Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Doug Smith, BELFOR Franchise Development at the BELFOR Group

December 31, 2023 00:25:14
Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Doug Smith, BELFOR Franchise Development at the BELFOR Group
All Things Considered Franchising Podcast
Scotty Milas' All Things Considered Franchising Podcast w/ Doug Smith, BELFOR Franchise Development at the BELFOR Group

Dec 31 2023 | 00:25:14


Show Notes

All Things Considered Franchising Podcast

On today’s episode of All Things Considered Franchising, Scotty Milas speaks with Doug Smith. Doug is the Senior Vice President of Franchise Development for the BELFOR Franchise Group. With a
background in the restaurant industry and financial services, Doug has extensive experience in
franchising and helping entrepreneurs explore business ownership opportunities. He is
passionate about helping people become entrepreneurs and find joy in bringing them along on
their journey.

Doug joins Scotty to discuss the home service brands in the BELFOR portfolio, such as COOL-BINZ
and redbox+ Dumpsters. Doug shares his experience in the restaurant industry and how it
led him to franchising. He highlights the appeal of home services as a popular and exciting way
for people to become entrepreneurs. He states, "We really enjoy bringing those people along...
and we think home services in particular here at BELFOR Franchise Group is a pretty popular and
pretty exciting way to do that."

Doug also discusses the unique aspects of the BELFOR Group, including the comprehensive support they provide to franchisees and the synergies between their brands. As he tells Scotty, "We've proven systems in place, and we want you to engage with those systems for the best chance of success."

Key Takeaways:
1. BELFOR Franchise Group offers a range of home service brands, including redbox+ Dumpsters and COOL-BINZ.
2. The BELFOR brands are attractive to seasoned entrepreneurs and senior-level
professionals looking for recession-resistant businesses.
3. BELFOR provides extensive support to franchisees, including marketing, training, and
ongoing coaching.
4. COOL-BINZ is a new brand that offers climate-controlled mobile storage solutions, with a
range of bin options available.
5. BELFOR Franchise Group is owned by BELFOR Property Restoration, the world's largest
property restoration company, providing additional support and expertise.

Scotty Milas can be reached at [email protected] and at (860)751-9126.
Doug Smith can be reached on LinkedIn:

#allthingsconsidered #scottmilas #businessownership #franchiseopportunities #dougsmith
#coolbinz #redboxplusdumpsters #homeservicebrands #belforfranchisegroup

