Meet The Disruptors: Trevor Rappleye Of FranchiseFilming On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry
“If you have a product, yet no one knows it exists, you have nothing.” — You can have the best product or service in the world, but if no one knows it exists, you’re invisible to your target audience. You have to network, spend money on marketing, take risks, and stay in front of your ideal buyers on a consistent basis. Your business can’t scale if you’re behind your own computer screen all the time. Trust me — it pays to get out there!
As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Trevor Rappleye, CEO of FranchiseFilming & CorporateFilming.
Trevor Rappleye is the CEO of FranchiseFilming & CorporateFilming, an industry leader in producing full-service video marketing content for the franchise industry. Utilizing the company’s proprietary VIP National Subscription model, these videos drive franchise development, recruitment, and sales opportunities. Trevor began filming with his parent’s ancient VHS camera when he was just 13 and has been in love with emotion and storytelling ever since. To date, Trevor’s video production companies have experienced 3,000% growth in the franchise industry, by sharing authentic, unscripted stories for prominent brands such as Neighborly, Batteries Plus, Fast Signs, Franconnect, United Franchise Group, and more. He used to stutter, got C’s in high school, and — at the late age of 24 — finally identified himself as a member of the LGBTQ community. He’s here to tell you — if you put in the work and LOVE what you do, great things will happen.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I’ve been in love with filming since I was a kid. I’ve never truly had another full-time job — I’ve always just filmed for myself and loved capturing fun family moments, weddings and friends’ adventures. In high school, we had KBFT TV- the №1 high school live news station in the nation and that’s where my passion picked up. At 17 years old, I worked at KCRA 3 / NBC as an intern. They even put me on live television five times!
We began filming corporate events and small business videos in 2015 and literally fell into franchising in 2019. One of our first clients, Go Minis (who found us on Google / Yelp) recommended we go to the International Franchise Association’s (IFA) annual convention. At the time, I didn’t even know what a “franchisor” was — I thought it was a typo!
In all seriousness, we fell into this path — but we also took the risk of breaking into a new niche that was severely underserved. I walked the expo floor at IFA 2019 — and maybe 5% of the booths had video and testimonials. I was flabbergasted! How does this $819 billion dollar industry not know the power of story, emotion, and testimonials? Insert FranchiseFilming!
Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?
One word sums our company up: Simplicity. We’ve developed a national membership model to serve our franchise clients that is simple, easy to use, and transparent. The bigger the client, the easier they want things to be and the more they want YOU to handle. With our VIP Membership Model:
- We create monthly marketing videos with zero hassle.
- We never charge travel fees — transparent rate, it never raises throughout the partnership!
- We edit the first video in just 10 days.
- We don’t use scripts — only real, authentic stories.
We are solving three pain points for this industry:
- How do I film my franchisees? They’re based everywhere and travel could get expensive. Insert our National VIP Membership Model — no travel fees, ever!
- I hate waiting months for my videos — okay, done in 10 days!
- I don’t have time to manage a film crew — We handle all scheduling and logistics! Just tell us who to film — and we handle the rest, such as scheduling, vision, logistics, etc!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Going into franchising, I didn’t know the difference between a franchise, franchisor and franchisee. The franchisee is the individual owner of the franchise concept (such as a Fast Signs or Dunkin’ Donuts) and the franchisor sells the opportunity to prospective franchisees that invest in their proven systems.
I didn’t understand the business model and, at my first big meeting, I came across as a real newbie. I kept trying to correct the person in front of me, saying, “You mean you’re the franchise? Franchisor isn’t right.”
Rightfully so, that conversation led to nothing, and I learned a powerful lesson that day! I learned: Don’t be afraid to speak up and ask questions if you are confused. It’s perfectly fine to question what you don’t know. People appreciate it — as everyone used to be a newbie in the space!
We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?
One of my business coaches and mentors has been Vaughn Sigmon of Results Driven Leadership. He’s been with me since Day One, back when I had an 80-square foot office to myself. He’s helped me realize some key things. I thought I had to film everything — but in order to scale, I had to step back and let other talented people take the spotlight.
My father, Kevin Rappleye, has also been one of my mentors and biggest supporters. He did so well in the hotel industry niche, selling to a specific group of people — and that’s what we are doing in franchising!
The two key insights I learned from them are:
- It’s better to be №1 in a small niche, than to be №50 in a big industry (the fish in the pond reference). If you stay the former, you’ll become the go-to resource and industry thought leader that much quicker!
- Always remember the 80/20 rule. In business and in life, 80% of our success comes from only 20% of our activity. By focusing on the 20% that works and generates revenue, any business venture can skyrocket with growth. Our 20% activity was the franchising industry — and now it’s become 80% of our focus. Hence, our tremendous growth which is tied back to our niche focus, our talented team, and the passion our brand has for story.
In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?
Disruption is a great thing, especially if you’re revitalizing a sleepy, dying industry. For example, Yellow Cabs come to mind. The fact that we didn’t know the cost of the ride and we didn’t know when they would arrive for pickup — was terrible. The taxi industry deserved to be disrupted by Uber because they got complacent.
