It has been said repeatedly over the past few years, that HVAC business owners should try to recruit from ex-military personnel. Well, Lenny Siers is way ahead of that game.
His story of fantastic franchising success illustrates the “no limits” possibilities that are open to not only those with military experience, but to all who want to become successful service industry franchise owners under the Direct Energy® umbrella of brands.
Since beginning in 2005, Siers now operates a One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning®, Benjamin Franklin Plumbing® and Mister Sparky® electrical services franchise in Niceville, in Northwest FL. He recently expanded the One Hour and Benjamin Franklin businesses into northern Alabama.
Siers, 48, served in the U.S. Air Force for seven years, where he received training in HVAC and mechanical systems. Upon leaving the Air Force, Siers used his HVAC and mechanical systems training to start his own residential contracting business. In 2005 he converted to One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning. His was the 81st territory to franchise.
Today, the One Hour brand is operating in 343 franchised territories.
In 2010 Siers opened his first Benjamin Franklin Plumbing territory, and in 2017 he added Mister Sparky Electric®. Siers now operates in 20 franchise territories with a fleet of more than 120 residential service vans.
“Coming from the military, I wanted to get into something that was more uniform and systematic, with processes of the kind franchise systems offer,” Siers said. “I work with a system that was already perfected, and I make it even better, by applying my efforts toward it. This is very much about taking a system that was already proven, and making it even better by applying it at a local level.”
In-step With Today’s Consumers
Siers said the Direct Energy service brands provide a strategy to float easily over the changing consumer landscape, one in which homeowners want a faster response and easy communication with home service professional. And, of course, they expect work to be of the highest quality.
“The system Direct Energy provides is evolving with the way consumers expect home services to provide them a quicker response, a more digital response. So we’re keeping up with the times by training our franchisees and their employees to keep up to date with today’s changing market and needs of consumers,” Siers said. “Whether it’s our marketing or our training, we’re digital, we’re paperless, we’re more iPad show-and-tell, more iPad billing, and more Internet marketing. We’re more current and up-to-date in our training and our system.”
Thinking back to the first days as a franchise owner, Siers is thankful for those entrepreneurs who were ready to provide support and advise, from the Direct Energy corporate development team to his “brothers and sisters” from other Direct Energy franchises who were always willing to help, especially in the plumbing business, which was the area he was least familiar with.
Siers will soon begin to take delivery of about 19 new service vans, to be allotted to technicians in each area of service. This will bring his vehicle total to 139. That’s a significant responsibility, but he’s ready to take it on, as he proceeds to move forward with Direct Energy’s “Master Expansion” program.
“As our footprint grows nationally, I feel comfortable that I can grow outside my current market into surrounding markets and duplicate the actions I have successfully performed in this market in multi markets. My goal is to expand to six markets, from three to six this year and to 10 next year. That will push us to about 30 to 40 territories.”
For each new franchise conversion, a multiple-person team is dispatched to provide extended, on-site instruction and mentoring for three to five months, depending on the size of the business and the amount of work required to get the new enterprise off the ground.
“If they’re currently running a successful operation of considerable size, Direct Energy offers them the opportunity to take the next step,” Siers explained. “If business owners are currently running a successful operation of sufficient size, Direct Energy offers the opportunity to take the next step and climb to the next level of running a business.
“In the event their operations are not running as good as they’d like them to, they give the tools, the systems and the network to allow them to get to the next level. It’s for those who want to improve just one operation, and for those who have been working for two generations in one market, and want to expand but don’t know how. This provides them with an opportunity to see the model at work, by visiting other companies that have expanded, and learning from them.”
With the Direct Energy Area Development area development program, the franchisor works with the franchisee to locate and purchase a territory at a discount, and provides helpful support.
“The area development program allows you to take it to the next level, where there’s more participation from the franchisor in helping you grow, with more coaching, more next level thinking, and more planning,” Siers said. “They don’t just say, ‘Go buy more territory and good luck with it.’ “They actually help you conduct research, help you look at the expansion option and make sure it’s right for you. Sort of like a coach in the corner of a boxing ring, or on the sidelines. You kind of feel like you’ve got a partner but they’re not a partner, they’re a franchisor.”
“To be a franchisee you have to have passion for your industry,” Siers said. “We’re finding that many people who aren’t part of a system become burned out. With a franchise, you have the chance to get passionate again and be refreshed on a regular basis, by the network, by the new items they bring in and with the advanced marketing, training, recruiting, business management and software skills they share with you. It allows you to stay up to date and stay passionate about running a contracting business.”
For additional information, visit onehourheatandair.com; mistersparky.com; benjaminfranklinplumbing.com.