The Dwyer Group owns 11 franchise companies in home maintenance, including Mr. Rooter, Mr. Electric and The Grounds Guys. The group has 2,100 franchise locations worldwide and has reported more than $1.3 billion in sales.
Dina Dwyer-Owens sat down for a company meeting when she heard strange noises coming from under her chair.
The co-chairman of The Dwyer Group, a company that owns home maintenance franchises such as Mr. Rooter and Mr. Electric, looked under her chair and found the culprit – a “fart machine,” placed there by one of the employees.
Dwyer-Owens said placing the machine under her chair may have been a prank, but it was a prank used strategically to fulfill an aspect on the company’s Code of Values, “Having Fun in the Process.”
“We have fun in a lot of different ways,” she said. “But you have to purposefully and intentionally create opportunities for fun.”
Values are the topic of Dwyer-Owens’ latest book, Values, Inc., which was released in February. She spoke at Texas Christian University on Oct. 7 as part of the Tandy Executive Speaker Series, discussing the importance of not only writing down a list of values but also enacting them.
“Clearly the values come through in, obviously, her book and other things,” said Homer Erekson, dean of TCU’s Neeley School of Business. “But I think it was real. You could feel that.”
Dwyer-Owens said The Dwyer Group has 15 values that are grouped under four categories that spell the acronym R.I.C.H.: Respect, Integrity, Customer Focus and Having Fun in the Process.
Every time she meets with team members or franchisees, the group makes an effort to recite the company’s values, whether it be all 15 or a portion of that list, she said.
“Recite the Code of Values by heart, with heart,” Dywer-Owens said. “I don’t want them just to memorize the values. I want them to internalize the values.”
One of those company meetings was shown on the CBS reality show Undercover Boss, where Dwyer-Owens disguised herself as a maintenance worker for some of the franchises in The Dwyer Group. While “undercover,” she saw first-hand what employees did on a daily basis and heard concerns they had with the corporate side of the company.
“We are not a perfect company, so I will tell you, as much as we work hard to live those values, we are a company run by people, so we do make mistakes,” she said.
One of the employees, a plumber for Mr. Rooter, had said he was being paid unfairly. When Dwyer-Owens revealed herself at the end of the episode, she told him she had spoken to the president of Mr. Rooter to resolve the issue. She also gave the plumber $20,000 as down payment for a new home, to help fulfill a dream he had expressed earlier in the show.
When it comes to solving problems and making decisions, The Dwyer Group looks to its Code of Values for guidance, Dwyer-Owens said.
She said she hopes more businesses will make an effort to review their values regularly – something that must be done for a business to be successful, she said.
“It’s really about how we treat people,” she said. “We think [that if] we can treat people with respect and dignity, it builds wealthy relationships.”