Franchise Canada explores four home restoration franchises that support Canadians when they need it most
By Gina Makkar
When a disaster strikes, an expert restoration service can mitigate risks and minimize losses. It can also help those affected not only rebuild and restore their homes, but also their lives. Here’s how top restoration companies with a renewed focus on servicing their communities have remained essential during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
Paul Davis Restoration Inc.
For president Bill Dietz, the customer experience makes Paul Davis Restoration Inc. an industry leader. “Going through major unexpected property damage is often one of the most difficult periods of a business owner or residential property owner’s life. We are there to help and provide extraordinary care while serving people in their time of need.”
Dietz says a well-respected name in the industry, national marketing initiatives, and a business development team nationally and regionally are a few of the Paul Davis Restoration benefits. “The most critical thing we offer is a highly competent team when it comes to training and business coaching, and we are proud of the support we deliver to our franchisees. We have franchisees that live, and love, the communities they serve.”
The Paul Davis system support includes operations, accounting, marketing, businesses development, and restoration skills such as managing a job and technical training in how to navigate water and fire damage.
At the onset of the pandemic, safety became paramount, with a focus on personal protective equipment, pre-screening, consistent application of disinfectant in working areas, and maintaining physical distance between teams to ensure continued operations in the event of an exposure.
Dietz offers his advice to franchisees: “It’s a unique industry. You need to dive in and learn the details and nuances. Work hard and put in the time. It’s really about the strength of the people you bring on the team. Our mission is to provide opportunities for great people to deliver best-in-class results.”
Franchisee Greg Davey was interested in buying a business and came across a Paul Davis Restorationfranchise for sale. “I didn’t seek out a restoration company, but when I looked at the business and the Paul Davis brand, it seemed like a good fit.”
For Davey, overcoming challenges starts with finding the best people, defining roles, training for gaps, and determining the best path forward. With the onset of COVID-19, the company experienced a decline in business with people working from home and catching issues early on, eliminating the need for remediation services. On the upside, an increased need for COVID-19 cleaning helped close the gap, and Paul Davis Restoration developed services and strategic cleaning protocols to continue serving customers.
Davey advises prospective franchisees to be clear on their expectations as a business owner, and toensure that their personal and company values align. “The best systems and support cannot compensate if a franchisee or business owner is not dedicated and committed to their business success.”
At PuroClean Canada, partners with experience in leadership and management don’t necessarily come with restoration or insurance experience. “You may call it ‘taking the straight and narrow way.’ History has validated our choices,” says president Jason Reis. Operating as a well-oiled machine, franchisees are evaluated on the three C’s: character, competence, and chemistry.
As an essential service, the company continues to serve homes and businesses during the pandemic, but they’ve also invested in health and safety protocols to ensure staff and clients remain protected during this time. They’ve also educated partners on available government assistance programs, and above all, remain accessible to ensure franchisees experience success during these challenging times.
Training with PuroClean includes industry certifications, scoping and estimating, and time at the in-house training academy. In adapting to the changing landscape, the company developed a Zoom training program for new franchisees, to be followed by hands-on training in Florida when borders reopen.
Reis says that following the system and taking care of staff and clients will help new franchisees succeed.
Franchisee David Owens was attracted to franchising because of the established systems, training, and potential for success. “PuroClean checked all of these boxes, provides an opportunity to help people in the community, has exceptional franchisees and corporate team, and is in a recession-proof industry.”
When it comes to the day-to-day challenges, like knowing when and how to expand a team, leaning on other successful franchisees is a great benefit. “Sound advice is only a phone call away,” explains Owens. He also likes that the PuroClean culture encourages collaboration and idea sharing.
Owens says PuroClean’s comprehensive training allows franchisees to start building a business from day one. In addition to industry certifications, it provides training in areas that are often learned on the job. After training, coaching from another successful owner in the network allowed Owens to learn key fundamentals of the business quickly.
Owens offers the following advice to prospective franchisees: “Know your personal strengths and weaknesses, ask lots of questions, and speak with a variety of franchisees. Once aboard, follow the PuroClean systems and strategies, attract and hire the best people possible, and get involved within your community.”
When disaster strikes, ServiceMaster Restore offers emergency and restoration services, and they’re part of the process at every step. “There’s an emotional side to what we do. Homes and belongings can be replaced, but there’s sentimental value; there’s heirlooms,” explains national director Stephan Roy. “There’s special training and certifications to understand this type of thing, and it’s not for everyone.”
