Puroclean team
Published June 18, 2021

How PuroClean Captures the Enthusiasm of Franchisees and Turns It into Opportunity

Measuring satisfaction and sharing the data with candidates became a turning point in growing the brand

Tim Courtney, VP of franchise development for PuroClean sat down with FBR to talk about the opportunity he saw when he first joined the team to capture the enthusiasm of PuroClean’s owners and turn that into an advantage on both the development and operations sides. Now a three-time FBR award winner, PuroClean uses their survey data to build credibility with candidates and respond to franchisees’ needs. 

Watch the interview now: 

 

Getting the Team on Board 

Michelle Rowan: Today, I’m talking with Tim Courtney, who is the VP of franchise development for PuroClean. We have been working with PuroClean since 2016, but our relationship goes back much further because I was blessed to work with Tim at a prior job, when he was also on the development side.

Tim, I think we had worked with PuroClean once on the operation side before you came into the brand. I love the story – you’re one of the people that really use FBR very well in your development process.

When you came into PuroClean, how did you approach your team to get them on board to do this type of survey, especially coming from the development side? What was that conversation like, or why was it important for you to do that when you initially came into the brand?

Tim: That’s a great question. Onboarding with PuroClean, and trying to figure out a lot of things from a process standpoint, and trying to find the right franchise candidates, as that time went on and I finally got to my first PuroClean convention, the enthusiasm and the excitement of franchisees was very high for PuroClean.

It’s something, of course, when you come from another brand that’s much larger and there’s maybe not all that enthusiasm all the time, to see how engaged the franchisees were and how excited they were. This is a brand that we call a re‑emerging brand, right? PuroClean under new ownership now for five years.

Steve White, our President and Chief Operating Officer, had been here a little time before that. He’s the one who really started to change the culture here, putting forth a great servant‑leader model and franchisee first.

That’s started to grow. I was like, “Wow, we’ve got to capture this.” That’s when I said, “Have you guys ever done the FBR survey?” Steve was like, “Yeah, a while ago. Maybe we didn’t do so well, but we were still going through changes. I don’t know.”

I said, “Based on what I just saw at convention, I think now’s a good time to go back in and see.” I talked about how I’d used it in the past, how we met with all the execs, and what were the top five reasons that we scored well, and what were the bottom five things that we scored well.

Maybe those were things that we’ve worked on with our leadership councils to improve. It was me being excited about how excited the franchisees were, that I was just curious to see. Of course, we did the survey and we scored very well.

We used it to our advantage, and it’s helped also in those bottom five things that we still look at today. It’s helped drive change in the network.

We used it to our advantage, and it’s helped also in those bottom five things that we still look at today, it’s helped drive change in the network.

 

Aligning Operations and Development to Build Credibility

Michelle: Steven’s a strong operations leader. I know that he was digging into the data and using it on the operations side. In my time in franchising, there’s the stereotypical sales guy or gal that’s so development focused, and they’re like, 100 locations sold, and just really focused on that number.

That’s probably some reflection of the goals that are put on people on the development team. I feel you’re part of this, I would say, elite group of franchise development executives that understands the alignment, or the importance of the operations, and the development team understanding from a franchisee’s perspective, what’s happening.

If you sell something your operations team can’t deliver on, it’s going to make your job a lot harder. You’re not bouncing from brand to brand, so you’re there to bring in the right candidate to the brand, and then see them be successful, so that makes your job easier.

I love that you connect those teams, or those thoughts together. I know that Steve is using it on the operations side, but I love the way that you guys use it on the candidate side.

I wonder if you could tell us, what does it mean to you to be a Franchisee Satisfaction Award winner, or to have that data to share with candidates when you’re trying to tell them about PuroClean, or understand if they’re the right fit for your brand?

Tim: That all leads back to the servant‑leadership and some of our core values, which is obviously, the servant‑leadership, active collaboration and extreme ownership. Active collaboration means we start collaborating with our franchisee prospects from the very beginning.

Active collaboration means we start collaborating with our franchisee prospects from the very beginning.

Once they get into that application level, once they start to prepare themselves for meet-the-team day, which, by the way, we’re now back to doing hybrid meet‑the‑team days, where if you want to come, come, but we’re also still going to have our virtual meet-the-team days, which were widely successful last year.

Right now, today, we actually have guests in‑house. We have some via the computer, and we’re seeing good success with that. At the end of every meet‑the‑team day, we pull up the little one sheet that we create from the FBR survey, that calls out some of the best marks about, would our franchise owners do this again?, and the high marks that we get with that.

Then I say, “Look, if you want full access to this report, let me know, and I’ll email it to you. We’re an open book.” They see that, and they also know, “Wow, so active collaboration isn’t something that’s just painted on their wall in the lobby. They’re going to share that with me. Good, bad or ugly.”

I say, “You can have access to it, and ask us any questions on it.” That helps us a long way, and shows credibility in the brand.

Michelle: That can be scary for a lot of development people to think through. I want to show the positive parts. I want to sell my brand, and put the best foot forward. This not any information that they’re not going to find by picking up the phone and talking to franchisees.

It allows you to quantify the amount of franchisees that are unhappy, which spoiler alert, if you have over 50 franchisees, someone’s not happy. That’s the nature of personalities. It also gives them an opportunity to ask you about what they’re seeing.

It’s that age‑old thing they tell us all in sales: You can’t fight an objection unless you get them to articulate what it is. This helps foster what you said, We’re open. Ask me about what you’re seeing. Tell me what is raising a red flag, or what you’re excited about.”

