Scaling Quickly With Franchising and Offshore Talent
Jeff Dudan is the Founder of Dudan Group, a company that acquires and builds franchise businesses. He is also the CEO and Chairman of Homefront, Dudan Group’s platform of property service franchisors. Jeff is the former CEO of AdvantaClean, which became a leading national restoration franchise and was eventually acquired by Home Franchise Concepts. As a franchise executive, he has over 30 years of experience founding, building, operating, and exiting national franchise brands. He is a published author, Forbes contributor, speaker, and consultant to emerging brands. Jeff serves YPO as Chapter Chair of the Southeast Regional US Chapter, Novant Health as Advisory Board member, and the IFA Franchisor Forum as a member.
Welcome to The Future Is Borderless podcast with David Nilssen, we feature top entrepreneurs and thought leaders from around the world, those who bring a global mindset and a unique perspective to their life and business. Now, let’s get started with the show.
David Nilssen 0:23
Hey, David Nilssen here I am the host of this show. On this podcast, we connect with business leaders from around the world who have what I like to refer to as a borderless mindset. And the purpose is to share ideas, new innovations, best practices, things that will help power growth in our personal and professional lives. Now, this episode is brought to you by Doxa Talent. Doxa helps businesses to source full time highly skilled workers from all over the world. And as a result, these companies can scale faster increase margin and improve culture. They provide everything from accountants, sales, development reps, virtual assistants, and even software engineers to publicly traded companies and small local businesses. If you want to learn more about how you can grow your business with offshore talent, visit doxatalent.com. All right. Well, let’s get into the show. today. My guest is Jeff Dudan, who is the CEO and chairman of Homefront Brands. This is a platform of property service franchisors. Jeff’s journey actually began in college when he started a business painting student housing, and after graduating he assisted South Florida in recovering from Hurricane Andrew which then led to him launching AdvantaClean in 1994. AdvantaClean became a leading national restoration franchise which was eventually acquired by Home Franchise Concepts. And Jeff since then has become a published author. In fact, his latest book Discernment: The Business Athlete’s Regimen for a Great Life through Better Decisions is available on amazon.com. Today, Jeff services YPO Chapter as the Southeast Regional Chapter Chair. He is an advisory board member for Novant Health, and a member of the IFA Franchisor Forum. So with all that, Welcome, Jeff to The Future Is Borderless.
Jeff Dudan 2:07
I’m excited to be here, David. Thank you for that fine and accurate introduction.
David Nilssen 2:11
Well, I’m glad it was accurate. I never let facts get in the way of a good story. All right, well, let’s just jump straight in. In the bio I mentioned that you had started, and I guess I didn’t say this but you franchise and then eventually sold AdvantaClean. My hunch is that there are some people listening that won’t be as familiar with that business. So can we just start by sharing a little bit about what is AdvantaClean? What did you guys do?
Jeff Dudan 2:34
100%. So we were a light environmental service business. So anytime that water or moisture got into somewhere where it didn’t belong and impacted, what our most people’s most valuable asset is their families or their greatest investment, which is their homes or businesses, that’s where we came in. So services like mold remediation, emergency water removal, air duct cleaning, and we also had a line of sealed crawlspace options that were the kind of waterproofing line for certain parts of the country where we would put vapor barriers and things like that. And so early on, we were more of a traditional fire and water damage contractor. And we always throughout the 25 years that I owned the business responded to disasters, we would work in the Caribbean or anywhere there was a hurricane or an earthquake out in California. So we traveled and we had a very capable technical competency and logistics responding to disasters and those types of sites. And then also had a division where we did very technical work. We did a lot of government contracting VA hospitals. One of the stories I mean, we were working in a hydroelectric dam where they pulled out the turbines and we Abate repelled in there and did the asbestos abatement on the pads, or demoulding and Navy SEAL diving tank, things like that. So we would get into some interesting things. And because we were in business so long, we really collected a very talented group of people and protocols to be able to respond to those things. But when we franchise the business, it was residential, commercial, local business, mold remediation, emergency water removal, things like that.
