Bold Women in the C-Suite: Marci Kleinsasser
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Bold Women in the C-Suite: Marci Kleinsasser

Bold Women in the C-Suite: Marci Kleinsasser

Name: Marci Kleinsasser

Brands: Budget Blinds, Concrete Craft, Kitchen Tune-Up, Bath Tune-Up, The Tailored Closet, PremierGarage, Aussie Pet Mobile, AdvantaClean, Two Maids (all Home Franchise concepts)

Title: Vice President, Marketing, Franchise Development

Age: 56

Years in franchising: 30

No. of units: Budget Blinds, 1,427; Kitchen Tune-Up, 285; AdvantaClean, 173; PremierGarage, 161;The Tailored Closet, 161; Two Maids, 120; Concrete Craft, 90; Aussie Pet Mobile, 78; Bath Tune-Up, 44

How important is making bold moves in a woman’s path to the C-suite? Bold moves that support company objectives and strategies, that are based mostly on data as well as a little intuition/gut, are important, regardless of whether you are on the path to the C-suite or not. Results are what will get you to the C-suite, or at least get you to the C-suite.

Describe bold moves you’ve made in your career. I believe I have made quite a few bold moves, but a few stand out. 1) Advising the executive team that a supplier partner chosen by the CEO was not working as a best-fit partner, and it was time to make a change. My advice was initially frowned upon, but once the RFP process started and the new partner was identified, hired, onboarded, and provided the desired results, the decision was extremely favorable. 2) Hiring someone whom a boss said they didn’t feel was “the best candidate.” I felt in my gut they were the best fit for the position and team and hired them. They proved to be not only a great fit, but went out and killed it and was promoted within the organization! 3) Walking away from a job offer one might say would have been the path to the C-suite. I strongly believe that purpose and passion are a must-have in life and in your career. If they don’t align, then a job offer, no matter how perfect on the outside, will never be the perfect fit for you. This particular offer was not perfect for me. Making this difficult decision was tough, and bold.

How did you envision those moves changing the brand you were with? For the first two above, I envisioned those moves improving results and helping our brand(s) exceed our goals. The first move changed our brand at the time after building a new partner relationship. The partner brought an entirely new level of care, creativity, and innovation to our brand, ultimately resulting in double-digit unit growth and exponential sales. The second move brought an increased amount of work and level of performance that resulted in improved franchisee satisfaction and results, improved brand validation, and growth. And the third mentioned above, well, I am where I am supposed to be, so personally it may have changed my “personal brand” for the best.

Which turned out how you expected? Which did not? Why? Changing partners is never simple. Add to that the personal relationship the existing partner had with the CEO, and I fully expected a bumpy transition. The move for change turned out better than expected because I was able to provide clear expectations, timelines, and deliverables to our leadership team, our outgoing and incoming partners, and our franchisees. Overcommunicating, checking in at key milestones along the way and asking how we were doing, and celebrating wins were keys to success and why the move turned out better than expected.

What motivates you as a leader? Helping others achieve their goals motivates me and inspires me to continue to lead and contribute to the future of the brands I am fortunate to lead. I am also motivated by the team around me who show such passion, dedication, and heart every day. Our team wants to grow our brands, ensure that the franchise owners that join our family are served in the best way possible, and have the tools they need to serve their customers.

What are some ways women leaders in franchising can drive change? 1) Invest in yourself—never stop learning! 2) Don’t be afraid to ask for a seat at the table. 3) Get involved. Join your local Women’s Franchise Network, IFA committees, or any franchising networking group where you can learn and give back, too.

What role has mentoring played in your career? How did you meet your mentors? Mentoring has played a huge role in my career and, quite frankly, my life. My dad was my #1 mentor and showed me work ethic. He was a business owner and a franchise owner. Most of my mentors have been former bosses or leaders I admired, and I didn’t hesitate to ask questions or advice from them.

What is one of the toughest decisions you’ve had to make, and how did it affect your life? It was during a company downsizing. I had to decide who on my team to lay off, which is never an easy task. I had built what I thought was a dynamite team, and choosing who and how to break up a tight-knit group was heartbreaking and difficult. As a leader, I had to put my personal feelings aside and make the decision swiftly and confidently, and with compassion. Once the decision was made, the only thing left to do was move forward.

If you could do it all over again, knowing what you know now, what would you do differently? Not too much, everything I’ve done has all been a learning experience to get me to today. If I had to do something different, I would speak up sooner about something that does not look or feel right or ask for something that I want.

What advice do you have for aspiring female leaders? Do what makes you happy, and then do that thing with all you have. Be humble and kind. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and advocate for yourself. Take the time to invest in yourself—build knowledge and build your network. Last, don’t forget how important mental and physical health are to your personal life and career progression.

Published: April 17th, 2023

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