FRANCHISOR TAPS INTO ENTREPRENEURIAL SPIRIT TO START OXI FRESH
For one Denver franchisor, business ownership seemed destined, as entrepreneurial spirit clearly runs in the family.
Jonathan Barnett, founder and CEO of Oxi Fresh Carpet Cleaning, started his business and started franchising it in 2006. But, Oxi Fresh wasn’t Barnett’s first business. That would’ve been the fireworks stands he set up. When his grandfather — a born businessman — passed away, he left his grandchildren, including Barnett, $10,000 each.
Rather than spending the money on something frivolous, Barnett drove from his home state of Oklahoma to Kansas and bought $4,000 worth of fireworks, rented a trailer, and hauled them all back. This idea didn’t sit well with his mother, he explained during a recent interview from the Oxi Fresh headquarters in Denver. Her reaction to seeing $4,000 worth of fireworks stacked inside the garage was to start kicking them down the driveway, Barnett recalled. However, she eventually came around when Barnett and a friend set up a fireworks stand and sold those fireworks for $20,000.
The next year, Barnett set up two fireworks stands, learning the importance of delegation in the process. He moved to Colorado to attend college and bythat point had four fireworks stands. He eventually sold the fireworks business. While in college earning a Master’s degree, he had various jobs, one of which was carpet cleaning. With this job, Barnett saw a business that was easy to start and had much room for improvement over the current models being used. With several ideas on how he could make a carpet cleaning business better, Barnett took some of his student loan money and jumped in, starting Oxi Fresh.
The Oxi Fresh Difference
One of the things he noticed from working as a carpet cleaner during college is that his employers would constantly have to be answering their phones while doing jobs, which annoyed their clients. That’s why Oxi Fresh has a dedicated Scheduling Center that answers all phone calls and sets up appointments for its franchisees. Back when the business started, this Scheduling Center consisted of classmates from college, a bank of cordless phones in his basement and a bunch of Excel spreadsheets. Now, thanks to Oxi Fresh’s dedication to using new technology, the company has its own dedicated scheduling software, online booking and franchisees can check their schedules from their phones.
Another difference with Oxi Fresh is rather than using 40 gallons of water to clean a carpet, Oxi Fresh is able to use just two gallons of water, which makes a huge difference in drying time. “The carpet dries in less than an hour,” Barnett said. Customers love that their carpets dry quickly so they don’t have to walk around with wet socks, the CEO said. Hotels can get carpets cleaned and then rent those rooms out the same day.
On the franchising side, it’s the Scheduling Center and the company’s adoption of technology that really stands out as advantages for joining the company. “Sometimes you end up majoring in the minors instead of majoring in the majors,” Barnett said. “Our philosophy is, we want our franchisees to be working on their business instead of stuck in their business.”
By having a Scheduling Center that answers all calls, franchisees can work on building relationships with customers rather than answering the phone themselves. They also don’t have to worry about answering the phone during their down time. And the Scheduling Center doesn’t just set up appointments, it collects email addresses and offers text messaging service to customers. Oxi Fresh also takes a flat royalty fee versus taking a percentage of sales from its franchisees.
The company now has over 20 environmentally friendly products in its line for its 150 franchisees to use. Those franchisees have nearly 300 units spread throughout 45 states and Canada.
But there are still 1,200 locations available throughout the United States, and units can be run remotely, Barnett said, thanks to Oxi Fresh’s Scheduling Center and turnkey marketing. The company plans to add 50 new franchisees in each of the next five years. “We’ve got availability all over,” the Oxi Fresh CEO said.
Every home, hotel and other type of building either has carpet, hardwood, tile or upholstery and Oxi Fresh cleans all that, plus it performs odor removal, meaning it will never have a shortage of customers. To serve those customers, Oxi Fresh has a comprehensive training program for franchisees that is virtually ongoing. Once per month, the company holds commercial training so franchisees can learn how to get more business. They can also get ongoing training on how to get more residential work through payper- click initiatives and other internet marketing.
All of this has added up to Oxi Fresh being recognized as one of the best franchises to join, according to Franchise Business Review’s annual Franchisee Satisfaction Awards.
With his own entrepreneurial spirit, the Oxi Fresh CEO is helping other entrepreneurs reach their business ownership goals, virtually reinventing the carpet cleaning business in the process.