From Military Leader to Handywoman and Small Business Owner

Jo McCabe, owner Mr. Handyman of Prince William and Southern Fairfax Counties

Jo McCabe is the owner of Mr. Handyman in Manassas, Virigina, a locally owned small business that specializes in all major and minor home repairs. She was interviewed by Ellen Scott, Community Web Producer, and featured as the week's Super NoVA on November 9, 2011 at for her booming local business and her ability to build her success on skills she learned from her days in military service.

McCabe began her military career in aircraft maintenance for the Navy. Later she spent eight years in physical security where she was overseeing the Navy's northeast region managing 1,500 people. Shortly after her exit from the military in 2008, she decided to put her MBA and management skills to use and bought the Mr. Handyman franchise. The transition from the military to business was not difficult for McCabe, she said, because being in the military gave her so many lessons to take away and apply to everyday life.

"Just take what you learned and build on your strengths. Leading a team of men and women in the military and leading a team of technicians and customer service reps is actually very similar, as long as you stay true to the system that's in place," said McCabe.

Why does McCabe believe her business has been so successful?
"I can't stress its importance enough - surround yourself with a good team. At the same time, you have to be a flexible leader. Don't hesitate to ask questions and make decisions based on input from your team. Focus on the basics and master those basics with good training. Like the military, Mr. Handyman offers the structure necessary to succeed, making it a great opportunity for me to transform myself from a military leader into a business leader."

Winning Hockey Teams: Parallels Between Competitive Sports and Franchising

Alex Roberts, CFE, is president of Mr. Handyman International, part of Service Brands International (SBI) which also operates Mr. Handyman, Molly Maid and 1-800-DRY-CLEAN. Before becoming president of Mr. Handyman, Roberts was president of ProTect Painters and previously spent three years as vice president of franchise development at SBI. Roberts, a 1989 draft pick of the Stanley Cup winning Chicago Blackhawks and former head coach of Team USA U-18, spent more than 11 years recruiting athletes and coaching professional hockey teams.

Alex penned an article for the October 2011 issue of Franchising World. Here are some excerpts:

The following are the key parallels in approaches for winning sports teams and winning franchise brands:
  • Positive attitudes are contagious within a team.
  • Every team member must be held accountable.
  • Leaders should build relationships with every member of the team.
  • Maintain discipline in your organization and lead by example.
  • Know your competitors.
  • Winning teams have a playbook.

Of course, there are worlds of differences between hockey and franchising. For one thing, in a franchise organization, one can't drop his gloves and duke it out when frustration hits. Leaders have to learn the art of patience and take a political and sensitive approach to certain situations.

Still, the similarities are striking and boil down to one key conclusion: A successful team is made up of strong leaders and team players who all work together, simultaneously, toward the same goal-winning the game. Whether it's winning the Stanley Cup Championship or hitting double-digit same-store sales for consecutive years, the same rules come into play.

Q&A Interview with Alex Roberts, President of Mr. Handyman

Alex Roberts was also interviewed by Ambrosio on November 29, 2011 for Franchise Chatter :
FC: Why should someone interested in starting a home repair business consider joining a franchise like Mr. Handyman? Can you cite a few specific advantages to becoming a Mr. Handyman franchisee versus starting a home repair business from scratch?

AR: The biggest competitive advantage we have is when it comes to lead generation. We are able to match customers who have a need for service with our franchise owner in that area. Most homeowners these days are shopping for home repair on the Internet. With our size, infrastructure and savvy marketing department, we are able to become that first opportunity for customer acquisition.

A huge concern for anyone starting a business right now is how they will get customers. The way we're able to do this is through our robust website, pay-per-click campaigns, SEO tactics and other traditional marketing methods. When a consumer is at home searching for "dry wall repairs" or "wood rot replacement," Mr. Handyman has specific landing pages designed for these repairs.

Another advantage of buying into a Mr. Handyman franchise is scalability. When you start your own business, it's limited. We have systems and technology in place to help grow and manage a business with multiple technicians and multiple vans.

Related Posts:

Mr. Handyman in the News - October 2011

Mr. Handyman in the News - August 2011

Mr. Handyman can help. Repair. Improve. Maintain. One call does it all!

Mr. Handyman can maintain your home to save you money. One call really does take care of everything on your to-do list. All Mr. Handyman franchises are Fully Insured - General Liability and Workers Compensation. Some services are subject to state and local licensing and may not be available in all locations. Make sure to stay on top of all your household repairs, improvements and maintenance needs and request service in your area.