Former home builder finds a recession-resistant business in Office Pride franchise
John and Jill Baugus had lucrative careers in construction and real estate during the housing boom of the early 2000s, but when the Great Recession came, their business dried up. Forced to live off savings, they had to find a new way to support their family. Although the couple considered purchasing several different franchises, they ultimately picked Office Pride because of its leadership team and sustainable business model. They haven’t regretted their decision. The Baugus’ franchise, Office Pride of North Georgia, is thriving even though it’s only been open since May 2012. John says the newfound success is timed well because the couple’s 16-year-old twins, Travis and Brittany, are nearing college age. “We are excited about our future again,” John says. “We made the right decision for our family.” Recently, John shared his story about owning an Office Pride franchise.
What were you doing before you became an Office Pride franchisee?
I was in medical sales, if you go back over 20 years. Somewhere along the way, I built a home for my wife. I really enjoyed the process of taking a raw piece of land, sculpting it and building my vision. I ended up doing a complete 180 and leaving medical sales. I became a residential home builder and developer for almost 10 years in the Lake Lanier area near Atlanta. That music stopped in 2006-07 because of the Great Recession. We had been through downturns, but this one was different. It didn’t take long for us to realize that our real estate business wasn’t going to turn around quickly. We made a decision to reinvent ourselves.
How did you find out about Office Pride?
Through the years we stayed in touch with an old boss – David Stein. David had actually hired me in a medical device sales position 17 years earlier. He knew we were trying to figure out what to do next since the real estate market had turned so drastically. He invited me to take a look at Office Pride. Initially, I thought I was way too smart to take out trash and clean bathrooms. I thought, “Have fun, David, but that’s not for me.” About a year went by, and I had tried a couple of start-up projects that didn’t pan out. I circled back to David to find out more about Office Pride. I finally recognized that Office Pride has a very good business model. There’s nothing fancy about Office Pride’s business model, but it’s highly viable. There will always be businesses that need someone to take out the trash and clean their restrooms.
How does your faith affect the way you run your business?
I am a little more private in my faith than a lot of people. That said, the core values of the company definitely appealed to me. [CEO and founder] Todd [Hopkins] really built the company on the Biblical principals of honesty, integrity and hard work. We have always tried to do the right thing and treat other people as we want to be treated. We are very upfront with our employees. I tell them chances are we are never going to have a spiritual conversation. But I want them to know they can count on us to have integrity. They can always count on us to be honest, and we expect that in return from our employees.
How long have you been a franchisee?
We landed our first customer in May of 2012.
Do you do any of the cleaning yourself?
For the first couple of months I did a fair amount of the cleaning. I realized in a hurry that I was not going to be able to do the physical part of the cleaning because I have a really bad back from old football injury. We started hiring and training people right away, and that has worked out well. We now have a good supervisor who manages all of the initial cleaning jobs and pulls together a team to clean new buildings for the first time. I was happy to see the business model was strong enough to allow me to hire people to do it and still realized a nice profit.
How many contacts/employees do you have?
We have 14 part-time employees right now. A couple of part-timers are getting a lot of hours. We add a new employee about once a month.
How important is it to have cleaning experience before joining Office Pride?
I don’t think it’s important at all. The only experience I had was in sweeping out the houses I built. Management or operations experience is helpful, but not critical because the franchise and the support system at Office Pride are so incredible. There are so many people ready, willing and able to give you support along the way. I have at least six other franchisees on my speed dial, and I call them regularly. I can ask questions related to so many things – sales, procedure, operations, etc. It makes a huge difference to have a network of people so willing to give their time. I think it’s what separates Office Pride from a lot of other systems.
What do you like about being a franchise owner?
The franchise itself gives us such incredible guidance. At the same time, we have the freedom to build the business as we want to. Right now we are focused on small to medium-sized businesses. I like the autonomy that comes with it. I like the support we receive as Office Pride franchisees.
How large is the opportunity to grow with Office Pride?
