Cleaner Magazine February 2007 - US Jetting
Jamey Shelley, technician for Roto-Rooter of Knoxville, uses a waterjetter from US Jetting to clear a 4-inch sewer line. Polishing the Diamond Rickey Hunt used his management skills to help a Knoxville Roto-Rooter franchise energize its operations and realize its growth potential By Marian Bond When Rickey Hunt took over a Roto-Rooter franchise in Knoxville, Tenn., he was amazed to see the service vans driving back every day at 4:45 p.m. — work day over. He could see the company was leaving money on the table by missing after-hours and weekend work. That was just one of the issues Hunt addressed when he took over in 2003. Step by step, he built a strong team of technicians, upgraded the service fleet and equipment, and greatly increased the emphasis on higher-profit commercial and industrial work. All that has helped Hunt take advantage of growth opportunities in Knoxville and set a course for doubling the bottom line within the first five years. The Knoxville franchise received Roto-Rooter’s Presidential Award as top contractor in 2005. Room to grow Hunt previously operated Roto- Rooter outlets in Columbus, Ga., and Jackson, Tenn. He still owned the Jackson store when he bought the Knoxville franchise. When Hunt took over, the Knoxville operation was more than 20 years old and was generating about $1 million in annual revenue. In 2005, the business did $2.1 million. Despite the earlier challenges he saw, Hunt perceived Knoxville as a diamond in the rough. All in all, the franchise has been just the formula Hunt needed to realize his dream of a successful and profitable business. “I saw the population and the way that area was laid out, and I could see that it offered a tremendous amount of commercial and industrial work,” Hunt says. “When I was operating in Jackson and would come to Knoxville, I would think, ‘What a great place to have a business.’” OWNER: P R O F I L E Rickey Hunt Services, dba Roto-Rooter Knoxville, Tenn. Rickey Hunt ANNUAL REVENUE: $2.1 million (2005) FLEET: 10 service vans EMPLOYEES: 14 SERVICE AREA: 7 counties (population 680,000) His first order of business was to capture the revenue the franchise was giving up in after-hours and weekend work. “I was just in awe at the beginning,” he says. “I was amazed. I would see a line of vans driving in at 4:45 p.m. It was time to go home. There was no set schedule. It was left up to volunteers to cover after-hours calls. It just wasn’t a good way to go.” ★ Enlisting the staff Another issue was the high rate of call-backs — 6.82 percent. Hunt observed that the technicians were not taking any pride in their work, and had little accountability for their performance. They had not been taught the importance of their role in making the company — and so themselves — financially successful. In his previous franchises, Hunt had learned the value of having daily discussions with the technicians to help bring up and address concerns and problems. He imported that practice to Knoxville. “I don’t consider these as meetings, where I do all the talking,” he says. “Guys can talk about things they ran into the day before. We get it out in front, and they can pick up different things that can help each other.” In these discussions, Hunt outlined the importance of handling all calls expeditiously and thoroughly. Under a new program built with technician’s input, any call that comes in before 7 p.m. is considered to be within regular hours, and so is not subject to an afterhours fee.