…Additionally, it is important to be consistent. We have received feedback from those within our network that they look out for our posts regularly — whether it be educational, entertaining, etc. Find a cadence for you and your company that is effective.
As part of my series of interviews about “How to Use LinkedIn To Dramatically Improve Your Business”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Robert Francis. Robert represents the fourth generation of leadership in the real estate service industry and is passionate about building the Planned Companies brand that is synonymous with accountable, professional service. His focus is on associate and client satisfaction and retention, new business development and overall guidance and support for all Planned Companies initiatives. During his tenure at Planned, Francis grew the Building Service division and expanded into the security and concierge business by launching Planned Security Services in 2002 and Planned Lifestyle Services in 2004, significantly increasing the Planned Companies brand throughout the northeast within a short period of time. Francis has instituted quality control measures and a corporate culture at Planned that has resulted in substantial company growth and industry leading client and associate retention rates. Francis has been featured in various regional and national publications, such as Real Estate Weekly, Workforce Management, The Star Ledger, and New Jersey & Company. Additionally, he is a recipient of the NJBIZ “Top 40 under 40” Award which recognizes business executives throughout the state who demonstrate leadership and innovation.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I started cleaning a mall near my home the summer going into college. That was my initial exposure to my family’s four generation business. It has always been in my DNA to be in the service business. I was working at Anderson Consulting, (now known as Accenture), in Chicago and I remember my mother calling in 1998 and stating, “If you want to get in the family business, and we want you here, this is the time.” So I joined in April 1998 and have never looked back.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
There have been many milestones and exciting moments throughout the journey.The real estate service industry is never boring. For instance, earlier in my career, Planned Companies was invited to an annual conference for a residential management company that we conduct significant business with where we were asked to prepare and perform a skit, (as were other companies/divisions within their organization). It was USO, military themed so we prepared and performed a boot camp line-up skit, making good-natured fun of some of the executives of the company hosting the event. Thankfully, it was a big hit, the audience, over 400 strong, loved it!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I think when initially using email — and striving to quickly respond to anyone and everyone — I should have relied more heavily on spell check and taking a breath, or a pause. Admittedly, I have accidentally mixed genders and used profanity when there was absolutely no intent — you would think “Luck” would be the default, how can an “F” just appear?! It’s important in business to be responsive and passionate about what you do — it’s equally as important to be thoughtful and pay attention to detail.
Which social media platform have you found to be most effective to use to increase business revenues? Can you share a story from your experience?
I have found LinkedIn to be an effective way to communicate to our specific industry and business world at large. Planned Companies has been quite proactive in social media, including Facebook and Instagram as well. I recently posted a Social Purpose event — which was a 5k run supporting the American Red Cross that my son and I ran in freezing December temperatures in NJ. I was amazed at the views, response and positive feedback that one simple post generated.
Let’s talk about LinkedIn specifically, now. Can you share 5 ways to leverage LinkedIn to dramatically improve your business? Please share a story or example for each.
· LinkedIn can and should be effectively used to enhance and elevate your organization while elevating and educating others.
· At Planned we not only create our own creative content, but we also look to support and share content from others (whether it be from our partners, employees, media, etc.).
· To improve your business, you must show that you are a subject matter expert by posting information that educates and informs your audience.
· Additionally, it is important to be consistent. We have received feedback from those within our network that they look out for our posts regularly — whether it be educational, entertaining, etc. Find a cadence for you and your company that is effective.
· And lastly encourage your employees to utilize LinkedIn. Ensuring that employees profiles are filled out completely is a simple way to spread awareness of your brand and your business.
Because of the position that you are in, you are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
First and foremost, I love this question! I would love to inspire a movement that was passionately committed to be THE customer service brand. One that truly impacted the quality of life for those who came into contact with the professionals delivering the service. One that allowed those who cared and made such a difference to rise, elevate and advance for themselves and their families. I genuinely believe that this is what is happening at Planned and I will continue to work tirelessly to have that culture run through the DNA of our organization and in turn, spark and continue a movement that separates and differentiates Planned from the pack and simply makes the day better and brighter for countless of lives we touch.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them 🙂
I would enjoy breaking bread with Richard Branson. I admire and respect his accomplishments, experiences and particularly like his philosophy — that when you take care of your employees, they will take care of your business. Perhaps we should have drinks and dinner instead of breakfast or lunch, but any format would be exciting and appreciated. Simon Sinek and Anthony Robbins also get honorable mention, as I would welcome meeting with them to gain their insight and guidance on this incredible journey.
Thank you so much for these great insights. This was very enlightening!