Franck Saragossi: Why I Helped Found the New Profit Recipe & Became an EOS Implementer

I’m on a mission to help South Florida entrepreneurs unleash the power of their people and achieve growth through aligned, tightly-knit teams

Like my colleague Gerardo, I grew up in an entrepreneurial family and always knew that I wanted to run a business. My parents ran hardware stores, paint factories, and other ventures while moving our family all over the globe. 

When people ask my nationality, I like to say that “I’m a citizen of the world”—I was born in France, grew up in the Democratic Republic of Congo and South Africa, and have lived in the U.S., Mexico, and Colombia. Along the way, I worked for several big brands, helping them roll out products in new markets, plus ran several of my own companies.

I learned many lessons from this international business experience, but two of them stand out: companies can change lives and communities for the better. And the key to an organization’s potential is unlocking the potential of its people. 

If you build the right team and invest in them, just about anything is possible.

This is why my purpose is to empower people to build so they can have a positive impact in the communities. And it’s also why I’ve teamed up with my colleagues at The Profit Recipe to change the world, one business at a time.

Gaining entrepreneurial experience—in and out of the corporate world

I’ve worked for several retail brands over my career, including Cartier, Tiffany & Co., Pandora Jewelry, and Bata Shoes. I gained invaluable experience at these large companies. I learned how to set up franchise and company owned retail stores for Tiffany & Co., including hiring team members and running operations. I managed 1,500 people at Bata Corporation, along with a factory, 300 stores, and the company’s wholesale and ecommerce activities in Colombia. 

And being a General Manager for Pandora in Mexico was what I regard as “a startup environment in a corporate setting.” We had to set up 60 stores, including finding the real estate, hiring the corporate/retail team, training them, and ensuring all of the departments were working together and executing on objectives. 

But it was a few years before that job when I got my first taste of the types of problems that small business owners experience. One day while working for Cartier in Miami, I received a phone call that happens in a lot of entrepreneurial families: 

“Son, you’ve got to come back to the family business. We need your help.”

Hard lessons in entrepreneurship: the classic visionary-integrator conflict 

Soon, I was on a plane to the Congo to help manage my family’s paint factories. Working with family members can be great. But it can also be tricky, especially when the solutions to problems require significant change and hard conversations.

You see, my dad was a master salesman and a classic entrepreneurial visionary. He was amazing at making deals and growing the company in different directions. But sometimes, those projects showed up too fast and furious, wreaking havoc with operations. 

As the visionary salesman, dad would come back from a meeting with a petroleum executive and say, “Franck, we have a new contract to paint the inside of their silos.” 

As the integrator and all-around operations guy, I’d pivot to producing paint for this unique job. But as we were in the middle of the transition, dad would show up after another meeting with a tennis club operator. And suddenly, we had a contract to paint tennis courts.

This is a problem many organizations experience—an essential conflict between vision and execution. The visionary and relationship guru did what he does best, exceptionally well: bring in deals and grow the business. But the organization simply wasn’t equipped to adapt to new projects quickly enough or deliver on the promises effectively.

I’ve since seen numerous clients go through my early entrepreneurial lesson. But not all of them were dealing with family, which makes it a more difficult conversation. We had to pump the brakes on developing new business lines with unique requirements—or at least schedule the delivery of orders differently so that the team could meet the objectives we’d set for them. 

Our company worked through this issue, and many more. Nevertheless, syncing up sales and production while getting a visionary and integrator on the same page was tough. And it taught me a lot about the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship. 

That wouldn’t be the biggest challenge I encountered at the paint company, however.

Civil unrest causes an existential crisis—but shows me the astounding value of a strong team

In 1991, the Democratic Republic of Congo (then Zaire) was gripped by civil unrest after the economy crumbled and President Mobutu Sese Seko agreed to share power but failed to deliver on promised reforms. Warring groups had renewed their conflict and set the country alight, causing numerous deaths and displacements. Many businesses were looted and set on fire, and our paint company was in the crosshairs.

My wife worked for the U.S. embassy, and the State Department started evacuating all expatriate employees. But amid this chaos on the drive to the airport, she saw something remarkable. Her escort drove along a road that crossed my father’s paint factory. The building on the right of ours was burning. So was the structure to the left. But smack dab in the middle, a wall of our employees were standing guard over our factory, keeping the looters and arsonists at bay.

Of all the business experiences in my life, this is the one that moves me and has impacted my professional life the most. Our employees stood strong and were willing to defend the company because of how well my family treated them. I still get emotional thinking about it.

It’s an extreme situation and one that most entrepreneurs will thankfully never experience. But it’s also an example that shows the true power of a team. If you engage your people and treat them well—cultivate loyalty and give it in return—their commitment to your organization goes way beyond a paycheck.

As a business owner, you may never have employees who defend your building from looters. But if you hire the right people, invest in them, get them all rowing in the same direction, and empower them, imagine what they might accomplish for you.

Discovering EOS and forging a new path

Years later, when I was back in the corporate world as the COO of a private footwear company, I stumbled across Gino Wickman’s book Traction and the Entrepreneurial Operating System®. It blew me away. 

Many of its lessons were things I’d been implementing in some form my entire career, such as putting the right people in the right seats and aligning accountable team members behind a vision and values. But here, everything was in a straightforward, easy-to-use format—it was like all of the pieces of a puzzle coming together.

I began to use those tools in the companies I worked for and my own ventures. And my belief in the value of EOS led me down a new career path. After 20 years in business, I asked myself: “Where can I make the most impact?”

The corporate experience leading teams and building out organizations has been great, but the answer wasn’t working for another big company. I decided that the most significant impact I can have is working with small businesses. Entrepreneurs and their companies have a unique power to change their communities for the better. 

And instead of helping one organization as an entrepreneur, I can help scores of them as an EOS Implementer.

Investing in the success of South Florida businesses

The Profit Recipe has given me the opportunity to empower entrepreneurs to build and grow their businesses. And while my colleagues call me “The Ops & Expansion Guy” due to my resume growing international companies, another nickname might be “The People Guy.” Because at the end of the day, people are what make smooth operations and successful growth possible.

Whether it’s setting up operations for a big brand or aligning a team of six at a small South Florida startup, managing the human element is crucial. Regardless of where we’re from, we all have many of the same motivators—to feel productive, engaged, and valued. We want to do something that is mission-driven. We want to take care of our loved ones. And tapping into this universal connectedness is what builds teams that can accomplish just about anything.

I genuinely believe that if you have the right group of people, give them a proper objective, and let them run with it, it’s amazing what they will deliver for your business. And the benefit of an outside implementer is that we steer and facilitate the discovery needed to structure strong teams, enabling individuals to maximize their skills and time.

I’ve experienced the impact of outstanding teams in my career and witnessed how they’ve transformed many other businesses. And I relish the opportunity to help South Florida entrepreneurs truly unleash the power of their people.

Empower your Leadership Team and improve efficiency, increase value, and foster collaboration to get better results. A professional Facilitator can ensure that all of your members are on the same page, so you can kick your business up a notch. Connect with The Profit Recipe to Achieve Traction.