Chem-Dry Franchise Review: An Interview With New Chem-Dry Franchisee Jay Guy

Longtime NASCAR crew chief will lend leadership, management skills to Chem-Dry in Charlotte market

Chem-Dry franchisee and NASCAR crew chief Jay Guy. Courtesy of Jay Guy.

Why would veteran NASCAR crew chief Jay Guy turn to Chem-Dry, the nation’s leading carpet cleaner and a top-ranked franchise system, to secure his financial and career future? NASCAR is the nation’s fastest-growing sport, and Guy, at 38, has secured a reputation as one of motor sports? top crew chiefs, running the pits and setups for David Ragan, Brad Keselowski, Andy Lally and other Sprint Cup Series luminaries. You wouldn’t think Guy would spend too much time thinking about life after racing. But he has, and he decided on franchising through Chem-Dry as a way to make sure he and his wife, Carrie, have a fallback plan for when Guy tires of the revved-up, 200-mph world of stock car racing. Chem-Dry appealed to him for all sorts of reasons, as he explains. When we spoke to Guy, he was in Daytona, Fla., preparing for the Daytona 500 qualifying.

Q. What’s your background?

A: I’m originally from Lancaster, Pa., and I’ve been involved with motor sports since I was a little kid. My dad worked for (former NASCAR driver) Dave Marcis back in the ’80s, and I’ve spent basically my entire life around motor sports. I’ve been working as a crew chief since 1998, and since last spring I’ve worked for Front Row Motorsports while living in Davidson, N.C., with my wife, Carrie, and two-year-old daughter, Ansley. For the last few months, I’ve worked as crew chief for David Ragan’s No. 34 Ford in the Sprint Cup Series.

Q. What made you decide to explore franchise ownership?

A. I was just looking for an opportunity to eventually get out of the sport, so when the sport was done with me, I had a backup plan. After 26 years of being on the road, I’m getting a little tired of it. I want to get a little home life before my daughter graduates from high school and I’m still on the road. Also, I want to control my own destiny. I’ve got a pretty strong background in leadership and management skills. The team I run has about 50 to 60 people, and we deal with budgets of up to $25 million, $30 million. In franchising, they help you along. They’ve got the blueprint already laid out, and it’s up to you to build on that blueprint. You already have your starting point.

Q. How did you find out about Chem-Dry?

A. Just from research on the Internet, just basically doing a lot of research, reading Forbes and Entrepreneur. I was looking first for outlay of money, then how long it takes to get a return on your investment, how to do marketing, how restrictive each franchise was. I was looking at about six or seven different ones. They weren’t all cleaning franchises. I was looking for franchises that offered opportunity and flexibility; some food franchises, other cleaning franchises, heating and air. A variety of things.

Q. What attracted you to Chem-Dry?

A. With Chem-Dry, it all just fits. In today’s economy, people are more likely to clean things than replace them. Can I grow this business and put some people to work? That’s the main thing. Chem-Dry’s products and services are unmatched in the industry, and it’s diverse enough – cleaning carpets, rugs, upholstery, stone, tile – to weather fluctuations in different markets. If housing dips, you’ve got stone and tile. Plus there’s flexibility, so you can expand, set your own prices, work the hours you want to work, a lot of different variables. With my schedule, I want to make sure I can contribute to the business on my terms. Employing three other people, I want to make sure it works with their schedules as well. My wife, Carrie, will help run the business, and we’ll employ two technicians as well. When you have happy employees, they tend to make money. I expect we’ll be very profitable.

Q. What are your territories? Do you want to expand?

A. I have three territories, in Mecklenburg County, where Charlotte is, plus Cabarrus and Rowan counties to the northeast. I’ll have two vans to start, but by this time next year, I’ll want four vans and four territories; I’m going to try to get a territory in Iredell County north of Charlotte, the Statesville area. There’s over 1.2 million people in those first three counties, and even with the other Chem-Dry franchises that are already there, if we just get 1 percent of people there at first, that’s the foundation of a pretty good business.

Q. Who will your customers will be?

A. We’ll have plenty of business from the residential market most Chem-Dry franchisees rely on as their main base, but we’ll go after plenty of commercial work, too: Doctor’s offices, daycares, that kind of thing. At first, we’ll try and target our service areas as much as possible so we’re not too spread out with vans scattered from south Charlotte to Salisbury (50 miles away). I don’t want to boomerang my business around, especially with the price of fuel.

Q. What kind of training and support have you received?

Jay Guy has worked as a crew chief for some of NASCAR’s top Sprint Cup Series drivers, such as Brad Keselowski. Courtesy of NASCAR.com.

A. Carrie and my techs spent last week (mid-February) in Logan for training, and I’ll be going to Logan sometime in the next month, month and a half when I have races on the West Coast and can come in for a day, day and a half to learn mainly about the business side of things. My team said the training was very thorough. You’d never think it’d take a week to learn how to clean carpet and stone and tile, but they had very positive things to say about what they learned, the training they received, the step-by-step instructions for launching, developing and marketing the business. The support team is going to be just a phone call away; luckily, they’re two hours behind us, so we can call them up to 8 o’clock our time if we need them. That kind of support is important not just for new franchisees but old ones, too, I think. You’re always running across some scenario you’ve never seen before, and it’s important to have good communication with the home office and other franchisees.

Q. What separates Chem-Dry from other cleaning franchises?

A. To me, the process – cleaner, drier, healthier – is a bigger selling point than another cleaner that saturates their carpet and two days later it’s dirty again. When people get their carpets cleaned, it’s kind of like going to the dentist – you just have to get it done – but at least with us, two weeks from now, that carpet’s still going to be clean, and you’ll be glad you chose us to do the job

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