Hoodz Franchise Review: Q&A with Nate Wojtasinski
National Director of Technical Operations shares what makes the rapidly expanding hood cleaning franchise a best-bet investment
From a young age, Nate Wojtasinski worked for his father’s hood cleaning company. After running the business himself for some time, and seeing how fly-by-night operators were getting by solely because this is a niche business with minimal competition, he decided to sell the family business to BELFOR Franchise Group in 2008 and develop industry standards for trust, accountability and customer service.
Twelve years later, Wojtasinski perfected a proven business model that is highly efficient, maximizes profitability and is bolstered by industry-leading support from BELFOR, the largest property restoration company in the world.
Today, Hoodz International has nearly 100 locations and is the largest kitchen exhaust hood system maintenance provider in the nation. No matter the size of the job, we work hard to ensure that our customers’ business is in full compliance with local laws and safety standards. Hoodz services include kitchen exhaust hood cleaning, filter cleaning, grease trap cleaning, and more.
As part of the BELFOR Franchise Group, Hoodz makes it easy for a new franchise owner to establish trust in their communities quickly and start winning business. This starts with world-class training led by Wojtasinski, the National Director of Technical Operations at Hoodz. In this wide-ranging interview, he shares everything from what the ideal Hoodz franchise owner looks like, to why Hoodz is a best-bet investment for entrepreneurs seeking to own a hood-cleaning franchise in a booming recession-resistant industry.
What is the appeal of this business from a franchisee perspective?
Wojtasinski: Not only is this business recession-proof, but also it’s all repeat business because having your kitchen exhaust system cleaned is mandated by the fire marshal and inspectors. So if they’re able to manage their technicians, and manage the relationship with their customer, that repeat business is going to be there forever. It’s important for our customers to keep their kitchens running efficiently and effectively. So their kitchen exhaust system has to be cleaned regularly, depending on how much food they’re cooking, and the kind of food they’re cooking.
What customers do you go after and why?
Wojtasinski: When a typical hood cleaning company is starting out, a lot of times their initial customers are the mom-and-pop businesses or small restaurants. These clients allow them to get their business ramped up and going. Once this happens, they’ll focus on what we call institutional accounts. These are the accounts we really want because the profit margins are better and the clients are more safety-minded when it comes to keeping their locations and restaurants safe or free from fires. These clients include universities, airports, prisons, schools, casinos, sports arenas and more. These customers don’t mind paying more for a professional to come in and clean their hoods compared to the fly-by-night operator who may only clean the hood and not the ductwork, which is a fire risk.
How is Hoodz different from the fly-by-night operators?
Wojtasinski: Hoodz is different because we have a home office staff that is willing and ready to support all of our franchisees. This includes our training and ongoing support, which is one benefit of being a part of a franchise system. The second benefit is belonging to a franchise full of people who do what you do. We have 84 franchisees. That means there’s 84 people to bounce ideas off of, ask advice, seek counsel, and more. For instance, we have various forums where our franchisees can talk, including closed groups on Facebook.
Additionally, our business is all about relationships. So we work together with our franchisees, within their teams, and with our customers. This is why we teach our franchise owners the necessary skills that will help them cultivate relationships, especially with customers. Many of our customers have been working with us for 20 years. They trust us to go into their businesses at night when no one is there to do our job. We have such a good relationship with many of our customers that we bring our families to eat at their restaurants. Our goal is to cultivate and ensure those professional relationships are long-lasting.
What makes BELFOR’s training so exceptional?
Wojtasinski: BELFOR provides our franchisees with the highest level of support, training and specialized equipment in the industry. Training is held at our state-of-the-art training facility in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Our initial training includes four days of technical training, then three days of ovens training, and, finally, five days of business training. This includes customer relations, sales, accounting, scheduling and more. Our ongoing support includes annual conventions, regional meetings and training webinars where we have specialists come in and talk about insurance or safety.
What kind of entrepreneur are you looking to recruit for Hoodz?
Wojtasinski: We are looking for entrepreneurs who are driven, and good at managing and working with people. Hoodz is a 24-hour business. For example, our technicians go out in the evening to do jobs, and in the morning we do payroll. The key with some of our most successful franchisees isn’t that they clean hoods better than anyone else, but rather it’s the culture of their team. So if a new franchisee owner can cultivate that culture and continue to grow professionally, that’s what makes a good franchisee.
Why is now a good time to invest in a Hoodz franchise?
Wojtasinski: It’s a good time to invest in a Hoodz because it’s a recession-proof business with repeat business year-round. Back in Saginaw, Michigan, where our business originated, we had clients for 25 years. So the business and customer base is there, and the support to help you thrive over the long-term. We’re looking for an extroverted entrepreneur who excels at managing people and teams, as well as managing expectations with their customers as they continue to develop the professional relationship. If that sounds like you, this is the right opportunity.