PuroClean franchisees Jeff Ellis and Andrew Chapman reflect on their first year of business — and the learnings, wins, and life changes that came with it
By Stefanie Ucci
What do you get when you join two men eager to start an entrepreneurial journey with a common desire to make a difference in people’s lives and a drive to spark change in their community? You get the franchisees of PuroClean Kelowna, of course!
Jeff Ellis and Andrew Chapman joined forces and opened their PuroClean franchise in April 2021 after their friendship blossomed into a business partnership. It was perfect timing for both of them, as they had each reached a pivotal time in their lives, and were ready for a career refresh.
Today, the duo is proudly serving the Kelowna, B.C. community by providing restoration services for residential and commercial property damage—and sweeping up awards along the way.
Making a change
PuroClean operates with the tagline “The Paramedics of Property Damage” and provides Canadians from coast to coast with quick, affordable restoration services.
Describing the brand’s mission as “relentless customer service,” Chapman explains that its primary focus is on water, fire, biohazard, and mould-related incidents. “But it also spans beyond to wind, hail, vehicle impacts, and trauma crime scenes. It’s an interesting kind of a catch-all of different construction traits.”
With a background in the construction industry, Chapman and PuroClean were a match made in heaven. Since 2011, he owned a waste management company in his home province of Alberta. In 2020, he decided it was time to look for something new.
“At the time, I was looking in Edmonton. But I always desired to move to Okanagan, B.C., so I made the decision to ship west and start transitioning,” he explains. “Then when I got here, I didn’t know what I was going to do. I was actually talking to a friend who mentioned there was a restoration company for sale and it piqued my interest being that I was previously in the construction industry.”
Enter his new business partner, who happened to have a connection to a fellow PuroClean franchisee, and Chapman’s months of research into the original restoration company turned into a quick two-week decision to join PuroClean.
Ellis, on the other hand, has a background in sports and the outdoors, with a dash of communications marketing experience. “No background in restoration at all,” he explains. “I saw PuroClean as an opportunity to take a leadership position within a business and help guide it forward. Coming out of my background and not being able to find a leadership role sometimes was frustrating, so I felt it was time to make a move and be a little bit higher up the ladder.”
Franchising with PuroClean means that Ellis and Chapman are constantly on the go, interacting with clients face to face and getting to know the people they’re helping throughout their community.
And yes, they get their hands dirty, too. “We’re extremely hands on. We wear every hat possible in the business, fortunately other than bookkeeping. We have somebody that does that for us now—that’s a welcome help,” Chapman says with a laugh. “Any [other] aspect of the business, we’re there. From doing the mitigation onsite to project management to vendor procurement to banking and financing, everything, A to Z, we do it.”
Learning from the network
When it comes to training, PuroClean has a unique hands-on experience for franchisees. Located inside the brand’s head office in Florida is its Flood House, a home that was designed to be intentionally flooded. Flood House allows franchisees to “literally put a garden hose down the stairs and push over a big can [of water] in the living room,” explains Ellis. “Then we get out all of our drying equipment, as well as the best practices that PuroClean promotes, and we get to see how we can dry a house without tearing it apart. That’s what distinguishes PuroClean from other restoration companies: we only remove stuff if we have to; we try to dry in place if possible.”
On top of the hands-on experience at Flood House, franchisees also go through a training program called PuroClean Academy. It consists of a one-week course that dives into the business, the software it uses, flood mitigation, and more vital content. Typically, the program takes place in Florida or Mississauga, but since Ellis and Chapman opened during the pandemic, they received virtual training from home.
Ellis also notes that the ongoing training is “the best part of the franchise!”
“When we got started, we were provided with the list of franchisees and were encouraged to reach out and speak with them. Every single one of them gave us at least an hour to welcome us to the network and answer questions about their experience,” says Ellis. “And then corporate reaches out, we’ve got lots of documents that come from them. It’s an active network of people working together; we don’t see each other as competitors.”
Awarding their wins
Now being nearly two years into their franchise journey, Ellis and Chapman are elated with the success they’ve found since joining PuroClean.
“The network is huge. We’re at a size now where we have enough locations and we can be on national partnership lists with large insurance companies that get us a great volume of work,” says Chapman.
“We were given the tools joining this network to be successful and then it was ultimately up to us,” adds Ellis. “PuroClean’s culture fit with how we wanted to run our business. All of us within the network run our business differently, but the general philosophy is: the customer comes first and have good communication. All those things were laid out for us but that’s how we wanted to do it anyways.”
Just over a year after opening their doors, Ellis and Chapman were recognized by the company at its annual national conference in November 2022. “We won the Rising Star Grassroots Marketing Award for our franchise location,” explains Ellis. “[It’s awarded for] getting out there and building relationships at a grassroots level.”
Joining a family-friendly franchise
As a father of one, becoming a franchisee was a welcome transition to Chapman’s personal and professional life. “I just love being an entrepreneur. I love being able to own my own business and have my success in my hands. I would say the difference with owning a franchise is that you have a support system to assist you, unlike if it was a 100 per cent start-up, on your own, where you have to find that mentorship support externally.”
At the end of the day, Chapman’s advice for aspiring franchisees is simple: “find a good support system, do the research, and understand the costs associated with it. Royalties with every franchise are different and those can definitely catch you off guard if you’re not prepared for it.”
Ditto for Ellis—his business partner did all that research, he adds with a laugh.
As a father of two himself, spending the days helping people just feels great, notes Ellis. “We’re in a position to come in and help people in a stressful situation. We can manage that situation in a way that allows them to feel safe and know that things are going to get taken care of. I think that’s a really nice piece. We’re in control of our own destiny.”