David Nilssen 4:15
Yeah. So my pipe bursts and I’ve got a flood in my home, you guys would come in and try and help clean that up before it becomes even more damaging to the area.
Jeff Dudan 4:26
David Nilssen 4:27
Got it now. I mean, I know you became a franchisor. But I guess I actually don’t even know the story. Did you start as a franchise or did you eventually become one?
Jeff Dudan 4:36
Great question. So the story goes, so I was a high school basketball player and I came to football late. And I was a horrible student, I’ll just say it. I usually beat around the bush. Let’s just say it. I wasn’t a very good student. So my college options were limited but I started playing football. My last two years of high school and I’m like, wow, I could probably go somewhere with this and I wasn’t going anywhere with anything else. So I walked down to the University of Northern Iowa, I continued with my scholarly pursuits. And at the end of that year, there was a meeting and they decided that I shouldn’t come back. So I dropped back to a junior college in Chicago, kind of a last chance you football factory for people that came back from colleges and needed some refinement. And then from there, I got a scholarship out to Appalachian State University. And that’s where I really cut my teeth. I wanted to stay there over the summer. And I had worked the trades in Chicago. And one of the things that I did was as a union painter, so I started the painting business because I had the skill and I knew kind of how that business works. And we quickly started and we won the contracts with painting the student housing apartments, so there was two times in late May, and then in late July, where they’d have a week where they were moving everybody out and moving everybody back in. So we recruited all the athletes that were taking classes over the summer, we put together huge painting crews, and we would do 15, 20 apartments in a day. And over that, and just work eight straight days doing it at those times. So that’s what I did. And then one of the gentlemen that painted with us in the summer, took a job for a restoration business. And he called me and he said, this hurricane just hit South Florida, Hurricane Andrew in 1992. So my painting partner and I jumped into our four-cylinder, Dodge Ram with a wooden pressure-treated ladder rack. And I said to my fiancée at the time is I’ll be back in three weeks. And three years later, I came back and we had cut our teeth in the restoration business and started the company in 1994 in Central Florida that would ultimately become AdvantaClean. And then in 95, I moved back up to get married and opened our second location in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. From there, we quickly grew into a 10 to $20 million a year restoration business. And we developed our government capability. And then we had offices around the southeast. And it was growing, and it was a great business. And this is where I believe that many people, if you look at them, especially people you would consider successful, they have many lives within a life. They started doing one thing, and then they had another phase of this and another phase of that, and the business was growing well, but the problem was, is that I had three small children, and I was never home. And some of the things that led me, you know, kind of astray when I was a young person, we’re at risk of repeating themselves. And I remember I was driving home from Katrina, in 2004, I bought my last partner in 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck, but I’d spent all of 2004 with consultants and learning about purpose, vision, mission values, and how to paint a picture of where you wanted the company to go. And I was pretty sure that franchising was going to be in our future. And so we had invested in a fleet of semi-trucks and campers and trailers and generators and 1000s of pieces of equipment. So preparation met opportunity, Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast, and we went down there and did a, an extended four years storm response down there. But I was on my way back after setting it up for three months. And I was driving through the night because I was missing my son’s first football game. And I was trying to get there. And I remember I’m like, man, I said, this is never going to work for me long term. I’m going to be on the road the whole time. And I made a decision in the middle of the night driving through Atlanta that I was going to sell all of our company stores under a franchise model. And I was going to put at risk or throw away a perfectly great business, in exchange for an opportunity to do something bigger, which was a franchise model. So in 2006, seven and eight, we sold all of our company stores under a franchise model. In 2009, we went to the marketplace. And I saw Facebook posts that popped up from 2013, where we already had 130 locations by that time. So it was a really quick launch. We were on the heels of the great financial crisis. So there was a lot of people that were looking for stability, and AdvantaClean was recession resistant needs base third high margin, third party payee, we didn’t have a big screen TV or anything like that in the lot. So people looked at it as a way that they could solve their retirement problem or if they were take their 401k and invest it. So that’s how that worked out. And then we grew the business to about 240 locations in 37 states and sold it January 1st, 2019 to Home Franchise Concepts out of Irvine, California.
