Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Aaron Harper CEO & Founder of Rolling Suds

February 06, 2024 00:26:23
Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Aaron Harper CEO & Founder of Rolling Suds
All Things Considered Franchising Podcast
Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Aaron Harper CEO & Founder of Rolling Suds

Feb 06 2024 | 00:26:23

/

Show Notes

In this episode of "All Things Considered Franchising," host Scotty Milas interviews Aaron Harper, the CEO, and owner of Rolling Suds, a power-washing franchise concept. Aaron has helped grow multiple brands in the franchising industry, including a carpet cleaning brand and a drywall repair brand. Aaron is dedicated to building a brand and providing exceptional experiences to franchisees and customers. Aaron speaks with Scotty, shares his journey in the franchising industry, and discusses the characteristics of successful franchisees. He emphasizes the importance of grit and execution in franchise ownership and advises against the misconception of running a franchise part-time. As he explains to Scotty, "I don't think any person should buy a franchise thinking that they're going to run it 5-10 hours a week or 2 hours a month." Aaron also provides insights into the process of franchising a business and highlights the need for a strong infrastructure and lead generation to support franchisees. He tells Scotty, "You're buying a system, you're paying a quarter million dollars or $100,000 or taking out an SBA loan for the system. It'd be crazy not to follow the rulebook instruction manual." He goes on to explain the unique opportunities and challenges in the power-washing industry and how Rolling Suds aims to become the largest power-washing company in the world. Aaron tells Scotty the power washing industry has seasonal and non-seasonal aspects, with commercial services offering more year-round opportunities. Key Takeaways: • Successful franchisees need to have grit and a strong execution mindset. • Franchisees should focus on imitating the established system before innovating. • The myth of running a franchise very part-time is not realistic, and franchisees should be prepared to invest significant time and effort into growing their business. • Rolling Suds is looking for franchisees with high liquidity, risk tolerance, and a desire to build a multimillion-dollar business. • The power washing industry has seasonal and non-seasonal aspects, with commercial services offering more year-round opportunities. Scotty Milas can be reached at [email protected] and at (860)751-9126. Aaron Harper can be reached on LinkedIn: linkedin.com/in/aaron-harper-998140125 #allthingsconsideredfranchising #scottmilas #businessownership #franchiseopportunities #aaronharper #rollingsuds #powerwashing #investmentoftime

