NEW YORK (
) -- Ahh. Spring is officially, even with the unseasonably warm winter experienced by much of the U.S., in the air. With spring comes the desire to open the windows, unclog the gutters, paint the kitchen and clean out that overflowing closet.
The home improvement industry has been dominated by retailers such as
that make do-it-yourself home projects look easy.
But not everyone is a DIY kind of guy (or gal). And these days, since consumers are willing to pay for almost anything, thousands of businesses have been created with professionals who will come and do all that work
you. Not only do home improvement services make for a potentially profitable business model for the handy to capitalize on, but since there is so much demand for these services, franchising the concept seems like a no-brainer.
Here are five franchises that have been successful at catering to consumers' home repair and maintenance needs and are looking for more franchisees to join their teams:
1. Mr. Handyman
147 franchise owners in 250 locations
Overall initial investment:
$120,00 to $130,000
caters to consumers who just don't have time to get to that to-do list of minor or even major home repairs. From installing attic insulation to putting up crown molding in the home, Mr. Handyman offers a wide range of services for residential and commercial properties.
Mr. Handyman is a member of the
lineup of franchises, which also includes Molly Maid, Protect Painters and 1-800-DRYCLEAN.
"Mr. Handyman is a great business opportunity because our industry has consistent demand and need. People's biggest investment are in their homes and the services we provide with repairs, maintenance and improvements are not going away anytime soon, nor can they be outsourced or replaced by technology," says Mr. Handyman President Alex Roberts.
The company helps new franchisees with customer acquisition through digital and more traditional marketing methods, as well as offering scalable services. "You can start small and add teams and vans as you grow your sales," Roberts says.
The company has moved with the slow economy by targeting more commercial customers and adding such things as "light remodeling projects" to the list of services on the residential side to supplement revenue.
Franchisees best suited to working for Mr. Handyman are used to being out in the field, not sitting behind a desk all day.
"With so many franchise opportunities out there, it's important to make sure candidates work with a reputable franchisor with adequate resources. Working with a company who has a proven track record, financial stability and a secure future is important," Roberts says. "We aren't looking for carpenters or handyman, but people who are passionate about owning their own business, managing technicians and contributing to communities through beautifying homes and creating more jobs."
So far in the first quarter, same-store sales are up more than 10% as compared with the year-earlier period. "Franchise owners are saying their phones are ringing as consumers are beginning to invest again on projects they put off during the recession," Roberts says.
2. College Hunks Hauling Junk/College Hunks Moving
39 franchise owners covering 110 territories in 24 states
Overall initial investment:
$100,000 to $150,000
This might surprise some people, but junk removal is a $1 billion industry. Combine that with moving services and you're looking at upward of $20 billion.
That's exactly the opportunity
College Hunks Moving
founders Omar Soliman and Nick Friedman saw when they founded their company in 2003, while still in college.
College Hunks markets itself as the only company that has combined junk-removal and moving.
"We can do it all. We can pack, load up U-Hauls,
provide moving labor, remove clutter. We can move people from one location. We can move people across the country. We handle everything. We're trying to become almost the Home Depot of the service industry," Soliman says.
College Hunks Hauling is often seen on the TLC series
Hoarding: Buried Alive
"The junk removal and moving business is one of the industries that has actually expanded during this recession," Friedman says. "It may not sound like a glamorous business, but we put a clean, crisp image on it."
The company considers itself a vital part of a life-changing event, such as downsizing or moving elderly parents into assisted living. "It's a lot of stress, and the last thing you want to do is deal with an annoying stressful experience," Soliman says. "We're really trying to revolutionize the service industry as a whole. The moving industry and the junk-hauling industry has some negative connotations --
Sanford and Son
. Our trucks are nice and clean, shiny. Our employees are in uniform and friendly."
Franchise owners don't actually do the hauling or moving; they act more like "head coaches" in terms of dispatching to jobs, customer acquisition and managing employees. In fact, "we strongly discourage our franchisees to be out on the field hauling junk," Soliman says. "We look for investors who are going to be coaching the employees."
Spring and summer are big seasons for the junk-removal and moving businesses.
"People are obviously doing home repairs. There's a lot of people who just want their stuff gone," he says. "You're paying, but you're paying for the stress-free service."
The company has been able to expand its business by creating partnerships with property managers and charitable organizations. Soliman says due to the high cost of gas, truck maintenance and labor, many charitable organizations are choosing to forgo home pickups. College Hunks has partnered with several organizations, including
, to service this need.