David Nilssen 9:53
Wow. That’s fast growth. 240 locations. I’m curious, I want to talk about that for a second, but I want to talk about the process of moving from corporate-owned stores to being a franchise because I think a lot of people that will be listening to this have their own business, but it maybe never contemplated how their business might fit within a franchise model because we still, just by default, think about McDonald’s and Burger King and those quick-serve restaurants are sort of the poster child for franchising. Like what did you have to do in order to be able to get the business ready for franchising?
Jeff Dudan 10:27
Well, at the time, I had to be too stupid to fail. And you just had to, it was an iterative process. And that’s iterative, it’s very close to idiot. I mean, we just kept at it, we tried to learn and it wasn’t clean. But what I will share is, since later in my career, specifically the last few years, and then the last three years since selling the business, I’ve made a study of emerging brands. And currently, we have two franchise platforms, we have the Homefront Platform that you mentioned, we also have Thrivemore, which is at Rockbox fitness and have been like sauna in it. And I’ve really worked with, I mean, I’ve talked to at least 200 people that either wanted to franchise their business or have an emerging concept. And what I understand now is that there’s really four elements that go into a fast launch of a franchise system. First of all, you’ve got to have a business that’s good for people. And what I mean by that is, it can’t be overly complicated. There has to be work that’s within a geographic area of where the people are going to operate. Because territories are an important part of the franchise business model, which is the greatest wealth creation model. And I believe it’s ever been created in business. And an average person on an average day giving good effort needs to make predictable profit and predictable revenue. And there’s going to be a distribution of talent and the distribution of effort and assets and resources of in your franchise network. And your top 20% are going to be your sled dogs, they’re going to be incredible. Your next 70% are going to be well-intentioned people that are trying really hard to get into that top 20%. And then 10% of people, maybe they made a mistake, and or somebody did or something happened to them, somebody got sick, the marital crisis, something go on with the business. And you need to find a way to exit those people with honor and help them get out unscathed. And move those businesses to somebody that wants to move it up. So 90% of the people need to be able to operate this business, and it can’t be a jet airplane, I mean, we can’t be Top Gun Maverick, to operate the business because then only your top performers are going to be able to be successful. So simplicity scales, and complexity fails in franchising. So you accomplish a business that’s good for people by centralizing lots of things, making systems clear, having a really strong learning management track and really knowing your business, and being able to communicate that and all the learning styles, and support and reinforce that along the way so that these people can, the way franchisees operate after the first 90 days, everything else after that is change management. So you got to get them early and help them and just love them in every way that they need to be loved to be successful, and execute the model. Second, you need an inspired leader. So the first 20, franchise owners are going to be people that really are going to be looking at the people, not the paper. And if it’s you, David, they’re going to hold you accountable. And 10 years later, 15 years later, they’re going to come to you and say first thing you ever said to me was I hold you accountable to that. So an inspired leader that knows everything about the business, because early on when there’s not a huge cohort of franchises out there, you’re going to get a lot of pushback, a lot of challenging around the model. So you have to be good enough at it and have enough authenticity and done it long enough to where people can’t question, you have the answer. And you have to be inspiring and somebody that people are going to trust. I mean, if you’ve got three franchises out there and somebody’s looking and saying, am I going to give my life savings to this guy or gal, then you have to be somebody that they can buy into kind of a side note. I think that’s why building values for organizations and franchising is so important because people are always okay as long as they know where they stand. And if you’re consistent and you’re upfront and you’ve put the time into, be able to really articulate to people so that they understand what they’re getting into then they’re going to be fine. When you change things midstream and it’s different than what they bought into, that’s when franchises run into problems. So, inspired leadership a business that’s good for people. The third thing is, I mean, we did an Rockbox fitness in 15 months, what it took me 15 years to figure out in AdvantaClean, you got to get some franchise expertise, you got to find a franchise guru, you have to because it’s already expensive without doing the wrong things in the wrong order at the wrong time. So royalties, or how you make your money, and you’re not going to have a lot to begin with. So to some extent, you’re spending, capital capital, human capital, intellectual capital, a head of revenue, and the tighter that