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:06] Speaker A: Hey, everybody, and welcome to another episode of All Things considered. Franchising. Powered by scottmylosfranchisecoach.com. I am your host, Scotty Milos. All things considered franchising is a podcast dedicated to the entrepreneur we emphasize in the franchising industry. Scott Milos, Franchise Coach.com is an organization I started many, many years ago, helping people research and explore business ownership, helping them take them through the steps of validating a franchise opportunity, and then helping them make a validated decision. Today's guest is an interesting guest, and you talk about people that make an impact immediately in an industry. Somebody who, I guess if you've been paying attention to the industry, has franchising in general, I should say not necessarily an industry, but franchising has really created a new brand. And I'd like to take the opportunity to welcome Aaron Harper, who is CEO owner of Rolling Suds, a power washing franchise concept. Aaron, welcome to the show. [00:01:11] Speaker B: Thanks for having me, Scotty, I appreciate it, and I'm excited to be here and talk with, you know, when you. [00:01:17] Speaker A: Look at longevity, people in the industry who switch from development roles, helping people research and explore opportunities or working for a specific brand, going to a franchise or starting a brand, you have a tendency to see a lot of tenure. You came out of the development side, on the brand side a lot quicker starting a brand, and it's a great, interesting story. So maybe kind of tell us a little bit about how that happened, because you have certainly made an impact in the service category, service based category with rolling Suds. [00:02:00] Speaker B: Yeah, thank mean. I've been in franchising for years. Like you said, on the franchise development, franchise sales side, both the brands that I've been involved in prior to rolling Suds became the largest brand in that industry while I was there. So that was pretty cool to see, like an established brand on the carpet cleaning side, then more of an emerging brand on the drywall repair side. I helped grow both of those brands, and with the drywall repair brand, essentially sold out the country. We did 223 locations for that brand in 24 months through Covid. So I got involved in the middle of 2020, and then by the end of 2022, we were over 300 locations. Now, that brand needed a lot of help from an infrastructure standpoint, and up until that point, I had no experience in operations. But in order to prepare a franchise system for scaling that rapidly, you need to put systems in place. And so me and a brand president essentially did that and spent six months doing that before we started selling franchises. And in that experience, I learned how to build a brand. When I had the opportunity in 2022 to either go work for another franchiseor and help sell their brand, or continue working for the platform company that I was working at. The company I was working at wanted me to take on a brand that kind of incubate a brand from scratch that didn't really have any economics, but it was a cool concept. And I was like, I can do this on my own, right? I could raise capital, I could find a business that I believe in, and I could franchise that business. So I looked at two dozen businesses across the country to franchising the residential and commercial services space, because that's my niche. Met the founders of Rolling Suds after doing pretty heavy diligence on about five, six brands. It was the best business I evaluated. It was the only one that checked all the boxes for me. First and foremost, they're just incredible people. The founders of Rolling Suds, the Wenling family. It's a family business, 33 year old power washing business. And I knew they had something special and that I could replicate it. So we finalized the transaction for me to acquire the franchise rights in January of 2023. I raised capital at the same time. We started franchising in February of 23, end of February, and since then, we have added 104 locations in 22 states. [00:04:42] Speaker A: Congratulations. [00:04:44] Speaker B: Thank you. [00:04:44] Speaker A: Great story. You can put your finger on the pulse in two elements here. You can speak to people who are thinking about franchising a business, and you probably, with your experience with the drywall business and the other brands that you help build, you can speak to the credibility of franchising, but also what people, the characteristics or the drive people need to be a successful franchisee. People seem to think that you have to be a successful franchisee by owning hundreds and hundreds of territories or brands. I'm exaggerating a little bit, but in reality, at least in my opinion, the way I coach people is that you have to be good at managing and delegating the territories or units that you have. So maybe you can talk a little bit about the characteristics you see when somebody is interested in franchising their business, where the success path leads to, or that characteristic. And of course, people who are maybe listening now, also who are considering investing in a business, they want to get out of corporate America, maybe share some thoughts on that. Your experience on working with different types of people? [00:06:01] Speaker B: Yeah, I definitely can speak to both sides, the franchiseor side, and then the franchisee side. So out of the people I've talked to and signed up, we've turned away 43 people who wanted to be franchisees had the capital and weren't right for our system. So I know what it takes and what kind of like grit and, you know, execution that a franchisee needs in order to do that. And, and there's a lot of people who want to be franchisees, but then they want to create all the systems themselves and they want to innovate. And that's not what you should do as a franchisee to start. It's imitate before you innovate. Like you're buying a system, you're paying a quarter million dollars or $100,000 or taking out an SBA loan for the system. It'd be crazy not to follow the rulebook instruction manual. And then once you get it down, then go talk to the franchise or