BrickKicker Home Inspection

Q&A with The BrickKicker's General Manager of Franchise Operations, Rob Claus

How was your franchise/opportunity originally conceived and started?

The BrickKicker was founded in 1987 by two partners.  Ron Ewald and Leonard Franckowiak.  Ron is an expert and the Sales and Marketing side and Leonard was an expert on the Technical side.  Together they started a home inspection company in the Chicagoland market.  Rob Claus joined The BrickKicker in 1990 and became their first full-time and lead inspector.  After expanding to 12 inspectors and three other company managed markets the next logical business progression was to start franchising.  In 1995 four franchises were opened and the model was created.  

What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?

The original vision of the company was to foster the entrepreneurial spirit in others and allow them the same opportunities we had when The BrickKicker was founded.  It really has not changed much over time.  The American Dream of owning your own operation and controlling your own destiny is alive and well.

What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?

Do you personally fit in the culture of the franchise, are you going to be proud of what it stands for, and can you wear the colors every day?

Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?

At the end of the day the industry is the same.  A home inspection is a home inspection.   We believe that we can provide equal service and equal support but at a lower cost.  We are not the largest by any means and we are very comfortable with stating that.  This then could be to our advantage.  We have much more opportunity out there for franchises to grow and to grow without internal franchise competition.  

What makes your industry attractive?

Everyone will eventually be a potential client.  Americans are buying homes every day.  This industry is one which does not require inventory, products to sell, or tremendous overhead.  It can be operated from the front seat of a vehicle or the kitchen table.  The greatest skill necessary to operate within this industry is above your shoulders.  This allows a potential franchise to enter with a very low margin and low investment.

What types of qualities do you look for in potential franchisees?

Drive, professionalism, honesty, integrity and follow-up.  These are all very important but the most important might be the desire to be the best and to never stop learning.  

What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?

BrickKickers will have an exclusive territory.  Each new franchise will have professional training, initial proprietary designed software, access to a database management system and scheduling system, unlimited technical assistance both live or electronic, technical resource manuals, a personal landing page, and ready to use marketing and sales materials.

How do territories work for your franchisees?

Territories are exclusive.  They are sold in population units and mutually agreed upon during franchise discussions.  In addition, all franchises are provided the courtesy of right of first refusal on all contiguous franchise territory prior to sale to a third party.

Why has your franchise model been successful?

We feel our model has worked for us because we treat each franchise operation with respect and as family. We are not afraid to not sell a franchise either.  If we feel a potential franchise is not a good fit we will say so. We believe in the American Dream and want success for everyone.  As a franchisor we are very unique. Not only are we a Home Inspector Franchising Company but we are also home inspectors. Everyday our corporate office is performing inspection with our 14 inspector staff.  Before release an initiative to the franchises we have placed it into field studies.   By the time a franchise operator has gotten a project it is be in trials for a few months and we know it will work.

Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?

The housing industry is starting to build back to where it once was heading.  As American wealth builds and the housing market recovers so will the home inspections.  As a franchisor we are very unique.  Not only are we a Home Inspector Franchising Company but we are also home inspectors.  We believe we can double our operation in the next ten years.

What is your favorite advice for new franchisees to help them succeed?

Get up and go to work.  Home inspections are fun.  You should never have a bad day.  If someone is buying a home it is a happy occurrence in their lives.   Enjoy what you do and you will be successful.  

What would you tell potential franchisees that may be nervous about the financial burdens of starting a franchise?

The financial burden occurs between the time the franchise is purchased and when the phone starts to ring. Buying a franchise is no guarantee.  Every day is an opportunity to make another contact and find another referral source.  If you want to grow and want financial success you have put boots on the ground and make the sales calls.  

Can you explain your financial assistance (if applicable)?

We do offer some financing options.  We like to think of ourselves as the last resort.  We are a fairly low cost franchise opportunity and as result the financing is typically not the issue. 

On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?

Between the time you start your training and the time you are ready to do inspections could be as little as three weeks.  This being said, it most likely took you two to three months prior to your training to get your franchise to the point you were ready to be trained.  The only challenge would be, certain states might have certain license requirements that would slow down the process or cause certain road blocks to appear.

What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?

Ron Ewald was in sales.  He sold products for several fortune 500 companies and was very successful. Leonard Franckowiak was a builder and an entrepreneur looking to enter the home inspection industry.  Rob Claus has a degree in Construction Management and was The BrickKickers first full-time inspector.  Prior to franchising The BrickKicker had performed over 5000 inspections in Chicagoland.

Do you have any franchisee testimonials or success stories that you would like to share?

"One of the most important advantages for me in being part of The BrickKicker Team is the expert technical support I receive from the home office. Here in Western New York, I get asked to inspect a lot of older homes built in the early 1900's. Many of these beautifully crafted homes have some features you couldn't duplicate today and, in some cases, some features you wouldn't want to duplicate today. With 100 years of construction techniques to evaluate, it is not unusual to come across a plumbing, electrical or structural issue with which I am not familiar. With the Tech Support offered at The BrickKicker, I can email some photographs of the particular situation to the home office and a knowledgeable staff person or other franchisee will respond to help me diagnose the issue quickly. This I find absolutely invaluable!"  R. Smith

“Our decision to join The BrickKicker team was influenced greatly by the friendly, helpful communication we received from everyone at the home office. The personal support continued as we began our relationship with The BrickKicker, including the great training classes we were able to attend. The marketing support we have received has been of great benefit, including everything from the excellent printed material and newsletters that are available for our use to the "Kick-Start" visit to help us energize our marketing. The printed material provides us with a professional image that gives us an edge over the competition. Annual conferences are a great way to keep up to date with both marketing and technical knowledge as well as an opportunity to network with other BrickKickers. All in all, The BrickKicker team has provided us with excellent resources for our home inspection business.”  S. Arne

“After finally deciding to make the exciting, but scary career change, we spent months and months researching home inspection franchise opportunities. After reviewing informational packets and speaking with several different companies, we finally decided on the BrickKicker because they had the most complete program available. We liked the fact that classroom and lab training, marketing training and materials, field support, the Kick-Start visit and ongoing business support were all included within the package. We also liked the catchy name -- and we're finding out our clients like it too! And, when we finally decided on The BrickKicker and needed special training dates to ensure we would be ready an annual event with a local realtor group, The BrickKicker accommodated. What service!  Joining The BrickKicker team has been a life-changing, and positive experience for us. We are excited about the growth potential we see in our future and are grateful for the kindness and support we received and continue to receive from the home-office staff."  B. Bills

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