What’s it like being driven by purpose over profits? For Joe Soltis, CEO at purpose-driven and the results-focused franchise marketing agency, ChoiceLocal, finding true success is all about being driven by a deeper cause.
You may not hear the words “charity” and “profitability” mentioned in the same breath too often. Still, for Soltis, it’s precisely the right combination. Running a business without sacrificing the spirit of charity has helped him push profits forward to build sustainable growth. And a company that values its people and stands the test of time is the true measure of success.
Committing to Purpose-Driven Practices
Soltis’ journey to setting up ChoiceLocal in 2014 has a lot to do with his personal journey. He spent many years working for top global brands, climbing the corporate and executive ladder.
With a proven track record of quick results and strategies that could rival the best, he was on a quick climb to the top in the digital marketing world. But everything changed when he and his wife lost a child late into pregnancy in 2012.
The grief made Soltis re-evaluate the path he had chosen. Who was he working such long hours for? What was his purpose on this earth?
He realized that the rat race wasn’t for him. As he says, “After we lost our child, I asked challenged myself and my way of thinking. I always wanted to be successful so that I can help people, but frankly why should I wait any longer? I wanted to help people now. I don’t want to wait anymore. I also felt like I wanted to make much more of a difference in what I do every day than simply creating profits, I wanted to transform lives, and help a ton of people and do it in a huge way.”
That was the inspiration for a faith-based company with a simple but startlingly effective vision: “Help Others.”
A People Driven Attitude
ChoiceLocal is a digital marketing firm that serves franchise systems. It has become the top performing franchise growth engine in existence and has proven this now in over 50 franchise systems. The first thing that sets it apart is its attitude towards its employees.
And good employees and excellent work culture also attract the best clients. “Salt of the Earth” people is how Soltis describes the people he deals with; humble, hard-working people who want to start their own businesses, successful people who want to be their own boss, and people who are, like Soltis, driven by a higher purpose. Then at the franchisor level, Joe and his team work with strategic thinkers, who like him and the ChoiceLocal team, love working with hard-working and decent people.
And he didn’t stop there. One of the most essential things for Soltis was to commit to charitable causes even as he worked his way through the world of business. At ChoiceLocal, they contribute approximately 10% of all profits to the goal of helping 10k children in need per year. The key is putting generosity first and ensuring a firm footing in the forward direction to grow the business. They then track the number of kids they helped each year and update the ChoiceLocal team on it during its monthly all teammate meeting, where as a company they celebrate their success helping others, every month.
Using Money as a Means to Helping Others
As a business grows and the money starts coming in, the likelihood of distraction can increase. In theory, it’s easy to get swept up in success, so it’s all the more vital to keep your purpose at the forefront of your mind. “Frankly, when you realize you have been put here for a purpose, and that purpose is to help and serve others and in-turn you can reflect some of the love of a kind and loving God, it makes staying humble pretty easy. We are all equal in human dignity from the most successful entrepreneur, to the leader of the free world to the poorest of the poor. No one and I mean no one is better than anyone else,” says Soltis.
Soltis has a few mantras he likes to use to keep himself purpose-driven and focused on the charitable aspects of the business. Little reminders such as, “Servant leaders are the only real leaders, everyone else is just a mere authority” help remind him and his amazing team of purpose-driven people of the purpose ChoiceLocal started this journey with and continues to build on.
As the first and only franchise marketing agency that offers a money-back satisfaction guarantee, ChoiceLocal backs up their work with a promise—they call it The ChoiceLocal Guarantee. Of course, this has only made them more successful, which earns them the moniker “The Top Performing Franchise Marketing Agency”.
Growing in Good Company
Soltis grows franchises by over 40%, year-over-year, and they have no plans to slow down. As a team that started with 1 person and wants to grow to over 600, and is well on its way, they owe their 94% client retention rate to the company they keep.
This includes employees, clients, which ChoiceLocal calls partners, and of course—their faith! Hiring purpose-driven people drives the company forward to meeting all its goals and then some. Soltis doesn’t see employees as a means to an end, they are teammates and ChoiceLocal is responsible for the well-being of each of them and their family, and his clients are partners who ChoiceLocal is responsible for making their dreams come true. The priority is to make everyone’s dreams a reality – that is at the heart of ChoiceLocal’s “Help Others” mission.
With his employees, Soltis has grown a company from a seed of an idea to an award-winning agency. They’ve been featured on “Inc. 5000 America’s Fastest-Growing Companies” and “Top Work Places Cleveland (2021 and now 2022)”, among others making it rated as a top work place now 5 years running. It makes it evident that their belief in “Leading with the heart” pushes them forward into what promises to be a bigger, brighter future.
Soltis is also moving forward to find purpose from the loss of his son, using his game-changing attitude to commit to helping others continuously.
Apart from the ChoiceLocal donations, he also created the Benjamin Issac Foundation, in honor of his son, to help worldwide children in need, including everything from healthcare to education to emotional support after tragedy. And as if that wasn’t enough, they gave a $10,000 check to Second Harvest Heartland as part of a contest for IFA members.
He has also donated to hospitals, brought sustainable water to villages in need, fed the poorest of the poor in places of education, and was the sole sponsor for a Habitat for Humanity home, all with his wife by his side and a team of purpose-drive winners who work at ChoiceLocal to make the word better. With his dedication to people and his quiet and humble faith-based approach, Soltis continues to grow his business and contribute to the world with it.
ChoiceLocal is a purpose-driven and results-focused franchise marketing agency that only serves franchisors and franchisees. They are the 1st and only franchise marketing agency to offer a money-back guarantee. They are a member of IFA (International Franchise Association), named on the Inc. 5000 list, and rated as a Top Workplace for the last five years. To find out more about their franchise growth engine, please visit https://choicelocal.com/
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