and say, hey, I figured out this thing. I think it could really help the network. This is what it's doing for me. And a good franchiseor should listen to that and then implement it across the network. So there's a bunch of characteristics. I would say grit is probably the most important one. Just I'm going to do and I'm going to get it done no matter what happens. We focus an emphasis on franchise ownership, like truly owning the business, not just waiting for marketing companies to deliver you leads. That is a benefit. One of the benefits of a franchise or is marketing resources, but there are a ton of others and own your business. And then on the franchise or side, I tell more people not to franchise their business than I tell to franchise their business. And the reason is because the franchise business is a completely different business than whatever the core widget is, if you will. So epoxy coatings, youth enrichment, food, bonsai bowls, like whatever it is, that's one business. And then the franchise business is how to run a franchise. Or, right. Whenever I talk to someone, I ask them a few questions, like, Aaron, I want to franchise my business. You've added 50 locations in six months. Like, I really want to do what you're doing. How much Capital do you have? You'd be shocked at how many of them have less than $100,000, right, to go towards franchising. And then the second question is, okay, well, if you have $100,000, where are you going to get the rest of the Capital? Can you siphon it off from your corporate units? And if the answer is no to those two questions, don't franchise your business. [00:08:44] Speaker A: Exactly. [00:08:45] Speaker B: That's just the responsible thing to do. I believe that if someone does want to be a franchise or raise the Capital. Find someone who's got franchise operations experience that believes in the story, hire them, pay them really well, and then create systems that you make sure that the units get open. [00:09:05] Speaker A: You're absolutely right, Aaron. I mean, it's interesting how many people call me up and say, hey Scott, can you help me franchise my business? And a lot of people think, and look, I can go back 15 years, 20 years, whatever. It was very expensive to franchise your business on the legal side, the FDD side and everything, the operation mantle. Now you could probably do it. It's all templated, it's easy. But what people don't realize is that getting that business franchise, the legal documents, the franchise disclosure and your operations manual putting together is a small percentage of what it takes to be successful, not only on the time commitment side, but the financial side. I mean, you hit the nail on the head that great, you have $100,000, but you're going to need a lot more than that because you need internal systems to support your franchisees. But more importantly, you need to create the lead generation and interest for people to inquire and take people through the development process. So great point there. Going back to the franchisee I have found over the last 18 months, couple of years now, the word semi absentee has become just one of those words. I want a semi absentee business, not passive semi absentee. It sounds like that the people that you did not approve or award the franchise wasn't necessarily for the fact that they may not have had financial means, but it sounds like they were more in line based on listening to you that they didn't have the being to put the effort into building the business. A lot of people don't realize that building a business today, that especially on the service side, you need a sales aptitude. I'm not talking about being Willie Loman where you're cold calling and leaving and knocking on doors, but there's a networking side to this. Can you speak to any of that? I mean, how accurate mean is that an accurate. [00:11:16] Speaker B: My franchise. I find most of my candidates through franchise consultants. I have years and years of deep relationships within predominantly one network where I have a ton of trust that, well, they trust me that I'm going to take care of their candidates and make sure they get the support they need. And I trust them to present good candidates to me that fit within the ethos of whichever brand that I work in. They know not to present someone to me that is expecting a part time business primarily because they know I don't believe in that candidly, and also just from a franchiseor side speaking to that a little bit, why would any franchiseor want semi absentee franchisees? I don't want semi absentee royalty streams. Like, royalty streams pay my bills. If I'm providing support to one person and I'm getting semi results on royalties, then I'm putting in more effort than the franchisee, and that's not something I'm particularly interested in. I think there has been this almost shift within the influencer community of buy a business, run it part time, get it started, keep your job, buy a laundry mat or whatever, and it'll just run itself. And then once you have enough cash flow, you can leave your business or you can go buy another business. And then there's all this other stuff. Like, every wealthy person has seven streams of income. It's like, yeah, but how'd they get that? They focused on one thing and did it really well for a period of time, then exited, then distributed their income. The people that I've turned away, they weren't particularly in that situation because those people don't make it to my calendar, typically. I would say by and large, they don't make it to my calendar. But, yeah, I mean, I have a whole ton of thoughts on this. I don't think any person should buy a franchise thinking that they're going to run it 510 hours a week or 2 hours a month. And I do think that at scale, this myth is being slight, pretty pervasive. I would just rather be honest. [00:13:47] Speaker A: Yeah, no, I think you're absolutely right. And I think it becomes a selfish side on the franchise or side, because they just want to get to a point where they're saying they sold franchises. I've always told people that offering and awarding the franchise and getting somebody to sign the agreement is great, but if you're not able as a franchise