I believe it’s limitless; I really do. The only limitations are what you put on yourself. Here’s an example: My friend and mentor David Stein is in Tyler, Texas, a town of 250,000 people. There are two Office Pride franchisees in that one town, and both are doing very well, combining for over $1 million in sales.
What kinds of businesses do you serve?
We clean a handful of banks, quite a few dental offices and medical practices. We clean law and insurance firms. You name it; we are serving many kinds of businesses.
What attracts customers to Office Pride rather than its competitors?
First, our employees are a cut above the industry as a whole. Secondly, we specialize in serving the unique needs of small to medium-sized businesses. We don’t engage in what some in the industry call “trash and dash.” Some of the bigger companies that clean the big high-rises may clean every night, which means they are often doing more of a spot cleaning. We have been able to convey to our customers that we specialize in a very thorough cleaning, more so that what many competitors offer.
Our employees are also a great strength. We are very careful about who we hire. We aren’t recycling the same janitor who’s been with four different cleaning companies in the last five years. Most of our employees have never cleaned before. Almost all of them have full-time day jobs. They are looking for some supplemental income. You would be amazed at how many people from all walks of life who’ve worked for us. We have had private school teachers, bus drivers and attorneys. I think there’s a feeling of security that customers get when they know we put very high quality people in their buildings.
What does your typical day look like?
In the morning we get up and spend time in the home office. We use a an electronic time-keeping service that I review in the morning to make sure the employee times are appropriate – not too short, not too long. I will follow up with any emails or customer inquiries. In the afternoon I focus on operations. I might have customers who need additional attention. I also concentrate on sales efforts in the afternoon. Towards the end of our day, I connect with our supervisor and review what’s going to be going on that evening and for the rest of the week.
What kind of person do you think would enjoy owning an Office Pride franchise?
Self-motivation is very important. There will be a lot of times you feel like you are in the grind. Once you build your business to a certain point, you have so much going on. It can become a little overwhelming. I think it’s important that a franchisee be able to understand that this kind of thing is temporary. It takes self-motivation to work your way out of the grind as you grow and get big enough to hire management staff to support you. You can delegate many of the tasks you have to initially take on as a franchisee. I don’t know that it ever gets easy, but it definitely gets more manageable.
What does franchise ownership allow you to do in your personal life that you couldn’t do before?
I have talked to so many people who came from corporate America, and they were on trains, planes and automobiles for 25 years. I came from a little bit of a different background, since I was already my own boss and had created an independent lifestyle by working out of the house. Office Pride gave me an opportunity to get excited about my future. We had a couple of years of anxiety when the real estate market crashed. Now we are thrilled with the opportunity we see on the horizon.
What do you like about the business model?
Cleaning is a necessity. Businesses will stop paying overtime or cut back on a lot of expenditures before they get rid of their cleaning service. They may reduce the frequency of their cleaning, but they are not likely to get rid of it entirely.
Would you recommend an Office Pride franchise to someone else?
Yes, it’s a great franchise and brand. It really goes back to the people in the Office Pride organization. It’s a special group of people who will bend over backwards to help one another. The support I received from other franchisees was probably the most important thing we could have gotten to help us get our business going. Todd Hopkins built this organization and really deserves a lot of credit for it.
Learn more about owning an Office Pride franchise
Office Pride enjoys a reputation as the most advanced commercial cleaning franchise in the industry and has one of the highest franchise owner satisfaction rates for office cleaning franchises. It is a low-investment, work-from-home and easily scalable business that thrives in all sorts of economies. Best of all, you can honor God working in a business that follows Biblical principles.
Our commitment to our Christian principles and our 20-plus years of business savvy have helped us build a profitable franchise company with more than 100 franchisees across the country. We are expanding our reach even farther across the U.S. and Canada. In the $78 billion commercial cleaning industry, there’s still plenty of room to grow.
Would you like to learn more about Office Pride franchising opportunities? Take a look at our website’s research pages and then fill out the form at right to download our free franchise report or give us a call at 727-491-5125. We’d love to start a conversation!