Question: Is duct cleaning or duct sealing really worth our time?
Gary Elekes; Founder, EPC Training:
Well, that’s an interesting question as well. It is worth your time iff it’s a business model that you feel you’re committed to. I think that comes back to just about anything in life. If it’s something that you’re strictly looking at, “Is it strictly worth my time because is it profitable or not profitable?” that is a different framing of the question. So all businesses need to make a profit to sustain themselves, but the reality is that’s not necessarily a problem that you would look at and say, “Should I be in that business or shouldn’t I be in that business?” Because of course it can be profitable. The Aeroseal franchise has been around for many, many years, and there are many examples of companies that have done duct sealing and duct cleaning, and just essentially making sure of sanitization, and they’ve been very profitable. Some businesses are built solely on that. So you’d have to look at that model and say, “Of course it can be profitable.” They know some things and they’ve managed that business model in a way that’s allowed that to happen. But the one thing that’s there, is that if that’s your only business you’re clearly committed to it. So you would be passionate about learning how to educate the customers, making sure you train and develop your team, making sure that you chose carefully the right equipment and capital that you need to function and prove that you’ve done something positive for the client. So yeah, but I believe that that’s something that also can be a distraction in some businesses. So if your core business isn’t performing at a high level, and you’re not getting the cash flow and essentially printing money out of the existing core structure of the business, then adding a segment like that – or what we could consider to be a category – I don’t see how that would be in anybody’s best interest, because the core business needs to operate at a high level first. So what we would like to say is get your fundamentals down. It’s a little like college football – Wally talked about college football, we’re excited about the season coming up. But you know if you don’t block for your quarterback, it doesn’t matter who your quarterback is. Tom Brady gets great blocking, and he’s about as old as I am these days, and he’s still functioning at a high level. But if he was playing for a team that didn’t block for him that might be a different story. So when you’re looking at duct cleaning, duct sanitization and duct sealing, look at that and say, well, as a core business am I functioning at a high level? And then, does this business model fit as a bolt on? And then how do price it, and how do I train and educate and I think it’s an excellent example of even duct mods. If you look at companies that do a one-day jobs and don’t modify airflow, versus companies that price the airflow modifications as part of a second day, but understand they have to price that higher in order to get recovery, because they’re giving up that day of labor. I think you’re looking at the same kind of process in this business segment. So surely you can make money, it comes down to convincing the customer that this is in their best interest, there has to be some value to that, it has to be real, and then the transaction model has to be effective from the standpoint of the company. So I like that business model, I see it as one that you get into after you build the structure of your business, and then you’re ready to put that in as part of your IAQ model, but not until then. So I would look at your core KPIs and your core fundamentals of the business and make sure that those are functioning first.