ABOUT TODAY’S EPISODE | WES FRANK
In April of 2020, Vector Marketing was in the midst of a crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic had begun in earnest and sales results throughout the company were plummeting in comparison to the previous year. Wes Frank was on the forefront of the innovation that would turn things around, revolutionize the Cutco/Vector business, and lead to the greatest year in company history. Wes is the leader of the company’s Rising Sun Division, headquartered in Arizona. Now a 21-year veteran in the business, he has become well-known as one of the most innovative program developers in the company. His mindset and adaptability are ideal for navigating the uncertainty and change of today’s business climate. He offers concepts and strategies for making the most of the challenges and opportunities that are in front of us.
Q&A WITH WES FRANK
Q: What are some of your thoughts as this whole crisis (COVID-19) began to unfold?
- My wife and I both work full time and have a five-year-old boy and three-year-old girl, so for us it has been quite the adjustment taking turns working throughout the day while the other one is with the kids trying our best to keep them somewhat productively entertained. I’ve always held respect for teachers, but this situation has taken that appreciation to a whole new level.
Q: What’s your mindset right now as we’re going into this?
- From a business perspective, it’s made me very grateful for the Vector/Cutco business. There’s many people out there at risk for losing their jobs, but that’s not the discussion that we’re having here at our business. The kind of conversations I’ve been hearing are about how we can have our best summer in years or ever.
- It comes down to being innovation and finding solutions and this is the perfect time to do that in our business. We’ve been forced to make some really quick pivots to some key programs, like the interviews, training, and the demo.
- What’s inspiring to me is that we’ve been able to do it.
Q: Tell me about how you feel Cutco managers can best navigate through this situation.
- Number one: Is this a problem of skill or focus? And is the reason I’m not hitting my goals right now because of a skill I’m lacking or a focus I’m lacking?
- If it’s a focus issue, then it means when you are focused for a week or two you should be able to hit those goals. Use this as a learning experiment to determine if it’s really a focus issue or if it’s a skill issue that you need to dedicate more time to.
- Ready, fire, aim and lean into the new programs and innovations. Don’t be afraid of new things being implemented right now.
- Number two: not all the answers in my organization need to come directly from me. I try to empower my reps and managers to find answers and solutions from outside our region and even outside our company.
- I may not have all the answers but I try to have the right questions. Good questions can be just as valuable as good answers.
Q: Let’s hear about how you got started with Cutco?
- I started in summer of 2000 in the Philadelphia area in Earl Kelly’s pilot office. I had never sold anything before, but I had become pretty comfortable chatting with most people. I sold around $17,000 my first summer.
- At the end of the summer, Earl asked if I had ever thought about management and I told him not really. At the next meeting, Earl asked me again if I had thought about management and ended up inviting me to a management information meeting.
- I branched twice over my next two summer breaks and had the opportunity to be pilot manager.
- Before I branched my first office, Earl said to me one day, “You’ve achieved a good amount of success and everyone likes you but if I’m being honest I’ve never seen you work all that hard. You’ve probably been able to do pretty well in school and sports the same way. It’s great that you’ve been able to succeed without really grinding but, running an office is not something you’ll be able to coast at and automatically be good if you want to achieve a high level of success.”
Q: How did you end up in Arizona?
- The company had a Strategic leadership conference in Scottsdale that happened to be my first ever national conference. It was so easy to fall in love with Scottsdale. A little warm in the summers but the rest of the year is nine months of total paradise.
- I originally moved to Arizona with four other managers during Super Bowl weekend of 2005 and within two years all four of those other managers had moved back east. By that time, I was doing okay but not great so I needed to decide whether to move back home or stick it out.
- I decided to stay and my office ended up having 12 consecutive years of growth taking us from $350,000 a year in sales to $2.5 million.
Q: Why don’t you talk about your experience working with your brother Drew, who runs the Rocky Mountain Division in Colorado and you’re both in the same region.
- We were always raised to be there for each other.
- What other company where I work in a different state than my brother and still get to see him 12-15 times a year?
- We talk every few days and we’ve collaborated on a ton of programs together. We have very similar philosophies about business and I take a ton of pride in Drew’s success and root super hard for him.
- It’s the stories behind all those trophies that make us want them so much and totally worth it.
Q: Tell us about some of the things you guys have been innovating recently?
- We have worked the last couple of years on a video training program that has lent itself well for the current situation. We’ve made some edits so we can have it be fully virtualized.
- The other project that we’ve been working on is totally reconstructing the virtual demo for our reps in a way that is an enhanced way for a customer to get better visuals and for our reps to have an easy step by step program to follow.
Q: Do you have any quick insights on financial success?
- I never wanted money to play a role in my relationships or my decisions for my kids’ education and opportunities.
- Some of the things I suggest are:
- Become more educated about money because it’s a skill you can’t afford to not be focused on.
- Live beneath your means
- Pay yourself first by automating your savings and saving your bonuses
- Seek good mentors that are good with money
- Be aggressive as you can with investing and savings. You can always scale back if you need to.
- Comfort vs necessity. Now is not the time for coasting or comfort. Now is the time for ready, fire, aim. Now is the time for daily effort in improvement and working hard in growing our skills.
- Consider why it takes so long for us to innovate and grow and what are the lessons we can take after we’re out of this current crisis that can enable us to continue to grow and innovate.
- In whatever problem we face, is it a question of skill or focus? If it’s a question of skill all the answers are out there.
- Bedtime Stories for Managers by Henry Mintzberg, there’s a section in his book called Growing Strategies like Weeds in the Garden that talks about the development of strategy.
- Anyone has the opportunity, particularly right now at this time of greatest need, to be an innovator and create programs and ideas to become a part of the success of the company you’re with, whether it’s with Vector or somewhere else.
- Get to a place where money plays a lower role in your day to day decisions and to get there is to save and accumulate enough that you know you’re okay no matter what.
Show Notes for this episode provided by Darien Romero.
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