Meet Palm Beach HOODZ Franchise Owner Randy Sequete
Former financial professional finds personal success in a business he can run on his own terms that provides plenty of support when he needs it.
For more than a decade, Randy Sequete and his crew’s trucks have been a familiar sight zipping up and down Florida’s I-95 corridor. For Sequete, owner of the HOODZ of Greater Palm Beach commercial exhaust cleaning franchise, that is a source of pride. It’s also very different from his previous professional life— and that suits him just fine.
How long have you been a HOODZ franchise owner?
I purchased my first territory in April of 2011, so it’s been almost 10 years. Then, I purchased my second territory a year after the first.
What’s your coverage footprint?
I have all of Palm Beach County and down into the northern half of Broward County, so just past the Fort Lauderdale airport. I’m lucky because all the businesses we service are pretty much connected going up the I-95 corridor; you can drive two miles east, or four miles west, and get to all of them.
What were you doing before you purchased a HOODZ franchise?
I worked for Morgan Stanley for 13 years, on the mortgage side of their business. Near the end of my tenure I was living in Texas and running an operations center they decided to sell. I was fortunate that I kept my job, but the business model was changing. My wife, who was also in finance, had lost her job — this was during the downturn of 2007-08, and so we began to talk. We had planned to move to Florida one way or another, so we went ahead and took the money we had saved and relocated. I wanted to begin my own business, and so began my search once we arrived in Florida.
Why did you choose HOODZ?
I had been working with a career consultant, who, when I said I was interested in owning my own business, recommended a franchise. I then met with a broker, who went through what my wife and I wanted and then gave us about a dozen concepts. What I liked about HOODZ was that it is a B2B model, which had been a good portion of my work with Morgan Stanley. I love building a long-term relationship with customers, and so that angle was very attractive. I also like that this is a necessary service. It’s built into commercial leases, and there are fire codes and other requirements that have to be satisfied, so this is not something that is going to go away. I also liked the idea of not having to wear a coat and tie to work every day.
How is the support and training provided by BELFOR Franchise Group?
They are amazing. I will be honest, before they came along there were some things I didn’t like in terms of not feeling very supported. Now, I have a team that includes a business development manager, which is amazing. I was thinking about the need to hire some employees a while back, and out of nowhere I got a call from him letting me know that they have a recruiting service set up, and he was wondering if I wanted to take advantage of it. We are all thinking along the same lines about business growth, which is a great thing.
I also appreciate that BELFOR Franchise Group gives me my autonomy. They never breathe down my neck, and they give me all the space I need — but they are also right there when I need them. I really can’t say a bad thing about them, and that is not the case with a lot of other players in the industry we are in.
How has 2020 been for you in terms of meeting the pandemic’s many challenges and keeping the business going?
We have never had a down year since I started the business, and I keep saying I’m hell bent on this not being one. April and May were really bad; our business dropped between 50% and 60%. But in June, July and August we bounced back. I would say we’re around 90% of what we were doing pre-COVID, and in August we had our second-best month ever!
Here’s the strange thing: our existing customers are holding off, since they aren’t back to 100% capacity, but we have never been busier in terms of new business. One day recently I went out to do three inspections. If I get a call, and somebody’s looking for a quote, I go and give it right away. That is where we’re beating our competition to the punch. A lot of restaurants are reopening under new ownership, and others are brand new, so that combined with a lot of our competition dropping away is very beneficial to us.
Are there any other growth areas you are targeting?
The institutional portion of our business has been very good. We do a lot of nursing homes, assisted living centers, and other places like that. They all have the same local requirements, and in some cases also some from governing organizations. They are very good business for us, especially because we can start them earlier in our night. And they stick to their schedules: if they are due for a cleaning, they will schedule it right away. That line of business has also protected us a little bit this year.
What would you tell a potential HOODZ franchise owner who called you during their discovery day?
I do get those calls, and I am very upfront with them about the good and the bad. There are some challenging aspects. Your techs are working at night, and if you don’t have a nighttime manager or something happens, you’re the one who will be getting a call in the middle of the night. That was rough at first, but now I’m used to it. I got one last night from a tech reporting that a hot water burner had gone out. I said we’d take care of it in the morning and went back to sleep.
Another challenge is finding good people. I’m very lucky now because I have a really good crew. It takes a while to build that team up. But once you do, and they mesh, you can get a lot done and be really efficient.
Are you glad you opted to purchase a HOODZ franchise, and then to grow it?
Gosh, yes! About five years ago, I was getting some calls from people who were looking to buy a franchise and I almost thought about selling the business. Not because I wanted to, but because I was thinking about moving to something else, and I might get a good offer. My wife was also thinking about owning her own business as well.
We did get an offer, and it fell through at the last minute. I was a little disappointed at the time, but I am so glad I didn’t sell. I only had one truck at the time, and shortly after that, I added a second truck and expanded my crew with some really good guys. Now we’re at four trucks, and it’s hard to explain how much pride we all take in the quality of work we do, and how devoted we are to our customers. I feel very good about what this business is doing, and how we are so much better than the competition. I think we have a great reputation, a great brand image, and I am glad I am still doing it.
Owning a successful restaurant hood cleaning business doesn’t have to break the bank. HOODZ is one of the most affordable franchise opportunities in the booming $838 billion restaurant industry. The total investment to begin operations for a new HOODZ franchise ranges from $62,561 to $179,840. Not only do we offer in-house financing for 50% of the franchise fee, but we also have third-party relationships to help you finance any additional business needs. We also proudly offer veterans who are interested in joining our franchise family a discount.