Bold Women in the C-Suite: Amy Phillips
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Bold Women in the C-Suite: Amy Phillips

Bold Women in the C-Suite: Amy Phillips

Name: Amy Phillips

Brand: Altitude Trampoline Park

Title: President, Chief Marketing Officer

Years in franchising: 3+

No. of units: 85

How important is making bold moves in a woman’s path to the C-suite? Making bold moves is an important part of leadership, especially for women on the path to the C-suite. You have to get comfortable with making tough, yet informed decisions and be willing to take the risk and rewards associated with them. Bold moves can lead to both company and personal success, depending on the “move.” But overall, being bold only means having the confidence in doing what you’ve learned to do, and reinforcing the idea that no decision is too bold if you know it’s what’s best for you or the company. Be confident in your ability to make decisions, and in your team’s ability to do what’s best.

Describe bold moves you’ve made in your career. One is introducing what was initially called the “Power Combo” to Dave & Buster’s more than 15 years ago, which would become one of their most successful campaigns to date. It’s still in play now, and one of the primary initiatives incorporating food and fun for their consumers. In another example, I was at Main Event Entertainment when it was purchased as a traditional bowling alley by Ardent Leisure (which sold Main Event to Dave & Buster’s in April 2022). In that transition, I was tasked to build a family entertainment center and take Main Event from a traditional bowling alley to a leading family entertainment center. To make this happen, I had to make many bold decisions. We tripled the size of the company and created the award-winning FUNpass for the brand, which is still used in various ways today. A third example is working with a franchisor-led concept at Altitude and NRD Capital, which involved far more stakeholders than I had previously worked with, and encompassed a different marketing and leadership approach than I had experienced in past roles.

How did you envision those moves changing the brand you were with? When making bold moves, I always envision the positive outcomes: increased revenue, successful campaigns that remain current to the brand today (such as the sales center at Dave & Busters and the membership program at Altitude), and introducing a new, competitive concept to the country with Drive Shack. All of these achievements were able to come to fruition because I had to get comfortable with making bold moves.

How has your leadership helped evolve the brand? I feel it has helped expand Altitude beyond a traditional family entertainment concept and into more of a destination in its own category. Our guests have begun to look at our parks as destinations, as part of their normal everyday or weekly activities. Among groups of existing members who used to come in once or twice a year, through new initiatives and programs we’re now driving them to visit almost twice as often or more. Another recent example is our change from labeling ourselves as a “trampoline park” to “family entertainment.” Altitude has evolved in recent years and we’re continuing to become an all-access destination with activities for all types of family members, opening the pathway for families to be active and have fun together. We’ve removed “trampoline park” from our logo and messaging. This has allowed guests to really understand who we are now. Last, the introduction of incredibly strong leaders on our team has propelled us forward. At the end of the day it takes a whole team, and I’ve worked closely with other department heads and leaders in the franchise space to breathe new life into the company.

Was there pushback? How did you handle that? There definitely was pushback during some of those key times in our evolution, but it hasn’t necessarily been a bad thing. The way we get around those challenges is to always look at things from different perspectives, especially when the pushback is coming from a good place. We consider questions such as: Is now the right time? Is this the move we want to make to get to where we want to be? Is there another way to achieve this? The removal of “trampoline park” from our logo got some pushback, specifically from franchisees who had been with the brand for a long time. But when it came down to it, we made the decision based on consumer data that showed what our guests are looking for in an active family destination, which all pointed to what we are doing with Altitude today: expanding the concept to an all-access active family destination.

How are you imparting a culture of boldness to other women in your organization? By paving a way for women to grow and giving them the confidence to help them achieve more than they thought was possible. Our CEO, Mike Rotondo, has done a phenomenal job of recruiting smart and strong female leaders. In my role, I am to show them that they can make bold moves and do whatever they set their mind to. One of our current team members is a great example. She used to work for me in a role that was outside franchising. From the beginning, I’ve instilled in her the idea that there is nothing she can’t achieve. To do that, I help my female peers identify what it is they are good at and enjoy doing within the organization. From there, I work to empower them and pave a way for them to make bold moves and grow within that space. In this specific instance, she had little knowledge about franchise development but was becoming much more passionate and interested in it. I helped her grow in that area and allowed her the space to explore and make bold decisions, despite the possibility of mistakes along the way, and I completely believed in her. Today, I believe she is well on her way to becoming a great franchise development leader. The lesson is that when you are allowed to make bold moves by other leaders, it really gives you the confidence to do bigger things and get excited about what else you can do.

