. “It’s a natural progression for businesses focused on growth and value creation to seek strategic or financial partnerships through mergers, acquisitions and joint ventures. I don’t see this focus diminishing as more and more companies strive for differentiation.”
Advice from a Franchising Expert
Sutton believes that entrepreneurs looking to buy a franchise should think about the four M’s: market, model, management and motivation. “Entrepreneurs should focus on the strength of the market in which they’re interested, the business model associated with the franchisors that participate in that market, the experience and strength of the management team, and, inwardly, their motivation in working within the business on a daily basis. These focus areas are critical to ensure the best chance for long-term professional success and personal enrichment.”
For franchisors that have set a goal of optimizing operations, Sutton recommends they focus on the key friction points from franchisee and consumer perspectives. “Technology is a big enabler to that. We think of creating a ‘frictionless’ process for franchisees so each can focus on the core functions that deliver consumer satisfaction.”