you can build that launch, the more informed you can be. And it’s a small industry, like there’s a small handful of people out there comparatively, that have really built brands before, and there’s a lot of people out there selling your consulting services, to tell you that they know how to do it. So you have to be very careful with who you see it around your table. It’s like any business, get in a room that’s bigger than you and put the right people around the table and, and break bread with them. And then it takes in the last four thing, one word money. So that’s my observation of, if you want to franchise your business, unit economics have to be there that kind of goes into a business that’s good for people and has to be something they can operate. A franchise for a franchisee don’t think that you have to build a business that these people are going to be able to get a private plane from, it’s somebody can take a $50,000 investment, and with a growth mindset, and open mind and good intent, and really change the course of their life by learning entrepreneurship inside of your system. Part of being a great franchisor is building a vision and a dream that’s big enough where other people’s can fit inside of it. And I think statistics, there’s 64% of all statistics are made up. But here’s one, I heard that six point, the average term of a service franchise is about 6.7 years. So people get into a franchise, they learn all the things about business by doing and they build a great income for themselves. And then they have an asset that they can sell for a certain amount of money. So they’ve really taken $50,000 and turned it into 10 or 20 or 30 times that. And now they can hang a success on themselves and be confident going forward into future business endeavors. So, for us at Homefront Brands, that transition is important because we are all about strengthening the economy through entrepreneurship and small business. And we think that we serve a very noble purpose in helping people do that, especially today.
David Nilssen 18:01
Yeah, it’s interesting, franchising, so I just want to note, so business that’s good for people, an inspired leader, a franchise guru, and money. So put those in the show notes, but I think it is really interesting. When I first started Guidant Financial, I was very, very new to franchising. And overtime, the one thing we kept saying is that franchising really is a financing strategy for a company that wants to grow very, very quickly, they have the opportunity to do it, sort of slow and conservative, which is just opening corporate stores as quickly as cashflow will allow. You can either dilute yourself by taking on capital, and now you’re beholden to others, or you can franchise which is just another way to think about expanding your business, your brand at a very, very fast clip, while also creating opportunity for others. So I think that was a great overview. Let’s talk about you as a leader, though, I mean, I’d love to know, like, if you were to look at who you were in 1994, when you started this versus who you were in 2019 when you exited, how did you evolve as a leader and like, what did you really take away from that experience?
Jeff Dudan 19:08
Wow, where my head goes with that is, so I’ve managed to stay married for 27 years now. And I think it’s because, a big part of leadership is alignment. So my wife and I have, the biggest thing we have in common is that we’re constantly both working on me. And I think that, I mean, leadership is a work in progress. We evolve, you get tired, it’s funny I to prepare for this podcast, I started going through my notes and just kind of cracking my book Discernment over which is really about the models of thought, why did they write the book? Well, it’s not a great story, but there’s models of thought in there that I learned over the years and how you apply, I need to reread that book, because honestly, my leadership at Homefront Brands, with the velocity that we’ve had, I mean, I need to get back to basics and remind myself what’s important. So, leadership is a constant work. And it’s all the basics. It’s communication, its vision, its clarity, its leading by example, what I did, which is, one of the things that I did when I came off the road and franchise the business, and stopped traveling as much as I coached 30 seasons of my kids, sports, soccer players, football players, baseball players, basketball players, basically. And two sons and a daughter are 24, 21, and 18, right now. And people were like, how do you have time to head coach, not just coach like a head coach these things. And I believe that it was part of my leadership training. Because if you can take and I actually wrote a book called Hey, Coach!, because I knew I was coming to the end of my coaching and I wanted to capture because people would come up and they’d say, you don’t fight in the draft, you take the kids that they give you, you lose one or two games early. And by the end of it, you end up in the championship game, either winning it or playing your way into it. And all the parents kids want to be on your team, how do you do it? I’m like, well, we have a system, we have a process. And it’s about. So we had three little Tomes, we had a parent, what was it, coaching commitments, player rules, and parents, each of them had like, little five or seven little phrases with it. And the way we approached the culture, basically, no, cliques, we play for each other, we’re gonna put everything in, in the first two or three weeks of the season, I got a