With advancements in disaster mitigation, from different types of fire and residue to water damage and the drying of structures, it’s no longer a job, it’s a career. “It’s a lot more technical than outsiders may appreciate it to be,” says Roy. “There’s an aptitude and business acumen needed, and specialized training to teach the complexities when engaging new owners.” He adds that while compliance to standards is needed, with the scope of the business, there’s still a level of autonomy at the local level.
Roy says national coverage and superior capacity and capabilities are benefits of partnering with ServiceMaster Restore. “We have institutional knowledge and years of experience that’s hard to match because of our size and numbers.”
The franchise doesn’t have a traditional reoccurring revenue, as customers engage on an emergency as-needed basis. It can also be seasonal and weather dependent, and catastrophic events create challenges with resource management and serving people in a timely manner. “You have to right-size your business based on traditional revenue, and be prepared to respond when an event happens.” Roy says they differentiate themselves with their performance as a provider, offering an exceptional client experience and customer service.
He advises franchisees to follow the system and take advantage of the expertise and knowledge of the franchisor and their peer group of fellow franchisees. “Engagement is one of the biggest values a franchisee can benefit from.”
When an opportunity to work with ServiceMaster Restore presented itself post-college, Dwayne Frans took it. In the 23 years that followed, Frans and his wife Tanya purchased the Midland, Orillia, Barrie, and Collingwood locations in Ontario. “I was working for the franchise that I eventually bought, so I could see the value in being part of a franchise network, and ServiceMaster has a great reputation across Canada.”
Though the pandemic allowed the industry to remain open, rapid changes brought frequent corporate updates and advancements in procedures as the company pivoted to accommodate the ever-changing landscape.
A great benefit for franchisees is the network of ServiceMaster franchise owners across Canada to call on for help or advice. The continuity across the system is also a great asset. “If we get busy in our area, we can call on other franchisees for help. When they come into our town, they have the same policies, procedures, vehicles, and uniforms,” explains Frans.
After the initial training at the ServiceMaster academy, Frans says frequent updates on the industry and new products and systems propel them forward. The business development team also reviews locations often to provide additional support.
Frans advises that new and prospective franchisees use the franchise systems in place, and get to know fellow franchise owners as they share the same goals of business success.
Named one of the top 10 overall franchise opportunities
With services always in demand, the brand continues to grow as the economy grows, even when the economy is stagnant. “There are potentially strong returns on capital for our franchisees. Our job is to work with them, so they maximize their returns.”
One of Servpro’s unique propositions is a staff meteorologist to help franchisees pre-position and stay away from areas they may get trapped in. “A trapped crew is not very useful to anyone,” says Urech.
With the onset of COVID-19, Servpro successfully pivoted by leaning on their large contingent of commercial clients and introducing a program called Certified: SERVPRO Cleaned. “It’s been incredibly successful. We were up shy of nine per cent last year,” explains Urech. “To be able to pivot that well and that quickly speaks to the commitment that our head office has. It worked out well for our franchisees.”
Hands-on training includes life-sized home simulations of flood and fire damage with trainers that come with 10 to 20 years of experience doing exactly what they are teaching for the ultimate training experience.
Urech says franchisees that come on board should embrace the system. “We have all that knowledge, and it’s there for franchisees to exploit. Allow us to do our job, so you can do your job.”
Franchisee Alex Robertson’s background in construction led him to a career in restoration. As a franchiseowner, he says the onboarding, mentoring, and guidance of joining a franchise system are second to none. “Servpro really guides you in the process. They’re always thinking of what the next big change is, and they’re one step ahead.”
Initially, as the company established itself in Canada, building brand awareness at the local level was paramount. “Now we are getting more recognition and people know who we are and where we came from,” says Robertson. The brand’s established roots were a benefit with the onset of the pandemic, as the company pivoted to include cleaning and disinfecting services.
“The good thing about the industry is that it’s recession resistant. It’s a proven fact that during an economy crisis, claims go up,” explains Robertson. “The fact that the franchise was perfected in the U.S. is a huge upside.”
In advising potential franchisees, Robertson says: “You have to dive into it and do a lot of hard work, but you will get out of it what you put into it if you have gumption.”