Andy Bell puts his good luck to work. In 2001 he ran a small business called Handyman Matters and won $50,000 worth of legal services from a trade contest. He used the windfall to draft a franchise disclosure document and operations manual, which eventually helped him start franchising his company. Then, in 2019, just months before the outbreak of the pandemic, he sold that company to Ace Hardware. His company has turned into Ace Handyman Services, which has been in an ideal position to help people in their homes during COVID. It now has 252 regions in 42 states, having added about 100 in the last year, and has fallen almost completely into the middle of our list.
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Here, Bill explains how this explosive growth came about.
Who is approached about the acquisition?
[Ace Hardware VP and CFO] Bill Guzek called me one day. He was seeing a “do it for me” economy starting to emerge, and he wanted to hire Ace to bring help into people’s homes. It took me a nanosecond to say “never” to partner with them.
What is the “do it for me” economy?
People consider home a sacred place and want to make it more comfortable and useful not only for their personal life but also for their professional life. So this economy is creating more services to help with the biggest investment that many of us have.
How has being associated with Ace helped you during COVID?
We were really lucky to bring the brand back in March 2020. There are some stats that 9 out of 10 people identify with the Ace brand in America, and that really inspired our franchisees. The consideration given to us by potential franchisees was greater and deeper than before.
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Your sites have more than doubled since the acquisition.
Ace has continued to invest in us. We have doubled our staff, training, marketing, support and management capabilities. There are specializations within Ace that we have been able to take advantage of, such as accounting.
But this would only have gone so far if the fundamentals of the business had not been so strong. We answer the phone and show up on time. We have technology that tells the customer who enters their home and what their credentials are. We continued to do everything we did in many respects, but now we have served millions of Ace Hardware customers.
Why do you think you are now drawing so many new franchisees with corporate backgrounds?
People who have made a lot of head-to-head sales don’t tend to be the biggest proponents of doing everything on Zoom. They see this as an opportunity to change direction but not change the way they do business.