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A Clean, Healthy Business Model

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The Author and Business Management Expert Gary Hamel once said, “Fact is, inventing an innovative business model is often mostly a matter of serendipity.” While that shouldn’t be construed to suggest that the full development of the business model doesn’t require some effort and determination, the point here is that, sometimes, a great idea for a business can emerge from a happy accident. In the case of the leading franchise specializing in carpet and upholstery cleaning, such serendipity has successfully empowered entrepreneurs from across the world … to clean up.

With more than 3,500 locations in the United States and 38 other countries, Chem-Dry has achieved recognition as one of the top 100 global franchises and, for 25 consecutive years, has earned acclaim as the world’s leading carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise. The operational professionalism and expertise of its certified technicians, the engineering innovations contained within the equipment they use and the powerful properties within their proprietary cleaning solution (the secret sauce) have all effectively combined to position Chem-Dry as the unquestioned leader and pioneer in what is genuinely regarded as a highly competitive field.

Senior Vice President of Franchise Sales Dwayne Tanner says, “Prospective franchisees are excited about the opportunity to partner with Chem-Dry because we are the most trusted name in carpet cleaning and offer a tremendous opportunity for them to become successful entrepreneurs in a large and growing industry.”  As a testament to those capabilities, Tanner explains that more than 14 billion square feet of new carpet is installed each year and the effort to preserve and protect that carpet – as well as the range of existing coverings, rugs and upholstery – has driven growth within an industry that generates close to $7 billion annually. Chem-Dry owns the largest market share in this industry, and the company shares in its Federal Disclosure Document that average franchise sales are over $250,000 per year.

“Customers are impressed by Chem-Dry,” says Tanner. “When our franchisees and their technicians show up, they arrive in a clean van, wearing a crisp uniform, and with professional training that builds confidence and sets homeowners at ease. The fact that we offer a deeper, longer lasting clean and that our primary cleaning solution is safe, non-toxic and natural allows us to deliver a superior customer experience and leave our customers’ homes healthier.  That wins us a lot of fans and has earned us the highest customer repeat rate in the industry.  And the fact that there are already 2,000 Chem-Dry franchises in the United States means that when you open a new business, a lot of customers will already know who you are and be eager to hire you.”  Tanner also indicates that more than 90 percent of Chem-Dry’s business comes from repeat customers and referrals. That equates to a lot of satisfied customers who return to Chem-Dry again and again, whenever a professional cleaning is needed for carpets, area rugs and upholstery, as well as stone, tile and grout and for unique needs like eliminating stains and pet urine odors.

Chem-Dry’s primary cleaning solution – called The Natural® — as well as a broad array of its other solutions, have not only been recognized as environmentally safe by the FDA, but also certified as “green.”  Chem-Dry does not rely on detergents, phosphates or harsh chemicals like many steam cleaners do, which are detrimental to the health of the environment let alone your carpets and your home.  Instead, Chem-Dry’s core cleaner relies on the power of carbonation in its proprietary “hot carbonating extraction” process to release and lift the dirt and grime in carpets to deliver a deep-down, longer lasting clean.  By capitalizing on the cleaning power of millions of carbonated bubbles, Chem-Dry is able to use 80% less water than typical steam cleaning, which is better for the environment and doesn’t carry the risk of mold and mildew growth that can come from the excessive amount of water used by most steam cleaners.

Chem-Dry has revolutionized the industry, and over the years, has continually improved the effectiveness of its formulas and equipment while also developing a business model that has become the most successful, respected and well-known in the industry.

Tanner says Chem-Dry has also demonstrated the ability to flourish despite the ups and downs we’ve seen during a period of economic uncertainty.  “Through the best and worst of economic times, our business has thrived.  Today, our average length of time as a Chem-Dry franchise owner is 17 years, which I think reflects our ability to weather economic swings, remain healthy as a brand and maintain a solid business model,” continued Tanner.