bunch of 12-year-old football players, and we’re going to play fast, we’re going to play loose, we’re going to play happy. If you make a mistake, it’s not punitive. And we’re going to have a good time doing it. And I mean, it was just those kind of basic things that are I think leadership fundamentals of our own clarity, around coaching around inclusion, around transparency, and around having a clear sense of purpose, and then having some grace in the culture too. So I use that to kind of keep my because if you think about it, a franchise system is it’s not 1000 employees, man, it’s 100 families with a little groups of 10. And that’s what it is. So you have to give the franchisees the tools to do the people piece well, because if they do the people piece well, the businesses see much easier. If they don’t do the people piece well, it’s a grind. So my leadership, really, I have a very coaching format, I tend to keep it pretty loose. But accountability is always one of our values wherever we go. The ability to rush to conflict and have candid conversations live in real-time. Sometimes, I mean, we talked about that all the time. Like, just say it, it’s not a personal attack. I had that conversation, we had a marketing excellence, little thing I did this morning with a bunch of our new marketing people. And we talked about exactly what we’re talking about right now and what the expectations are. And so that’s kind of how I view leadership. I mean, it’s leading from the front, eating last, pushing yourself to be out there and being, I think somebody had told me, I think it was a general, a big part of leadership is being available. You got to have availability, people need you, you need to be available to them.
David Nilssen 23:57
Yeah. It’s funny, you talked about culture, and then it dawned on me, right now, this is a hot topic, right? Like, how do you build culture in a remote environment. But it’s funny, I hadn’t really contemplated the franchisors had been dealing with this for years. Because instead of everyone being in one office, where you build culture by osmosis, and there’s this sort of visual component to it, franchisors really need the system or playbook to be run consistently. So how did you think about instilling that culture in your franchisees, particularly when these people are actually independent business owners who are leveraging your model like that is a very interesting challenge, and I think it might be very relevant for people that are battling with that right now. So just how did you do that with your franchisee specifically?
Jeff Dudan 24:50
Well, the first thing we did is so there’s a something called the primacy recency curve. And I do this great little parlor trick to where I read, everybody take out a piece of paper, and a pen. And by the way, if you don’t have one already out, you’d probably need to leave training but, and I say, okay, put the pen down. And I’m going to read 10 words. And I read these 10 words, and I say, and then I pick up your pen at the end of it. And from memory, write down the words. And I’ve done this 200 times, maybe, I mean, I’ve been doing this for years, and then you read the words back. And sure enough, the curve it’s like a you, people remember the first two or three words in the last two or three words. So whatever’s most important, you have to do first, and you have to do last, and people generally don’t remember what’s in the middle. So I do the first two hours of every training for every brand, with building your team. And it’s a very specific presentation. And it gives them the marvels of thought it gives them the tools, it gives them how to it gives them the rationale why, and it’s very tactical and practical things about how they need to think about leadership. Now, whether they do it or not, but then we incorporate those things into our weekly calls, into our monthly calls into how we do convention into every, we’re constantly because you have to water what you want to grow. So if you want to grow leadership, there always has to be evidence and clues that it’s not just lip service. And this is the way that an organization communicates. So things like unique language, special things that are unique to us is a big important part of culture. If you join a club that special, they’ve all, they have a secret handshake. Well, what’s your secret handshake in your organization? What are the things that identify people as part of your group part of your process part of your business. So, and then I also wrap up training at the end. And we go over some of the things that we went over. And also really just encourage them to know that the people, building an intentional culture is so important, because if you don’t, one will develop by default. So you will be a blend of the 10 people that showed up. The other thing is, you know, leading with your values and an interview process and making sure that, there’s a couple of questions that we use an early in the interview process, rather than, you know, this is how much you’re going to make an hour and stuff. So yeah, it’s tough. I mean, especially when the pressure to get workers has been so hard. But I mean, if if somebody absolutely doesn’t care what they do, who they do it for and who they work with them, you probably don’t want them.
David Nilssen 28:04
Yeah, I’d love the intentionality around all of that, because that you’re right, by default culture is going to be created. The question is, is it the one that you want in the business or the one that you get or inherit because of it?
