Image One Facility Solutions
Image One keeps facilities clean and helps its franchise owners achieve their dreams.
By Alan Dorich, Knighthouse Media
The need for businesses to keep their facilities clean is universal, which has allowed Image One Facility Solutions to thrive. “Our industry is one of the few industry where you can say that everybody needs what we do,” co-founder and President Tim Conn declares.
Rolling Meadows, Ill.-based Image One provides commercial cleaning services, including daily janitorial, carpet cleaning, window washing and hard surface floor care services. Conn has a long history in the industry, which began with the start of his own janitorial company at the age of 14.
At the time, he cleaned his parents’ two-story office building. “I did that all through high school and continued on through college,” he recalls, noting that he grew the business to sales of $30,000 a month. Conn operated the business until 2001 when he partnered with Mike Schuchman to own a business with a national janitorial franchise. When their 10-year licensing agreement ended, they launched Image One in January 2011.
“We started out in the Chicago market and built a good foundation there,” Conn recalls, adding that the company now has 107 locations. It has expanded its reach to Colorado, Florida, Michigan, Ohio, Tennessee and Texas.
Today, Image One cleans spaces that range from general offices to car dealerships to movie theaters. “Every commercial space has a need for our service,” Conn says. “We also do some municipalities.”
Some of Image One’s franchisees have developed an affinity for cleaning car dealerships or movie theaters. “We’ll work with them in that niche market to help promote themselves in that area,” Conn says.
Leading the Way
Image One is modestly sized, but a growing leader in its sector, Conn says. “We’re very small compared to the big players in the industry,” he admits. “Ours is a $96 billion industry. If we had a fraction of that, we’d be a huge company. Our goal right now is to grow at a pace that allows us to provide the best possible support for our new franchise owners.”
But one area where the company is ahead of its competitors is in technology. Although many still use a pencil and paper in their work, “We decided to go out and get an iPad app developed to do our proposals, estimates and inspections,” he says.
The app also allows the company to do employee management. “It started as a single, simple iPad app,” he recalls. “It’s really developed into a full-scale program that can be used to manage all those items.”
Some may overlook investing in an commercial cleaning franchise, Conn says. “Cleaning is not a glamorous business,” he admits, but notes that the company sets itself apart with the extensive training and support it provides franchisees.
When a new affiliate joins the company, “He’s going to come up and spend a week with us in Chicago,” Conn says. Over seven days, franchisees learn about the company’s software and perform hands-on cleaning, side-by-side with its operations team.
Franchisees also work with Image One’s salespeople. “Within about two to three weeks, we’ll meet them in their market and we’ll spend a week with them canvassing the area,” he states. “We’ll go out and cold call with them, get them involved in local groups, build their network of potential businesses and work with them.”
Image One’s guidance does not end there. “They usually come back 30 to 45 days later and spend another week with them in our office,” Conn says, adding that the company spends another seven days in the franchisee’s market, focusing on the areas they need to pursue.
Image One is now adding to its support staff that works with its owners. “As we continue to have additional franchise owners, we want to support them as best as possible,” he says.
Conn himself also travels to their locations to provide assistance. “I was in Colorado twice in the last 12 months,” he says, noting that he also has gone to Florida. “That’s the type of support we’re trying to give our franchise owners, especially when they’re new.”
A Good Fit
Image One has found success by recruiting millennials as its franchise owners. Some, Conn notes, attended college and chose to get into business for themselves, while others decided college was not for them.
“They like to be independent,” he says, adding that some owners like to set their own schedules. “It’s been a very good fit for them.”
Conn wants to add more millennial owners to its roster. “We’ve got half a dozen that are doing very well that are in that millennial age group,” he says.
Image One also plans to look at growing in the Midwest, including such cities as Springfield, Ill.; Des Moines, Iowa; Milwaukee; St. Louis; and Indianapolis. “That’s an area where we have a very solid base,” he says, noting that Texas is a particularly attractive area.
“There’s so much business growth down there,” he says. “Every single business that’s out there has a trash can or bathroom.”
Conn has enjoyed growing Image One and helping its franchisees to be in business and achieve their goals. “That’s my driving force,” he says. “I’ve got some franchise owners who are building a life they would have never been able to achieve otherwise.
“They’ve been able to go to college and take classes or pay for their kids to go to college,” he continues, adding that one employee fulfilled the dream of owning a Jaguar.
“She said, ‘It’s not brand new,’” Conn recalls. “I said, ‘It doesn’t matter. You worked hard, you had a goal and you achieved that.’ To me, that’s the most rewarding thing about what we do.”
He predicts slow and steady growth for Image One. “There’s a lot of companies that grow uncontrollably,” Conn says. “I’d rather have half a dozen new franchise affiliates open in a year and really focus on their success than have uncontrolled growth.”