When he received an invitation to a business luncheon in 1989, all Todd Hopkins hoped for was advice on how to give his fledgling cleaning service a boost. Never in his wildest imagination did he expect to find Jesus.
The program that day led to Hopkins' salvation, to which he attributes the blessings he has enjoyed in his business, Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services based in Palm Harbor, Florida. Not only has the Office Pride brand become one of the most advanced in the $78 billion commercial cleaning services industry, but the company has become one of the top franchise systems in the U.S. It has grown exponentially in recent years, with 135 franchisees in 24 states, and continues to grow at a rate of 20 percent per year.
Thanks to Hopkins' faith-based business ideals, he sees no limit to the future of Office Pride.
"When other businesses are struggling, the commercial cleaning industry tends to keep chugging away," Hopkins said. "There is not much in the business world that can be described as 'recession-proof,' but commercial cleaning seems to come close."
Hearing the Gospel at a Business Lunch
Hopkins gleaned a great deal of business sense from that luncheon nearly 30 years ago. But there is little question as to what part of the program impacted him most.
"We were enjoying the meal and the talk, and all of a sudden, the speaker began talking about his personal relationship with Jesus Christ," Hopkins said. "I grew up in the church, but I had never in all that time really heard a message about a personal relationship with Jesus—ever. They may have talked about it, but I never heard it explained that way to me before. I went under conviction that day."
Christian Business Men's Connection (CMBC), formerly Christian Business Men's Committee, was formed in 1930 in Chicago during the Great Depression when a small group saw an urgent need for spiritual revival. Since then, the organization has spread across the country and into Canada, Australia, New Zealand, England, Scotland, South Africa and Latin America. CMBC embraces businessmen of all cultures who need a personal relationship with Jesus, paying close attention to His Great Commission (see Matt. 28:19-20a).
It took some time, but Hopkins became a follower of Jesus through CMBC, confirming his luncheon invitation was a divine appointment.
"I found out from the person who invited me to the luncheon that this group had weekly meetings, so I started attending them," Hopkins said. "One thing led to another and, over the course of six months, I accepted Christ as my Savior.
"I went through CMBC's one-on-one discipleship program, a program they still have today. I started growing in the Lord and was committed to doing whatever He would have me do. He put me in the marketplace, and now I see myself in full-time ministry as much as someone who works at a church."
Finding the Keys to Marketplace Success
As a business student at Butler University in the 1980s, Hopkins developed a vision for franchising. He met a woman who owned a cleaning service and spoke passionately about how she developed it. Her company, however, didn't do as well as she had hoped, and Hopkins began to ponder why she hadn't achieved greater success.
That led to his undertaking an independent research project for his final MBA class. He interviewed leaders of major cleaning companies, asking their strategy to deliver total customer satisfaction.
The research paper that resulted, he says, thrust him into the cleaning business—that and an opportunity to develop a business model that would equip franchisees to build a profitable business based on biblical principles.
"I had never really cleaned anything myself, including my own room," Hopkins said. During the day, he sold accounts out of his home, and at night, he cleaned office buildings.
"It wasn't always easy," he said. "I relied on God, and it took a lot of prayer to see it through."
Integrating Faith in the Workplace
Inspired after reading Tony Hsieh's book Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion and Purpose in 2015, Hopkins wrote his Office Pride Culture Book, explaining the company's eight core values. These values, he believes, should be obvious in the relationships between employers and employees, employees and customers, and the company and its clients.
The value of honoring God is foremost, followed by:
- Always do what is right
- Increase brand value
- Demonstrate honesty, integrity and a hard-work ethic
- Total customer satisfaction
- Go the extra mile
- Persevere with a servant's attitude
- Accountability to commitments
Although many businesses today are hostile toward employees sharing their faith, Office Pride encourages it. Instead of secret prayer meetings or clandestine lunchtime Bible studies, the company's website states that "the culture at Office Pride is our most distinguishing quality. Our core beliefs and values set the tone for every business interaction we have and are built on biblical principles. Our franchise owners don't have to separate their faith from their professional lives because Office Pride encourages you to live your faith through your business."
