Name: Greg O’Neil & Chris Hovland
Opening Date: October 2009
Location: Clayton, CA
Although Greg and Chris were both victims of massive company downsizing, they've found success in the House Doctors franchise. By relying on excellent customer service, and maintaining relationships with their client base, Greg and Chris have found their niche in the competitive home improvement industry.
Q: Where are you from?
A: Greg: I’ve been in Clayton since 1998.
Chris: I spent 45 years in Cupertino, but have been in Clayton for four years.
Q: What was your career before franchising?
A: Greg: I was the VP of Team Operations for the Bank of America before they downsized in 2008.
Chris: I worked in Hewlett Packard’s Human Resources department for 16 years before the company downsized two years ago.
Q: How did you learn about the brand?
A: We learned about the House Doctors franchise during our initial research process. We found House Doctors to be the most attractive franchise opportunity after comparing several other prospects and really liked what it had to offer.
Q: Why did you decide to open your own business?
A: We had always been interested in opening our own businesses, but realized we had to take matters into our own hands once we were both laid off. Neither one of us was very young when our companies downsized, so not many people were knocking on our doors to hire us.
Q: When choosing a franchise, what were the criteria you used to make your decision?
A: Growth opportunity was the most important criterion when choosing a franchise. There aren’t any other House Doctors in this part of the state, so it was important that we weren’t limited on what we could do or where we could go. It was also imperative for us to find a franchise that utilized a good business model in order for us to use skills previously acquired in past work experiences. Even though we don’t know anything about building a house or replacing a hot water heater, we know how to run a business and execute marketing, which has allowed us to hire the right people with the right skills to do the other work.
Q: What was appealing to you about joining a franchise system?
A: We decided to join a franchise system because it provided a map to direct us, as well as the right guidance to take us down the right course. By joining a franchise, a lot of the decision making, or potential to make poor decisions, was out of the equation. We believe that if you want to be successful, you have to learn from people that are successful. Joining the House Doctors franchise system provided us the support and growth opportunity we were looking for. It was a perfect fit!
Q: With regard to your previous experience, what skills do you feel helped you in your business?
A: We feel that our team building skills acquired from previous work experiences have helped us most in our business. By being able to build the right team, we’ve been able to get the right people in place to do the appropriate jobs. We’ve also been able to utilize our experience in tracking expenses, which really transcends no matter what business you’re in. Lastly, our customer skills and scheduling abilities have also come in handy.
Q: Why did you choose to enter this industry?
A: We chose to enter this industry because we really liked the House Doctors franchise. We were extremely impressed with the business model and support system it provided, as well as the professional staff. Entering this industry was the right thing for us at the time.
Q: How did you finance your business?
A: We used savings we stocked away from our prior careers, so we were able to finance our business through our own resources.
Q: What obstacles have you overcome to get where you are today with your business?
A: To get our business where it is today, we had to overcome several hurtles. We weren’t experienced in the trade so we had to rely on other people to make sure we built the right team. The biggest struggle today, however, is the amount of competition we have to face. There are a lot of independent handyman businesses in the area, and our costs and expenses are a lot different than those doing it themselves, so it’s definitely been the biggest challenge for our business.
Q: What makes your business different?
A: Our business is different because we truly bend over backwards for our customers. If a customer isn’t happy, we do absolutely everything we can to make the situation right. We try to build a consistent client base by remaining professional and treating others the way we would want to be treated. We pride ourselves in customer service and ensuring that things are right for our customers.
Q: How does your business connect with the community?
A: We connect with our surrounding community by volunteering a lot of our time to local organizations and staying involved. We also sponsor several events such as the local Arts and Wine Festival.
Q: Are there any prominent industry trends that you are experiencing right now?
A: It’s difficult for us to identify any prominent trends happening in the industry right now because we’ve only been in business for a short time. When we came into it, the housing market was already in turmoil so it’s really all we know.
Q: What are your expansion or development plans?
A: Although we’re always thinking about ways in which we can improve, such as offering additional services and products, it’s difficult to identify our current expansion plans. We’re always thinking about it though.