View Full Transcript

Episode Transcript

[00:00:06] Speaker A: Hello, everybody, and welcome to another episode of All Things considered franchising, powered by I am your host, Scotty Milas. I am the founder of All Things considered franchising, a podcast dedicated to the franchise space, entrepreneurship. We talk about business ownership, different types of brands. We stay focused on the franchising industry, but occasionally step outside into independence and kind of people associated with the industry. is a organization consulting organization I started many years ago that helps people research and explore business ownership, helping you develop a roadmap business model, and then introducing you to opportunities that potentially fit in the franchising space. And then I'm helping you through the validation process, ultimately to get to a decision one way or the other. A great guest today, somebody who's really kind of cemented his place in franchising and is kind of one of those just guys that you just want to hang out with and pick his brain. And that's Doug Smith. Doug is senior vice president of franchise development for the Belfort Franchise Group, which is an organization that's affiliated and ownership of home service type brands. So, Doug, welcome to the show. [00:01:30] Speaker B: Well, thanks for having me, Scott. [00:01:31] Speaker A: I appreciate, you know, you and I were chatting, kind of warming up before we hit the live button here, record button. You came out of the restaurant industry working for franchiseors, I imagine, on the operational side, managing, helping multi unit owners kind of put their management together to run the stores and then switched into financials, the financial industry, and then, of course, got back into it. Now with group, you know, franchising has kind of had a weave up and down. Now, it's still a great place to start, to go to become an entrepreneur, but maybe share a few things with the audience before we dive into the Belfort Group list of brands and tell us a little bit about your experience in franchising and thoughts about the industry. [00:02:24] Speaker B: Sure. I think we talked a little bit earlier. [00:02:27] Speaker A: Right. [00:02:27] Speaker B: And I did start my career in the restaurant business and worked for several franchises, so saw what that was like from that side of things and some of the goods and the bads. Obviously, restaurants come with a lot of both, so got a lot of experience there, jumped into financial services, tried that for a while, several years, but then found my way back to franchising from the franchiseor side of things. When I first got out of college and got in the restaurant business, I wanted to be an entrepreneur. I wanted to own my own restaurant, and that kind of cemented that. Had done that kind of right in high school, the way most kids do, right mowing lawns and grew up in New York, so there was leaves to be raked and snow to be shoveled and things like that. So you kind of got a taste of that thought I wanted to own my own restaurant. Learned a lot about the restaurant business in the 13 years I was in it, and things I both liked and didn't liked. So I kind of got back into franchising with a goal of helping other people become entrepreneurs because I always liked that kind of track. But I really get a kick out of bringing people along, I'm sure much like you do in your consultations, right? Bringing people along and finding something when they're tired of working for a large corporation, or they've been laid off, or it's just a different stage of their life, or they're looking for more work, life balance, whatever it is, we really enjoy bringing those people along. And we think home services in particular here at Belfort franchise Group is a pretty popular and pretty exciting way to do know. [00:03:57] Speaker A: It's know you touched on a couple of things there that's quite interesting because home services has really climbed the ladder in interest as business ownership, especially from the early stages of the pandemic, coming out of the pandemic. And it's remained a very lucrative, rewarding, and rewarding opportunity for people that are looking to kind of exit corporate America and looking for something that's scalable to get to the potential of having a good earnings potential. Belfort Group represents some great opportunities in that category, and I want to talk to about you. But one of my favorite that's in your portfolio, just to start out, is red box. And I kind of remember this brand when it started out. It really took off. If I remember correctly, the story of Redbox was it was almost created or thought of on an airplane by the owner diagramming catching on a cocktail napkin. [00:05:06] Speaker B: Yeah. [00:05:06] Speaker A: So talk about Redback, some of the other brands. Just kind of give us a brief overview and your thoughts on the home services and what separates Belfour from some of the other organizations that manage home service opportunities. [00:05:20] Speaker B: Sure. That's about twelve questions in one. So you can cut me off anytime you want. [00:05:26] Speaker A: Yeah, just take it piece by piece, as they say. [00:05:29] Speaker B: But Red Box plus Dumpster week, Belfort franchise Group, they acquired them. We acquired them back in 2021. Excuse me. And yeah, it was a concept that was kind of sketched out with a couple of guys and got that started in a group pretty quickly. Today, we've got close to 100 franchisees and over 300 franchises all across the nation. So that's a pretty exciting brand. It's one of our brands that's interesting and different from some of the other ones in the fact that it's very asset heavy trucks, dumpsters, things like that, obviously, but very light labor requirement. So some of our brands like that seem to be really popular right now because I think we all hear about the labor shortages and kind of what's going on today with that. And when you have things like a restaurant or something that requires 30, 40, 5100 employees, it gets pretty challenging in this day and age. It does got a wage concerns, et cetera. So some of the franchises like Red Box plus dumpsters and one of our latest ones, cool bins, another similar concept. It's a climate controlled mobile storage concept. Again, you've got these climate controlled storage bins and trucks, but very light labor required. This