It allows you to create more of a relationship than just, “No, look at the shiny. Look at the shiny.” I love that. 

This last year was crazy. No matter who you talk to, they have a different story. Tell us how your team and how your franchisees were impacted during COVID? I’m assuming that they were very busy. 

 

Growing the Core Business During the Pandemic

Tim: Yes, we were very busy from an operational side, obviously. We’re PuroClean, and certainly, our core business is water damage, fire, smoke damage, and mold, but also biohazard, which would include virus stuff.

As the country tried to figure out, how do we mitigate the virus and how do we clean?, our ops teams worked really late nights, trying to figure out what’s the latest CDC guidance? What are the best products to clean this? All of that.

A lot of our owners took those and started to give back to their community as well. A lot of them cleaned ambulances for free. They cleaned first responder vehicles, everything they could, to give back. In the end, it drew press and stuff for local franchises, and helped drive the brand.

A lot of our owners…cleaned ambulances for free. They cleaned first responder vehicles, everything they could, to give back. 

I could tell you, though, that it was not the virus business that helped shape PuroClean. Our core continued to grow. Pipes break. Toilets and bathtubs overflow, and kitchens burn.

I always tell this joke, it’s not really a joke, but it’s like the more we try to recreate the dishes from our restaurants that we weren’t allowed to go to anymore, we saw an uptick in kitchen fires.

Michelle: Oh, my gosh. I didn’t even think about that. Inexperienced chefs. [laughs]

Tim: Exactly. The core business continued to go. Disaster doesn’t care whether a pandemic’s going on. It’s going to happen. From a franchise development perspective, obviously, the word of the year is pivot.

How did we have to try and pivot? We are a brand that sells itself on its culture, its leadership, and its people. How do you do that through this camera? It took a lot of soul searching. We certainly had a couple that didn’t go so well.

What we did through the development of the team here, and my marketing team specifically, is we turned these virtual meet the team days into almost an interview. We’d have someone in the room who moderates, and there’s some slides, it’s more some questions.

These are questions that we’ve heard throughout our many meet‑the‑team days, but we’re getting out in front of them. That would also now drive more active collaboration on‑screen. Look, we had our best quarter, the second quarter of last year into the third quarter were the best numbers ever, as far as units being awarded and things of that nature, all through [laughs] the TV screen.

We struck lightning in a bottle. We weren’t presenting at people, we were having conversations. We gave them more access to our executives who said, “If you think of something that we didn’t cover, here’s my email. Here’s my phone. Call me.”

We struck lightning in a bottle. We weren’t presenting at people, we were having conversations. We gave them more access to our executives who said, “If you think of something that we didn’t cover, here’s my email. Here’s my phone. Call me.”

It was that openness to keep connecting with our prospects that led to us beating our franchise development goal last year. It’s carried through to this year. We had a record‑breaking first quarter, our numbers that are way beyond what I can imagine. We’ve been blessed.

Michelle: It sounds like you’re using the visual part of what everyone’s used to: Zooming to build relationships with those candidates. You’re doing it earlier on, which is great. Do you think that will continue? Do you think that you’ll bring them into your team earlier than the discovery day, interacting with your team, and asking those questions?

Tim: Yes, definitely.

 

Keeping Franchisees Connected

Michelle: You’ve done a good job describing the culture of PuroClean. What about opportunities that you offer your franchisees to learn and connect with each other within that network, or that frame of your culture?

Tim: We did have in‑person regional meetings towards the end of last year in states that allowed it. Since we didn’t have a national convention, we made it more like a super regional. We had two. We had three scheduled, but one state didn’t fully open up yet. We had over 50 franchisees at both of them.

There was a need to connect. There was a need to do that. We did it very safely, in accordance with the CDC. That was another thing. Early on in the pandemic, we did daily calls with the network. It was ownership involved. It was execs, there were the regional directors. Everybody had a little tidbit of something to share in how to go about keeping your business going.

We did that for almost a few months. Like I said, again, we’re fortunate here to be in Florida where we were not as locked down, as such. We only shut the office probably for about three months to see what was going on. Obviously, we’re PuroClean and we can clean our buildings and such.

Getting people back into the office, getting them back in and communicating with the owners, I think that made a difference. They said, “These guys are going to bat for us,” and it helped. It helped drive some months of record revenue for the team, because our regional directors were able to start doing visits. They were doing virtual visits, as well, and keeping them in.

To bring in a wide web of different areas of communication to the franchise owners was another monumental task that we were able to pull off pretty well.

Michelle: I remember talking to Steve about those regional meetings. Those were at requests of the franchisees. They wanted you back in the market.

I love that. A culture of listening to what your franchisees need. I have one last question for you. If someone asked you, “Why should I do business with FBR?” what would you tell them?

Tim: I think, A: culture. You guys are a great culture, and you provide a great product and guidance. Not only do you provide the survey data, which is instrumental, but you also help us learn how to analyze the data, as well.

You provide a great product and guidance. Not only do you provide the survey data, which is instrumental, but you also help us learn how to analyze the data, as well.

We’re getting pretty good at it now. We don’t require your phone calls, except if we have some questions. But you’re there to help guide franchisors through the data that you compile, and maybe even help develop some solutions of what you’ve seen other franchisors experience and do.

You’re also there more as a satisfaction consultation that could help drive impactful change to businesses, and help them succeed and grow. We love it. You guys are like family. We appreciate the intel that your survey provides.   


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About the Author: Ali Forman

As the Marketing Director, Ali’s role is to educate franchise companies about and inspire them to participate in FBR’s research in order to grow and improve their brands. Ali lives in Maine with her husband and two sons.
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