When OpenWorks CEO Eric Roudi looked into a backup career after his first choice fell out of reach, it became a successful entrepreneurial path not only for him for hundreds of small business owners.
With more than 700 franchises across the country, Roudi’s Phoenix-based commercial cleaning franchise operator has come a long way from the days when Roudi and his former business partner cleaned offices and buildings themselves after launching OpenWorks in 1983.
This year, OpenWorks was named to the 2019 Inc. 5000 ranking of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies. The list focuses on the country’s most successful companies within the independent small business segment. OpenWorks debuted on the list after experiencing three consecutive years of exponential growth, having doubled in size since 2016 to a total of 23 regional offices across the country, according to company data. It has experienced a 145 percent revenue increase in three years.
After its first year in operation, OpenWorks had 10 franchises, Roudi said. Today, there are 23 regional offices that serve more than 2,500 customers. OpenWorks also recently made the Franchise 500 List by Entrepreneur magazine.
Staying true to the localized franchise model and following the needs of the market have been key to growth over the decades amid competition and changing customer preferences, Roudi explained.
“Many of the large corporations are making more regional and centralized decision making. We decided that in order to cater to bigger customers, we need to have a more local presence. That’s what drove our growth,” he said.
OpenWorks oversees all franchises and manages the operations to ensure services are obtained for its franchisees and delivered to the customers. It also makes sure the company’s high standards are met in addition to other mandated regulations. Clients reach out to the headquarters and OpenWorks locates the nearest franchise to do the job.
“We secure customers and provide back-office support. That allows franchisees to focus on what they do best, which is the delivery of service,” said COO Liz Caracciolo.
OpenWorks clientele are mostly in private education, healthcare, manufacturing and distribution, and corporate headquarters. Over the years, they increased the minimum size requirement for its customers and focus on large single locations or chains. They also expanded services from basic cleaning to landscape maintenance, handyman services and parking lot sweeping.
Banner Health, Honor Health, The Arizona Republic and the Phoenix Convention Center are among the local client base.
Getting the job done
OpenWorks’ boasts a retention rate of 98 percent year over year, a rarity in this or any industry, Caracciolo said.
“In an industry where it’s common to have turnover, the model Eric put into place to have that uniformity is evident by our very high retention rate,” she said.
For nearly four years, Debi Manavian, human resources administrator for Trimaco, a manufacturer and supplier of protective construction products, has had the same OpenWorks husband and wife team clean part of her Surprise-based company’s 280,000-square foot facility twice a day.
The quality of the job and personality of the workers are a big part of why Manavian continues to partner with OpenWorks. A couple of years ago, she conducted a routine lobby for bids just to compare pricing. She found no reason to switch.
A local OpenWorks representative comes in month to make sure everything is up to snuff. If Manavian needs anything, she gets a fast response from that representative or the couple themselves.
“I’ve always been so satisfied that I don’t bother talking with anyone else. I’m really happy and not interested in looking anywhere else,” she said.
‘People with a people-first mentality’
While Roudi was earning his degrees in mechanical engineering and economics at Tufts University, he planned to go into investment banking. But a recession at the time meant many companies in his field weren’t hiring. He and a friend looked into options and landed on a model in the franchise commercial cleaning arena.
“We liked the uniformity you can achieve. Going to McDonald’s in Phoenix was the same as going to a McDonald’s in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. We also liked the commercial cleaning space. It was universal and everybody had to use it. There was a lot of growth potential there,” Roudi said.
Roudi and his friend and former business partner moved to Phoenix, where their initial investors were. Within a month, they got their first contract.
“We had to clean for a few nights. It made me appreciate the work,” Roudi said.
The model has evolved. In the early years, it catered to people who wanted to do this work as a part-time or second job to tide them over until they were in a better financial situation. That slowly gave way to attracting those eyeing it as a career.
“It changed to attract entrepreneurial-minded people who wanted to grow their business and do this as a main source of income,” Roudi said.
These changes have led OpenWorks to attract franchisees that fit the model and mission of the company.
“The quality of business owners seem to fit well with our business and culture. People with a people-first mentality,” Caracciolo said. “They come to OpenWorks with a desire for a greater purpose… to own a business.”
Interesting stat: The janitorial services industry in the U.S. generated $61 billion in revenue in 2018, according to Statista.
Details: 888-679-9383, openworksweb.com
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