The Increasing Use of Home Services Franchise Services
And Tips on How to Find a Franchise in this Area that’s Right for You
Why the Increase in Demand?
Once upon a time in American history virtually all homeowners and renters (to a certain extent) did their own upkeep. They cleaned and performed home repairs like painting, fixing leaky faucets, minor electrical work, and some carpentry work.
Fast forward to today and many people are outsourcing a portion of their housework – even the home cleaning. One reason for this is lack of time. An ABC News report found that “not only are Americans working longer hours than at any time since statistics have been kept, but now they are also working longer than anyone else in the industrialized world. And while workers in other countries have been seeing their hours cut back by legislation focused on preventing work from infringing on private life, Americans have been going in the other direction.”
Simply put, Americans don’t have time for household chores because they’re at home less, but have the resources to pay others to do these chores for them.
The proof is in the numbers. Hundreds of billions of dollars are spent annually in the various segments that comprise home services and maintenance business. While growth rates over the past five years have been flat for most of the segments, all of the segments remained highly profitable.
As the economy rebounds, experts are forecasting growth in the next few years as discretionary income increases, and consumers regain confidence in their financial situation. For example, industry revenue for residential cleaning is estimated to increase to $14 billion annually by 2014, while Harvard University’s Joint Center for Housing Studies estimates that homeowner spending on home improvement projects will increase by 3.5 percent per year (compounded) through 2015. Also, as Jim Hunter, president of professional handyman service House Doctors puts it, “small handyman jobs and repair and maintenance can only be put off for so long.”
Another reason for the growth of these franchises is the decreasing knowledge by individuals of how to do certain projects. The eroding of the skill level necessary for these household tasks parallel the evolution of the American workforce from primarily blue-collar jobs (manual labor) to predominately white-collar jobs (office positions).
In developed nations like the United States, economic development and workforce trends – particularly in the mid to late twentieth century – have led workers away from skilled and unskilled labor positions. These jobs, commonly referred to as “blue-collar” jobs, include work where many of the skills used for home service and maintenance are harnessed (such as manufacturing, mining, construction, and maintenance). “There is lots of opportunity out there in this industry,” says Hunter. “We are changing from a ‘do it yourself’ culture to a ‘do it for me’ culture. Our population is aging and each generation has less of the skills required to do this type of work.”
Finding Your Franchise
Before proceeding with the franchise investment process, uncover your motives for franchise ownership.
“Without a specific purpose, goal or objective we have found that the level of commitment often falls short after the initial novelty of operating a franchise wanes,” says Dennis Thompson, VP of Jan-Pro. “Any type of business ownership requires hard work and is not a get rich quick type of opportunity. Most small business owners have tremendous success when applying the principles taught by the franchisor and applied consistently over time. Too many prospects enter the business with unrealistic expectations resulting in disillusionment limiting their degree of success.”
How many opportunities are out there in the area of home services and maintenance? To be direct: they are plentiful. Home services and maintenance franchises encompass many kinds of industries, including, but not limited to the following:
- Cleaning: common sanitation work typically done in a customer’s home; Example Cleaning Franchise: Maid Brigade
- Decoration: work undertaken to enhance the aesthetic value of a property; Example Decoration Franchise: Fancy Art,*N.F.P.
- Landscaping: work done to the exterior of a building to enhance “curb appeal”; includes work done with plants and other greenery as well as with stone, lumber, and other non-plant material (commonly referred to as the hardscape); Example Landscaping Franchise: Lawn Doctors
- Renovation: discretionary work that usually isn’t necessary to the use of a property, or a part of the property, but can help increase its financial value; Example Renovation Franchise: Kitchen & Home Interiors
- Repair: work undertaken to correct issues that effect the use of a property, or a part of it; Example Repair Franchise: Mr. Handyman
- Restoration: work that occurs after an event such as a fire, flood, natural disaster; or simple neglect of a property; Example Restoration Franchise: ServPro
Keep in mind, franchises can cross over into two or more of these categories, or be specialized within an industry.
And don’t be deterred by a lack of technical expertise. Virtually all franchisors provide extensive initial training for their franchisees. Training programs generally consist of classroom training and hands-on training for franchisees to gain experience before servicing customers on their own. In fact, some franchise systems de-emphasize the technical skill set typically associated with franchises in this area when seeking franchisees. Instead, these franchisors prefer to seek candidates with good communication and team building skills in order to build a strong team they manage to do the actual tasks.
Advantages of a Franchise System over Independent Operation
Prospective franchisees benefit from established systems along with easier access to a number of resources in comparison to businesses run by independent operators. Another advantage of being a part of a franchise system within this area of business is that it allows for franchisees to take advantage of the brand equity of the franchisor.
This advantage is a major benefit because by-and-large people are very protective of their homes and the things housed within them. Consumers tend to seek as many assurances as possible that the work they contract will be done properly by trustworthy individuals. “Customers are very savvy today,” says Thompson. “Therefore you must offer a value that can be validated.”