Interview with Andrew Field - President of CODE ZERO
Andrew’s expertise in the Driver-Training Industry ‘naturally’ evolved from his successful background in Motorsports. In an ironic twist of fate, after being diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 1981, he changed a negative into a positive by turning his passion for driving on the racetrack into a 30 year career focused on being a mentor and teacher of good driving skills to others. The latest chapter in that career is CODE ZERO.
Following co-ownership of ‘ProFormance Advanced Driving School’ in the eighties and nineties and sole ownership of ‘The Driving Force’ later on, Andrew recognized an opportunity to create CODE ZERO while sharing a driving facility with the Justice Institute of BC. He surmised that portions of the JIBC Police Recruit driver-training program were ideally suited for the public and in 2007, along with Chief Instructor Grant Kinney, he launched CODE ZERO which has been delivered by the JIBC ever since.
Two years later, CODE ZERO Licensing International Inc. was formed in order to take the highly-successful program across Canada and beyond.
BeTheBoss - What’s the story behind CODE ZERO?
Andrew Field - While sharing the same driving facility with the Justice Institute of BC (JIBC), I recognized the opportunity for creating CODE ZERO... a unique and attractive Advanced Driver-Training program for the public based on Police Recruit Driver-Training.
Having spent over 40 years in the motor racing and driver-training industries has taught me that there are three basic but most essential keys to skilful and safe driving... proper vision, steering and braking technique. Not surprisingly, it was these same elements that formed the core of the driver-training courses taught to First-Responders by the JIBC. So, with the ingredients in place, plus an effective and respected model as a benchmark, together with JIBC Chief Instructor Gran Kinney, I set about designing an advanced driving program that could expose thousands of drivers to the world of better, safer driving habits, teach them advanced driving skills and in turn, save hundreds of lives.Subsequently, in March 2007, we proudly launched CODE ZERO!
BTB - What made you decide to franchise?
AF - The decision to franchise CODE ZERO was made after discussing the concept with Norm Friend. A recognized ‘guru’ in the world of franchising and a personal friend of mine for some 20 years, I depended on Norm’s advice as to the viability of such an endeavour. His initial response (in 2007 shortly after CODE ZERO was created) was positive relative to the program itself but he suggested that I develop the program further. He said that it was a perfect candidate for franchising in the future and that I should revisit the idea in a year or so. I did revisit the possibility of franchising CODE ZERO two years later, in summer 2009. The result... CODE ZERO Licensing International Inc. was formed in October 2009 with a leadership/partnership team consisting of myself as President, Athena Paling as Vice President of Operations, Grant Kinney as Chief Instructor and... Norm Friend, as our resident franchise ‘guru’! Without question we are now ready to “Lead the Quest for ZERO Crashes and Collisions”.
BTB - Tell us a little bit about your industry.
AF - Although there are driving schools that teach people the minimal skills required to obtain a licence to drive (pre-licensing) and some businesses catering to those already licensed to drive (i.e. institutional programs such as First-Responder, Taxi drivers etc.,) or recreational-based programs for Auto Racing, Off-Road Driving etc., there are very few companies that offer opportunities for drivers wishing to enhance/improve their existing driving skills. From that standpoint alone, there is obviously a huge market void for CODE ZERO ® to fill.
BTB - What have some of the challenges been in growing your franchise?
AF - The main challenge to growing our franchise is similar to most other franchise companies i.e. getting our opportunity in front of qualified prospects; however, unlike other franchisors we are able to identify our primary prospects as those people who have been, or who are still involved in Public Safety (especially First-Responders). The difference is that being in a non-traditional-type franchising business segment, we need to first make them aware of the unique opportunity so that we can then communicate the advantages and benefits of our business to them..
Another challenge that I have personally faced is converting what has been a relatively simple and profitable single business into a well-designed and easily executed business for others. Having said that, I realize that in order to ensure CODE ZERO’s success in the future, it is essential that we have a well-planned and exhaustive business strategy for our franchisees... one that will work in any and all locations that we identify as viable.
BTB - Who has been your greatest inspiration?
AF - My motorsport background has yielded me my greatest inspiration. His name is Jackie Stewart, a Scotsman and three-time Formula One World Champion race car driver (1969, 1971 & 1973). In addition to being one of the greatest race car driver of all time, he was, and still is, a champion of Driver Safety. In fact, he is responsible for many safety measures still in use on racetracks today. At the age of 71 he remains a highly sought after advocate and spokesperson for Driver Safety... but these days for Road Safety even more than Racetrack Safety. I have attended several Traffic/Driver Safety Conferences where Jackie Stewart has been a keynote speaker and he left me inspired and truly motivated ‘to make a difference’ on each occasion.
BTB - What are some of the advantages of being a CODE ZERO franchisee?
AF - A CODE ZERO franchisee is has the benefit of being a truly valuable member of any community in several ways. First of all, the service that he &/or she is providing makes their community a much safer place to live in. Secondly, as a business, it provides an opportunity for a franchisee to generate significant revenue and the ability to set their own schedule (i.e. the number of public and corporate programs offered) with a low initial investment and minimal overhead. Plus, strategic partnerships with National companies such as Yokohama Canada and Raybestos have been established (with further announcements to come) ensuring franchisees that the CODE ZERO brand is already well-respected and highly-desirable.
BTB - What ‘Gadgets’ can’t you live without?
AF - As a baby-boomer, I’m not a ‘natural’ user of ‘Gadgets’. However, over time, I have become quite dependent on my iPhone. Wherever I am, the iPhone allows me access to e-mails which have been a necessary component of my business life for several years now. Also, I find that certain ‘apps’ are quite useful. Social Media is destined to become a huge part of our Marketing Strategy in the future and the iPhone allows me to utilize these conversational type of media anywhere, anytime.
BTB - What do you do in your spare time?
AF - For one thing, there never seems to be much ‘spare’ time since CODE ZERO began to occupy so much of my life. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing because I am truly passionate about the opportunity that CODE ZERO has given me to ‘make a difference’ and save lives.
Whenever there is some spare time, other than embracing every opportunity possible to spend time with my family (especially my grandchildren), I usually fall back to motor racing as my default activity. Over the years, I developed many friendships within the sport and the occasional auto-racing-based get together never fails to bring me pleasure.
BTB - What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?
AF - Do your homework. Make sure that you are suited for the opportunity and fully understand what is required to make the business successful. Overall, it is important that you will be doing something you enjoy.
BTB - In your opinion, why do you think that CODE ZERO would be a great opportunity for someone?
AF - Although this is an exceptional opportunity for First-Responders, the CODE ZERO 4-day Professional Initial Training Program opens the opportunity to people with a passion for driving and a desire to join us in ‘Leading the Quest for ZERO Crashes and Collisions’.