Company ProfilesNovember/December 2020

Keeping it Close to Home

5 Franchises that showcase the strength of mobile and home-based businesses 

By Georgie Binks

The past year has seen a boom in work from home jobs as the health and safety of Canadians is at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Prospective franchisees looking for self-employment opportunities are offered a unique twist on franchising through the mobile and home-based segment.

Gary Prenevost, president of FranNet of Southern Ontario and Eastern Canada, says that after the initial COVID-19 pause, the home-based category of the franchise industry has been performing quite well during the pandemic this year, as it focuses largely on needs-based services.

“I believe that it will continue to remain among the strongest segments as we emerge into our new post-pandemic reality.”

Prenevost points to a number of reasons why mobile and home-based franchises are finding success in today’s challenging economy. “The demand for needs-based businesses and essential services continues, regardless of what the economy is doing,” he says, adding that COVID-19 sparked a very short-lived interruption to these businesses that was followed by a quick adaptation and recovery.

“Not having a high fixed cost base (like rent and large staffing costs) enabled franchise owners to closely manage their expenses and preserve their cash liquidity,” he adds.

There are multiple perks to owning a mobile or home-based franchise, says Prenevost, who lists the lower initial investment, lower cost of entry, and lower ongoing monthly costs, as well as a greater profitability percentage per revenue dollar. In addition to all of these, the franchise owner typically enjoys greater convenience and lifestyle flexibility that comes from working from home and setting your own schedule.

Prenevost notes that prospective franchisees should consider a few important points before investing in the business.

“With many mobile businesses, the franchise owner focuses on marketing, customer acquisition, financial and operational management, but they hire specialized technicians to deliver the specific service,” he says. “They should therefore understand and be capable of performing these critical roles that drive success of the business, and ensure that the franchisor provides strong enough systems and support to do so.”

The franchisee should also “be willing to implement a strong community engagement strategy” to build a network of loyal clients.

“These businesses do not have a visible retail storefront, therefore the target customer cannot find them, unless the franchisee executes a blend of ongoing and strong networking, community involvement, and digital marketing – this really should be part of the regular monthly budget, often for the entire life of the business,” advises Prenevost.

Read on to learn more about how five mobile and home-based franchises across a variety of industries are continuing to provide services and connect with their communities.

GoliathTech Inc.

Most Canadians likely aren’t thinking about screw piles. In fact, they may never have heard of them. Well, they anchor down decks and buildings. And they’re also responsible for turning GoliathTech Inc. into a successful franchising operation that designs and installs them.

President Julian Reusing discovered the product when looking for an industry where there was no global leader. He purchased the company in 2013 in Sherbrooke, Quebec and started franchising the same year.

“In two hours, we can set up all the piles for a terrace to a house. Our franchisees install and drill the piles, and we, the franchisor, manufacture the piles,” explains Reusing.

The products are designed tightly around building codes, with good patented solutions that protect the company.

The franchise is almost sold out in Canada with 80 locations, although there’s still room in Edmonton, Alberta. In the United States, the company has 65 franchised units in 33 states.

Reusing says for franchisees, the biggest challenge is realizing what a great opportunity they are involved with and then it is up to the franchisee to work hard to achieve success. “The ones that do, they explode!”

COVID-19 hasn’t affected the company – rather, Reusing says sales have increased.

Reusing says franchisees don’t need any particular background, just to work hard within the franchise model. As far as training goes, franchisees are taught how to install screw piles and receive installation equipment as part of the franchise package.

Gorilla Property Services

Can you imagine running your business with drones and a smartphone? Talk about social distancing! Well, that’s exactly what Gorilla Property Services offers its franchisees and their customers, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. Gorilla Property Services provides seven exterior essential property maintenance services for residential, commercial, and property managers.

Founder Mark Amery, who started the company five years ago, explains, “Leveraging technology – drone videos, 3D cameras, and our internal CRM system – franchise owners can run the entire business from their smartphone or tablet.”

“Additionally, where small businesses get bogged down is on the administration and marketing side. We understand that and have developed systems to provide the help our franchise partners need so they can focus on their core customers,” he adds.

Amery says the brand offers clients, “peace of mind – it’s the total package for the client and our franchise partners.”

The advantages for a franchisee, Amery says are, “Our profit margins, low start-up, low overhead, internal CRM systems, bilingual call centre, no extras, and no hidden percentages – we make money only if our franchise partners do!”