Franchising Finesse

Chem-Dry franchisees benefit from the fact that the company has invested as much time and resources into growing a strong and healthy franchise system as it has to the engineering and technical advances of its equipment and cleaning solutions. The company spends considerable sums annually on new tools that help franchise owners manage and grow their business and on programs to ensure that Chem-Dry stays top of mind with consumers and stands out from the competitors.

Franchisees come from all walks of life and professional backgrounds. In recent years, Tanner notes that almost 25% of new franchisees are military veterans, and he affirms their drive and determination has helped the company grow. He pointed out that many retail carpet stores and carpet installers have found it appealing to add the Chem-Dry name and service to their portfolio, while independent carpet cleaners have found it desirable and a wise investment to convert to Chem-Dry to grow the long term value of their business. These new owners found that, by leveraging the brand name and the company’s expertise in marketing, operations and training, their business increased under the Chem-Dry banner.  In a more general sense, Tanner says the company looks for people who are savvy in sales and marketing and understand the importance and value of following the operational principals and “playbook” that Chem-Dry has honed in its thirty-five years of success. As Tanner says, “We know what works and what doesn’t. We’ve worked hard to build the largest and most respected carpet cleaning brand in the country and around the world and we share those learnings and best practices with our franchisees every day.”

The franchising model is flexible, allowing owners to have one or multiple territories, which are defined by population density. Tanner says franchisees typically start off with one location, but then will gradually expand to multiple locations over time. “Our model offers the flexibility for our franchisees to start off small, with a single van and territory, and grow to be as large as they can imagine, with a full fleet of vans in multiple markets and territories.” affirms Tanner. The investment is also flexible, ranging from $39,000 to upwards of $131,000, again depending on equipment options, and the territory.  But that doesn’t mean candidates have to come to the table with the total fees in hand. Unlike most in the industry, Chem-Dry will provide financing for its franchisees, which will cover most of the associated costs. For as little as $9,995 down, a franchisee can launch their business and be up and running in as little as 60 days.

The majority of Chem-Dry franchisees operate from their home, which eliminates the overhead costs associated with property development, rent and maintenance. Franchisees are, however, obligated to keep a van in the territory base.

World Class Training

Franchisees undergo five days of initial training at one of Chem-Dry’s regional headquarters in either Nashville, Tennessee or Logan, Utah. Tanner says franchisees will be trained in every aspect of the business and will walk away with the tools needed to be successful. Once they return home to their service market, a dedicated business development coach will partner with them to help them create and execute a marketing plan, answer technical questions, and assist them during the early stages of starting and growing their business.

At the corporate level, the company offers extensive expertise and support, including technical guidance and trouble-shooting.  It also includes a national call center that handles consumer calls, distributes booked cleanings to its franchisees and can also serve as a local franchise’s customer service agent. A dedicated team of internet marketing specialists assist in helping each new franchise get its website up and running, launch its initial SEO (Search Engine Optimization) efforts, and even set up and manage pay-per-click Google adwords campaigns and social networks if desired.  Franchisees are also equipped with customized software to help monitor and measure all metrics of operational processes, customer interactions and transactions, to help them measure their performance and make fact-based decisions on how to grow their profitability. Tanner says Chem-Dry’s sole focus is on helping its franchisees build strong and successful businesses through the development of training, tools and ongoing coaching programs that demonstrate how to build and manage a strong operation.

“We’re helping our franchise owners realize their dreams of financial freedom and independence. For many of them, this is their very first business and they often jump into the deep end of entrepreneurship.  It’s our responsibility to make sure we’re doing everything possible to help them be successful,” says Tanner. “What I enjoy most is hearing the franchisees share stories about how they’ve achieved their goals in business with Chem-Dry.  I know that franchisees get the same great feeling every time they finish a job with a delighted customer, and seeing that smile on the customer’s face makes it all worthwhile for them.”

For more information, please visit their website at:   ChemDry

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