The Grout Medic
Bringing grout and tile back to life
The Grout Medic was founded in Chicago in 1997, shortly thereafter relocating to Texas with franchising beginning in 2001. There are currently 57 outlets across the domestic United States, and the brand has grown 10 percent in the short amount of time since it was acquired by the Snowcap Group, whose Managing Member is JC Timmons. The company focuses on grout and tile cleaning, maintenance, and refurbishment, for residential, multi-family, and commercial, properties.
“Foundationally, our services are always ‘in-demand,’” says Timmons. “With so much tile and grout installed historically, and in new construction, the services of our specialized owners and technicians remain popular throughout the year. There is slight seasonality with spring cleaning, summer property readiness, and preparing for holiday guests, but for the most part, we play an important role in all seasons. Our bottom line is we are the ‘in-between’ between doing nothing and new construction. Most consumers and many property managers don’t know The Grout Medic niche is a more cost-effective option. A lot of the DIY programming on TV has convinced folks they can build a new master bathroom for $2,000. Sadly when they discover that end-to-end new construction is actually $20,000, they find us. For a fraction of that new construction cost, we deliver a sparkling clean, restored bathroom that they can be proud of.”
Regarding the Grout Medic’s operational capabilities, Timmons says, “Operationally, we work with a proprietary software program that integrates operations from advertising tracking, an incoming and outgoing call center, an estimate scheduler, to a project manager and invoicing. All are done on an app and tablet, if that is one’s choice. Our general business cycle for our end customers is lead generation from word-of-mouth or advertising, to an inbound call, to an estimate, to execution-invoicing, and the process repeats. The Grout Medic also offers a one-stop resource for equipment and marketing material on a separate, private website for the convenience of our franchisees.”
Regarding the company’s use of technology, he reports, “In no particular order, we use cutting-edge CRM software, brilliant web design and SEO engineers, and high-performing pay per click (PPC) experts. Our core database is a two-way mirror with our in-house, customer telephone answering service. This means our customer service agents have the ability, in live-time, to schedule estimates for our ownership groups (franchisees) with all updates reflected at their local level. Our customers use an in-bound, toll-free number, 866-99-GROUT, with full reporting capabilities for each owner. Our agents are highly skilled and provide a distinctive separating feature from others groups in our category.”
Regarding its marketing initiatives, Timmons maintains that the company is “a bit old-fashioned” with its franchise developing efforts. “We’re focused more on ‘farming,’ than we are on ‘hunting,’” he declares. “We spend the time, through multiple meetings, to understand a potential franchisee’s objectives and their backgrounds, while also explaining our model. It’s only through thoughtful time spent, where both sides can determine compatibility, or not. These are situations where all indications must demonstrate a likely ‘win-win.’ If one, or both sides, determine that’s probably not the case, it’s best to move on. As the old saying goes, ‘It’s easier to stay out, than get out,’ and that’s applicable to the franchising business. That being said, we have attractive open territories, and generally build out very charitably-sized territories for our ownership teams. For example, the greater Miami, Philadelphia, Boston, and Phoenix metros are open, and have the age and style of architecture, with large populations, that blend well with The Grout Medic.
Timmons adds that the company works closely with its vendor partners, and, in most cases, establishes one-on-one relationships between its vendors and franchisees. “This allows faster turn-around times on any help tickets, allows a better business relationship to be formed, and, consequently, our vendors get to know specificities within each business, which assists higher performance for all parties. We are proud to work with 33Social, CareerPlug, ADP, Intuit, SherwinWilliams, Angie’s List, NetSearch Digital, and Serviceminder, among others.”
The Grout Medic is also a “green company,” a fact that Timmons says resonates with its ownership teams and their customers. “Using high-steam technology – simply using a specialized water wand can cure a lot of tile-related woes,” he explains. “It’s pretty amazing what heat can do, safely and simply. Additionally, the restoration work we do saves landfills across America from old tiles piling up.”
For potential employees and franchisees, The Grout Medic provides a path for a rewarding career. “We invest in the people who really matter in a franchising system: the franchisees,” Timmons states. “Our efforts are always to remain a first-in-class option for technology, support, and brand protection. One of the really cool aspects of the franchisor-franchisee relationship is the common bond of the brand. Each partner is vested in protecting the goodwill of the brand – this is critical – and it’s a two-way street. Having this type of embedded support system, brand awareness, and focus on customer service is highly unique. And because we are investing for value, and investing in people, including all parties in the franchisor and franchisee buckets, this is an attractive place to work. If you love branding, understand the importance of home and commercial services, and enjoy building businesses, this could be an incredible opportunity.”
For those interested parties, it’s also important to note that the future for the sector is extremely promising, even though there have been some down years. “There’s a highly compelling chart we update annually,” Timmons relates. “It shows ceramic tile consumption in the U.S. In 2009, not surprisingly, it dipped to a recent low of about two billion square feet; the last five years, it’s slowly increasing to over three billion square feet. This is relevant for a couple reasons. The first is that while it shows growth, which is good for our services, even in down years like 2009, there is staying power. The reason there is staying power is that the tile and grout installed in older properties doesn’t just disappear; it still ages and it still requires cleaning. The second reason is that while new construction trends up, we can play a role in the proper installation of the product. I cringe when I hear something is ‘recession proof,’ because that’s quite a statement. But we do show elements of durability under many different economies.
“The good news is, our brand is poised for growth,” Timmons says, in conclusion. “We have terrific training, an attractive entry point for new franchisees, and demand for a service that remains consistent. We are interested in growing with high-quality partners and anticipate growing with four to six new outlets each year. Our true focus at The Grout Medic is partnering with entrepreneurs, oftentimes but not always, first time entrepreneurs, and working to increase the value of everyone’s business. This is the exciting aspect of business ownership; stipulating the who, what and why of where you invest your time and capital, and ultimately building value to realize that value in the form of a business sale, family transfer, or possibly even absentee ownership. We believe The Grout Medic is a wonderful vehicle to achieve these successes.”
AT A GLANCE
WHO: The Grout Medic
WHAT: A grout and tile cleaning company
WHERE: 57 franchise locations in the U.S.