A strong corporate culture that involves helping and giving back to the community is key to the success of one light environmental services franchise.
AdvantaClean, which deals with moisture issues in buildings such as mold contamination or structural damage due to water, prides itself on its national partnership with St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and the various local charities its franchisees partner with.
Through these partnerships, franchisees help families who have sick children who cannot return to their homes due to environmental issues like mold or water damage.
CEO Jeff Dudan in a recent interview from the company’s headquarters in Huntersville, NC said having a robust culture of helping those in need attracts franchisees who share this spirit of caring.
And in today’s world, he added, where information is shared so widely on social media, a strong corporate culture is crucial to have. A company used to be able to differentiate between its brand, which was public facing, and its culture, which was more internal.
However, things have changed.
“Today, a company’s culture and brand are tied together,” Dudan said. “We have a very strong culture that makes it clear from the time you walk in the door here at our headquarters or at our franchise locations what is important to us and what our values are. That culture informs everyone who works at AdvantaClean as to what the expectations are as to how customers are to be treated and how our franchisees are to carry themselves. It’s a powerful differentiator for us.”
Even before AdvantaClean started its partnership with St. Jude’s, it was espousing a culture of community commitment.
Early in its existence, the company was partnered with a local children’s oncology hospital in Huntersville and it responded to a water damaged home. The insurance company paid to remove the water, dry the home and repair damage to the home. But, the home had a crawl space that was covered in mold due to issues with groundwater. The crawl space needed to be remediated and it required permanent solutions put in place to deal with the mold issue.
What made the situation even more critical was the homeowner’s eight-year-old daughter who had terminal cancer. The family wanted to bring her home so they could care for her in the comfort of her home, but couldn’t do that with the mold in the crawl space.
“We as the franchisor went out and performed indoor air quality testing and we provided some filtration systems and some equipment that needed to be installed and two or three of our local franchise owners went there and did all of the cleanup for no charge and we completely remediated the home,” Dudan recalled. “The family was able to bring the girl home.”
That kind of story happens all over the country now and also reflects the kind of story Dudan wants associated with the brand.
The company actually got its start helping people.
Founded in Winter Park, FL, the four original partners had met while doing recovery efforts after Hurricane Andrew in Florida. As the work started to wind down in south Florida, the four partners moved to central Florida and opened the first AdvantaClean location in 1994. In 1995, Dudan moved up to North Carolina to start the company’s second location in Charlotte.
AdvantaClean opened several more corporate locations before switching to a franchising model. Between 2006 and 2008, the company sold all of its corporate units under the franchising model and then launched franchising opportunities for the general public in 2009.
Currently, AdvantaClean has 230 operating territories in 31 states in what Dudan describes as a highly durable market segment.
“Our services are non-discretionary,” the CEO explained. “When something happens to somebody’s home, which is their biggest investment and greatest asset, these things have to be taken care of immediately. There will always be a need for people to live in clean, safe and healthy homes and we’re really about clean, safe and healthy homes and businesses.”
Buildings are in a constant battle with the outdoor elements, Dudan said, and it’s just a matter of time before moisture gets into a place where it doesn’t belong.
That can be from a flood, a burst pipe, an overflowing toilet, groundwater or many other unforeseen circumstances.
AdvantaClean will dry the structure and make sure that it’s safe, perform mold remediation and clean air ducts and offer permanent solutions to moisture problems in attics, basements and crawl spaces to make sure the moisture and air quality problem never returns.
Sharing the Culture
Dudan said franchisees should be able to interact with people well so they can attract referral partners, customers and others who can help them build their business.
But, above all, franchisees should share the company’s values, which involve making a difference in people’s lives.
“Our franchisees need to take a leadership role in the community and not just be a participant,” Dudan noted. “People who get a personal benefit from going out over and over again and helping people and taking them from a place of fear where they don’t understand what’s going on and getting them back to a place where they’re comfortable and they’re confident that they’re living in a clean, safe and healthy home, would probably be a good fit for our brand.”
Training and Support
AdvantaClean offers extensive training at its headquarters in Huntersville including all of the production aspects and systems the company uses, as well as the marketing.
The franchise manages a lot of the marketing and leads for franchisees by driving leads to a call center where the company books appointments for franchisees so their time can be spent on executing their jobs.
For those looking to give back to their communities and help others live the healthiest and happiest lives they can, AdvantaClean’s robust corporate culture of caring can lead to business success.