Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaning Franchise Owner Wins International Award

Q&A with Vance Morris, a former Disney manager and customer service specialist with a fast-growing Chem-Dry carpet cleaning franchise

Vance Morris was a manager for Disney before starting his Chem-Dry carpet cleaning franchise.

Vance Morris was a manager for Disney before starting his Chem-Dry carpet cleaning franchise.

If you read his resume, Vance Morris wouldn’t seem like the most likely person to own a carpet cleaning franchise. He got his start in hospitality for one of the most prestigious companies in the world, but after years of working for others, he decided to make the move to owning his own business. Since opening in 2007, Vance has used his vast knowledge of customer service and his determination to conquer the world of marketing and build a set of successful franchises in the Maryland area. Recently, Vance was the recipient of an international marketing award in which he beat over 50,000 competitors from around the globe with one of his ads. He recently shared with us how he has used his past corporate experience to build a wildly successful Chem-Dry franchise.

What were you doing before Chem-Dry?

Well, I started my career in hospitality at one of the most successful customer-service based companies in the world: Disney. I served as a service trainer and manager at Walt Disney World in Orlando for 10 years. The experience I gained was invaluable, but my wife and I agreed that it wasn’t the best place for us to raise a family. So I moved into the restaurant world, working with names like The Rainforest Cafe and Legal Sea Foods. I also started a consulting business and took on clients like NASA and Tyson Foods.

What led you to Chem-Dry?

After my last layoff in 2007, I said, “I’m done with working for someone else. It’s time to start my own business.” And that’s exactly what I did. I didn’t know anything about carpet cleaning, but what attracted me to Chem-Dry was their passion for their product. I come from a high-end service industry and I have a passion for providing top level customer care and products. With Chem-Dry, every product works as advertised and that is vital to me. I can look my clients in the eye and say, “Yeah, this stuff works.” With a high end product like Chem-Dry and my experience, I felt like it was the perfect marriage. I could create a customer-focused service business in my area, which didn’t have anything like that.

How was the training?

It was solid. I learned about the products and processes, and gained the knowledge I needed to take care of my customers’ homes. But the key thing about Chem-Dry’s training is the support you get after you leave. The Coaching Department is invaluable-you can call them anytime with any sort of problem and they are there to help. They’re a great resource and easy to work with.

How were your first few months of operation?

I officially opened my business in 2007, which, as we all know, was not the best year for our economy. Also, I had to establish a reputation for Chem-Dry in my area. It took a lot of work to build the business and make it successful given the financial climate, but with the support of the Chem-Dry team and my determination to market my business effectively and powerfully, I succeeded and I believe others can, too.

How is the network of fellow franchisees? Is there good knowledge sharing amongst the network?

Absolutely. We look out for one another. I’ve built a really strong relationship with franchisees in my area and across the country. Truly, it’s a great network and it’s incredibly helpful to be a part of the Chem-Dry family.

Chem-Dry has been named the top carpet cleaning franchise by Entrepreneur magazine for 27 consecutive years.

Chem-Dry has been named the top carpet cleaning franchise by Entrepreneur magazine for 27 consecutive years.

 Who are your primary customers?

We work with both commercial and residential customers. Our residential customers tend to own high-end homes and are passionate about protecting their investment. And our commercial customers are very similar: they are concerned with appearances and want to ensure that they are always at their best for their customers. These clients tend to be financial institutions, doctors’ offices, and boutique hotels.

You’ve done a lot to grow your business through marketing. Can you tell us a little on how you’ve done this?

One thing that I really like about Chem-Dry is that there is no National Advertising Fund, which means that, as a franchisee, you have the freedom to do what you need to do to reach your market. First and foremost, do your due diligence. Know your market inside and out and know what it takes to reach them. In my area, the Yellow Pages are still a very lucrative marketing opportunity, but in other parts of the country, the Yellow Pages are obsolete. You have to know what people are looking at and where they are getting their info. I also use an approach called “direct response marketing,” which involves a more copy-intensive form of advertising meant to reach your target market.

What’s some of the advice you give your fellow franchisees?

I believe in offering Disney-style service to customers. It’s all about the creating the sense of magic, putting on a magic show for your customers. Chem-Dry’s products work a lot of magic on their own, so it’s your role to be the magician through first class customer service. You create the experience for them by not only cleaning their carpets but by going above and beyond and leaving them a personalized note with cookies, or literally rolling out the red carpet for them when it’s time to see the finished product. Franchisees don’t need pixie dust to make big things happen with Chem-Dry — they just need the right processes and a dedication to their customers.

You were recently awarded international recognition by GKIC for an ad you submitted to their annual contest. Can you tell us a bit about this honor?

I’d be happy to! For the contest, we were challenged to repurpose an ad that had ran in the New York Times for a new Broadway musical, Rocky. The goal was to take this ad and make it a powerful tool for the everyday, mundane business. There were more than 50,000 submissions from across the world and little ol’ me won! I received three great rewards for this accomplishment: One, recognition among 50,000 top marketers in the world; two, a private consultation with Dan Kennedy, founder of GKIC; and three, the ad actually worked really well! I enjoyed the challenge and I managed to get an effective ad out of the deal. It’s one of my strongest marketing pieces and I know when I run it, I will get a good response. That’s priceless.

Would you recommend Chem-Dry as a business?

Absolutely. And I do all the time. It’s a great franchise for the support and for the products, and you can make it whatever you want to make it. You’re able to offer customers a unique and valuable experience every time you enter their homes. You can’t beat that.

Interested in starting your own Chem-Dry?

Visit the research pages on our site to learn more about the business, why it has been a success since it started in 1977, equipment packages, startup costs and average financial performance. You can also find Q&As with Chem-Dry owners and news about the company on our blog.

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