How did you get into the industry?
Over 20 years in the masonry, concrete and foundation repair business helped me understand the importance of better drainage, the need for ongoing maintenance and better drainage products.
Replacing a foundation drain or basement waterproofing can easily cost over $50,000, yet when you purchase a home, there is no manual or instructions for maintenance for these systems and insurance usually doesn’t cover this type of damage. Witnessing customers, friends and family members whose homes were unhealthy and falling apart faster than they could pay them off brought Drain Designs to life.
My mother had to abandon her home due to mold-related sickness. Our first franchisee and his family also had to abandon their home for the same reason. In both cases, these problems could have been prevented by better drainage.
Unable to find a drainage specialist in my area, I began researching and realized that there was very little good information.
Elaboration: Look in most Home Improvement books and out of a thousand pages – you’ll be lucky to find more than a page or two about drainage. The ancient Incas, Mayans and Romans who built the greatest civilizations of the past focussed nearly a third of their efforts on rainwater management. How did this art become lost? Well, insurance companies took over the Building Trades over the last hundred years. They highly influence, basically write, the building code. Since they don’t cover drainage problems and most will only cover a limited amount like up to $5,000 for mold issues for an extra charge, they don’t give builders much instruction, there’s very little regulation or time spent inspecting drainage and waterproofing.
As a result of being unable to find any drainage specialists to recommend to customers I began figuring out how to solve these problems. As a result of digging up and replacing hundreds of French drains and Foundation drains I came up with the American drain. as a result of digging out Foundation walls to replace waterproofing I discovered how we could use American Drain systems to prevent foundation waterproofing failures. I found that I enjoyed the work and the benefits of being in an industry where there was little to no real competition and lots and lots of room for innovation and Improvement.
What’s New in the Business or in the Franchise Model?
We now have four franchises that are doing great. Profit and loss reports will soon be available for our first three franchises for 2022, which is their first full year in business. Our first franchisee, “Drain Designs of the Triangle” broke a around $780,000 in profit. Our second franchisee, drain designs of South East Raleigh struck a deal for the Charlotte territory and now owns Drain Designs of Charlotte in North Carolina. Drain Designs of Akron Canton started as our first Northern territory in Central Ohio this year.
Not only do we install the best systems but Our sister company, “American Drain Company” also won three patents on a far better alternative to French Drains and Foundation drains along with the best Waterproofing products on earth – bar none. These help us provide the best systems available. We have made innovations in our patented “American Drain” systems. These are a replacement for outdated French drains and waterproofing techniques. We struggled to keep up with the demand for these products from our franchisees until recently. The American Drain company now has a punch press and plenty of material in stock to allow us to keep up with the demand.
Where do you See Opportunities or Challenges for the Franchise/Business Moving Forward?
The opportunities are unlimited since every home and property owner can benefit from our products and services. This has proven to be a pandemic and recession resistant business. Drainage is an underdeveloped industry with lots of room for improvement. In a time of recession, people will still spend money on things they need. Drainage is more often a need than a want. Back in 2008 many foreclosure homes sat for months or even years unoccupied. As a result of poor drainage, many of these homes were ruined by mold and foundation issues. Drain Designs is looking forward and working to educate home inspectors, realtors and lenders about the importance of smarter rainwater management.
Potential future challenges could include more regulation in the rainwater management field. Fortunately, we will be ahead of the curve. As areas become more populated, rainwater management regulations become more strict as existing infrastructures are often overwhelmed by the amount of water from hard surface runoff. As we add more buildings, roads, sidewalks and parking lots, We need to help regulators understand the importance of properly managing this water and not letting it flow Across the land carrying lawn chemicals, pesticides, pet waste and other pollution into our sources of drinking water. Drain Designs is challenged with innovating to help educate these leaders and help them meet these needs.
What is your Goal for the Business Moving Forward?
I hope to continue to bring new entrepreneurs into our circle of rainwater management professionals. Collectively, I hope to educate officials about the importance of rainwater harvesting and point of use rainwater treatment. The average irrigation system, for example, in our area uses 80,000 gallons of water. The average roof produces about that same amount. Unfortunately, we now use treated water to irrigate our lawns. Meanwhile, the rainwater from our roof contributes to the number one source of pollution in most areas, stormwater runoff.
