Entrepreneurial Advice from Nancy Rhodes, Enviro-Master Franchise Owner in Columbia, SC
Great Teams Make Successful Entrepreneurs
Every entrepreneur has a unique story about what led them to take the plunge and start their own business. The one idea we all agree on is that we want to be successful. And you can’t do that without a great team, especially during the startup phase of a new company. I chose to invest in a franchise opportunity because I wanted an established brand with a proven business model for growth to be the backbone of my team.
I’m still the one responsible for my company’s bottom line. I go out and find new business, hire and train employees, and run the day-to-day operations. To do this, I draw on my business background in finance and medical school administration. I have a master degree in public health from Yale University and have run departments with budgets in the hundreds of millions of dollars. You’d think running a business of about a million would be easy, but it’s not.
Although I knew how to run business operations and finance, I had to develop the skills to get new customers and generate leads. I had to get out of my comfort zone to become a good salesperson. The training and support I received from my corporate team helped me to get my business up and running faster.
I’ve owned my Enviro-Master Services franchise since April 2017. In one year, I nearly doubled my revenue. In June 2019, my restroom hygiene company hit the million-dollar mark in revenue. I owe that success to my team. Let me introduce you to other members of my team.
Peer Support Group
Another key to my success is being part of a professional peer group. The company has several peer groups for franchises of various revenue levels. In addition, there are peer groups which are based on geographic locations. I’m part of the “Carolinas Group,” which represents franchise owners in North and South Carolina. Each franchise owner has a protected territory, so there’s no downside to owners sharing their secret sauce with fellow franchisees.
We have regular conference calls and get together periodically at corporate headquarters. We share business leads, brainstorm solutions when someone has a problem, and celebrate each other’s victories. These are the people I turn to when I need business advice. Supporting each other makes the company and the brand stronger, and we all benefit.
When I met the company founder, Pat Swisher, he told me, “We are a selling organization that does restroom hygiene.” I’m really working with my team to understand and live that proven business philosophy. Last year, Enviro-Master franchisees were responsible for more than $54 million in revenue. I like being a part of that team.
Good Employees are the Front Line of Your Team
I like to see the enthusiasm of my technicians as our success grows. As a business owner I believe in sharing that success with the team, so when we celebrated our one-year anniversary, I passed out bonuses to everyone. I think some people were shocked at how much I gave them, but I wanted them to know how much I appreciate their hard work. I have 13 full- and part-time employees, and I’m currently recruiting for a full-time salesperson.
All our technicians go through a proven training program, which gives them the tools to succeed. They are enthusiastic because they see the difference our services can make for a business. I have so much confidence in my technicians, our procedures, and our products that I tell my customers I will kiss any toilet my team has cleaned. I love feeling that confident in what we do!
I consider myself and my technicians partners with our customers. Everyone knows a dirty restroom reflects poorly on a business. We are proud to take a new customer’s filthy, smelly restroom and turn it into a source of pride. We share before and after pictures of restroom transformations like we share photos of our families.
Surviving the Startup Phase
Be prepared to have your new business be your primary focus. These early years are demanding. Getting new customers was a big challenge for me. I’ve become a good salesperson because I believe in the services and products I’m selling, and my customers can see that. I enjoy getting out every day and meeting new people, and my numbers are reflecting that enthusiasm. Currently, I’m on pace to hit my goal of becoming a $1.5 million-dollar franchise.
It takes a while for your company to get to the break-even point. You will lose customers because businesses go away, but never let your quality of service be the reason you lost a customer. Always be willing to go the extra mile.
Make sure you have enough financial resources; because the early years are challenging financially. My husband still has a full-time job but is willing to jump in and help whenever I need an extra pair of hands. He also keeps our family household running smoothly, so I can focus on the business. He’s just an amazing support to me; my team would not be complete without him.
People are surprised that I’m in the restroom-cleaning business. I like that I’m an entrepreneur who owns a recession-resistant business that has great potential for growth and is part of an amazing team. My advice to any entrepreneur is to find a team that supports your success.
Nancy Rhodes is the owner of Enviro-Master Services of Columbia-Augusta.