Navigating Franchise with David Sullivan
David Sullivan is no stranger to the ins and outs of marketing. Whether it’s from his start in telemarketing, a transition to TV ad buying, a greater interest in digital at a MarTech company, or experience at an agency, his ability to pivot and nurture leads in any medium is an asset.
In his latest role as Director of Marketing at Office Evolution, David leans on his agency partner, Oneupweb, for support in navigating his newest adventure – the complex world of marketing a franchise business.
Read the interview with David Sullivan of Office Evolution
What do you consider when auditing a digital partner?
Transparency’s probably number one. Transparency and integrity. I’d say that’s probably one of the biggest challenges I’ve had being on the advertiser side is knowing a lot of the practices that we would practice [to cut costs].
Agency relationships could make the difference between that marketing person or that point of contact’s career at their company as well. You can go down the wrong path and take the wrong advice or, you know, sign on to the wrong plan. And I’ve seen that occur many times.
Customer service is super important, too. I believe that I give it as much as I return. So, it’s just as much my responsibility to be a good partner.
Do you think that your past working for an agency and all these different types of digital businesses is part of the reason that you have that viewpoint?
Yeah, I do. Selfishly, I’ve had a lot of rough relationships on the agency side, on the technology side, with advertisers and, uh, personalities.
So, [you] always tell yourself, if I ever end up on an advertiser side, I’m gonna be the best partner for my vendor. I’m gonna make things easy.
I’d like to think just with my experience that it’s also helping an agency.
And maybe they look forward to hopefully working with another advertiser that has someone that has digital experience or agency experience. There’s no confusion on who’s responsible for what.
And I think that’s always the biggest challenge too, with agencies and advertisers. Some advertisers will just punt everything to the agency. Even some of the things they shouldn’t be. So that’s one area that, you know, I’m still fine-tuning again. I’m later in my career and now I’m starting at the advertiser level for the first time.
And I’m seeing a lot of what I couldn’t see on the other end, the challenges. We used to think it would be easy, on the agency side. “If we only had to do marketing for one company, it would be amazing. We’d play golf half the day.”
It’s the complete opposite. It’s nowhere near as easy as I thought it would be.
Tell me about it.
That’s complicated, you know. With an agency, you’re responsible for one element of that agreement that you’re doing for the advertiser, and on the advertiser side, you’re responsible for the P and L side, making sure that you’re getting things on time, the price increases, downtime, errors, you know, all of those things and the whole aspect of it. It’s a lot more difficult for the advertiser.
Thank you so much for that perspective. Did you first learn about Oneupweb after you had already started at Office Evolution?
No, I had not. Just the entire franchise world was new to me.
A lot of this is brand new and it was kind of refreshing being in digital, as long as I’ve been. Everything has always been around paid media, digital agencies, resellers, and not a lot of co-ops and franchises just never really crossed my path over the last 20 years. So, when I came on board, Oneupweb just seemed like just another software shop, another website company.
Once I peeled back the onion a little bit more, I could see the expertise, the relationships, and the other accounts that you guys have worked on.
And I think there’s still a lot of opportunity for it to get even better as time goes on.
How has dipping your toes in the franchise world been?
It’s a challenge. It’s somewhat of a newer challenge and an old game.
You’re representing anywhere from 10 locations to 75, to 150 locations.
And you have to have, at times, a reseller mindset in terms of scale. But you also want to have that mindset of customizability of performance and the challenge of how do you get all of the locations to perform well versus your top 10% or your top 25.
It’s almost like having an agency with the same customer 80 times ‘cause there’s formulas that you can do to, to get success, make changes, but in terms of performance, every, every, every location’s different, every location has a different personality in the owner and in the business center managers, and every location has its own territory and its own lingo.
So, it’s, it’s like having 80 individual clients that are all selling the same thing.
How has your partnership with Oneupweb been so far?
It’s been a great experience, to be honest with you. My experience has not been in the website business side of it.
This, in my toolbox, is probably the weakest link is really understanding what goes into a website. We had a division in the agencies I worked with that built websites. They would just let us know when they were done.
What’s great about the Oneupweb team is they take time to explain things to you. I don’t think I ever felt hurried off a call or hurried through an educational portion of something just wasn’t clicking, or I couldn’t understand.
There’s a lot of misconceptions out there that you should be able to build a website in 15 minutes or, why can’t you just use these specific plugins and replicate it across 50 pages?
You don’t really understand them until you talk to someone who is just passionately into it and can break down the difference of what a templated website looks like that you can get off one of the larger reseller sites versus a custom site, that’s gonna protect you from things that you don’t even know you need protection from.
And there’s times where I just have been completely overwhelmed and the team has been, “We got you, we got your back.” And that’s great.
Given your experience working in a very siloed agency previously, have you noticed Oneupweb’s cross-department collaboration?
I have. Every member that I’ve worked with or have had communication with in either a group call has had their time in the sun, but it is cool to kind of see the collaboration between two individuals that you could tell was unscripted.
The ability for someone not to be able to answer a question and for someone else to just jump in, it tells me a lot in terms of the culture you guys have. In some companies, some people don’t wanna speak up. They’re worried to say the wrong thing or worried that they’re stepping into something that may be too much over their head.
The communication and flow of the team at Oneupweb is very smooth. Very rarely do I have a call where there’s more than two or three members of the Oneupweb team and we can’t resolve anything that we’re discussing. Someone on that call has the answer.
And sometimes it may not come from the person you think it would come from. That’s always great for anyone sitting in my seat ‘cause you know that you’re not relying on one source of knowledge. That’s a real problem that you see in this industry in a lot of cases, you have one superior mind and everyone else is kind of, you know, three floors below. I haven’t seen a lot of that separation with your team and going all the way up to the top with Fernando.
What opportunities lie ahead for Office Evolution after being acquired by United Franchise Group?
Growth is the number one opportunity. United Franchise Group has an amazing infrastructure in terms of how they built the corporate entity to support their brands. This is not your traditional corporate company buys a company and then puts ridiculous goals on paper and then steps back.
UFG came in, acquired OE, and immediately opened up all of their resources. And what’s even more impressive is just the amount of experience in franchising. I couldn’t have landed in a better place in terms of getting to know franchising and how it works at almost every level.
And at UFG there’s either a leader or a junior leader that’s been in that mix for 10 to 20 [years]. So, you have a lot of experience. The franchise sales side of UFG as well is extremely successful and aggressive and they have an outstanding leader who just knows how to grow a brand.
So, I anticipate OE will have a lot of growth in terms of new locations, new franchisees, existing franchisees, expanding into more states. The writing is on the wall in a positive way.
Great. Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’m super fortunate. I had been in the digital realm for 20 years. I will say the more time I do spend working with agencies like Oneupweb, and some of our other vendors that we work with, it does show me that I do have a love for it.
It’s still dynamic. It’s still exciting. And um, if I ever end up back there, I just hope I get clients like myself. Cause it just, you know, I’d like to think, I can make that relationship a lot easier without having any of that in between that unfortunately you get with the agency to advertiser relationships.
I think the world of the team. I have not had a bad experience either with the personnel side, or deliverables, or the education side.