As Remodeling Services Unlimited, in Murfreesboro, Tenn., grew in the 1990s and owners Mark Williams and Patric Bouton established systems and processes, they thought about franchising their remodeling company format. They researched the process and decided the time wasn’t right.
When the recession hit in 2008, Williams saw new-construction companies turn to remodeling and laid-off carpenters opening their own remodeling firms. “The key ingredient, which was missing before, was there,” he says of this influx of competition. Many of these owners got into the business quickly, he says, but they’re not prepared. Though the good companies will learn and develop through trial and error, Williams decided now was the right time to offer a franchise that would give them a head start.
He started last year by developing software based on the company’s efficiencies and processes. “This is our key advantage. Our software is not just estimating, it takes a business from the initial call through the estimate, and through the production process,” Williams says. “There are quality-control processes at specific benchmarks in the system.”
The software is Web-based, so franchisees and their employees can access information from anywhere. Each franchisee can also tailor the software “command center” to reflect its speciality or region, including pricing and products.
An employee portal gives employees access to specific areas or tasks, for example, allowing them to submit timesheets or cost codes for projects. And carpenters can scan receipts to enter material purchases in the system. The software also interfaces with QuickBooks for accurate estimates and job costing.
Setting the Stage
To prepare for this franchise offering, Williams changed the company name from Remodeling Services Unlimited to RSU Contractors. “Our brand needed some work. It was such a generic name that we had trouble protecting it,” he says.
Bouton runs the original full-service remodeling company. “We had two people in place. That was a great situation for us,” Williams says.
Williams is looking for franchise companies that, similar to how he and Bouton run RSU Contractors, view the business as a community-based model. “Our slogan is ‘Hand tools and handshakes,’” Williams says. “We want the right person who enjoys interaction with clients. We have high-tech offerings, but we are also grass-roots.”
Whether a potential franchisee has a construction background or not, Williams hopes they will value the RSU Contractors franchising model’s internal organization and software and technology to support the operation.
The franchise purchase includes a week of training at the company’s headquarters, a visit by RSU representatives to the franchisee’s location, and a return visit after two months to review operations.
The company’s initial focus is the Tennessee area, but it expects to grow and develop nationally.
Here is a link to the company’s information on the International Franchise Association site.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.