Experienced remodeler uses Kitchen Solvers franchise to expand his existing business
John Boynton works out of the office space in his mother’s home — the same place where he and his dad, Frank, began J&F Specialties Inc., in 1995. His dad’s been gone for five years now, but “my mother’s 87. She’s in real good health, but this lets me be around her,” he says.
Of course, he’s really not around the office much. He’s on the road, in and around Springfield, Va., where he and his three-person staff keep plenty busy in the remodeling business. The fact that he could become a Kitchen Solvers franchisee without ignoring the company he and his dad got started is one of the big reasons he decided to get involved.
We spent a few minutes talking with the 49-year-old about why, after a life spent in the building and remodeling business — he’s worked at retailers and other remodeling-related companies — he decided to buy a Kitchen Solvers franchise. His Kitchen Solvers debuted in January 2012.
What were you doing before Kitchen Solvers?
I have a full-service remodeling business that has been full-time since 2004. My dad and I started it in 1995. I purchased the Kitchen Solvers franchise to run in conjunction with that. To me, I recognized that the aspects of remodeling and refacing had some potential, and the franchise gave me access to product lines I didn’t have support for and also they help market that portion.
How did you find out about Kitchen Solvers?
I am a member of NARI (the National Association of the Remodeling Industry). Kitchen Solvers sent out advertising to many NARI members, introducing themselves and saying how they could help an existing remodeling business.
What do you like about the job?
One of the challenges for me has been my primary business has been keeping us busy enough that I haven’t been able to concentrate on the refacing aspect. I’m a Class A contractor, which around here means I could build skyscrapers. But we do all kinds of remodeling. No new construction … No skyscrapers. When I looked at this, I said I was pretty sure I could make a living out of this.
What sets Kitchen Solvers apart?
I had a very negative perception of franchises before. So I went in talking to Kitchen Solvers with a negative sense about it. I turned that right around when I talked to them. I liked how they were willing to accommodate my existing business and what I want to do. They are really trying to make my whole business successful.
Who makes a good Kitchen Solvers franchisee?
If I was looking at it as an opportunity to start a business, I think this is an excellent opportunity for someone who has some skills in installations plus running the business. The support structure is outstanding. They can take somebody who knows nothing about the business and help you through every aspect of it. My business was pretty well situated, so we were able to find it enhanced things. I thought it was a good opportunity and it’s the type of work I happen to enjoy.
How large is the opportunity?
I think for the most part, for a small operation, husband and wife, it’s an excellent opportunity to build a business that has value.
Who are your main customers? Who are your best customers?
That’s interesting. My best customers have been in the older demographic — 65-plus and retired — who want to fix their place up a little bit but don’t want to spend a ton of money doing it. I like them. I was raised to respect my elders, so I take good care of them.
What types of work are you getting more of?
We do a good bit of kitchen remodeling, but a lot of that comes through my normal business channels. Our plan is to focus more on Kitchen Solvers this year.
How long do most jobs take?
Four-to-five days to do refacing and countertops, depending on the size. I have a two-man crew that takes care of it. It would take more time for someone doing it themselves.
What would be a big and a small job for Kitchen Solvers, in terms of the bill?
A big job would probably be $9,000 to $10,000; $7,000 to $8,000 is the norm. That’s strictly refacing.
What does your typical day look like?
My typical day is probably four or five hours in office-related things, with the remainder of the time doing the site visits. By and large my day is spent visiting customers, doing sales calls, doing estimates, that sort of thing.
What is a secret to your success?
I smile pretty. For me it’s I take good care of my clients. We’re not the cheapest guy, but we give them a product that has value to it. My customers look out for me, they value me and I value them. The referral network is good. In all of my work, I look at is as if I was doing my mom’s house. My mom’s picky. I ask ‘what would I do if it was my house or my mom’s house?’ That leads us to doing top-quality work for my customers and it follows from there.
How does being part of a franchise help you?
The primary thing is it gives me better purchasing power for some of my products. Kitchen Solvers negotiates national contracts, so that gives me a better price structure than I would get as an individual small contractor.
Would you recommend a Kitchen Solvers franchise to someone else?
I have. Matter of fact, they routinely put prospective franchise purchasers that have an existing business with me, to speak to me. I speak very positively of them. My primary driving force is I can’t afford one unhappy customer. I don’t have any, either. There is a wealth of knowledge (at Kitchen Solvers). The people running the business, the corporate structure, they are willing to share every bit of knowledge they have with me. That’s very valuable. We talk about marketing, running a business, we have a phone conference once a week. There’s that support there and their extreme willingness to work with me in the present business.Back