These clearly stated values have attracted franchisees.
"Todd often talks about the culture of Office Pride, and that is what attracted us to become franchisees," said Andre Truitt of Rapid City, South Dakota. "The core values are what make this company tick.
"We were already on board with the core values of the company, but most of all, we were excited about the ability to freely speak about our Lord and Savior. We started with the systems they had in place and embraced them immediately. We landed a very large contract right away and began to build a business that allowed us to grow and expand it as our ministry. We have many opportunities to show our customers, employees and fellow franchisees the true meaning of a hard-work ethic, honoring God, going the extra mile and so much more."
Building on a Firm Foundation
Scott Ramsey, a Terre Haute, Indiana, franchisee since 2005, says he "bought into the values of a faith-based company" when he signed on with Office Pride. He has built his business on the foundation of those values.
"We not only apply our value system to our hiring process, employee policies and the way we treat our employees but also in how we take care of our customers," Ramsey says. "We have our Office Pride 'Core Beliefs.' First on that list to 'honor God,' which sets the bar for the other beliefs. We also call these core beliefs "decision-making filters" as they guide everything we do, every decision we make. They guide us in how we serve our customer."
Hopkins says Office Pride's core beliefs are exactly what many people want in a business atmosphere.
"We have been blessed with many courageous franchise owners who understand who they are and their purpose on the earth," he writes in the Office Pride Culture Book. "They are people of integrity, moral character and biblical values. People that have a strong value system don't easily get swayed by the popular opinion of the day. ... Their desire is to always do what is right regardless of the time of day or the circumstances. They will know when they need to apologize and make things right for their customers.
"Once the core values for a God-pleasing business were in place, I became amazed at how many people were attracted to them and how many people would comment on how much they appreciated the list on the back of my business card. ... After all, wouldn't it be cool if we could one day have franchise-owner retreats that felt like a spiritual retreat with a high level of business development?"
Each September, Office Pride holds a retreat for its franchisees to present new business strategies, review the culture book and reiterate its commitment to business excellence.
"We have been blessed with many people who understand that humility is strength and what matters is what God thinks of us," Hopkins said. "When He sees us serve others, He delights in us. Our goal is not to have zero complaints—it's to have 100-percent customer satisfaction."
Becoming a franchisee has not only made Julie McAdoo of Tampa, Florida, a better businessperson, but it has also helped in her personal walk with God.
"Being a part of Office Pride has deepened my faith and grown me as a person in the direction of God's calling," McAdoo said. "It also has given me many more opportunities to minister to employees and my community. It has given us many opportunities to model Christian values for our children and involve them in our hard work, our successes and our charity."
Ramsey also stresses that his company does not discriminate in hiring. But, like most secular companies, Office Pride hires with an eye to its values of honesty, integrity and a hard-work ethic.
"A lot of potential employees will say they have these values, and the truth is, their actions bear this out," Ramsey said. "If they are, in fact, just giving lip service to those values, they last only a week or two at the most. We have a point system in place, and if they lose those points due to not showing up, quality issues, conduct, call-ins ... , their employment with us comes to an end."
Delivering a Message of Hope
In 1989, Hopkins sat at a luncheon and hoped for a good word on which to build a business. Now, he is the one invited to corporate groups and men's ministries to deliver a message of hope to young businessmen or those struggling in their walk with the Lord.
Hopkins' latest book, The Stress Less Business Owner, reveals 10 guiding disciplines for a less stressful business and personal life. He wrote the book, which he terms a "business parable," after his doctor informed him he was about to have a heart attack—at age 46.
"Through prayer and God's grace, I lived and am now living a much less stressful life," Hopkins said. "While a stress-free life is not realistic, there are definitely things we can do or disciplines we can embrace to stress less. I used to hate waking up in the middle of the night worrying about burdens. Those days have passed.
"I believe these 10 disciplines are life-changers and, in some cases, lifesavers, because there are some people who are dying of stress. I like to speak on things that God can use to change people's lives."
Shawn A. Akers is content development editor at Charisma Media.
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