Franchise Success Happens When Failure Is NOT an Option


Pat Swisher, CEO and founder of Enviro-Master Services has overcome more than most people can even start to imagine. Yet, his profound belief that “failure is not an option” applies not only to his personal life, but in particular to his franchisees. For Pat the words “failure is not an option” are not a slogan, an empty quote, or a marketing strategy. When you talk with Pat, you learn that they are a promise and a way of life.

Seventeen years ago, Pat Swisher made a personal decision that led him to a problem with the SEC that cost him dearly.  In the world of franchising, we can never run away from our past; no one forgets our challenges or mistakes because, if they were of any consequence, whether they were personal or business related, they have to be disclosed to prospective franchisees. So, even when it may be old news, these events are always present. Yet Pat is not a man to hide away like many others would have chosen to do. He is a tenacious person, a fighter, and a winner. And, above all, he loves his business and cares immensely about the success of each of his franchisees.

After building and selling Swisher Hygiene, a commercial cleaning global company with 200  franchisees in US and 23 international markets, Pat Swisher tried consulting with retail franchises while he was under his non-compete agreement with the company that bought his business. “I quickly found that retail franchising was just not for me. I know franchising, but if you don’t love the business you are in, it doesn’t matter how much you know about franchising, it simply won’t work,” Pat shares. “When I sold my business I thought that I could try something different, but I just didn’t have the passion. I created the commercial hygiene industry; that’s the business I know and love. I realized that there was still a need for the original business I created and that it really wouldn’t compete with my old company because we have a different focus. We sanitize commercial bathrooms and kitchens, and although we complement our services with products, our concentration is on the service. It is on cleaning bathrooms and eliminating all the bacteria and germs that accumulate in these areas that can create problems for a business and disease for their patrons,” Pat adds.

I was curious why Pat chose franchising again knowing that it would leave him vulnerable to people’s questions. Pat explains: “I firmly believe that franchising is a great way to grow a business. I would have never been able to grow my first business to the extent I did without it. If you decide you don’t want to have investors, lenders or private equity money, if you don’t have a gazillion dollars yourself but you want to grow your company to become a national or international brand name, then franchising is the perfect choice. Franchising allows you to grow your business with the capital franchisees invest in their own locations; and, most importantly, it gives you built-in management without making you give up the control of your company. I could never hire employees to provide the level of service that franchisees are committed to offer to their clients. Franchisees have a stake in the game and they become your brand partners. There is great responsibility in franchising because you have to take care of your partners, but to me there is simply no better way to grow a business.” There is great strength in man who chooses to stand by his beliefs even when they may leave him susceptible to other people’s questions and to their judgments. Pat is certainly a man of principle.

Franchising has its challenges,” Pat shares. “I have to say that the greatest test I face as a franchisor is dealing with the variety of backgrounds of my franchisees. Getting all of them to stay focused and to follow the model, bringing back those who stray and who decide to tweak the system because they think they know better; these are the challenges.” Pat continues. “The only way to deal with these inherent issues is to be a coach. The trick is to know what motivates your franchisees and to understand that each of them is different; it is to know when to push hard and when to back off to keep them focused on the goal. It is really just like any sports coach leading the team to a win,” Pat explains.

Pat’s advice to people considering franchising their businesses consists of three points:

  • “Your concept must be viable and you must make sure to have sufficient experience running your business to foresee the problems a franchisee may encounter;
  • Also, you must make certain that you have the right personality to be a franchisor. Your franchisees are not your employees; they are your partners and you need to treat them as such. Some people don’t have it in them.
  • And, finally, you should seek professional guidance from people who know all aspects of franchising and make sure to listen to their recommendations.”

For Pat, replicating franchise success requires “lots and lots of experience in operating the business. Just too many people decide to franchise their businesses after only a couple of years of operation. I never understood how these companies can guide their franchisees and successfully help them prevent problems if they don’t even know what kind of challenges lay ahead,” Pat shares.

Pat is convinced that passion is a must for any franchise company, and that it goes beyond enthusiasm for the business to include a total dedication to helping people become successful.  “The success of my franchisees is of paramount importance to me and to everyone in my company. Enviro-Master is a start-up company, so we are more hands on than bigger more mature companies, which tend to be more detached. Ours is not a concept that will have thousands or even hundreds of franchisees. Our maximum growth is expected to be just under a hundred franchises. We can’t afford even one of them to fail. It is personal with me. I tell every new staff member that we give our franchisees 120%. It is part of who we are. If they can’t do that, they don’t belong in our company,” Pat shares. Franchising is all about success for Pat Swisher personally and professionally, and so for Enviro-Master, ‘failure is simply not an option.’


  1. I really admire your commitment to your franchisees. Before going into franchising, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to do in life., I know where your coming from. Keep up the good work.