or to get them up and operating, that's number one. And number two, operating and being successful. That's why validation is key here. As a potential franchisee, an interest in a brand, you've really got to kind of roll up your sleeves and get into that validation and find out how is the opening? How is it going, especially with service businesses? [00:14:30] Speaker B: Because with a service business, you're a hunter. You go out, you're finding leads, you're developing relationships, you're in your community. It's not like a QSR, where you build the location and people walk in. And so to say that a service business can be run semi absentee and that a general manager will actually drive the business in the way that makes the most sense. And the person who invested can keep their quarter million dollar a year job at Oracle while they work 60 hours a week. And if those people do make it to my calendar, I just say, listen, I don't think that's a good idea. You're not right for our system, but I'm going to give you some unsolicited advice. I wouldn't invest $200,000 of your money and then hire someone to run it part time. If you spend 60 hours of your week growing someone else's business and 10 hours of your week growing your business, guess whose business is going to grow. [00:15:25] Speaker A: Exactly. Yes. It's different if someone's looking at a retail type business. I mean, if you're looking at a retail business where you're going to hire a manager to open, close, help, kind of be in touch, that's one thing. But I think you're absolutely right. This misnomer about a semi absentee business in the service industry, it's kind of like going out and buying a Ferrari and giving the keys to your neighbor and say, here, use my car. I bought this car. I don't use it, but just use it because I bought it. [00:15:59] Speaker B: And also go create a rental business around it and rent it out for 200, $300 an hour and then deliver money to my inbox at the end of every month. And I agree with you. [00:16:14] Speaker A: Right before we depart here. I mean, this is great advice, Aaron. We're talking to Aaron Harper, who is CEO founder of Rolling Suds. I'd like you to share some information about rolling suds because I find this to be a very fascinating business. The support levels and the operational support, the marketing support and the franchisee that you're bringing on board, they all go hand in hand. So maybe tell us a little bit about rolling suds, the franchisee, the business model, and why somebody should consider this as an opportunity in the service category. [00:16:55] Speaker B: So I'll start with the franchisee. So the franchisee that we're signing up, they have higher liquidity, higher risk tolerance. They have pretty high net worth relative to their kind of like age. And they all want to build a really big business. So multimillion dollar multi truck, they're not happy with two to three trucks, and they want to build a big business. A million dollars is just a starting point for them. So we've brought in people from private equity backgrounds. They've exited businesses before. They're leaving salaries where they're making $300,000 a year. They have killer sales experience. They've operated businesses before, they've grown other people's businesses. So really kind of high caliber of individuals. And I've been very careful in the selection criteria to make sure that every one of them aligns with kind of our ethos of becoming the biggest power washing company in the world and doing it by providing exceptional experiences to our customers. And then on our side, my thought is that if we provide exceptional experiences to our franchisees, and we obsess over the franchisee experience and they obsess over the customer experience, all of our businesses will grow. So that's kind of who we're looking for. Obviously, I mentioned someone who's actively involved but does not want a power wash. So we do help franchisees recruit two employees prior to going to training. Those employees will run the truck for franchisees. They'll come to training. We teach them our process. We also turn leads on a month back from training. So franchisees are effectively running their business, selling a full calendar for a full month before they go to training. And so it's a pretty robust infrastructure from a training standpoint, because within four weeks after they sign, they know enough to be out there 40 hours a week running the day to day. So there's a ton of virtual training and everything like that. And then our customer acquisition strategy is pretty robust because we're both residential and commercial. We're actually majority commercial business on the power washing side, which a lot of people don't really think about. When they think power washing, they think $150 driveways and knocking doors. The high school student who works six months out of the year and makes $50,000, which is great for him, but we're kind of operating on a higher level. So a little bit, just about kind of the model. We do residential and commercial power washing. We do that one thing and we do it better than anyone else. We don't mess with windows, gutters, Christmas lights. And from what I found, we're the only real power washing franchise that just does that, that has any real relevance. There are exterior cleaning franchises, but we just focus on power washing. I saw an opportunity, after analyzing two dozen businesses to become the leader in the space. If you think back, there's been a few times where this has happened in the past, like in the junk business, was just a dude with a truck and he put junk in it. And then 1800 got junk came around and they had a wrapped vehicle. They answered the phone and they were nice to people and they built a billion dollar company. And now you've got franchisees in that system that got him in the them is doing 100 million a year. And, wow, they paved the way for college. Hung selling junk, junk King, junk luggers. But all of those brands combined aren't as big as 1800. Got junk in terms of size and volume, because they were first. I mean, they obviously had a better mousetrap, but they were first. Then they went to national accounts because no one was competing