What was your career background prior to starting your Refresh Renovations business?
I worked in the oil industry managing huge projects all around the world and then was a consultant after that.
What about the Refresh business model caught your eye?
Refresh has a professional project management approach to home renovation. I thought it was a differentiated model, so I started investigating. I looked at the renovation industry overall and talked to a lot of people – and I realized that it really is a novel approach. I could see the homeowners’ side of it – the value that we bring. But I also saw the business opportunity. I liked that it wasn’t capital intensive, and there is no ceiling on my earnings. I can build as big a business as I want.
I also like that it’s not a seasonal business and I’m not tied to only one type of project: only bathrooms, or only closets or something like that. If you’re just doing a simple job, say only a closet, then you’d end up competing on price because everybody in that business looks the same. But Refresh is a whole-house renovation expert. We can do any kind of project, or multiple projects in the house at once.
Our typical clients usually have something much bigger and more custom in mind. If they just wanted to swap cabinet doors and pop on a new counter-top, that’s not my customer anyway. My customers want to design something totally different– they want to transform their home. Once we are in the design process together, they don’t go out to bid because it’s already a custom job to begin with. I even tell my customers upfront; I don’t compete on price. So, I hold my margins and build in a great experience for my customers because they are getting what they want, on budget, on time.
You came to Refresh with extensive leadership and corporate business experience, but no home renovation experience. What has it been like to run a Refresh Renovation business?
My initial experience with the team during onboarding was great and that really set the tone. Matthew and Paul were genuine, accommodating and very patient with all of my questions. I stay focused on what I do best, which is building my team. I don’t have to be an expert in construction or design, I can leverage my team for that. And this is normal business hours type of work. These projects are planned out. I’m not doing work on evenings and weekends – and I’m not traveling like I did in my corporate job.
What were good sources of leads for you when you first started? How did you fill your pipeline?
I attended a large home show here in Houston before I even officially opened the business. I got a small booth and just put myself out there to answer questions. It turns out that many people attending home shows are actually there looking for solutions. They already have a home project in mind. I built a significant pipeline and filled up my pipeline with projects just from that one show. Now I’m starting to layer in digital marketing, outreach in the community, and other things.
How are you building up your team?
I really enjoy talking to people and networking. I think that’s an important skill for anyone to be successful in this business. I meet people everywhere and I find all sorts of interesting connections. My construction manager is a gentleman that I knew casually for a few years as our boys played soccer together. He was in the remodeling industry and looking for opportunities to grow his business. We started talking about the Refresh model and soon realized that our skills and business strengths were complimentary. I’ve found designers, architects, and construction in a similar way. All of these designers and architects and construction people want the work, and I’ve got a pipeline of projects. I can keep them busy, and I handle the project management side and work with customers. It’s a win-win.
Why is the Refresh model so compelling for customers?
The way we approach a home renovation project is what sets us apart. We are professionals, we’re organized, we help them stay on budget and get the results they’re looking for. My clients are usually busy working professionals who want to reinvent their space but are too busy to manage the project and ensure it gets done right. I step in and do that for them. I provide them with a high level of customer service, and I keep things moving.
What are areas for improvement?
Refresh is a proven brand – in New Zealand and Australia. They have 85 franchisees and have pretty much sold out in their home market. They recently started expanding to the U.K., and now the U.S. So, the system is proven, but the supporting documentation and some processes need to be adjusted here and there to tailor things to the American market. For example, the word choices in our chart of accounts needed to be updated, because the trades in New Zealand use slightly different terms for things. But our core technology and planning tools are differentiating. Customers really like the visibility to their project timelines. That professionalism, again, is what we bring to the table. That’s what sets us apart.
I see this as an emerging brand but one that is far more proven, and stronger, than your average emerging brand in the U.S. I also really like that I’m on the ground floor of the U.S. expansion…I’m comfortable being a bit of a trailblazer. We don’t have as mature a network of tradespeople yet developed in my market, for example, but we’re getting there. I can pick my team, and the corporate team is there to help too. I can build what I want in the area that I want. I like that. I work closely with the franchisee near me as well and we’re building out this market together. This is a huge market and the opportunities are absolutely here.
Who is the ideal Refresh franchise owner?
Someone with team leadership experience, sales experience, someone comfortable getting their brand out there, and who wants to create a substantial business. I’ve run large projects and teams. I wanted to build something big for myself – not making money for someone else – but for myself. I’m confident that with this approach and training and tools…. I can focus on what I do well – sales, building a team, creating the market strategy and managing projects and customer relationships.
Refresh brings a professional, buttoned-up approach to an industry where many others frankly just aren’t showing up to customers that way. I show up with a fresh eye and a plan. I’m not in the weeds of every construction project. I’m focused on the strategy for how every project comes together. I bring the right team to get it done. I have an operations manager or general contractor handling the daily details. I focus on the business side and building my organization. I’m building awareness and customer referrals. I’m ambitious and I’m headed in the right direction.