1-800 WATER DAMAGE Franchise Review: Q&A with Tim Fagan
President explains why starting a business with no experience won’t keep entrepreneurs from being successful
If starting a business is a bold risk, then what is starting a business in an industry where you have no experience? According to Tim Fagan, President of 1-800 WATER DAMAGE — the fastest-growing brand in property restoration — it is a good idea. No one who starts their first business has experience in starting a business. Although having experience can bring larger business potential into your startup, the key to success for entrepreneurs without prior experience is to surround themselves with the knowledge and wisdom that comes from different mentors and skills.
Fagan is a prime example of this. After spending nearly 20 years as a law enforcement officer and then as a school administrator, he decided to join his father’s carpet cleaning business. Fast forward 15 years, the company thrived, and Fagan purchased the company from his father in 2007. Today, 1-800 WATER DAMAGE has a proven business model that maximizes profitability and is bolstered by industry-leading support from BELFOR Franchise Group, the largest property restoration company in the world.
In this wide-ranging interview, Fagan explains why having the support of BELFOR is unmatched, as well as why new franchise owners with 1-800 WATER DAMAGE will thrive — even without prior industry experience.
Why did you get into the restoration business?
Fagan: I learned to love the industry, but it was the family tie that drew me in. My father started a carpet cleaning business when he was 50 years old. When he reached his mid-60s, he had about 17 employees and didn’t have a succession plan. At the time, I was ready to get out of education and thought it would be a great thing to join the family business. Once I did, we grew the business, and I eventually bought the company from him. I worked beside my dad for 15 years, and it was the best, because I got to spend time with him every day.
What is 1-800 WATER DAMAGE? What makes it unique compared to its competitors?
Fagan: We help home and business owners return their property to its original condition, while restoring what truly matters — health and safety. Ultimately, we handle a range of restoration projects including emergency mitigation, water damage restoration, carpet cleaning, fire and smoke damage restoration, sewage cleanup, mold remediation, and much more. There are several things that make us unique. The first is being backed by BELFOR, the world’s largest property restoration company. So when someone buys one of our franchises, they become part of the BELFOR family.
This is huge, because it is a big step toward getting access to third-party administrator work. Additionally, the training we provide is second-to-none. We have the best training program, including a start-of-the-art ply structural drying house, to help people who are either in the industry get better at it or those who came from outside to learn it and become proficient.
How does 1-800 WATER DAMAGE deliver exceptional customer service for those who need your services?
Fagan: It starts with what I call a service gene — some have it and some don’t. I’ve done many of the things in my life because I wanted to serve. This is an industry that feeds that. So those who have that service gene and get excited about their fellow man, this is a great franchise to own. A big part of this job is managing customer expectations and not overpromising, but over-delivering on the service we say we will provide.
Our franchise has a 24/7 call center, which is also unique in this industry. From the moment our trained employees answer that first phone call, their job is to understand exactly what the customers’ needs are. Once we understand what the issue is, we can dispatch the appropriate crews to go to the site and exceed their expectations.
Why don’t you need experience to succeed in this industry?
Fagan: Well, experience in any industry helps, because it speeds up your learning curve. However, you don’t have to have any to succeed. Everyone who works in the restoration industry eventually switched from something else, myself included. However, when you have the best teachers, you have the best relevant experience and long-time resources to draw from, your learning curve is shortened.
Why is now a good time to get into the restoration industry?
Fagan: If you like working hands-on and enjoy building great relationships, it’s a great business. This is also a recession-resistant business. This means that whether the economy is doing well or not, you will have business.