one actually requires even less labor than our red box plus concept. So that's pretty attractive to people in today's climate as well. But we've got 13 brands in the Belfort franchise group family, some as old as 46, 47 years old, like Chemdry carpet and upholstery cleaning, and some like cool bins. And our new pest control company, which safer home services they are literally. We've been franchising now for just a couple of months and we've got them everywhere in between. [00:07:10] Speaker A: What are you seeing as the reception from prospects clients that you're meeting and interviewing and going through the process? Because emerging brands seems to be very on the heavy side these days. There are a lot of companies that are now utilizing franchising to expand their businesses instead of going using franchising as a way to expand their businesses versus being an independent. But what are you seeing as far as the level of interest, the types of person that are getting into these emerging brands? I mean, is there anything in particular that catches your attention on the character or mo, I should say, of these potential investors? [00:07:53] Speaker B: It does, actually. Having these new brands, brand new brands from startup, lets you see what type of people are interested in those typically not first time entrepreneurs, necessarily a few, but a lot of them are coming from having other businesses either in the past or may own six, seven different businesses right now. So we just had a new franchisee down in Georgia who I think we are his 7th business in his portfolio of businesses, talking to a new candidate for cool bins right now. And he has three or four businesses with a couple of partners out in Arizona. So especially when the investment is a little bit larger. These seem to be seasoned entrepreneurs that are just looking, they're not looking to replace a salary. [00:08:41] Speaker A: Right. [00:08:41] Speaker B: They're looking for investment. Right. They're looking at things that are a 510 15 year horizon. They're looking to build equity and have an exit at some point in time. So that's more the type of people we see coming in with these larger investment opportunities and then sometimes on the smaller ones. [00:08:58] Speaker A: Right. [00:08:58] Speaker B: Obviously you don't need as much to get started, so that provides opportunity for maybe somebody a little bit different. You mentioned kind of new startups. The unique thing about buffer franchise group is you can come and get involved with like a cool bins that's brand spanking new, but you've got the backing of 46, 47 years and twelve other brands and 200 people in our franchise group that are there to support you. It's not like you're brand new with three or four employees. You've got large training departments and coaching departments and finance and accounting and onboarding. So you've got equipment purchasing, you've got all these different departments that are already in place for our 3000 franchisees already in our system. So you can get the benefits of a brand new startup, but with all that backing and all that experience already in place. So that's kind of, I think, how we're a little bit maybe unique. [00:09:53] Speaker A: So in essence, and we're talking to Doug Smith, senior vice president of franchise development for the Belfour Group, is it safe to say that if somebody is coming into the Belfour system, whether it's a cool bins or one of the other brands making an investment, that they're going to get the full gamut of support. So it doesn't sound like a lot of your brands require brick and mortar, but they're still going to require territory assessment, they're going to require the marketing efforts, they're going to require the sales support, in some ways, the marketing, so operational support. So is it safe to say that somebody coming in, somebody who maybe doesn't have business experience, ownership, business experience, is going to be comfortable to know that the Belfort Group is going to support them from a to z? [00:10:46] Speaker B: It's not only safe, it's a fact. I mean, that's exactly what we do, right? That's exactly what we do. Matter of fact, all 13 of our brands, for example, you mentioned marketing, right? When you buy the initial package from us, not only does it include equipment and vans and things like that, it also includes the first four to six months of marketing already built into that package. So you've already actually prepaid for a lot of that marketing that our marketing team then implements with you. I mean, obviously, everybody gets a website and sets up SEO and pay per click campaigns, things like that, but they go on and they're getting all your reviews set up in addition to your site. So they're getting all your digital marketing, all your grand openings, whatever it is, it's all packaged up kind of prepaid for. So you have every incentive, right, to work with us to make sure that gets implemented in the right way. And then we kind of transition that we still support it, but it's kind of transitioned to you after that first four to six months when we feel you're comfortable along those lines. But everybody gets that automatically so that you don't have a choice to decide in month two. Oh, I don't want to spend this on marketing or I want to do it a little bit different way. We've got proven systems in place and we want you to engage with those systems, right. For the best chance of success. And that applies for whether it's national accounts or sales training, the onboarding, working with the different systems, all that is going to be covered and then that's ongoing, obviously, with your business coaches. [00:12:14] Speaker A: So when you look at your model, when you look at the companies that are in the Belfour portfolio of brands, mostly service based businesses, let's talk about the characteristics of the type of investor that you're seeing, the owner that wants to come in and that's looking at these brands. Are we looking at people that have seasoned management experience, know how to manage? Not necessarily someone who absolutely loves to get their hands dirty, so to speak, but has some type of a service, understanding, networking, being able to present b to b, b to c scenarios. I mean, give us a little overview of the type of person that you're seeing that's coming into the Belfour group and leave out the