[originally published via Franchising USA

Making Her Mark in a Male-Dominated Industry
After spending a significant amount of time in a particular career and industry, most people don’t anticipate making a change throughout the rest of their professional career. But some find themselves in a position to make a complete change or wanting to pursue another passion. And yet, others have a new opportunity come across their path that just makes sense.

This is exactly what happened for Tracy Poff. Having spent 25 years working for sports retail companies as well as in sales and marketing for sports radio, she eventually retired to be home with her children. After they went off to college, she felt a strong pull to start working again and was introduced to Green Home Solutions, which is a franchise company that specializes in eco-friendly indoor air quality services. She has always been confident in the skills her professional background has given her, and knew it could be applied to this new business endeavor as well. Everything cultivated at the perfect time to press ‘go’ and Tracy never looked back –despite not being well versed in this particular industry dominated by men.

Tracy opened her Green Home Solutions location in Charlotte, North Carolina in spring of 2019 along with her business partner, Stephen Paddison who comes from a two-decade military background. She has actively practiced a few business tips that have helped the business flourish throughout the last two and a half years.

Prioritize Relationships with Each Client
It can be easy to look at each client or customer as a transaction, after all this is a business deal at the end of the day. But a crucial part of customer service is personalization – ensuring each person walks away from your business completely satisfied. Instead of guessing or anticipating what the customer may want or need, you can hear it from them directly to streamline efficiency and customer satisfaction. Take the time to get to know each client on a personal level as it will make them feel more heard and understood. In doing so, you are increasing relatability and the customer will feel better connected to you. And with that increased connection comes a better chance of making a sale, and even creating a loyal customer who will come back again and share their positive experience with family and friends.

Don’t Underestimate the Power of Communication
Communication is a natural act in each part of life, but in business it can oftentimes become an oversight. Weave positive communication throughout your day-to-day actions, ensuring it is a top priority. Strong, clear communication can go a long way and also bring a higher level of efficiency to the business, giving customers and guests a well-rounded sense of what the service or product is and what the exact process will be in obtaining it. Tracy has had a positive experience in being the one who answers all inquiries, especially in this particular industry. “Many people don’t expect to hear my voice when I answer the phone,” shared Poff. “But I can feel and tell they are comfortable speaking with a female and I assure they are informed each step of the way – even if I am not on the job site.”

Cultivate Multi-Tier Collaboration
In order to see continued growth and success in a business, it is vital to remain at the cusp of innovations. A leader may not always be the one with all the answers but they should strive to create a team that can come up with the answers together. Encourage collaboration with your fellow leaders but amongst your employees as well. Everyone has a voice and it is important they know that their voice will always be heard. Tracy has worked to not only create a team, but a family. She and her business partner are constantly bouncing ideas off one another, while simultaneously utilizing each other’s strengths to the best of their abilities. She knows she is best with client interaction and has seen tremendous success in how they have divided up the business plan and strategy.

Tracy has tackled a new career in franchising with ease, even coming out of retirement. Using her professional skills from previous jobs, she has grown her Green Home Solutions business immensely. “When the phone rings, we rarely do not get the job,” said Poff. “The combination of my skills with that of my business partner sets our team up for the ultimate success and I’m confident this will continue for years to come.”

Published in the October 2021 issue of Franchising USA and Franchising USA: Women In Franchising special issue!