How Creating a Franchise Helped Midtown Chimney Sweeps Grow Across 10 States
- May 18, 2018
- By: Vonigo
The story of Midtown Chimney Sweeps starts many years ago with a boy napping in a bathtub of a half-finished house while his father builds the rest of the home, including installing the wood stove. Today, the company has operations in 10 states and has expanded their service offerings. Here’s how creating a franchise helped them grow.
A Business a Lifetime in the Making
Midtown Chimney Sweeps was founded in 1979. It wasn’t until current owner Byron Schramm, a fifth generation entrepreneur, had a vision of creating a franchise out of Midtown Chimney Sweeps that it saw such rapid expansion.
The story starts with that boy in the tub while his father builds the chimney. It flashes forward to that same boy, now a teenager, on a roof with his dad looking at a chimney cap and handing him tools. As a young man, he continued to cut his teeth alongside his uncle, selling firewood, fireplaces and installing wood-burning stoves. The hearth industry is one which the Schramm family all know well, having installed thousands of wood, pellet and gas hearth appliances.
Creating a Franchise
It’s a journey that wasn’t without some lessons along the way. A bit of a maverick, Byron set out to create a successful chimney sweeping company in California — a sunshine state. To be successful in that climate, the business model was forced to be lean, clean, and have no wasted motions in its operations. It requires quite a bit of creativity; a characteristic that still drives Midtown today. “Our vision is to be the world’s most efficient, ethical, and favorite chimney care provider,” says Byron. “We believe in protecting our neighbors’ lives, families, and homes by caring for their chimneys and fireplaces. Our customers appreciate our attention to detail, our cleanliness and desire for excellence in the fireplace inspection and cleaning process.”
Spurred on by family members at an annual family Christmas gathering, Midtown Chimney Sweep Franchise opened a proof of concept prototype franchise in Evergreen, Colorado. It’s a beautiful area located in the foothills of the majestic (and cold) Colorado Rocky Mountains. A perfect place for the flagship franchise of a national chimney sweeping company. With the success of that location and an established system, they’re expanding across the country. “Midtown is now looking for more franchisees who are willing and able to join in the growth of this powerful young brand,” says Byron.
“Our technicians are the day-in-day-out hard-working backbone of the company, says Byron. These are the owner-managers and the owner-operators that run the businesses in 10 states every day. They engage in the physical work of chimney inspection and fireplace repair and manage their employees to achieve the fabulous five-star reviews they all have.”
A Timeless Service in a Modern World
There is something undeniably nostalgic about a wood or pellet stove or fireplace crackling away, warming a home. But even though the product is timeless, the service is cutting-edge. Midtown Chimney Sweeps Franchise is a tech-savvy company that provides a centralized booking and scheduling center for dispatch and handling inbound calls.
They strive for excellence in digital marketing and excellence on the phones. Byron says the professionalism of the call center is a big differentiator in the company’s success. It’s a level service that helps attract new franchisees. “Our scheduling Center representatives answer the phones 12 hours per day five days a week and four hours a day on Saturdays. They field chimney inspection and repair calls and determine the appropriate level of service. Then they schedule it on the proper route for the franchise owner in the correct state.”
It’s the kind of service and scheduling complexity that needs the support of a comprehensive CRM that can match the skills and knowledge of the technicians in the field.
How Franchise Management Software Helps Them Do It
“We needed a CRM that did not crash, that had accurate reporting, and an online scheduler,” says Byron. ”We came from a company that had a proprietary and challenging code structure with innumerable issues and glitches. Reports did not function and there was no online scheduler functionality.”
They chose Vonigo to handle the franchise-wide booking, scheduling, invoicing, payments, and reporting. “It is so refreshing for all of us to be using a platform that actually functions when the buttons are clicked,” says Byron.
While their call center prides itself on its service, more and more customers are choosing online booking. “We are enjoying a 20% online booking ratio to phone call bookings,” says Byron. It’s a factor that really sets Midtown apart in their industry.
A Future of Stable Growth
With a solid operations plan in place, Midtown continues to see stable unit economics from its franchisees. Choosing to put stability rather than haphazard growth first, Midtown Chimney Sweeps Franchise is constantly making infrastructure improvements and adding new, highly qualified owners. “We are committed to making decisions for long-term success,” says Byron.
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