financial part for. [00:13:01] Speaker B: A second, but just kind of the. [00:13:03] Speaker A: Characteristics, experiences that you're seeing that are coming into the brands that you represent. [00:13:09] Speaker B: Yeah, I think a lot of them have management experience, depending on the concept, that can be handy, depending on your labor requirements and so forth. But one of the things we look for in our conversations are people with, I'll say, sales and marketing backgrounds, maybe not necessarily entrepreneurs all the time. That doesn't mean, and I don't mean to mean you had to come from a defined sales and marketing role. [00:13:32] Speaker A: Right. [00:13:33] Speaker B: You kind of mentioned it. We're home services. So these people are in people's homes every day. Right. They don't necessarily have to be on the truck. Right. But somebody's going to go out and sell the product. Right. Somebody's going to have to go to BNI groups. Right. Somebody's going to have to go to chambers of commerce. Somebody's going to have to get the business up and running. People have to know who you are. So it's got to be somebody that's comfortable talking to people, interacting with people. You don't have to be a huge extrovert. I tend to be, but my wife's an introvert and she's done very well at some of these things over the years. So it doesn't have to be a big effort, but it's people who are just comfortable talking to people. People you probably want to have on your podcast. Right. Not a shrinking violet. Right. You want to people that are going to enjoy having a conversation. We look for that in the process. So not necessarily the answers of the questions, but are you answering, how are you answering? So I say sales and marketing, but that's kind of loose. You got to be able to talk to people and relate to people. [00:14:29] Speaker A: It's [email protected]. This is one of the avenues that we go down when we're talking to our clients. Is that the sales aptitude? And when we say sales aptitude, we're not talking about kind of being that willy Loman where you're carrying your briefcase and knocking on doors or dialing for dollars with your Rolodex cars. I mean, I'm really dating myself here. [00:14:49] Speaker B: But it's the ability to network and. [00:14:51] Speaker A: Let people know that you own a business and make a presentation and kind of say, okay, great, would you like to move forward? It's a little different than it was 25, 30 years ago. So with the help of social media, a lot of the marketing is marketing. When you look at the level of executive that's coming in or the level of person that's coming in. Investing, are we seeing senior level corporate executives? Are we seeing vp levels? We seeing directors? Is there kind of a category that you're seeing most of the people or level of experience that they're at? Titles, so to speak. [00:15:35] Speaker B: I'd say it's a little specific to brand, but if you start at the kind of higher investment levels, one of two buckets. I mentioned entrepreneurs. It's kind of serial entrepreneurs. Those types of people, if they're not entrepreneurs, if they're w two folks, we do see a very senior level. So we've got people involved in our red box plus dumpsters that you might never imagine. [00:15:57] Speaker A: Right. [00:15:57] Speaker B: We have financial advisors that are doing that. We have people who came from companies like Deloitte and Ernst Young at a pretty senior level doing that. So we've got several computer engineering it type of people that are doing red box plus, you know, you wouldn't think you're like Dumpster, really? Dumpster rentals. I would know our most successful people, and a good chunk of them came from very white collar, kind of white collar. Senior level. Yeah. Senior level positions to do that. Now, part of that is the investment level, of course. But, yeah, it's just something about, again, looking for a recession resistant business. A lot of home services are right. They're looking for things that they can build equity in. Again, looking for an exit, maybe at 1015, 20 years down the road, some type of legacy business. So when you think about some of the businesses that we do, that's exactly. We do a lot in the restoration space. You can't get a lot more recession resistant than the restoration space. [00:17:00] Speaker A: Right. [00:17:00] Speaker B: I mean, that's going to happen whether you like it or not. There's going to be water and fire damages, smoke damages. Right. That's just going to happen regardless of what the economy is doing. So some of our brands like warning, underwater damage and our blue kangaroo packouts, things like that, even our ducks, vent cleaning, those are all things that have to happen whether we're in a recession or what have you. [00:17:22] Speaker A: Right. [00:17:23] Speaker B: That's still going to happen. So people are looking for those types of things to be able to weather any storm. No pun intended. [00:17:31] Speaker A: Yeah. I need more than a want. Talk to me about cool bins. I think this is a cool new opportunity. Storage opportunities have always been unique in the sense that it's a need, not a want. But it's also fits into that upscale investment level. But as we all know, higher the investment, higher the return, typically. Talk to me about coolsmids. It's a new brand. It's just getting launched. Tell me a little about it, what they're doing, and tell our audience to share some information. [00:18:11] Speaker B: Yeah, it's a really cool concept. Again, no pun intended. I'm just killing myself with all these. But you can do a lot with that. So, cool bins. It is climate controlled mobile storage. So there's obviously other folks out there that sling mobile storage, right? Portable storage, it's not a brand new concept. Our founders actually live down in Naples, Florida, and they had an event at their house, where they had to store their furniture and all their belongings in order to repair and restore the home. They did that, and they put it into one of these bins with another company, one where they take it away and put it in a quote unquote, climate controlled warehouse. And they came back just about three weeks later to get some things out that they needed. And they opened it up and it was just full of mold and mildew, and the furniture was cracking, the artwork was growing fuzzy things. Most of their stuff was