Franchise Qa With Byron Schramm President Of Midtown Chimney Sweeps
How was your franchise/opportunity originally conceived and started?
Our story is a family story. My father is the one who really founded the chimney and dryer vent cleaning company in 1979, and at a family Christmas party we discussed the possibility of turning it into a franchised business so that others could enjoy it as well.
What was your original vision for your company? How has that changed over time?
My original vision for the company was to provide an outsourced front office service to chimney sweeps who were already in business. In franchising, we refer to these as “conversions” because the target customer to sell the franchise to is already in business, you are simply getting them to switch to your company and your brand. However, over time this has changed. Chimney sweep business owners do not appear to be ready to convert their businesses over to a franchise because they are historically rooted in their independent love for their particular small business. Many of these sweeps know us now, and wish us well (I even get thank you cards at the home office from some!) but they prefer to remain on their own and answer their own phones. As we have realized this we have begun to go straight to young entrepreneurs. Every day in America new businesses are started. Sometimes the entrepreneur uses a franchise model, and sometimes he uses his own resources. The benefit of starting a Midtown business is that we handle all the inbound marketing phone calls and emails and webform submissions and turn all those leads into customers on the franchisees schedule. We are the front office!
What do you believe is the single most important factor when choosing a franchise?
Look at the list of terminations and litigation- it will tell you about all you need to know about the way that franchisor handles its franchisees.
Why should someone choose your franchise over other similar franchises?
There is no similar franchise that does insourced front office like Midtown Chimney Sweeps Franchising!
What makes your industry attractive?
Our industry is attractive because it is a rather undisclosed industry and invisible to the casual observer. We do not have sophisticated competition, so we enjoy low advertising costs.
What do your franchise fees and royalties cover?
Our franchise fees and royalties cover a whole lot. We handle all the customer facing social media profile creation, posting and management, and we are a full service vendor executing a complex Local Search program that covers Google Plus, Yelp, Angies List, Facebook and our website. Furthermore, we handle all the inbound marketing phone calls and emails and webform submissions and turn all those leads into customers on the franchisees schedule
How do territories work for your franchisees?
Our territories are 110,000 households per territory, which works out to about 300,000 people per territory. These are protected territories, so our franchisees don’t have to worry about fighting each other for jobs or customers or each other crossing territory lines.
Why has your franchise model been successful?
Our franchise has been successful because our founder is ethical and honest and treates people according to Golden Rule. Furthermore, our founder is an absolute expert in all things related to chimneys and fireplaces and has traveled extensively to continue to glean information and training materials. Our training materials are superb, allowing technicians to be deployed rapidly and certified quickly within our industry with a Certified Chimney Professional credential.
Where do you see your franchise in 5 years and 10 years?
Our franchise will have a nationwide footprint of several hundred territories in full operation providing our approved services of chimney sweeping, dryer vent cleaning and air duct cleaning.
Can you explain your financial assistance?
We have third party vendors who provide unsecured business funding for franchisee funding.
On average, how long does it take to start a new franchise from the franchisees point of view?
From the first time franchisee perspective, we like to allow 90 days to launch. This allows us time to build the online profiles and establish a baseline of local search data on the web for end consumers to locate and initiate a call to our office or book a job online on our website.
What was your background and experience before founding this franchise?
Our Founder was engaged in running a chimney and dryer vent cleaning business that also performed fireplace installations in two states over 1,000 apart. This complex season of his life lead him to create systems and infrastructure and a management style that embraced the technology required to manage such an enterprise. When the business model was established, the franchising portion of the company’s history ad begun.
Do you have any franchisee testimonials or success stories that you would like to share?
"Midtown has given me an inspiration and opportunity to move from being an employee in the food industry to a business owner in the hearth industry. I enjoy the daily variety. I love the customer interaction, and asking for the sale. I enjoy jobs in my market that other companies are not even pursuing- from large apartment buildings with 60 chimneys to individual property managers with a couple dozen rentals. Every day is a day closer to my dream!"
-James Laut, Midtown Chimney Sweeps of South Denver
“If I had to do all this by myself, I would either be booked 6 weeks out, frustrating my customers which could cause them go with another company, or not booked at all - losing clientele because I am not able to take or return calls when I’m in the field or with a customer. This is a major reason why I love being part of a franchise."
-Tikar Caroll, Midtown Chimney Sweeps of Lancaster, California
"I really like that the home office takes all my calls, booking customers on my calendar that's been customized to fit my scheduler. One of the features I like most is to be able to schedule jobs by zone so I don’t waste gas driving back and forth across my service area. I also like that I get a text message within 5 seconds of the job, their info is saved in a quote which also gets e-mailed to me immediately. If I’m driving, sometimes I just pull over and check the quote to see if I’m close to the customer’s residence. If I want the job, I call the Franchise Support line, and tell the phone representative that I am willing to drop the price and the representative calls the customer right back to book the job! I think it’s a good system for maximizing everyone’s time and keeping jobs on the schedule.”
-Garett Kohfal, Midtown Chimney Sweeps of Boulder, Colorado