The fact that we have thousands of customers now with drainage systems that collect and carry roof water and other hard surface runoff to desired points on the property puts us in an ideal position to help them harvest and utilize that water once water prices start to rise. Harvesting rainwater will make better sense as the cost of water goes up, as changes in weather continue to cause droughts and water shortages and as a result of people who want to be more self-reliant.
Talk to us About Training and Support, How Do You Deliver?
Right now we have three franchisees who own four franchises. As the owner, I am personally able to keep up with the demand for training and information and personally work with each franchisee, creating training materials and videos along the way to prepare for future growth. My personal goal is to grow as slowly as necessary to ensure that each new franchisee is as successful as possible.
Your most difficult moment at the Franchise Business?
The most difficult moments have been in the waiting and in my inability to succeed with the first franchisee prospect. I’m so excited to move forward that I can barely contain myself. At the same time I want to achieve an excellent track record – which also takes time.
Define your Franchise Model:
A. Training and Support Model? The day the papers are signed, we get to work with manageable checklists. We create a timeline and business plan. We then customize a strategy
designed for your area, budget, style and comfort level. We then Practice accountability working together to achieve these goals along the timeline with check-ins at regular intervals.
B. What is the Fee Structure? The fee structure is flexible depending on several factors. These include the size and the strength of the economy in your area, your experience with similar types of work, your experience and track record with running a business are among the factors. My goal is to make this business accessible to any hard-working, motivated person that I believe has the aptitude. If you want this business and have what it takes I will do anything in my power to help you be successful. In other words we will customize a fee structure and financing.
C. Territory Definition? We define territories by zip codes currently. We allow franchisees to work outside of their area as long as there are no other franchisees with rights to those areas.
D. Day in the life of a Franchisee? This will depend on what level the franchisee starts at. The first level may be a one person operation. In this case here’s an example.: Start at 7:00 a.m.,
– check phone messages and emails from the evening before or weekend
– Prepare for the day’s job
– Arrive at The job and begin work on the drainage system
– Check and return messages at lunch break
– Continue working on the job
– Check messages and emails at the end of the work day
– You may do a design assessment and quote after work, on designated weekdays or
occasionally on Saturdays for clients who are unavailable throughout the week
– You may choose to work a half a day on Friday to give you time to catch up on office
work before the weekend and schedule assessments and jobs for the following week.
For a franchisee who may be transitioning out of a landscaping business with too much competition, this franchisee may start with the morning meeting with his crew followed by sending the crew out to the jobs and preparing for sales meetings or office management.
What does Your Franchisee Do in the Business Every Day?
Everyday, the franchisee will be responsible for monitoring and measuring success on all levels of safety, customer satisfaction, employee morale, profit and business health.
Who is the Ideal Franchise Candidate?
Someone who is hardworking, who loves people, loves to work outdoors, loves stewardship and preservation, who loves the environment, who takes pride in hard work, customer satisfaction and a job well done
Success Stories and Failures with Franchisees?
What some call failures I believe are just tests, challenges & learning experiences.
My newest franchisee is in the Akron-Canton area of Ohio. My biggest challenge lately has been helping set up marketing. There are some differences in his area, such as the work being seasonal,
that make it more important to try to book work 3-4 months out. It has been extremely challenging to work with Angie’s list, Yelp & Google as their formats have changed through the years and may not
provide the value that they once did.
Ultimately, we want to rely more on an education based marketing model where we don’t spend money on advertising but rather focus our money on educating people in groups like homeowners HOA’s, realtors, property managers, home inspectors and mortgage companies. We also want to educate our allies such as gutter companies, concrete and foundation repair companies, pest control companies, mold remediation companies and the like about the importance of drainage and how it can double the healthy life of homes and properties.
The first franchisee prospect that I had was a home inspector friend. I did not charge him a franchise fee. He signed the papers, purchased a machine and a trailer and seemed extremely excited about
getting going. He did a couple of big jobs, one big job right in his neighborhood for $13,000. The customers were happy with the excellent work he did. I was unaware of the financial stress that was coming between him and his wife. Ultimately, after spending over 100 hours getting him set up, he felt like he had to continue in the comfort zone of his home inspection business where he worked 70 hours a week, driving all over the state.
What Goals Do You Have for the Franchise Model in the Future?
My goal is that the rainwater management specialist becomes as well-known as the plumbers, electricians and heating and cooling specialists. My goal is to work together with our franchisees to continue to lead the drainage industry by example by offering the best rainwater management products, information and services.