Dina-Dwyer Owens: After Going Undercover

When this CEO of a $750 million in annual sales company went on assignment for a recent episode of CBS’s hit reality show “Undercover Boss,” she got down and dirty.

Dina Dwyer-Owens, CFE, the chairman and CEO of the seven-brand service company The Dwyer Group, learned that her three steps to success she relied on at the start of her leadership of the company would be useful:  Faith, team and systems.  Disguised as “Faith Brown,” Dwyer-Owens spent time with technicians from four of the franchise’s brands:  Mr. Appliance, Mr. Electric and Mr. Rooter and The Grounds Guys.  Trading in the front office, Dwyer-Owens instead rode a lawnmower, unloaded a water heater, installed a commercial exit sign and repaired a stove alongside the technicians, in temperatures exceeding 100 degrees. 

If CEOs are sometimes considered as operating at the 30,00-foot level and being out of touch with the organization, which isn’t Dwyer-Owens’ style, undercover duty presented the opportunity to get the “worm’s eye view,” she said.  “I was literally down there in the dirt and got a whole new view of what goes on out there.”

Dwyer-Owens envisioned “going out on the van with some of the franchisee service professionals” and had done so earlier in her career in Waco, Texas, the company’s headquarters.  The undercover assignment gave her a prime opportunity.   Her goals were to better understand the work the technicians provided and to gather ideas from them to provide better service to their customers.  While experiencing the dirty side of the business, Dwyer-Owens’ appreciation of her associates, franchisees and team members only grew.

“I thought what a wonderful time for me to really get an idea of if we’re truly living up to two things:  First, are our company’s Code of Values really penetrating the frontlines?” asked Dwyer-Owens.  “We work hard to train our franchisees to live by the values,” and she added that the second priority was to provide world-class service to their customers.  The franchise’s Code of Values deals with themes of respect, integrity, customer focus and having fun in the process.

She was most surprised and pleased to work with a female technician from Mr. Appliance.  At the end of the program on revealing her identity to the four participants in the show, she invites the technician to help her develop a program to attract more women to the service trades.

The company’s franchise brands include Aire Serv, Glass Doctor, Mr. Appliance, Mr. Electric, Mr. Rooter, Rainbow International and The Grounds Guys. Her franchise network includes more than 1,600 franchises and is responsible for 2 million service calls annually.

Posted by Laura Fenwick, Publishing Manager