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Fire & Water - Cleanup & Restoration

Sharing the SERVPRO Story - Rick Forster

6/29/2016 (Permalink)

(SERVPRO Newsline)

Share the SERVPRO story is one of our core values. Great companies have great stories. They are rich in tradition, risks, failures, and successes.

Before SERVPRO, Ted Isaacson was a Trainer for ServiceMaster. SERVPRO was born as a result of a difference in opinion between Ted and ServiceMaster over the then current license/ Ted and his assigned franchises broke off to begin SERVPRO/ Ted wanted to build a better mousetrap when designing SERVPRO. ServiceMaster required the purchase of individual licenses for commercial, carpet, restoration, and drapery cleaning. Ted’s idea was to have one license cover everything. ServiceMaster also required royalties be paid when the job was invoiced’ Ted felt it was more fair to pay after the cash was collected.

Convention Allowance was created from the request of Ted’s then small band of Franchises for National Advertising. The money wasn’t available, but Ted said, “I’ll give you back 10 percent of what you pay in royalties if you will attend and participate in Convention.” Ted knew if he could get his Franchisees to come to Convention for training, volumes would increase.

In the late 70s, SERVPRO acquired over 100 Franchises by purchasing the Domesticare cleaning franchise system from a Fortune 500 company. The two systems were treated as separate entities until such time as the Domesticare numbers dwindled and the remaining Domesticare franchises were assimilated into the SERVPRO System.

SERVPRO was a public company at one time.

Ted had a partner when SERVPRO began. The partner started a proxy fight while Ted and Doris were out of country. The matter was settled much like two kids arguing over a cupcake – one cuts and the other selects. The partner was required to offer a price for Ted to buy him out of his company share. If Ted refused the offer, then the partner was to pay Ted that amount. Ted took the offer and the partner was history.

There were discussions early on, on whether to limit the number of Franchises and have a nice small organization to let it rip. Fortunately, the second generation wanted growth. This also is the reason the vision statement prominently features the word “world.”

A balance of work was encouraged – one-third each from insurance, carpet, and commercial. Insurance work greater than one-third was actually discouraged, as it was felt to be addictive and too unstable. A Franchise Owner by the name of Ron Valega from Ohio was the first to say he was going to try and make a living strictly from water. People thought he had lost his mind.

Building Service and Maintenance (BSM) was a janitorial license launched in the 80s. The concept was marketed to existing SERVPRO Franchises to perform restoration during the day and janitorial services during the night. The desire for insurance work was too strong and BSM didn’t get the necessary traction to grow.

At one time, SERVPRO Corporate had locations in Sacramento, California; Florida; Connecticut; Maryland; and Georgia. The decision to consolidate and move the company was made during a meeting in Cancun, Mexico. The runner-ups for the Corporate Headquarters were Kansas City and St. Louis, Missouri.

The Rolex award originated after a Franchise unexpectedly earned $1 million in a single year as a result of a large job. On Banquet night, Ted was asked on short notice to present the award. Ted gave the award to the Franchise, but added, “If anyone else can do $1 million in annual volume; the volume was combined due to the work of all the Franchises that worked on the large job, and all of the volume was reported under the one Franchise number. It is a good thing nobody told the four Franchises who received a Rolex the following year, or the hundreds of Franchises to date who have received Rolexes.




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