Owners Talk Growth, Challenges in Fast-Growing Nashville Market
A busy, thriving metro market coupled with growing suburban areas means lots of opportunity for this husband-and-wife team in booming Middle Tennessee
Industry media loves to talk to Chem-Dry carpet cleaning franchise owners because they have great stories to tell. Tara and Tim Outson are no different, as a recent Franchise Times profile reveals. Here are some of the Outsons’ thoughts on getting started, and the benefits of multiple-unit ownership in the rapidly growing metro Nashville area.
Starting a new market can be tough. How did you keep things interesting early on?
Tara: We moved here to start our business; we knew one person when we moved here. We didn’t have an option to fall back on or old jobs to go back to. That was probably to our benefit. But it was actually really fun. We’d set silly little goals for the month. Tim’s a farm boy from Nebraska, so you can just pay him in pie, so whenever he’d hit a certain goal I’d make him a pie. We had a lot of pie.
What is your hiring process for technicians?
We do in-person interviews, then ride-along interviews, too. A lot of employees say they can definitely do it, it won’t be hard, then they realize all the job entails. But it really is just going through a lot of interviews to see who I’m comfortable with. I don’t want to bring anyone in a client’s home that I wouldn’t feel comfortable with in my home.
They also have to like animals — that’s a given since 85 percent of our clients have pets and mostly call us for pet-related issues. And generally, if you like animals, you’re a good person.
Being married to your business partner can be a tricky thing. Is there a mantra for making that work?
Don’t invade my space. But seriously, it’s being honest and knowing what your strengths are and finding out what you’re good at. At first neither of us was good at anything, neither of us had taken a business class in college. So, it was a process of seeing that, ‘Oh, you’re really good at this, so I’ll back away.’ ”
You’re a fan of the Chem-Dry franchisee convention, but how do you execute on those big ideas?
You leave wanting to do a million things. My techs say every year, “Oh, you just got back from convention.” We’ll sit down with a list of things we want to do, and we’ll pick one that will be easiest to do right away, then ease into it on the technician side, focusing on one thing to change at a time so you don’t frazzle them. You just have a list and agree on where to start and see if it works.
Nashville is growing like crazy. How do you capitalize on the influx of people?
It’s phenomenal how many people are moving here every day. We love it because it means more customers. But what we prefer is for the Realtors to be educated enough to call us before they move in; this way the entire home can be a healthy place to come to. That’s our ideal client in this market.
What is your best advice for a new franchisee or someone making the jump to multiple units?
Just talk. Don’t be afraid to talk, and ask as many questions of other franchisees as you can.
At 12 years, you’ve got some experience, but what are you still asking about?
I love asking questions of newer franchisees. Just because they’re newer doesn’t mean they don’t know things. I don’t want to feel old, so it’s learning more relevant ways to advertise to millennials or stuff like that or even just what are millennials really thinking about and how to approach them. Tim and I made a promise to each other to not get stuck in our ways because that’s how you fail. You have to be open to new ideas and growth.
Chem-Dry is the world’s largest carpet and upholstery cleaning franchise with nearly 3,500 franchises in 55 countries, serving 11,000 homes and businesses a day. Chem-Dry has been Entrepreneur magazine’s top-rated carpet cleaning franchise for 30 straight years. The Chem-Dry Hot Carbonating Extraction process delivers a faster-drying, deeper and more environmentally friendly clean that appeals to home and business owners. In addition to carpet and area rugs, Chem-Dry provides cleaning and renewal services for tile and stone, granite countertops, leather and upholstery.