Jeff Dudan 28:13
So the minute the third person walks in the room politics is born?
David Nilssen 28:20
Yeah. We talked a little bit about your book, you should say you made a comment about it a minute ago. But I want to talk about that for a second. What inspired you to put pen to paper and actually write that book in the first place?
Jeff Dudan 28:33
So I get inspired to write a book when I see the end of a chapter coming. And I see. So when I was coming to the end of my coaching career, and I had a file cabinet full of our techniques, and everything and coaches would I mean, I had a conga line of coaches that would come to me and sit down and say, how do you do it year after year after year? And they’d be like, what defense do you run? What offense you run? I said, depends on who shows up. But this is how we do it. Half of them were like, yeah, whatever. I’m not doing that. I just want to run, I just want to know what to run. So I put pen to paper to capture what I’ve learned so that anybody who’s interested in the right place can take from it and incorporate that and use it in doing the same thing that I was doing. So Discernment came about, and I knew that I was coming to the end of a 25-year run with AdvantaClean. And I had really things that I felt strongly about, but moreover, getting into things like Vistage and getting into things like YPO and now CEO and also now and CEO, and getting around a table of people that I don’t have any there’s nothing that should have, where I would deserve to get around the people like you, David, that I have the opportunity to engage with in my life. You would have never thought 20 years ago that I would get access to time with these types of people. And but I developed from all my materials and what I had learned just what I call models of thought. And I had accumulated these myself and also from, every books a compilation, I mean, there’s 7 billion people on the planet, when’s the last time there was an original thought outside of Elon Musk? I mean, we’re all we’re all compilers. So the book is a compilation, it’s got my own spin on it. But basically, it’s anchored in the belief that the quality of your decisions, impacts the quality of your life and the velocity of your business. And I used to teach my kids and the teams that you know, you get 99 decisions every day, it starts just whether you make your bed or not. And whether you give a compliment or criticism or whether you smile back, it’s not like these little things make huge impacts in your life. And in the velocity of your business, your decisions. One time we had hired, he was retired, and he was doing some consulting work. But he was the ex-CFO of Pepsi. brilliant guy, but he was at the later, later, later end of his career. But he told me this, Jeff business is only about probabilities. Anything could go to zero. And Ron, Arthur, anything could go to zero. And nothing’s 100%. It’s your decisions that tilt the scale from 68 to 72%, or whatever it is. So really, okay, well, then, why is it that older people are wise? Well, they’re not. And I’ve always said, and I say in the book, you know, the older people don’t have any more intelligence than younger people, do. They just have more experiences. And so, wisdom is just the accumulation of models of thought and a model of thought is, here’s how I think about this set of circumstances. And here’s what my experience tells me how we need to think about this set of circumstances and you apply that to a common today’s situation. So when somebody comes to me and says, here’s what I’m facing, I’ve got a model of thought that says, well, my experience is not my advice to tell you what to do. My experience is, these are the things that I would think about, these are the things that I would look at, here’s how I would wait the decision. And this is how quickly or slowly I would move on and, or, if at all, and I just came up with a bunch of those. So I really took all of my models of thought and all of my experiences, and I wrap those up into what I think is a pretty actually pretty decent, concise look at things that people can take and incorporate right in their business. And when the right person has read this book, and they’re like, I used to highlighters on this, every paragraph has a little nugget in it at the end of it that you can remember and the use of stories. I believe that one of the definitions of culture I like is culture is an organization’s memory that lives in the skin of stories. And we have an and it creates organizational boundaries and cultural norms that inform people how to behave in your absence, not only in your presence. So that’s what it is, and then it comes up with decision filters. So like, if I was facing a decision, how would I filter it through? There’s a concept, one of my core beliefs is around creation versus consumption, and that you need to feel fulfilled, I think you need to have a healthy balance between creating value and consuming it. And there’s people to that, and you have to avoid the swirl to create, because there’s a swirl that we’re all in and it’s people and busy and obligations and things and so like, if you took that and you apply it to a balance sheet, and you said what are my assets and liabilities? And then what are the equities that I that are created on my balance sheet relationship equity is something that I talk a lot about. Reputation equity. How about that, you know, because your name goes farther than you ever do, your health equity, your financial, these types of personal balance sheets are really a function of your actions and the thing the people that you the books that you read, and the conversations that you have throughout your life, and you build yourself a balance sheet, and so that talks a little bit about that. So that kind of stuff.
