At the end of an interview about her new book, Houston businesswoman Jacky Fischer inadvertently summed up the philosophy that has helped her grow a small moving company into a multi-million-dollar success with locations across Texas.
“If you don’t trust someone else to pick out your avocados, you probably shouldn’t start your own business.”
A fan of online grocery shopping, Fischer explained her business philosophy in her 242-page book, “The Growth Paradox: Rethinking Control, Accountability and Change to Move Your Business to the Next Level.”
In short, the personable businesswoman has learned to let go, and to trust her employees.
At her office in the Southwest Management District, Fischer detailed how she grew 3 Men Movers from a company with $3 million in annual revenues to over $50 million in income.
The company was started by her father Jack Fischer in 1985 from a beat-up 16-foot box truck and a couple of helpers. It is now considered one of the most successful and innovative independent moving companies in the nation.
Jacky Fischer took over running her father’s company in 2003, as an artsy dropout who couldn’t pass college algebra. Fischer, who now holds a master’s degree in business administration from Rice University, has learned to “let go” and trust her employees.
She learned that lesson when the company’s employees told her father, in a petition they signed to convince her not to quit the business, that they trusted her. The petition, on the back of a moving estimate form, is a prized memento framed on her office wall.
“I had decided I could not work with my Dad,” Fischer recalled. He was, at times, temperamental and a little bit irascible. But the company’s employees decided they could not work without her.
In 2004, she bought the company from her father.
After joining a business group and later earning a master’s in business administration degree, Fischer noticed how some businesses grew exponentially while others struggled.
“There was this paradox,” Fischer said. “I noticed that the people who could really grow their company were able to sit in a room all day and we discussed business. And the guys from the smaller companies were running out in the hallway, or on their cell phones.
“I realized some people were working on their business, while the smaller companies were working in their business,” Fischer explained.
The key to her success, in other words, is “Do Less to Achieve More.”
To be sure, there is far more to it than that. Her book contains entertaining and educational lessons about succeeding in business and in life.
Its five sections are sprinkled with frank, funny language.
And, Fischer admits, she had “a hidden agenda” in writing a book about business.
“I think one of the most patriotic things you can do, besides being a civil servant, or a teacher or being in the military, is being a business owner,” Fischer said. “You are creating jobs for your community, and what’s even more important is creating good jobs. Jobs people can feel good about when they go to work and get paid well, so that when they go home, they feel a sense of satisfaction.”
“My sort of hidden agenda is for business owners and managers, too. My real goal is if we have better bosses, we create better work environments,” Fischer said. “My Dad was a blue collar worker his whole life until he started his own business.
“And there were times when he would work for somebody, and he was really mistreated. And I felt bad because I saw how my parents struggled. And I wanted to build a business that would be the place I would want him to work. So that’s what we have tried to do.”
There are reminders in the book about her family’s move to Houston from Dixon, IL, when Fischer first encountered, and freaked out, about cockroaches.
One chapter title comes from a question her father frequently asked her when she was a teenager: “Is The Kitchen Clean?”
In a business aimed at helping customers deal with one of life’s most emotionally fraught challenges – moving – Fischer has learned to trust her employees, nurture their skills, and hold them accountable.
“You can’t just hire people and let them do whatever they want,” she said. “At the same time, people have a lot of joy when they are allowed to work autonomously.”
Fischer said her father was “sometimes temperamental” and she confesses that, at first, she “tried to lead the company the way he did.”
“I once let a manager go for slamming a door (too) hard when he was angry,” she said.
Eventually, she realized that she wanted a more peaceful workplace.
The book, available from major sellers such as Walmart and Amazon, is dedicated to Fischer’s parents.
“Even during hard times, they were a team. Not only did they dream of a better future, they dreamed of that future better together,” Fischer said.
— by Anne Marie Kilday