The challenge for franchisees is that Gorilla Property Services franchises grow so quickly. “It’s not uncommon to go from running the operation by themselves to running multiple crews and vehicles within the first six months to a year,” says Amery.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the company’s services were deemed essential; however, the challenge was how to continue safely for clients and staff. Amery says as a group, they adapted and implemented safety protocols along with the required social distancing guidelines to ensure safety for their clients, staff, and community.

Amery says there’s no ideal franchisee, but the company attracts people who like to work and play hard. “Our culture is awesome! We have multiple opportunities for our partners to get together and network throughout the year (this year excluded) and they are constantly assisting each other with quotes, best practices, and sometimes sharing big jobs between them.”

Partners can be trained from home using virtual reality glasses and programs. “When you put those glasses on, it feels like you’re washing the side of a building or walking around a site. It’s wild!”

H2GO Mobile Wash

With clean the way to go these days, what better time to consider a H2GO Mobile Wash franchise! Company president Richard Caetano explains that H2GO is Canada’s first and leading mobile wash franchise specializing in residential, commercial, and industrial power washing services.

The company was founded by CEO Blake Cameron and Caetano in 2011 and started with a unique idea, hard work, and dedication. The company franchised in 2016 and is now on track to have 50 franchises by 2021.

“Our residential service increases the home’s curb appeal and value while our commercial and industrial services save our clients maintenance costs, increasing productivity and brand awareness,” says Caetano.

“H2GO offers franchisees the systems, training, and knowledge required to succeed,” he adds. “Our franchise system has low start-up fees and minimal overhead. It’s also a completely mobile business so you don’t have to worry about a storefront. Franchisees create their own schedules.”

During the COVID-19 pandemic, H2GO was listed as an essential business and franchisees have worked throughout it. Crews usually consist of one to two people for the residential franchise and two to four people for the commercial franchise. Franchisees follow social distancing guidelines.

The ideal H2GO franchisee is hardworking, determined, and focused. “We have franchisees from all different industry backgrounds including trades, technology, financial, and sales,” says Caetano.

His advice to franchisees for success is to work hard and stay focused on your goals.

Healthy Car International

There’s nothing like that new car smell, right? Not to a lot of people who are sensitive to it, says Michael Wright, vice president of operations for Healthy Car International. The franchise, based in Kingston, Ontario, can make even the newest, smokiest, or mustiest car smell disappear.

Healthy Car International is the only company in the world offering fully mobile odour removal, disinfection, sanitization, and protection services, offering up to a five-year warranty.

The company started 12 years ago as part of LeakPro and went out on its own two years ago. The rest is history.

“The benefits of the brand’s offering from a client’s perspective is complete and proven sanitization, disinfection, and protection services for not only vehicles such as cars, boats, and recreational vehicles but also offices, houses, and buildings,” explains Wright. “The company is mobile, with proven high demand and is one in four companies in Canada licensed to apply the Aegis AEM 5700 antimicrobial protection.”

Wright says a franchisee’s biggest initial challenge is educating the customer base. Training includes one week of hands-on instruction as well as ongoing online training.

Healthy Car International has three franchises in the Greater Toronto area and one in British Columbia and is looking for franchisees across the country. Ideal qualities for a franchisee include an ability to multi-task with a customer-driven focus and attention to detail.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the franchise has made it products available to customers in addition to performing the service. Wright says sales are up 224 per cent since the pandemic hit.

Hickory Dickory Decks

With a cool mascot called Dexter and the zippy name Hickory Dickory Decks, it’s easy to see how the high energy of this company has translated into a successful brand. Founder and CEO Tom Jacques started the company in 1987 in Hamilton, Ontario, started franchising in 1999, and today is in 65 cities, with 59 franchise locations. Jumping onto the internet when it was still in its infancy, Jacques photographed customer’s decks and posted them, along with referrals, online to build exposure.

The company’s selling point is low maintenance decking. Franchisees meet with potential customers who have likely searched the online gallery to help them create a custom deck design, then have carpenters build them.

For customers of the franchise, Jacques says, “The bottom line is nobody likes to stain a deck. It really only looks good for the first few months.”

“From a franchisee’s perspective, because of our website and our leadership in low maintenance decking, we can take a person who has never been in the deck business and make him the number one deck person in his city instantaneously,” notes Jacques.

The company had to close for a month during the COVID-19 pandemic, when residential construction halted, but business has been booming since they reopened. “Everyone has stayed home, so the deck business and every other home improvement business has gone through the roof.”

Hickory Dickory Decks is looking to open more franchises in northern Ontario, Windsor, and Kingston. The key to success, says Jacques, is to follow the proven system.