November 01, 2017
How Transparency Shapes Leaders: Marking 20 Years at Team National
by Jenny Vetter
Headquarters: Davie, Florida
Top Executive: President and CEO Angela Loehr Chrysler
2016 Revenue: $659 Million
Global 100 Ranking: No. 34
Products: Membership savings on products and services
|Angela Loehr Chrysler|
As Hurricane Irma approached the Florida coast in September, Angela Loehr Chrysler and Team National had some decisions to make about the operations at their Davie headquarters.
Closing the office meant downtime and slower call response rates, but the team knew they had to prioritize business activities. Rather than deciding behind closed doors and simply alerting the sales field, Loehr Chrysler and her team drew from Team National’s long-standing commitment to transparency.
“We communicated a lot with our sales field prior, during and after the storm,” she says. “We shared our priority for the next two weeks, which was to pay our staff and the sales field.” All emails and phone calls received during this time were put on hold, so the office staff could focus solely on making sure everyone continued to receive paychecks on time. The decision literally paid off. “Because we openly communicated it, they were amazing. They were grateful that we knew the importance of paying them,” she adds. “That’s definitely a lesson learned from my dad, and exactly how he would have handled it.”
Her dad, Dick Loehr, founded Team National in 1997, guided by a set of personal values and beliefs that are woven into the fabric of the company to this day. Team National celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, as well as Angela Loehr Chrysler’s 10th year in her role as CEO. These two anniversaries give Loehr Chrysler and her team the opportunity to reflect on the successes and challenges they’ve navigated over the past two decades.
One-of-a-Kind Business Model
The sole member of the Direct Selling Association to offer group-buying memberships, Team National shares this savings product through a network of more than 475,000 customers and distributors, called Independent Marketing Directors (IMDs). Memberships offer savings and factory-direct pricing across a catalog of products and services, spanning more than 20 industries, everything from financial products and wireless services to furniture and jewelry.
“You can compare us to a Costco or a Sam’s Club,” explains Phil Chrysler, Executive Vice President and Loehr Chrysler’s husband. “We both sell a membership; however with Team National, you don’t need to go to that physical location to obtain that product or service; it will come to you automatically.” Team National partners with Fortune 500 companies such as ADP, Home Depot, AT&T and an extensive directory of other recognizable names to offer wholesale pricing on products and services that many households use every day.
“When a [potential] member is going to buy a product or service outside of our membership, and then finds out about our membership, they realize they’re able to save that money and keep that money in their bank account for other purposes. That thrills us. It really does,” Phil Chrysler adds.
For IMDs, the business model is simple: Purchase a membership, reap the benefits and share it with others. As friends, family and new contacts purchase their own memberships, IMDs earn commission on those sales. The only “product” is the membership itself—no inventory, no products to purchase and resell—only an opportunity to save money. (The company has a small line of health and wellness products, but the membership is the main driver of sales). And that savings opportunity continues to expand as Team National is constantly evaluating new products and services to offer their members, though the cost of membership hasn’t changed since the very first membership was sold. Just as there were in 1997, there are two membership options: a two-year membership for $795 or a lifetime membership for $2,195.
An Inspired Beginning
Prior to launching the company in 1997, Dick Loehr spent nearly 20 years in the automotive industry—the perfect spot for the former captain of the Ford Drag Racing Team. Loehr ultimately owned two dealerships and nine different franchises and sold 145,000 cars before pursuing new entrepreneurial paths, including the development of a one-of-a-kind savings program. He began designing a kind of package that would give individual customers the same discount buying power that large companies have through the purchase of that package, or membership. Loehr first offered his new idea to a small direct selling company, before eventually purchasing that company to create what is known today as Team National.
Loehr led the organization for 10 years, incorporating his personal business philosophies and practices into daily operations—and mentoring Angela Loehr Chrysler to do the same. Those values—honesty, integrity and character—serve as the foundation for the company Loehr built and grew until 2007, when he announced that his daughter would step into his role as CEO. She had been named President the year before. Several months after stepping down from leadership, Loehr passed away after a 10-year battle with cancer. Still he was able to accomplish a great deal at Team National during the course of his illness.
“Absolutely my dad is a big part of our story and my personal story because his leadership impacted mine and is the foundation of how we run the business today,” Loehr Chrysler says. “We are very much a company that appreciates where we came from and our foundation, so we honor him at every convention.”
Today, Loehr Chrysler continues to keep her father’s values top of mind. “For me personally, it’s a lot of what might be considered really simple business practices that continue to influence my daily decisions and my daily desire to stay positive, to treat others the way I’d like to be treated and to lead with authenticity and transparency,” she says.
The Team National Hope Foundation donated $100,000 to the company’s local Boys & Girls Club in Broward County, Florida.
