By Ruth E. Thaler-Carter, Freelance Writer/Editor (www.writerruth.com
Even though he’s active in the RPCN, Bob Lewis, owner of The Coach; rlewis@
rochester.rr.com, considers himself a coach rather than a consultant. “My sense is that a consultant works with a company on one particular matter, while coaching gives an overview of the whole business,” says the Penfield resident of his approach to working with clients. Nevertheless, “I’m a big advocate and promoter of entrepreneurialism.” That’s his core passion.
Lewis brings almost 40 years of staffing and human resource experience to his coaching business, primarily in the franchise world. “I began with the Manpower franchise in around 1967 and did that for some 35 years or so,” he recalled. “I sold it back to the corporation, took some time off and bought into a franchise brokerage business called the Entrepreneur Source.”
The owner of that business later acquired a related franchise system called AdviCoach and Lewis took it on around 2012. It’s been his focus ever since. He offers business strategy/planning, business support services, coaching, facilitating, management consulting, problem solving and professional organizing.
Lewis’s ideal or predominant client is “someone who owns his own business with an income of $500,000 and up, who is looking to grow,” he said.
To Lewis, the appeal of being self-employed relates to being able to set his own processes for his business. He sees franchising as a good option for someone with an entrepreneurial perspective because it can take some of the pressure off a business owner. “I felt especially good about being a Manpower Staffing franchisee when it was time to computerize” – the top level of the corporation took care of all aspects of equipment and training, including written manuals and guidelines. “It was like being in business for yourself, but not by yourself.” That experience helped Lewis learn the value of setting and defining systems in writing, he said.
Another appealing aspect of consulting or coaching is being able to get involved with a client’s business “from the bottom up and the top down,” Lewis noted.
The franchise model has been helpful for Lewis in other ways as well. “Having been a franchise broker, I’m able to connect with people who dream of owning a business. It’s a good background (for consulting).”
Lewis helps clients understand the future of their businesses and, as Stephen Covey advises, work with the end goal in mind. Among the useful tools in managing his own business has been The E-Myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to do About It, by Michael Gerber. He also has found the Myers-Briggs personality test and DISC (Dominance, Influencer, Steadfast, Compliance) assessment tool useful for understanding himself and helping his clients understand their own behaviors and those of their employees.
Good listening, assessment, evaluation, analysis and relationship-building skills are essential for a successful consulting or coaching business, according to Lewis. Being able to see the big picture, being innovative and defining goals also are key to “helping you see where you are and where you should be,” he said.
Were he to start over, Lewis would do one thing differently: “I would pay more attention to the rules and have greater respect for systems,” he said. “I like to take charge, but have learned that follow-up and follow-through are almost as important.”
Lewis has found the RPCN to be valuable for his business in many ways. “I like the conferences – they always bring in new ideas,” he said. “Bob Lurz and the Boot Camp are among the highest achievements of RPCN.”
Lewis is also active in the Rochester Rotary, Small Business Council, Greece and Brighton Chambers of Commerce, Digital Rochester, and Conscious Capitalism, which focuses on “identifying and helping companies reach the point of valuing all stakeholders and realizing that the most successful businesses take care of everyone, particularly their employees.”
Lewis’s advice clients and colleagues is to “build your business so it’s almost a franchise,” he said. “Make sure everything is written down so you can pass it on.” He also urges colleagues to “know thyself and be willing to learn from others. Know what you’re good at – and what you’re not, as well as what you have to do to improve your results.” And, of course: “Identify a coach for an objective viewpoint on what and how you’re doing.”