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HouseMaster

RHODE ISLAND

Jeffrey Davis retired from the army in 2005 and three years later invested in a HouseMaster franchise, which offered a 15 percent discount for veterans.
Source: Mi Davis
Jeffrey Davis retired from the army in 2005 and three years later invested in a HouseMaster franchise, which offered a 15 percent discount for veterans.
Description: Home and building inspections
Owners: Jeffrey Davis
Years in business: 8
No. of franchises owned: 1
Start-up costs: $60,100 to $106,100
Franchisor fees: $42,500 (included in above figures)
2015 revenue, 2016 projection: $103,000; $125,000
2016 projected annual growth rate: 5%

Jeffrey Davis had an interest in real estate since early in life, but a 27-year career in the U.S. Army kept him from pursuing that dream. That all changed when he retired from the Army in 2005 and three years later bought a HouseMaster franchise. The company offers home and building inspections for residential and commercial properties.

Davis originally got involved in real estate investing with a friend in the construction business after retiring but says his timing was less than ideal. "We started buying houses, renovating them and flipping them right as the housing market was crashing," he said. "The timing was not good, and we weren't going to have the wherewithal to stay in the business."

As he started looking around for another concept in real estate, some themes started to emerge. "I was an officer in the army, so I was always inspecting something," Davis said. When he combined this with the fact that he loved real estate, the home inspection business seemed to be a good option.

Additional franchisee resources

He did his research on the home inspection industry and chose HouseMaster for a few reasons. "I liked that the business had been around for nearly 30 years by the time I got involved and that it offered a 15 percent discount on the price because I was a veteran," Davis said. That meant he was able to purchase his franchise in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, in 2008 for just $19,125. He was equally impressed with the management team. "This was a big company when I signed on, but they ran it like it was a small company," he said. "I would go to the annual convention and the executives always knew my name."

The parent company helps Davis grow his business with ongoing support ("If I have any sort of IT or technical issue, I just pick up the phone and someone at headquarters is there to help," he said.) Proprietary home inspection software is tailored to make reports easy to generate, and the company's ability to keep up with changing regulations in the home inspection industry is a big plus for franchisees that would have a hard time doing this themselves.

Davis said one of the keys to building a home inspection business is networking. "I joined a local Business Networking International (BNI) chapter as well as the Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club, American Legion Post and the Elks Club," he said. "I network at every opportunity to expand my business."

Davis, who runs the business without any employees, also said he's committed to paying it forward by offering a 10 percent discount on his services to military veterans. His advice to other would-be franchisees sounds obvious but bears repeating: "Follow the proven method. Be professional in appearance and behavior and work hard."

"I would go to the annual convention and the executives always knew my name." -Jeffrey Davis

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