David Nilssen 34:39
Yeah, I mean, I want to put a pin on something. Because, you and I, we’ve talked about this before you brought it up a minute ago. You’re a member of YPO and CEO. I’ve been a member of EO and YPO. The thing I love about those organizations is one of the ways that they build culture is by being very intentional around that people are both contributors, and consumers right. It’s pack your own bag is one thing I’ve heard? I always like to say it’s a gym, not a spa. Right. But I think that’s true of life in general, is that we got to keep working at it and not just take what is brought our way. So I just want to put a pin on that. I know we’re getting close to the end of the time. But I want to just talk about today.
Jeff Dudan 35:19
I wasn’t going to let you talk at all, David.
David Nilssen 35:21
Well, I’m not going to I’m just going to bring it up and hopefully guide the conversation.
Jeff Dudan 35:25
Sorry, I went a little long there.
David Nilssen 35:27
Homefront Brands, what is the problem that you guys are solving? What is it that you’re really trying to do for the brands that you’re supporting?
Jeff Dudan 35:37
Wow, I appreciate that question a lot. That’s a great question. First of all, my goal was to do it better. Do it with excellence, if we had the resources to do it exactly the way we want it to, and resources and resourcefulness, right, you always have the resources to do something great if you choose to. But if we could do it, excellent. And we could create another layer of leverage. So franchising is a leverage model, you create leverage for franchisees through leverage in acquiring customers and technology and websites and coaching and all this stuff. That’s a shared service model that creates leverage for franchisees. So if we wanted to take multiple brands, and lay them into a platform, where are the areas that we could create yet another layer of leverage to create something that people were looking for. And we’ve got all of our, Homefront Brands as the platform and we have a whole bunch of what we call frontline business systems, and support systems. So business intelligence, lead management capabilities, go-to-market growth systems, all of these types of things. But I think at the core of it, we have spent a lot of time energy and money, putting a curating specific businesses that are good for people. Number one, so all of our opportunities have to fit certain requirements. The second thing we’ve done is, okay, well, there’s some people that want to do one business, but there’s other people that want to do multiple businesses, and they want to be an empire builder. But what they have to do is they’ve got to buy two businesses that are desperate and not connected in any way, or you run one business. And now you’ve got a geography that’s sprawling, and you’ve just got to go out farther and farther and farther, and you’ve got to now create multiple offices within half estate or whatever it is. So what we’ve done is we’ve curated a group of businesses, we’ve got six right now, we’ve got an ROI on a seventh and we have a huge pipeline of opportunities coming our way. But we’ve spent the time and energy and money to group these into business types that have similar characteristics. So let’s just say you start with our window hero franchise, and you can be successful in that business. And then you can take our mosquito franchise, and it lays in exactly the identical territory with exactly identical customer base, it’s recurring smaller ticket items, and we platform those businesses onto the identical technology platform. So now, you don’t have to have two groups of people learning how to run a bunch of different systems and processes, it’s the same. So again, it might take you a person and a half in the back office to run two businesses where the taking one to run the one business, so a person and a quarter. So we’ve created leverage and efficiencies very intentionally around it. And we’ve done that with technology, we’ve done it with territory. And we’ve got three different business model types right now that we’re looking at, we got one that’s a little bit of an outlier, it’s more of a commercial base, whatever, but it still runs on all the same tools. So that’s kind of what we set out to accomplish there. And then we’re not building this company to sell it. I mean, never say never, I mean, the first one took me, I hung on to it for 25 years, and maybe that was a little too long, or I thought smarter, gone quicker. But we remind ourselves every day that we’re here to build a great company. And that’s what we’re here to do. And if you build a great company, you don’t have to sell it, because it’s going to be challenging, it’s going to be constantly growing. And we’re really focused on the quality of this and I mean, we fell short, in a couple of different places in AdvantaClean. And then the problem is, is once you get a system out there that’s got two or 300 locations, it’s a big boat to change. And so were very meticulous and the executives that we’ve attracted, which are incredible. I mean, our CEO has run $2 billion-plus franchise system comes as well as did franchise finance for Citibank and rolled it out to 14 countries and also worked with Australia’s version of McKinsey. So, I mean, just talented people in all the right seats, and then we’re building it very deliberately, and taking the time to do it right. So that’s what we’re set out to do. We really want to build a company that’s great for people and where we don’t have to go back and fix things later.
