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Meet Betsy Ritch-Reed: How Franchising Expands Your Potential

April 22, 2024

If you own an electrical services business, you probably wear a lot of hats. From human resources and operations to marketing and customer service, almost every aspect of the business falls on your to-do list. Franchising can help take things off your plate so you can focus on the bigger picture. 

Meet Betsy Ritch-Reed, owner of Mister Sparky of Columbus, GA, and hear how franchising provided tools and resources to give her business a boost. 

What were you doing prior to franchising with Mister Sparky?

Betsy: My father started Ritch Electric Company in 1968, and I joined the business in 1980. I was a parts runner and asked my father for a raise. He said the only way to get a raise was to go through the four-year apprenticeship program, so I did. 

We’re still a member of the Independent Electrical Contractors Association in Georgia, and we still put people through that program today. When you complete it, you receive your journeyman’s card from the United States Bureau of Apprenticeship and Training. 

After my father passed away, I took over the business and I’ve been running Ritch Electric ever since. I opened a service department because we’d never done service work, but we didn’t really know about the structure of a service department. 

I received flyers in the mail about different franchise opportunities. When I got to Mister Sparky, something just felt a little different. It seemed like something I wanted to do. I looked into it and opened up a franchise.

What is it like to be a woman in the electrical services industry?

Betsy: From the view of a woman, some things have gotten better over the years and some things have stayed the same. A man wouldn’t have the same experience with this as I have. We have some of the same struggles, but I believe I have more. 

It’s taken from when I took over in 1997 until now, to finally get recognition in this business and industry. There’s a misconception that the men who work for me run the business until someone really works with our company. When they actually work with us, they understand that I’m the one bidding jobs, managing jobs, and I know what I’m talking about. That takes time. In that regard, the industry has changed very slowly and a miniscule amount. 

What challenges have you faced in your business?

Betsy: I’m still dealing with some of the same problems my father faced when I worked for him. There are more issues with employees. People’s lives are faster and it’s harder to keep an employee engaged.

Competition is tougher these days, especially with the residential service department. Trying to stay on top of Google and engaging the public is an active thing that you have to continue to nurture. 

With the Ritch Electric side of the business, I just have to keep the general contractors happy. With Mister Sparky, I’m trying to reach the public as a whole and make an impression so they remember who we are. 

Has franchising helped you overcome those obstacles?

Betsy: I’ve learned a lot more about marketing through opening a Mister Sparky. Marketing just wasn’t a reality for Ritch Electric. We did get Google reviews, but our employees stayed pretty busy. With a residential electrical services business, you’re competing with so many other people. We had another electrical franchise come into the area recently, so we have several competitors. 

I’ve had to learn a lot about marketing because the dollars put towards it blow my mind. We have to invest in marketing to keep our name out there and make the phone ring. I’ve learned about asking customers for reviews and responding to online reviews. 

It’s a lot different than what I was doing before, but it’s really what I needed. I didn’t advertise with Ritch Electric and now we’re doing quite a bit of advertising with Mister Sparky. I didn’t know all the little cogs and wheels that go along with marketing.

What does your typical day look like? 

Betsy: I usually get to the office before 7:00 am, and the guys get in at 8:00 am. I make sure to check the board and see what’s coming up. Every morning, I look to see what kind of calls we have and look further out into the week. 

Another big part is training. I set up training for our employees. I talk to them and remind them of the things they need to do with the customers, including tips for speaking with female customers. We hit on something different every morning, going over some dos and don’ts. I make sure they get out the door and on the job on time. 

We have an in-house call taker, and I check in with her in the morning. After lunch, I constantly check to see how the schedule is going. If someone canceled, were we able to keep the call? I always try to help my employees understand how to handle certain situations and make sure they’re prepared. 

What has your experience been with Mister Sparky’s network of franchise owners?

Betsy: I love the people. I love going to the conventions and meeting everybody. I’m on a text thread with some other new Mister Sparky owners and it’s really fun talking with them. Having access to other owners without being in competition is great. We share information and help one another. 

With Ritch Electric, we don’t share information because we’re all competitors. With Mister Sparky, that makes a big difference and it’s fun.

How do you measure success for your franchise?

Betsy: Right now, it’s about having all the techs believe in the whole Mister Sparky model and believe in themselves. When that happens, they’re able to go out and sell and enjoy what they’re doing. I have some employees that are striving so hard for that. 

When employees are struggling, I tell them to believe in themselves, believe in the processes, and talk to the customer. Find common ground with the customer. You see some techs keep building, getting better and better. 

Success is when you have that one tech who was struggling to make a sale come back with a $26,000 sale and believe in himself. Success is teaching people and making them realize that they can do anything they set their mind to. Everything else will fall into place. 

How has franchising changed you, personally or professionally? 

Betsy: I’m out of my box a lot more. I do five-second ads on two TV stations, and I sing the Mister Sparky jingle. We’re blessed to have the jingle because it really does work. My nephew sings the jingle all the time. 

I’ve done a billboard where I’m standing there in a Mister Sparky shirt with the logo and jingle written out. I am totally out of my comfort zone, but I get used to it. I don’t mind it as much anymore. 

I would also say that I work more closely with employees and it’s a closer relationship. WIth Ritch Electric, employees go out to the job site and we deliver material. We check things when they call or go out there a couple times a week. With Mister Sparky, I have to prop my techs up. It’s changed me to be more of a nurturer and be a little more compassionate towards people and their struggles. 

I’ve learned a lot about what a franchise is and what franchises do. I’ve even suggested franchising to some of my friends and family because I think it’s all good. 

Learn More About Franchising with Mister Sparky!

If you are looking for tools and support to grow your business, Mister Sparky is here for you! For current business owners, our resources and partnerships can help you unlock the full potential of your electrical services business. 

Contact our team today to learn more about the Mister Sparky franchising opportunity!

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