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Entrepreneur Speaks on Brand Extension in the Franchise Cleaning Business

Written by : Lance Winslow
2008-10-15
On question I have been asked over and over again from prospective franchisees of our companies has been one in which I am very adamant about it; do we require prior experience? No, like many franchise companies we actually frown upon it and think it is such a detriment that we usually disqualify the franchise candidate if they do have prior experience. And we always ask the prospective franchise buyer what sort of experience they have in our industry. When people find out we specifically do not want to sell franchises to those in our industry we are often ask; “Why Not,” as it would appear that a franchisee with prior experience has a leg up on the world and would have a better chance of instant success in our business models.

Generally it is like Ray Kroc found, I would rather take someone with no experience than one with experience. What he was saying in "Grinding It Out," his autobiography, which I recommend was someone with restaurant experience comes with preconceived notions, and since he was re-inventing the restaurant business, that would only hinder his progress. I agree. So I do not want people in my industry as franchisees, only to join the Founders Round Table (my master mind group). Mostly people I met by chance at places like Starbucks: Venti Mocha Power frappachino please...no whip." Need to go where people's neurons are transmitting fastest otherwise I get board and have to leave. Our business is customer driven; we cannot stop it if we had too. They want service and they want it now, and they demand that it be us, we are in the cleaning business and our franchise system has grown from customers desires to have things cleaned. The problem is how do you wash every house, roof, awning, mini-blind, window, deck, dock, boat, plane, tractor, truck, car, and then change the oil, wax them, and coat them? You have to divide it into smaller pieces because it is too ominous of a task. KISS-keep it simple. Specialize and over deliver, thus strengthening the brand.' THE GUYS."

So what we did is what we had to do. If our franchisees are in a neighborhood washing houses but are suppose to be washing cars at the golf course, then how can we give good service? We can't. So we find the best people in the world at each type of washing and have them join our team, we train the team from those best and knock out the 20-year learning curve. Presto! We have a franchise that is actually worth more than just a name. With the synergy of each additional brand in the area and the sharing of customer databases it is easy to have power of presence. When someone thinks washing they think us. This way our franchisees get more calls and can service more customers and create more word of mouth and grow faster. In theory it looks easy. But it is a giant undertaking. Each new franchise we start and the more customers we service the better we get to service them more efficiently by learning from our network. The more valuable our franchise is to the newest team member and the faster the ROI, so the more trucks they can buy to service the more customers who call in. Our customers ask us for additional services. We should co-brand with ourselves, why? As not to lose secrets. Andy Grove is correct only the paranoid survive. Now if I could only double my speed and half the time to half the labor to do twice the work. The goal is simple we want to clean up the world.

I think any franchisor who goes for brand extension needs to be very careful about how they go about it. There are many ways to excel in the market thru co-branding and franchising or licensing and equally as many theories of how to do it. In the end you need to pick a formula that is working and just go with it. Think on this.
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