Building a successful franchise
I went to see a new consulting client back in 2005. They were two young guys (mid 30s) running a drain and sewer company in the greater Philadelphia area.
I didn’t tell them this, but coming from my own plumbing, heating and cooling business and having done some drain work (or so I thought), I wondered, what could be so special about this drain company?
I say that because, after all, drain cleaning to me at the time was a plunger, a handheld snake, and maybe a power snake. And I, like my own customers, viewed it as the lowest of the lowest trades. I mean, it’s a dirty profession that no one in their right mind would want to do … right?
How Zoom came to be
This was the backdrop for my first visit to Zoom Drain and Sewer, and my first of many visits with Jim and Jason Criniti, the co-owners.
The place was kind of messy. The guys were dressed shabbily, and the trucks and warehouse were haphazard at best.
I was feeling more than smug about all of what I, the consultant, could teach these guys. That is, until I sat with Jim and Jason and my learning began.
I didn’t know the level of sophistication there was in the drain and sewer business the way they did it at Zoom. I had not only never seen water jetting and camering as a common practice, but I had not even heard of it till then. These two guys had a customized special drain-only truck they were using to do work in residences, multi-story buildings, restaurants, and commercial and industrial applications. They were the science of drain and sewer work, and I was getting a priceless education.
The learning went both ways, though.
The first thing I taught Jim and Jason to do is what I call Planning Power!, which boils down to working on the right things, at the right time, in the right way. I then came back to customize my one-of-a-kind operations manuals to better fit the type of work and high technology they were using.
After working together for just about two months, Jim said to me while I was sitting in his conference room with him, “Al, I’d like to license — or, better yet, run — a franchise business built on the Zoom Drain and Sewer way.”
I fired back a snarky reply: “Hey Jim, why don’t we see if we can actually get these guys to show up every day, be dressed clean and neat and stay that way all day long, keep their trucks orderly, and a whole lot more first?”
Well, in short order, we did just that — and a whole lot more. My time happily came to say goodbye to Jim and Jason and the Zoom Team at the end of 2007 because they had successfully run the gauntlet of my 7 Power Concept programs.
That is, I thought I had said goodbye.
As they often do, things happen. My great friend and co-consultant on many jobs, Ellen Rohr, had done a phenomenal job growing the Ben Franklin Plumbing franchise into a powerhouse two years before. Now, she innocently asked me, “Al, do you know if any of the many contractors you’ve worked with would be interested in franchising?”
I smiled and replied: “Actually, I do. And you know them, too, from helping them with their financials and sales coaching programs. It’s Jim and Jason Criniti of Zoom Drain and Sewer. Want me to call them?” She nodded a yes.
So, I called Jim with Ellen by my side: “Jim, remember years ago, you said you’d like to make Zoom into a franchise someday? Are you still interested?”
Jim said, “I’ve been waiting by the phone all these years for your call!”
And the rest, as they say, is history.
At Zoom Franchise Company — now owned by me, Jim and Jason Criniti, and Ellen Rohr — we are committed to our core mission: “To demonstrate the best that business can be.”
Why should you care?
You should care because Zoom exemplifies all that I did well at my own family plumbing, heating and cooling business, and then some. They live the 7-Power Concepts every day and are booming in their business while living by my tagline, “Less Stress. More Success.” It’s my hope that this story inspires you to get things systematized and implemented at your company so you, too, can enjoy less stress and more success.