What motivates you as a leader? By far, the success of our franchisees. It’s profoundly motivating to be a witness or participant in launching a new initiative and then see a franchisee experience success from it. That’s what I get the most excited about. Whether I or someone else’s team did it, the motivating factor for me time and again is helping our franchise partners build a legacy and wealth for their families. Another aspect that inspires motivation for me is seeing all the potential we have as a brand, and that we are only just beginning as a leader in the franchise family entertainment space. At this point, we feel that we truly have the right partners in place and so many things we are working on that make me incredibly optimistic about what the future holds. Whether it’s POS changes, new automation, investments in technology, or new marketing plans, the opportunities we have in front of us to advance Altitude beyond where it is today are incredibly inspirational.

What are some ways women leaders in franchising can drive change? 1) Make opportunities in franchising known. I have made it a goal for 2023 to introduce franchising and all of its amazing benefits to aspiring female entrepreneurs everywhere. I look forward to showing women leaders that they can be successful and achieve their ideal lifestyle through franchising. 2) Female leaders in franchising also can drive change by allowing other women to make bold moves and give them the space to grow. Giving other women the confidence and agency to explore new paths, ask questions, and make bold decisions can make a lasting impact, whether it’s a family member, co-worker, or friend. 3) Another big component in driving change among female leaders is supporting other women and providing mentorship. Mentorship has always been incredibly important to me. I was given my first mentor long ago in a previous role, and it’s allowed me to pay it forward by sharing my learning, lessons, and experiences with other women looking to improve their lives or careers.

What role has mentoring played in your career? How did you meet your mentors? Mentorship has played a huge role in my career. I’ve had so many mentors in my life, beginning when I was in college and interning at companies where I made friends with my past mentors. I am so lucky to have a great resource of alumni from my collegiate years, and mentors from past organizations I’ve been involved in. Our CEO, Mike Rotondo, also was an important mentor to me. When I was introduced to the role, Mike went above and beyond to cheer me on and lead me down the right path. Then, when he became my boss, he introduced me to my next mentor, Susan, whom I continue to learn from and look up to today.

What is one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make, and how did it affect your life? It was centered around a position I held at Drive Shack. I had moved to New York City to help create and launch the brand while working with Fortress Investment Group. It was absolutely a tough decision for my family for me to commute and relocate to NYC while still based in Dallas. It proved to be an incredible move and opportunity, working with some of the brightest minds in the country. And while working with the private equity company, I was able to work with other key brands within Fortress’s portfolio. This gave me valuable experience in creating a publicly traded company, and opening and creating the first prototype of the brand. I also was involved in the purchase of all the American Golf locations, which Drive Shack would eventually purchase before the brand opening its first location, and that was incredibly insightful—as well as in creating proprietary games for the brand and working with developers around the world to create a one-of-a-kind experience. Though the decision to relocate was tough, it resulted in a positive effect on my life as a professional, and the know-how and skills I took from the experience were well worth it.

If you could do it all over again, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently? I don’t know that I would do anything differently. All of the accomplishments, mistakes, lessons, wins, and bumps in the road have led me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change that for anything.

What advice do you have for aspiring female leaders? First, use data to reinforce your ideas and thoughts, especially when needing to get buy-in from others on something more out-of-the-box. Second, be confident in what you know and lean on your mentors, friends, and associates to bring knowledge in areas you lack. You don’t have to be an expert at everything; it helps to have trusted peers around you who can teach you along the way. Third, learn one new thing each month. To me, continuous learning is something I value greatly and is a trait that allows you to keep growing no matter what field or position you are in. And last, seek out successful female leaders as mentors. Use your network to learn from and support other women who are blazing their own paths.

Published: May 1st, 2023

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Franchise Update Magazine: Issue 1, 2023
Franchise Update Magazine: Issue 1, 2023

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