When it comes to Amazon, disruption can be seen as either good or bad. Amazon has changed the world in a positive light — we can now get food within an hour or a big sofa in just one day. No more waiting weeks or going into the store. But it also put a lot of small retailers out of business. It honestly depends on who you ask.
I’m a big fan of Ethical Capitalism — if someone builds a better mousetrap, and you don’t pivot or change, that’s on you. Always be changing and growing, because if you don’t- you’re dying. If you can grow a profitable company, create jobs, and better the life of your team while serving your clients well — that’s what makes capitalism great. Capitalism is not (and should not) ever be considered a bad thing.
If someone doesn’t like something, they are welcome to start their own company, take tremendous risks and build something from scratch. Building a business is hard and success never happens overnight.
Can you share five of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.
The five best words of advice I’ve received include these following examples:
- YWSYLS. “You win some, you lose some, who cares?” This applies to the sales process. Don’t get hung up on deals you didn’t close. I remember back in 2021, we lost out on a $100,000 deal that I was certain we’d close. I got complacent and stopped selling for weeks -the wrong decision! They backed out, and it floored me — I was sad for days, even weeks. I‘ve since learned not to rely on one big sale — your sales pipeline should always be full of prospects! Until the check clears, the deal is NOT CLOSED.
- “Your ego is showing” This refers to scalability, as a first time CEO. In order to scale, you have to put your ego aside. People don’t want TREVOR onsite. They want a great, inspiring video, produced on time, under budget, and with a great partner. We began to scale our efforts when I stopped being present on every single filming session in 2020. I could then focus on sales. The minute that I implemented processes, a system, and began hiring and training based on our values and mission — we grew like crazy.
- “You can have scale or control, but you can’t have both.” Same as above — if you want to control everything, you’ll stay small forever. Allow your team to grow and learn on their own, even if they make mistakes. We, as entrepreneurs, make mistakes all the time — shouldn’t our team be able to do the same?
- “If you chase two rabbits, you’ll end up catching none.” I’m a firm believer that you can’t focus and do TWO things extremely well. If you aren’t focused on ONE thing (for us, that’s now franchising and our VIP Membership Model), you’ll end up doing a couple of things on an average level. It’s better to do one thing well than five things on an average level. This is why (since 2020) we don’t go to 10+ expos in multiple industries, we only concentrate on the franchising industry.
- “If you have a product, yet no one knows it exists, you have nothing.” — You can have the best product or service in the world, but if no one knows it exists, you’re invisible to your target audience. You have to network, spend money on marketing, take risks, and stay in front of your ideal buyers on a consistent basis. Your business can’t scale if you’re behind your own computer screen all the time. Trust me — it pays to get out there!
We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?
We’re launching a new training video program and a new microsite, FilmMyFranchisees.com — both of which will help franchisors in many new ways. We can now create (and handle everything) engaging and authentic training videos to address specific needs — such as lowering the risk of workplace injuries, the associated costs for in-person training sessions, and much more. FilmMyFranchisees is a new partnership with OnlineImage, a marketing services provider, that will allow us to film 300+ franchisees at a single internal brand conference. But each franchisee will receive a localized, humanized marketing video, with the capacity to increase their own conversions, leads, and sales at the local level — all by showing up organically as an SEO piece of video content, instead of a website. It’s a game changer for franchisors and franchisees alike — an opportunity to provide localized videos, with measurable ROI, for each of the attending franchisees. Everyone will receive a $100K video value for a 1/10 of the cost, because the fee is distributed amongst both the franchisor and franchisee. They’ll simply pay a monthly maintenance fee for a three-year term to have their personal video appear on Google, enhancing their own SEO, and much more.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
I am in love with “365 Days of Leadership” by John C. Maxwell. I’ve read it cover-to-cover several times and my entire team has a copy. As a leader, it really woke me up to the notion that I have to care, set a vision, and plan for the future. The only way to grow a company is to generate more leaders.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“If success was easy, everyone would be successful.” If you truly want to grow your business and make money, you have to give up late nights on the weekends and sleeping in on workdays. In 2019, I began waking up at 5:30 a.m. and working 70-hour weeks — and my business scaled. You’re entitled to nothing, but if you work for it, success will eventually come. I’m a firm believer that the world owes you nothing — not healthcare, money, food, security — nothing. Some may say I work too much, but success doesn’t come easy. I’m putting in the work now so I can have a better life when I am older.
It was this kind of thinking that woke me up and helped me move on from a bad partnership situation back in 2015. By the year 2018, I was $80,000 in debt — the result of paying myself only $1,000 a month for years. I never disclosed this fact, and my team had no idea. Things simply had to change. Between 2017–2021, there were many months that I went without a salary. But it was necessary if I wanted my company to scale.
I’ve learned to assume the risk and put in the work now — to stop avoiding it. Almost everyone that’s successful now had to work hard to get there. As a new CEO, you get paid last — the business comes first.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I’d like to see a movement where people strived to be more authentic, sharing their own stories without fear of acceptance. Stop trying to play a certain role and care less about what people think. If you’ll just be YOU — more true success will come your way then you can ever imagine.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!