PatchMaster, the drywall repair franchise that just crossed 100 units, found its growth accelerated after selling sister brand HouseMaster in July 2020. The reason is focus, says CEO Paul Ferrara.“When we had both HouseMaster and PatchMaster, it meant divided loyalties there. Once we knew what we were doing” in selling HouseMaster, “we were able to dedicate the resources and attention to PatchMaster,” he said. His focus was “getting it structured in a way that it could be cost-efficient, and forcing us to be as efficient as possible.”
Neighborly, the giant home services franchisor based in Waco, Texas, “came out of nowhere” looking to buy HouseMaster, which offers home inspection services, and the sale closed on June 30, 2020.
Ferrara, COO of both brands at the time, became CEO of PatchMaster. Kathleen Kuhn, CEO of both brands and daughter of the founder of HouseMaster, went with HouseMaster to Neighborly.
Collecting sister brands in related industries under one umbrella is the rage in franchising these days, with executives citing the benefits of shared services behind the scenes and cross-selling both units to franchisees and services to customers. But Ferrara said it was too soon to sell PatchMaster when Neighborly came calling.
“We intentionally carved out PatchMaster right from the get-go,” Ferrara said, because at that stage of its development, “we knew it would be completely undervalued. We knew we were poised for good hockey stick growth.”
PatchMaster started around 2017, “doing the alphas and the betas” to test the model. “We had about two franchisees; we started out in Utah. We’ve kind of been developing slowly and getting to a launch. In the middle of 2019, we started putting the pedal to the metal.”
The initial franchise fee for PatchMaster is $49,500 for a territory with up to 300,000 to 350,000 population. Its Item 19 states average unit volume across all comparable units is $180,000.
Ferrara cited a new “RightTrack” package, aimed at helping franchisees get operating more quickly, as one improvement. It costs $20,600 total, including $7,400 for tools and materials. “By allowing us to make those purchases on their behalf, it allows us to drive the costs down,” he said.
The other part is the grand opening marketing package, costing about $13,000, including the wrap on the vehicle, promotional equipment and lead aggregation services, among other things. ”When they come out of training and are ready to start, we’re going to make sure everything is turned on,” he said.