David Nilssen 40:30
Yeah, I love it. So it’s funny. For the people that are listening, I was in franchise financing for 20-plus years, still an owner in one of those businesses, but Jeff and I had run into each other on occasion. And I remember in every interaction thinking, gosh, there’s a lot of philosophical alignment. And one of the things that you said, light went on for me, I always used to say, look, we’re not a products business, we put the customer at the center of the business, and we go find the services that they need, right. And it sounds like you guys have done something very, very similar. And you’ve also created a phenomenal alignment for franchisees to become multi-unit operators without, to your point having to stretch into new geographies, because historically, and this is again, just an explanation for the audience. Historically, if I was the franchisee for whatever brand, it was here in Boise, the way I grew was to go to Nampa, and then to McCall, and then over to these larger groups, you’re just stacking them on top of each other, or giving people the opportunity to do that. That’s fantastic. Makes a lot of sense. Let’s talk about people, because you keep bringing up leadership. As you know, talent scarcity is a really hot topic today. I do know that you’ve been expanding your talent footprint outside the US leveraging offshore professionals, I would love to hear like, what does that experience been like for you and any sort of words of wisdom for people that might be considering doing something like that?
Jeff Dudan 41:51
Sure. It’s working for us, we’ve just dipped our toe in it, my executive admin actually is a borderless, employee, and it’s going extremely well. And I think, like anything else, if you’re going to have to consider this as part of your team, like any other remote employee or person, you really need to make sure that you find a way. And you adjust your meetings and your processes to accommodate these people. Because if you want the best out of them, then like anybody else, they have to know what’s going on, they have to know where to go get the things that they need to get. I think if people can sit anywhere, which we’ve largely during COVID, crisis accelerates trends, right? So there was a trend of people trying to decide if they want to work remote or not? Well, if you just look at zoom stock, and everything else that has to do with remote working, that crisis accelerated that trend, and it showed people that people don’t necessarily have to be sitting in the office. For us, we need a certain amount of people that are physically present, because we have discovery days every week, we have training, I mean, we’re going to literally have a continuous training going on in our building, because if we train every six weeks, and we’ve got 12 brands, and we put two of them together, so we’re gonna have to have people in place to deliver the training and to meet the needs. But the other side of it is, there are many positions that don’t have to be in the office and just can do the exact same thing that they’re doing and do it in a borderless capacity. So we’re very excited about it. We jumped in with both feet. And we’ve been working on it this year, and we definitely intend to expand our program in that regard.
David Nilssen 43:46
Awesome. All right. Well, we’ll leave it there. We’ve been listening to Jeff Dudan, the CEO of Homefront Brands and the author of Discernment: The Business Athlete’s Regimen for a Great Life through Better Decisions. If you don’t have it, go to Amazon and get a copy. But Jeff, where can people learn more about the work that you’re doing?
Jeff Dudan 44:00
So just reach out to me on LinkedIn, that’s probably the best place to go. If you go to my LinkedIn profile, Jeff Dudan, it has a link to run out there to our undercover boss episode. If you want to listen to some of the podcasts and things that I’ve done, you can go to Dudangroup.com. And go to podcasts and you can see things that’s kind of our family office website there. And of course, if you’re interested in learning more about Homefront Brands, just go to homefrontbrands.com and reach out to us there and we will get right back to you.
David Nilssen 44:34
Awesome. We’ll put all of those things in the show notes. Thanks again for being on the show today.
Jeff Dudan 44:39
I enjoyed it very much. Thank you, David.
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