Offices Power Growth for Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaning Franchise Owner
Q&A with Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaning Franchise Owner Travis Nisley of Omaha, Nebraska
Eight years ago Travis Nisley left his white collar job, moved from Wisconsin to Nebraska, started a family and purchased his first Chem-Dry carpet cleaning franchise.
He knew he was taking a risk, but he was ready for big changes so that he could live life on his own terms.
?I didn?t like the politics of Corporate America,? Nisley said. ?It just never felt like the totem pole was equal for everyone. My hands were always tied, and I didn?t like that. I wanted more control over my life.?
Nisley?s move paid off. He purchased his second Omaha Chem-Dry franchise in 2008. His family ? wife Ricci, eight-year-old Reid and three-year old Boston ? is healthy and thriving.
Q. How did you find out about Chem-Dry?
I started working for Chem-Dry when I was a student at Nebraska Wesleyan University in Lincoln, Nebraska. I really enjoyed the job and felt comfortable with what I was doing. We had a great team and made a lot of money, a lot of up-sales. As the four years of college wore on, I got to know it more and more. I left Lincoln and continued to work nights and weekends for Chem-Dry in Wisconsin. I was able to study up on things and not fall completely off the wagon. When we decided we wanted to get back to Nebraska and get closer to family, it looked like something we could do. I was ready to leave Corporate America.
Q. What sets Chem-Dry apart?
At Chem-Dry we pride ourselves on being different than others. We stand out from the glut of cleaners because the corporate staff and our chemists and our proprietary chemicals really give us a huge advantage. The other thing that sets Chem-Dry apart is that we care. A lot other cleaners I run into simply don?t. I?ll never forget the first day I worked at Chem-Dry of Lincoln, my boss said, ?Well if you want to do fantastic work and go home and feel really good about what you do, buy a Chem-Dry. If you just want to clean once for someone, go buy a steam cleaner.? I have always remembered it.
I?m very proud of the work we do and how we are able to use the proprietary chemicals and the equipment we have to give the customer a better experience. We are in a service industry and a lot of times, especially in the cleaning industry, that part is forgotten. We are here to serve our customers. We don?t want them to just be a one-time customer. We want them to come back to us for 10-15-20 cleans throughout time. We want to develop long-term relationships.
Q. What kind of person makes a good Chem-Dry franchisee?
I think you find people from all walks of life who can be good franchisees, but there are some common characteristics very important to being a business owner. No. 1 is that you need an extreme competitive desire. It?s a competitive world out there. You need the desire to maximize every job and to provide incredible service to your customers. You have to hate to lose. You have to strive to be the best person and the best business owner you can. You have to set goals and be willing to dig hard to get to everything you?ve got. You can?t give up on the bad days. You have to have a desire to win in order to get to where you want to go. We live in a society right now where there are 11th place ribbons. You can?t be an 11th place carpet cleaner.
Q. Is there a misperception about the carpet cleaning industry?
If you were to poll 100 people to ask what the perception of a standard carpet cleaner is, you?d probably find a belief that carpet cleaners are people who don?t care. Some people think we are all dirtballs. Of course it?s not true, but it?s a perception we fight. Other carpet cleaners seem surprised when I tell them the vast majority of feedback and phone calls we receive is positive. In our industry it takes a lot to impress someone to call you back to say something positive. I get at least 10 positive phone calls for every negative call. This is something that?s unheard of in this industry.
We surprise a lot of people when we come into a house ? whether it?s how well we perform, how we?re dressed, our education level, and our ability to talk to customers. All that put together makes us stand apart. The first impression ? who we send into the home, how they present themselves and how well they communicate with every type of customer we have ? is everything to us.
Q. How large is the opportunity?
Chem-Dry will give you the basis to do anything you want to do as far as carpet cleaning goes. It really depends on what kind of a service you want to provide. We concentrate mainly on carpet cleaning at my franchise. We don?t do a lot with restoration. But there?s an untapped box of restoration work and there is carpet repair work and grout and tile work. There are 50 arms that can grow out of your Chem-Dry toolbox depending on how aggressive you want to be and how far you want to stretch. Chem-Dry doesn?t hold you back from anything you want to do. It?s more about your motivation level and your ability to manage how many arms you want within your business. Lack of owner motivation or owner education are the only things that can hold a franchisee back.
Q. Who are your main customers?
Our bread and butter customer is a family with a couple of children and pets. They have some disposable income. They are between ages of 30-65, with the vast majority falling between 30 and 50. They still have kids in the house and need the turnover of carpet cleaning once every year or nine months.
Q. What about commercial accounts?
We do a lot of work with a janitorial service here in town. They call us with jobs anywhere from 30,000 to 100,000 square feet. I also have a huge health care facility here in town that has 29 different facilities and 600,000 to 700,000 square feet to take care of. We started small with commercial accounts. It?s really ballooned into something phenomenal. We?ve been able to make about 60 percent profit on those jobs even though they are priced lower per square feet.
We still specialize in residential work, but the commercial side has become an important arm of the business. In 2009 we had a phenomenal residential year, but in 2010, 2011 and 2012 our residential had fallen off substantially. It was great that we were then able to grow the commercial accounts. Finally in 2013 we are ahead of the 2009 residential levels. We are up at least 20 percent. We are doing more whole homes now, as opposed to single rooms. I do foresee growth in commercial accounts, but I don?t see them replacing the residential accounts.
Q. What does franchise ownership allow you to do that you couldn?t do before?
One of the greatest things is having the freedom to just to get away. This year we?ll take our eight year old and three year old down to Disney World to the national Chem-Dry convention and stay for a few days after the convention ends. I?m able to create quality time when I need it. I?m able to work with my schedule.
If my wife has an appointment, and has to be somewhere, I can get home to be with the kids. I have five or six nights a month when I?m out doing commercial work, but I can be flexible with the schedule. I can pick a night that works for our family. When you?re not under someone else?s umbrella, you can decide how and when you want to do things. Of course, you have to bend for the client, but for the most part I?m able to schedule around things very well.
Q. Would you recommend this franchise? Why?
The main reason why I?d recommend a franchise is because your success rate is much greater. Chem-Dry has tackled a lot of issues you?re bound to have when creating a business from scratch. Also, the training and technical side of Chem-Dry is excellent. They really help you get started on the right foot. The support from the home office is phenomenal. They want to help you succeed and do really well. It?s a great opportunity, and I think there?s more opportunity every day.