Like many emerging franchise owners, Craig Jooste started his home services business, The Local Handyman Group, out of a personal unmet need. When he and his wife Kristen struggled to find reliable handyman services for their own home, Kristen encouraged Craig to seize the opportunity to address the gap they saw in the market.
Soon after, the duo launched Local Handyman in White Rock, South Surrey. Armed with Kristen’s marketing prowess and Craig’s know-how, they set a goal early on that they wanted to franchise their business, but also realized that they needed to prove the model. While they didn’t know where their journey would take them at the time, fast forward to today, The Local Handyman Group franchise is thriving with more than 20 locations across North America
I sat down with Craig to understand his challenges and lessons learned along the way.
Matt: At what point did you know you were ready to build a franchise? Was it something you thought of when you started your business or was it an evolution?
Craig: We knew from the beginning that we wanted to franchise our business but needed to prove the model. I spent a decade at 1-800-GOT-JUNK? on the leadership team and got amazing exposure to the franchise process and what to do and not to do. So, I feel very fortunate for that time as it gave me the foundation to build our own brand.
Matt: What was the biggest hurdle when you opened your first franchise location?
Craig: Everyone is always scared to be the first! So, you have to prove your model and be able to show success and build trust with your first operation to then have someone else buy into your brand, vision, and dream.
As much as you want to sell a franchise, you MUST be sure you are finding the right people that are a fit with your values vs. just someone with a checkbook.
Matt: What do you look for in a potential franchisee?
Craig: I can tell you from experience that I look for ten key things.
- Reliability. Are you dependable and conscientious? It’s imperative that you are trustworthy and can execute the brand promise in the mind of the customer.
- Leadership. Be able to lead without a title. Effectively deal with people and lead a team to accomplish goals.
- Good Judgment. Not risk-averse BUT will make smart decisions based on the right guidance.
- Willingness to learn: Success is based on continuous learning. Learning from other people to understand the business, always looking to improve. Good franchise partners are willing to learn from the Franchisor and from other Franchise Partners. We call this the franchise superpower, learning from your peers!
- Hustle. Working hard to make their franchise successful from the launch. Hard work from the beginning and a strong work ethic makes the magic happen. Willingness to go out and get it!
- Communication skills. Excellent communication skills are a critical part of a successful franchise. Great communication also helps build loyalty and trust with your team and the customer.
- Great at networking. Are you great with people? You must be able or willing to deal with people. The ability to network and grow a customer base and business relationships is a massive part of being a good businessperson.
- Financial aptitude. Financially you are set up to invest and ready to take the next step. You must not stretch yourself too thin; otherwise, a business might not be for you.
- Willingness to delegate. You don’t have to do it all yourself. A good leader is aware of his/her weaknesses and strengths and can delegate accordingly.
- Willingness to ask for help when needed Always be open and willing to ask for help. Know your weakness and let us help you fill those gaps. Introspection is a strong trait.
Matt: Those are certainly great tips and ones that many of our clients would agree with– both at the franchisee and the franchise level. If you had one piece of advice for those early in their journey when starting an emerging franchise, what would it be?
Craig: Have a clear vision and mission. Both your what and why for your business. Build strong systems and follow them. Stay focussed on the important things like revenue/lead gen and customer satisfaction AND block out the noise.
Matt: Speaking of systems, what’s been your biggest tech challenge to date?
Craig: Finding a balance between a true CRM and also a scheduler that can serve our franchise partners in the best way. Systems seem to lean heavily into one direction and that was the challenge, until now. When we decided to move to Thryv, our brand had the need for a superior communication, booking, and marketing platform. We believe that we have found this with Thryv and our early partnership has been spectacular.
Like other emerging franchises, when Craig started his home services business, it was difficult to find the time to provide the level of customer service he was committed to delivering while also managing his business, keeping track of franchisee performance, and growing the pipeline. Then he found Thryv.
If you’re facing some of the same challenges as Craig, we invite you to learn more about, Thryv an all-in-one franchise software platform that makes it easy to grow your franchise — even in an economic downturn. For more information visit thryv.ca/franchise