Nathan Smith operates a PuroClean franchise. PuroClean of the Palm Beaches is an emergency service business that specializes in the remediation of water, fire, and mold damaged buildings. From broken pipes to kitchen fires, PuroClean responds within two hours of your initial phone call and immediately restores the property to pre-loss condition. They work with all major insurance companies to provide customers unsurpassed speed of service with special attention paid to the stress the property owner is suffering.
In 2005, Smith graduated from the University of Florida in 2005 with a Bachelors of Science in Business Administration with a major in Marketing. He started PuroClean of the Palm Beaches three days after his college graduation. He attended a three week training course at the corporate office followed by one week of field training in Palm Beach County, Florida. When he started his franchise he was the sole employee working out of his townhouse, responsible for all administrative, marketing, and production responsibilities. Now he has 12 employees and a 6,000 square foot facility in West Palm Beach.
YOUNG MONEY: Why did you decide to buy a franchise?
NATHAN SMITH: I decided to purchase a franchise because I worked for a PuroClean in my hometown during high school and my freshman year of college. I saw how successful the owner had been in such a short period of time and did not see why I couldn’t do the same. I eventually started writing many papers and beginning projects regarding starting a franchise not ever thinking I could make it happen directly out of college. However, the more I researched the more feasible it became. The only obstacle was obviously funding which took a lot of begging and support.
YM: Can you tell us about what makes owning a franchise different?
NS: A franchise is a wonderful concept when you are entering a completely new industry or have very little experience in a particular market. You are provided with a nice roadmap and plenty of support from other owners who have been through similar struggles. Depending on the franchise, it can be a wonderful opportunity to fast track through the start up phase of business ownership with few unforeseen headaches.
YM: Why did you decide on this particular franchise?
NS: As I mentioned earlier, I previously worked for a PuroClean franchise in high school and was familiar with the system. I did look into other franchises within the same industry but found PuroClean to be the best value and provided the largest coverage area.
YM: Where did you get the funding for your business or franchise?
NS: I am fortunate to have wonderful parents who took out a second mortgage against their house to help get me started. They gave me a $25,000 loan and I was able to lease a van, equipment, and license fees through programs PuroSystems, Inc. provided. Since 2005, they have increased the requirements to become a franchise and I probably would not have qualified under the current format. I was lucky to have pulled the trigger when I did. I have already paid my parents back and then some which is a wonderful feeling. There is nothing worse that owing your parents $25K.
YM: What was the hardest thing you encountered while starting your business?
NS: The hardest thing I encountered was the mental distractions that come along with being a young business owner. I always refer to it as “head trash.” I was 21 when I started the company and felt no one would take me serious if they knew I owned the business so I created a business card with different titles for any situation. I had a card for Marketing Director, Production Manager, Technician and only occasionally would I have to use the President card. Eventually I realized that people associated very well with my age as I often reminded them of themselves, their son, or their brother and respected the fact that I had taken on so much responsibility at my age. Today I think my age is my biggest asset as most people are willing to give me advice or be a mentor and I am unintimidating to most. Of course experience that life provides would be useful every now and then but I have always succeeded at surrounding myself with very experienced people.
YM: What surprised you the most?
NS: The incredible pace that is necessary was the biggest surprise. I worked multiple jobs in college and graduated in only three years so I thought I was prepared for a heavy workload but had no idea how much work was involved in business ownership. The hardest part is turning it off when you get home at night. For the first year I would sit around daydreaming long into the night trying to find a solution for the problems at work. It did not help that this is an emergency service business that required me to respond to a project within 2 hours, 24 hours per day, 7 days per week, 365 days a year. It is still difficult for me to shut things off sometimes even though I have very competent employees to handle most day to day responsibilities.
YM: What would you do differently?
NS: I would not do anything differently. I feel that many of the mistakes I made were necessary for my learning process. I made several huge errors when it came to hiring the right employees but would not have the same understanding of the true importance of having the right people if I had not learned the hard way. People are so vital to the success or failure of a company. No book or manual can provide you with the ability to feel the “X” factor of an employee who just gets it.
YM: If you could offer one piece of concrete advice to other people, what would it be?
NS: Surround yourselves with good mentors. I run into so many people that think they know everything and are unwilling to look outside the box. I have always sought out many perspectives from different people. I am constantly amazed at how creative some people can be and feel lucky to able to utilize their intelligence. I would not be anywhere close to as successful as I have been if I were not a good listener and more importantly, willing to apply the advice I am given.
YM: Is there anything else you would like our readers to know?
NS: Never underestimate the immense value of young people. The average age of my 12 employees is 28. I have three very experienced managers and many young people working through college or who have just graduated. Almost everyone in society has a degree in something these days and it is very difficult to jump out into the market and get a high paying job, especially in this economy. I find extreme value in a young person who is willing to learn and apply themselves in building a career without the high salary requirements that a more experienced person may require. I am 25 years old and have just received our corporate award for ‘Franchisee of the Year’ out of nearly 300 other franchises in North America. Work ethic is key and it is amazing how much someone with no experience can achieve if they work hard enough for it.
Nathan Smith, Pres.
PuroClean of the Palm Beaches
2781 Vista Parkway, Suite K5
West Palm Beach, FL 33411
561-775-2196 24/7 Emergency Line