In this, Part Two, my Dad finally gets fed up enough with Manpower and becomes such a pain to management that they decide to get rid of him by selling him a franchise. Now, establishing a franchisee relationship with someone you already have personal difficulties with can be a recipe for disaster, but, as we see in this story, sometimes it’s the right answer.
As a personal note, I had just turned 16 at the time (1973) and, having spent the previous school year as president of the math club, had fallen in with kids from the other side of the railroad tracks including a troubled 16-year-old girl who had ‘got in trouble’ (I had no idea what ‘got in trouble’ meant at that point in my life – still don’t maybe) in Wyoming and was shipped to her aunt, our neighbor in Milwaukee, and a another new neighbor, a boy dead set on teaching me about smoking, drinking and fixing up cars. Obviously, my Dad didn’t take too well to these new friends, which only fueled the bitterness he brought home from his job.
Anyway, here’s part two of The Parable of the Pinto and the Mercedes:
[During my years at corporate Manpower,] I had to fight for any increases in pay. I had brought in over $80 million in sales at markups that were unknown to the company. They just were not aware of salaries of Engineer types and thought I was overpaid. As a sideline, I had worked up a method of calculating what our overall sales should be for each Manpower office. I was able to pinpoint the underachieving offices.
Sacramento was high on the list of underachievers. So, when it was time for my review by my boss and he would tell me he couldn’t give me a raise, I would say “Well, then sell me Sacramento as a Franchise and let me get out of here, because I’m not staying”.
This was not an idle request since my job had required me to visit many offices, both company owned and franchisees. When I would visit a company office, which was normally in a large city, the manager would meet me at the airport. He or she would drive me in a Pinto and put me up in an inexpensive motel. When I visited a franchisee, I would be driven in a Cadillac or Mercedes-type car to the best hotel in town.
It didn’t take long for me to realize that I was working on the wrong side of the fence. Each time, he would relent and give me a raise. During my eighth year he said he was calling my bluff and would sell me Sacramento. He advised me that I could eke out a living if Anne & I worked at it, did payroll at night and lived on franks & beans.
Needless to say, I proved him wrong by earning more money in the first three years of being a Franchisee than I earned in eight years at home office.