"It's a big sandbox we play in," Soliman says.
More than that, Soliman sees his company as a first-step mentor to young workers toward their own entrepreneurial endeavors. "We're probably the only service industry that has employees that have gone on to play in the NFL, lawyers, doctors and started their own businesses," he says.
3. Fresh Coat Painters
82 franchise owners
Overall initial investment:
is an interior and exterior painter for residential and commercial locations. It is part of the
Strategic Franchising Systems
group of franchises started by serial franchisor
that include service-related brands such as Home Helpers, Direct Link, The Growth Coach, Caring Transitions and eTopDollar.
Bernie Brozek, a fan of its low-investment, high-margin nature, joined as president three years ago.
The company added 40 franchisees last year and is set to add another five this month.
"We like to make sure our franchisees are cash positive before we send them out to do commercial and government work. We are focused on residential because that's a 24/7, 365-day-a-year business," Brozek says. "We can do that pretty much all day long, and by having our franchises start that way that gives them a great base for cash flow." Customers pay on completion of the job; in the commercial setting it can take up to several months to get paid.
Franchises are for the most part run out of the home, but more successful franchisees will secure a warehouse if needed.
"People tend to think that the majority of our owners are painters, yet 95% of
franchisees are entrepreneurs who own a second business or are displaced professionals," Brozek says. "You're not on the ladder. Our owners are out there selling. If you're a good marketing person, if you're someone that enjoys people and getting the business, we're perfect for you."
Fresh Coat also employs support staff, as opposed to contracting jobs out. That makes it easier when dealing with customers, particularly if issues arise within a job.
Brozek says sales have been up nearly 70% this year. "Of course there are more franchisees, but the growth pattern is good. Referrals are happening. Our franchises are very strong at getting new business," he says.
4. Clean Air Lawn Care
Overall initial investment:
$61,000 to $117,000
Clean Air Lawn Care
is the country's largest environmentally friendly lawn care service.
The company says its mission is to "change the way America cares for lawns by empowering local owners and managers to deliver an exceptional lawn care service that improves the quality of life in their communities." It was started in 2006 by Kelly Giard, who left his career as a stockbroker to form the company in his Colorado garage. This year, Clean Air Lawn Care will add franchises in seven cities, for a total of 40 locations across the U.S.
Clean Air Lawn Care uses electric and biodiesel-powered equipment for lawn mowing and landscape maintenance. They charge their equipment during the day with solar panels mounted on their trucks. Like College Hunks Hauling Junk's goal of becoming the Home Depot of junk hauling, Clean Air Lawn Care hopes to become the
of the lawn care industry.
Entrepreneurs looking for a green company with strong consumer trends underlying the business might want to consider Clean Air Lawn Care as a business.
"Local owners of Clean Air franchises find independence, flexibility, fun, financial freedom and the ability to make a difference on the environment," the company says. Other benefits include a recurring revenue stream due to high customer retention and customers willing to pay "premium pricing" that equals higher margins, it says.
Franchisees must demonstrate a proven record of business success, enjoy working outdoors and maintain a commitment to environmental issues.
Along with a designated territory, a new Clean Air franchisee gets up to four mowing trucks and one organic soil treatment truck and a mix of residential and commercial properties chosen by a franchisee, it says.
5. Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning
130 franchisees in 235 locations
Overall initial investment:
Founded by 32-year-old Jonathan Barnett in 2006,
is one of the franchise industry's fastest-growing and environmentally friendly businesses.
Franchisees can be home based and buy into the company for a relatively low cost.
The company prides itself on a strong brand and boasts of a cleaning system better than its competitors.
"We maintain our brand by providing the best possible service to every customer. Our goal is to earn lifetime customers who will use Oxi Fresh for years to come," Barnett says. "Our low start-up cost allows new entrepreneurs the opportunity to emerge even in a struggling economy."
The business is just kicking in to high gear for the Spring Cleaning season.
"Customers are looking to freshen up their carpets with a green, child-safe, pet-friendly carpet cleaner," Barnett says. "Many of our franchisees increase marketing to their areas beginning in March and April with the goal of attracting the consumers who wish to get their carpets cleaned during the spring cleaning season. This tidal wave of business lasts all summer and through the fall and winter holiday cleaning season."
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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