David Smith and Ed Lease were successful for many years working together at a dealership in Georgia but always felt limited in their freedom and potential while working under someone else. They were looking for the ability to control their own destiny, and found it with a Stratus Building Solutions Regional Master franchise.
“We were looking to be the masters of our own destiny,” states Smith. Both Smith and Lease understood that owning your own business will always comes with risk, but with the right approach and the right backing provided by an established franchise business model, the probability of the business to succeed is greatly enhanced. A franchise provides you with management expertise, sales models, growth potential and brand familiarity with existing credibility.
Smith and Lease sought the assistance of business consulting firm, The Entrepreneur Source, where they discovered Stratus Building Solutions, a commercial cleaning franchise opportunity. “We became very interested in the commercial cleaning industry because it provides a service that everyone needs and offers monthly recurring income which was very attractive to us,” says Lease.
Stratus Building Solutions has received recognitions from all of the major franchise ranking publications including Entrepreneur Top 20, Inc. 500 and Franchise Times. The founders had designed the Master Franchise concept specifically for individuals of Smith and Lease’s background, strong in sales and management and allows experienced professionals the opportunity to capitalize on the business of becoming a franchisor. On top of the multiple recurring revenue streams model and proven systems, Stratus Building Solutions, Smith and Lease determined, was the perfect fit for their investment goals.
In March of 2009, Lease and Smith opened their Stratus Master Franchise in Nashville, TN. In the midst of a recession, both left friends and family in Georgia for a new beginning in the Music City. Selection of the Nashville Metro area was no accident either. “We had family here in Nashville and visited often, we fell in love with the vibrancy of the city,” claims Smith.
The region also provided tremendous opportunity. With nearly 1.6 million people, there is an extensive number of businesses to support this population including schools, medical offices, professional buildings, retail, restaurants, warehouses and more; all businesses that utilize commercial janitorial services. The Nashville area has already provided the opportunity for substantial growth which is reflected in Steve and Lease’s year over year profit statements.
“Selecting a good market and following the model is very important in the success of a Stratus Master Franchise,” states Smith.
Since the beginning, the two have been loyal to the Stratus model and it has brought them enormous success, ranking in the top three producing Stratus Master franchises since 2011. “We also proved that this is a solid business model in a recession,” states Lease, recalling their successes in the first years.
“Working with the Nashville team has been a pleasure and their commitment to following the program has been a breath of fresh air,” says Marvin Ashton, Vice President of Master Development at Stratus Building Solutions corporate office located in North Hollywood, CA.
Smith has been the Franchise’s Regional Manager / President for the past six years, and Lease as the Sales Manager / Vice President. Both attribute many of their successes to the skills practiced in their former positions. The office currently has nine employees including Operations Managers, Administration, and a Sales Team. Though the office has experienced significant growth in the past years, they have found it unnecessary to expand the office staff thanks to the scalable administrative model provided by Stratus.
Stratus has a unique income model that allows for multiple recurring revenue streams. One is Franchise Sales and management, where Smith and Lease’s business acts as the regional franchisor for Stratus Building Solutions. Unit franchises come in a range of sizes, from homebased to executive management levels, for small business owners also looking for the proven models that a Stratus commercial cleaning franchise provides. Smith as Regional Manager is primarily responsible for the sales and management of the Unit Franchises. Lease is in charge of Customer Account Sales, a primary source of income for both the regional office and Unit Franchises.
As a regional franchisor, their priority is the success of their Unit Franchisees. Through training, customer account sales, marketing and administrative assistance, the Master office offers multi-level support to their region. “We provide a service that our Franchisees need. Deliver on your promises and it perpetuates itself,” States smith.
Both continue to have an active role in the company, however, their growth and success has allowed them to embrace the lifestyle that they ultimately desired. “There are less overall work hours than my previous position, but now I am running my own business and in control of my own destiny,” says Smith. Among many of the lifestyle improvements that came with owning their own business, one of their favorites is having the ability to golf every Friday.
And there is only more hope for the future. Since the acquisition of Stratus Building Solutions Corporate Headquarters in 2015, both Lease and Smith feel that life has been brought back to the company as a whole and are excited about new regional support initiatives already underway and the growth potential they provide for the franchises.
For the past six years, Lease and Smith have personified personal success through a franchise model. Having opened their business during the height of an economic recession, hard work, determination, selection of a good market and strict loyalty to the franchise template has allowed them to rise to the top rankings of Stratus Building Solutions regional Master Franchises.
Article by Rachel Frazier, Marketing Coordinator for Stratus Building Solutions