Heather McLeod on How She Ascended to CMO at Authority Brands
Name: Heather McLeod
Brand: Authority Brands
Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Years in franchising: 11
No. of units: 1700-plus
What attracted you to franchising?
Honestly, it was luck. I had just finished my MBA at Baylor University in Waco, Texas, and was looking for a full-time marketing role. Waco was home to one of the largest franchisors in the country, and I got an interview for a marketing role. I wasn’t planning on going into franchising — or home services for that matter — but I wanted to be part of the team I met through the interview process.
What was your first job in franchising?
Marketing Manager for Rainbow International Restoration at The Dwyer Group (now Neighborly). It was a great role for me. The team and franchisees there taught me so much about franchising and how to make an impact.
What do you attribute your success to?
I had the opportunity to grow up with a mother who served in the Air Force and worked all through my childhood. Having her as an example of how to succeed in a male-dominated industry was more valuable than I could have imagined. I also have been fortunate in my career to have had mentors along the way who helped me become more adept at understanding all areas of franchising. This has helped me see beyond just my role and elevate my level of thinking to include all areas of our business. I also was lucky. I took some chances moving across the country and banked on my belief in myself and the team around me. The most rewarding thing, hands down, is the marketing team I work with every day.
What challenges and obstacles have you overcome in your career?
It can be tricky to be young, female, and ambitious — especially in home services! I’ve had to learn some tough lessons about the political side of organizations and how to temper my ambition at times. Thankfully, Authority Brands has been a great home for me. And as a newer franchise platform, the company’s rapid growth aligned with my personal desire to move quickly and build an all-star marketing team.
Describe your journey to your current position
After 5 years with The Dwyer Group in marketing management roles, I moved from Texas to Maryland to take on the Director of Marketing role for The Cleaning Authority. At the time, there was only one brand in that system, but the goal was to add more. I loved the team and took a chance that we’d start building something on our own. About 2 years later, I was named Vice President of Marketing and we started acquiring other brands. Now we’re up to 9 brands and I’ve been CMO for about 2 years. It’s been a whirlwind with so many acquisitions, but there’s never been a boring day!
What are your future career goals?
One of the most fulfilling things about my role today is getting the chance to help the people on my team realize their career goals. For myself, I’d like to eventually transition from CMO to CEO, leading a franchise system with a team of other passionate executives. I also would love the opportunity to sit on the board of a franchise group, helping guide the decision-making process.
Advice to young female executives in franchising?
Work hard and keep your eyes and ears open. Learn the business of your franchise — spend time with franchisees, the operations team, anyone and everyone who has a hand in making the business run. Then turn what you do into tangibles for that group. Focus on things like revenue growth, same-store sales, and average ticket – not impressions, likes, or clicks. Ask for help when you need it, and seek out other women who have been there before to help mentor you. Don’t be afraid to make a major change if that’s what you think can best help your career. And don’t forget to have fun — this is marketing!
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