completely ruined. And they came from kind of a manufacturing r and D background and said, this doesn't work for us. There has to be a better way. And so that started the research and development and what became cool bins. So there's a whole variety of bins we offer people. So cool bins, which are climate controlled, they hold your temperature, they're going to get rid of the humidity. We've got bins that are also refrigerated bins for things like breweries and restaurants or things that happen. Right. Your walk in cooler goes down. We've got freezer bins for the same reason. We've got mobile offices out there as well. And we have non climate control bins if you're just looking to store tools or whatever it is that don't need to be air conditioned. So we've got a whole suite of services and types of bins. Great test market. Obviously, we have a corporate store down in Florida, so it's been a great test market. And they've been offering them themselves out of what's our corporate location since 2017. So we've got several years of experience and learnings behind it. They just can't keep them in stock. [00:20:14] Speaker A: So these are portable bins. They travel. [00:20:18] Speaker B: They travel and they can be left, right on site. Right. If you need one today, store some of your home. They could leave it right in your driveway, or you could load it up and we'll take it back to our lot. Unlike a lot of the companies, you don't need a warehouse because they're actually climate controlled. [00:20:32] Speaker A: Right. [00:20:32] Speaker B: So you don't need to put them into a warehouse. They can actually be stored on a lot. All of our bins are 110. You just plug it into a normal outlet. So if you go and you see a lot of other people have mobile offices, especially freezers, refrigerators. They're going to require 220 or to be hardwired, even on site. None of that with any of our bins, they're all just plug and play. [00:20:52] Speaker A: Interesting and they're rentals. Correct? [00:20:56] Speaker B: They are rentals. Yeah. [00:20:58] Speaker A: Somebody is rental them either a month, two months, a week, two weeks, whatever. [00:21:02] Speaker B: We see the average rental across our corporate location is about nine and a half months. So we've got bins been out there for two, three years, and we have shorter times, but the average is about nine and a half months that we see as rental. [00:21:15] Speaker A: Wow. And is the need more commercial or residential? [00:21:20] Speaker B: It's actually probably, if I had to put it, probably 65% commercial and the rest residential. We just mentioned some examples of what would be residential, but again, they've got them on site for long term, for some of the airports around that ran out of storage, for some of their food, the candies and all that kind of stuff, bottles of water. They need extra storage space, so they've got them on site long term. They've got florists that are using them, they've got, obviously a lot of contractors will use those as well as the mobile offices. One of the things we like at Belfort franchise Group is the synergies between a lot of our different companies. So our cool bins location, Florida right now has about ten or twelve bins out to rent to our local blue kangaroo packouts, our contents and restoration company, who doesn't have enough space. So he's actually renting bins from our cool bins location to store the properties while he's packing out and repairing the contents. So a lot of the brands we bring on do that very thing. Right. We have a network of very synergistic types of brands that can refer business to each other. [00:22:29] Speaker A: Wow. Well, Doug, we appreciate you taking some time. We've been talking to Doug Smith, who is senior vp of franchise development for Belfour franchise Group. And that's B-E-L-F-O-R group. Just if anybody wanted to do some research and look them up. Doug, any closing comments? Anything else you want to say about the brands that you represent and own and help people get started in? I mean, anything else you want to share before we close out? [00:22:56] Speaker B: Well, the one thing I think is different from Belfour franchise group is we're actually owned, right, by Belfour Property Restoration, which is the world's largest property restoration company. So we're owned by an operating company. We're owned by a company that has nearly 11,000 employees across 35 countries. Right. So they have 150 offices just here in the US. So not only is there a chance for some referral business from the mothership, if you will, but they are in the ditches. Every day operate. They're in the restoration space. It can be an ugly space, right. As far as what the type of business they do. But they're an operating company, so they know what it takes. They know what our franchisees are seeing on a day to day basis. [00:23:37] Speaker A: Right? [00:23:37] Speaker B: It's not just investment, but they operate every day. They get their hands dirty and they know what it takes to run a business. And I think that separates us from a lot of other companies out there, right? [00:23:49] Speaker A: We've been talking to Doug Smith, senior vice president of franchise development, as I mentioned, from the Belfort franchise Group. That's B-E-L-F-O-R Group. You can reach out to Doug on LinkedIn. He's there. Doug and Smith. S-M-I-T-H again, senior vice president of franchise development. Message him. If you need some more information on the awesome service brands that they have in their portfolio, I'm your host, Scotty Milas, of all things considered, franchising. You can check out all of our podcasts on And of course, Spotify, Apple, and all the rest of the, well, just podcast channels. The services consultant part of the organization, Visit the website. Message me if you'd like to get started and learn more about business ownership, the services, and education and guidance that I represent to my clients and offer my clients at no cost is based on experience. And there's no commitment in regards to investing in a business. It's all education. So, Doug, thanks for having us. We hope to get you back on in the next six months just to get an update, and we appreciate your time. [00:25:03] Speaker B: Really appreciate the opportunity to speak to you today, Scotty. [00:25:06] Speaker A: All right, thanks.

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