with them. They got all those jobs. And so we're doing now to the power washing industry what 1800 got junk. Did the junk business in the believe that that's something extraordinary, and I believe we need extraordinary individuals to help us get there. And actually, I do truly believe the only thing that would get in the way of us getting there is bringing in the wrong people, based upon what I've done. And so we've got a team. I've got a team of 15 people. I've delegated everything to them so I could be on the front lines talking to people like you and really being a steward of the brand. And we've got 32 locations open and operating. Every single other location will be open and operating by April. So we're not only selling locations, we're also opening them. But, yeah, I hope that answers your question. [00:21:27] Speaker A: No, it does. One of the questions that may be going through some minds right now, people listening to this. Is this a seasonal mean? Especially up in the mean? I'm up here in Massachusetts right now, and there's five inches, six inches of frozen snow. And then, of course, if you head to mean, it's a little cold right there now, but it's a different picture. Is this a seasonal business? [00:21:52] Speaker B: Yeah, I mean, there's a certain element of seasonality, especially on the residential side. The commercial side of the business is less seasonal. We are actually in the northeast. Our founding location isn't too far from you. It's in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. So this business has operated for 33 years as a relatively seasonal business. Over the last about five years, our founders have gone really hard on the commercial side, because, like I said, that's less seasonal, because you have a lot of recurring contracts. You have a lot of quarterly cleanings for fast food restaurants and annual cleanings for gas stations. And they don't care when you do those jobs typically. I mean, they just need to be done. And so if it's 40 or above, we're power washing. If it's below 40, we're not. But, I mean, we've got franchisees out doing parking garages right now in Austin, Texas, and it's 37 in the middle of the day. So I mean, it's just a matter of, it is seasonal to an extent, but the job still needs to be done. And if we're not doing it, some local guy who has no experience is going to be doing it and getting that revenue. So if we can step in there and professionalize an industry, I do believe that we can build a massive company. [00:23:18] Speaker A: It's interesting you talk about the commercial side because the image of power washing is that I have something that's dirty and I need to clean it. But there's the prevention side. And you look at things like you mentioned a garage, a commercial garage, a parking garage. I mean, there has to be this mold free, mildew free type. So it's interesting that you say that. Well, Aaron, this has been an enlightening conversation. Again, your story is remarkable, and I continue to hope that your success follows you because you obviously understand how franchising works, that it's not so much having the concept, it's having the concept, having good franchisees, great franchisees, but also having the systems to support the franchisees and giving them the tools to be successful. So one last question for you here. How is the best way for someone to find out more about rolling suds? Is it go to their website? I mean, obviously people can reach out to me. I know you work with consultants, so any other information or point them in a direction? [00:24:33] Speaker B: I would say if they're listening to this podcast, the best thing to do would be to reach out to you because you can put them in touch with me. And if they come from you, oftentimes I'll get on the intro, call myself instead of my team just because I have a tremendous amount of respect for you and the consultants that I work with. If they just want to learn more about the brand. I'm super active on LinkedIn and Twitter. [00:24:59] Speaker A: Twitter. [00:25:00] Speaker B: You can find me at Aaron Harper, CEO. You can type in Harper on LinkedIn. I put out a lot of free content that I think is beneficial for both people who want to be franchisees and franchiseors. And I try to just give the knowledge that I know. So that's a good way to kind of just get clued into it. And then obviously there's our website, Rolling sudsfranchise.com, that has more detailed information. But I'd say they reach out to you would probably be the best. [00:25:29] Speaker A: Great, great. Well, we've been talking to Aaron Harper, who is CEO founder of Rolling Suds. I am your host Scotty Milas of all things considered, franchising. Thanks for stopping in and listening. Anybody who's interested in learning more about franchising, please reach out to [email protected]. Or give me a call at 860-751-9126 or you can email me, [email protected]. You could listen to all of our podcasts on all things considered franchising.com, and, of course, all of the podcast streaming channels. This is Scotty Milas. Until next time again, thanks, Aaron. It's been great. Very informative for our audience. This is Scotty Miles saying so long. Until next time, thanks.

Other Episodes

Episode

April 05, 2023 00:22:58
Episode Cover

Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast with Anne Gannon President of The Largo Group

Today’s guest is Anne Gannon, President and Founder of The Largo Group! The Largo Group provides new solutions for our clients’ different demands and...

Listen

Episode

February 26, 2024 00:15:18
Episode Cover

Steps to Researching & Exploring Business Ownership: Part I

All Things Considered Franchising Podcast Scotty Milas is the founder of All Things Considered Franchising and the ownerof ScottMilasfranchiseCoach.com. With years of entrepreneurial experience,Scotty...

Listen

Episode

December 20, 2023 00:23:51
Episode Cover

Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Alicia Miller Founder & Managing Director w/ Emergent Growth Advisors

On today's episode of the All Things Considered Franchising podcast, Scotty Milas welcomes Alicia Miller.Alicia is the co-founding managing director of Emergent Growth Advisors...

Listen