Leaders Growing Leaders
Just as Loehr was intentional about investing in and inspiring his daughter, Loehr Chrysler is dedicated to growing leaders at Team National, through training, a strong sense of ethics and an organizational culture where those core values shine. She and her executive team have established consistent opportunities to pour into both their IMDs and corporate employees through inspirational leadership messages shared through conference calls, videos and Facebook Live. Each month either Loehr Chrysler or a member of her team leads a personal growth session for the entire office. “We share videos and have discussion time in between. Topics might be attitude, gratitude, finding your why, finding passion in life; each month is unique,” she says. She also writes a blog that shares stories of personal growth and inspiring events. “I’m passionate about personal development because of what it has done for me personally and for our company and our team,” she says. “I think it’s a difference maker for our culture and our company’s longevity and growth.”
In addition to her role as President and CEO, Loehr Chrysler recently served as the Chairwoman for the DSA’s Ethics Committee, an experience that proved meaningful to her team. “It really helped me gain greater understanding of the work that’s been done by DSA and the Ethics Committee prior to me, and it helped me to be even more transparent because I was part of the process.”
Her team’s response to her role on the committee wasn’t what she expected. “Our sales field, more than I recognized, was really proud of the fact that I was not only on the committee but that I chaired it that year because it was an important time for the industry,” Loehr Chrysler notes, referring to the changing environment Team National and all direct sales companies are navigating. “They really saw it as a great way for Team National to have a seat at the table.”
The new regulatory environment is challenging for companies across the direct selling channel, but Team National saw these changes as an opportunity to be more open and model that to their IMDs in the field. One significant change was the addition of an income earnings disclosure that is featured prominently in both onboarding and training materials, as well as on the company’s website. “After having great discussions with leading companies in our industry and our direct selling attorney, we decided to require an income earnings chart be used any time our leaders are presenting our program,” Loehr Chrysler says. Another change was the institution of a checklist for all leaders to review and agree on before posting a local or regional event: Leaders must agree to ethical standards at the meeting, use the new income earnings disclosure chart and have it available for all attendees to view. “We felt the best way for us as a company to navigate through this change was to go all in and do it transparently,” she shares. “We told our sales field, ‘Here are aspects of things that we need to change. Here are things we need to get better at. Here are things that we need your advice on.’ We looked at them as partners throughout it, so they could really help guide us,” she explains.
Tried and True Training
Like any direct sales organization, Team National has used different training methods during its years in business; however, Loehr Chrysler believes that the training they have in place today represents the very best of the methods they’ve worked with. New IMDs have access to Team National’s four-step training program that features the company’s “Toolbox Approach.”
As Phil Chrysler explains, “At each step of the process are different tools, depending on the comfort level of the IMD. Whether it’s through our mobile app or the good old-fashioned paper method or a DVD, we’ve tried to integrate technology as well as old proven items that promote and explain our product. And then we encourage them to use what they’re comfortable with.” These tools have allowed Team National to reach customers across all demographics, a strategy that he says fits within the company’s existing system.
New IMDs are trained on Team National’s ethics policies through both written materials and videos. The company has taken a proactive approach to ensure that prospective IMDs receive a fair and accurate explanation of the compensation program and the earning potential that lies within each level of leadership. This information also is shared through library videos on the Team National website as well as in printed materials that any visitor to the site can access.
|At a Team National event, Angela Loehr Chrysler welcomes DeVon Franklin, author of Produced by Faith.|
Strong and Steady at Team National
Loehr Chrysler says that much about the way Team National operates has remained constant. “In the last five to seven years we’ve had a very consistent aspect to the business when you look at our growth, our sales field, our corporate office. Our focus of getting better has been the same for the last few years and we’ve seen the benefits of that.” She notes that even additions to the membership program have been consistent and credits this as being a result of truly listening to the sales field about new products and services that would add value to their members. Today, the total product, service and membership sales for the company continues to grow, currently on track to reach around $659 million.
One new development at Team National is the official launch of the Team National Hope Foundation, a 501(c)(3) private foundation established by the Loehr and Chrysler families. “Hope stands for Helping Other People Everyday,” Phil Chrysler says. The TN Hope Foundation, founded in April, accepts donations from Team National members, the Loehr and Chrysler families and Team National itself, then donates those funds to various causes and charities close to the company’s heart. The company has had a commitment to philanthropy since its inception, but the launch of this new foundation offers the same benefit that the company’s membership product does: choices. “With this foundation, we can fund causes that are important to our members where they live, allowing our members to be heroes in their hometowns. It really expands our reach,” he explains. To date, the foundation has donated $288,993.
Wisdom for Leaders Building Leaders
The gift of her father’s mentoring is something that Loehr Chrysler can’t help but pay forward—it’s in her DNA. As the company continues to inspire both the sales field and more than 72 corporate team members, Loehr Chrysler has words of encouragement for her industry peers. “If a company feels they haven’t been as transparent with their sales field, I would encourage them to go all in,” she recommends. “It’s so well received when your sales field knows you’re looking at them as a partner.”