The decision to become a franchise operator in any service industry requires careful consideration of many factors. Only those determined to succeed need apply, because the time and attention required to keep a franchise business going strong may be more than an independence-minded person cares to expend. However, the benefits to franchising can be significant.
One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning —a member of the Direct Energy group of companies, based in Sarasota, Fla. — is among the leading and most recognized HVAC franchises going. One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning is currently ranked by Entrepreneur magazine at #160 on Entrepreneur magazine’s list of the top 500 franchise companies, and it ranked as the top HVAC franchise in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016. Each day, technicians at the wheel of One Hour’s bright yellow service vans, with the slogan — “Always on Time…or You Don’t Pay a Dime®” —bring HVAC services and comfort to a growing number of homeowners across the US.
To date in 2016, 37 One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning franchise territories have been established, in Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Missouri, and Virginia, and most were a conversion of an existing HVAC business, or an existing franchisee who added a new brand to their existing portfolio.
Mark Baker, president of franchise for One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning, recently provided us with a look at the One Hour franchising process, and what it can mean to the success-minded HVAC entrepreneur.
The conversation starts with a phone call to a regional Franchise Development representative.
The initial conversation is to gauge their interest level, and to make sure they understand the goals and expectations, and to see if the area they’re interested in is open,” Baker explains. “After the conversation with a consultant to learn their goals and aspirations, we have another phone conversation, a webinar, an in-person meeting, and a validation throughout the process. We also want them to validate us, so they can get a feel for what franchising with One Hour is all about.”
The time to finalize an agreement can take anywhere from 30 to 90 days or more, depending on how soon an approved franchisee wants to get rolling.
“When you become a franchisee, we have a team to help you, and a process,” Baker says.
THIS VIDEO EXPLAINS ONE HOUR's MARKETING SUPPORT
From the basics steps in setting up the business, to phone etiquette, to recruiting, training, and in-field service, the One Hour system provides precise ground rules and guidelines that keep the business organized and focused.
“Our experts are on-site helping you go through that process. Depending on the size of your business — we are, for example currently working with a $6 million HVAC company — it can take two to three months to do that.”
A ONE HOUR HEATING & AIR CONDITIONING FRANCHISEE DESCRIBES
THE FAMILIARITY THAT COMES WITH A NATIONAL BRAND
The key benefit to many franchise businesses, not only to those in the HVAC industry, is the often-heard word: SYSTEM. From the basics steps in setting up the business, to phone etiquette, to recruiting, training, and in-field service, the One Hour system provides precise ground rules and guidelines that keep the business organized and focused. The One Hour system includes trucks wraps featuring the distinctive One Hour branding message, uniforms, teaching technicians how to use the pricing guide, to ongoing training to help technicians remain up-to-date on the many facets of HVAC technology.
Existing HVAC business owner who are becoming One Hour franchisees receive a step-by-step plan that explains how to convert their businesses to the One Hour brand.
“For One Hour HVAC franchisees, we teach the ‘On-Time Technician Course.’ For Benjamin Franklin Plumbing franchisees, we teach the ‘Punctual Plumber’ course. Our trainers visit on-site to provide that training. Obviously the franchisees have to continue to run their business as they train. It’s an in-depth process of learning as they operate the business, the business owner and his leadership team,” Baker says.
Assistance for franchisees continues to be available as the business grows, through the help and advice of One Hour business consultants, who serve as coaches for the individual franchisee. National advertising and brand name awareness also serves to raise all boats in the One Hour pond. Its current ad campaign features TV and radio spots featuring trade career promoter Mike Rowe, star of the “Dirty Jobs” TV show.
“You get to take advantage of our Internet site, which allows you to network with other franchisees across the country, and it also gives you the opportunity to take advantage of our 24/7 online training. You get the technology we offer, the help of a national call center in Phoenix, and group buying power,” Baker says.
How High is Up?
A One Hour franchisee’s success depends on his or her motivating factors, and what they need to do to reach the next level.
“You’re in business ‘for yourself’, but not ‘by yourself,’” assures Baker. “You have the power of the network behind you. Any challenge or problem you face has been faced by someone else who can help. That’s what franchising is all about.
“Whether you’re a $1 million business that wants to reach $5 million or a $5 million business that wants to reach $10 million, we lay out what the Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) should be, and how you can reach the next step,” he explains.
Those “next steps” can be significant. Baker reports that over the past four years, the average One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning franchise has grown by 31%, and the average Benjamin Franklin Plumbing franchise has grown by 45%.
FOLLOW THE SYSTEM AND PROCEDURES
Mark Geschke became a One Hour Heating & Air Conditioning franchisee in 2003, with the purchase of an existing, 70-year-old business in Medina, Ohio. He runs a 15-person business that is doing very well.
“After we purchased Bauer & Son, and became a One Hour franchise, the systems and operations that were in place were helpful. As long as you followed the franchise system and procedures, it was much easier to operate a business, and much easier for the technicians working in the field with customers, and under extreme conditions. It provides more income and better benefits, which enables us to provide better service to our customers,” Geschke says.
Geschke really appreciates the benefits of working within the One Hour network of contractor support.
“I can call any franchisee in the country outside of my region and get some help and guidance,” he says.
Visit bit.ly/OneHourVideos to hear from other successful One Hour franchisees.