Ed Gribben has been able to turn operations over to his son and son-in-law thanks to the remodeling franchise’s detailed systems
Ed Gribben was a custom home builder for several years, building a few houses at a time before larger developers started snapping up huge tracts of land, creating a shortage of buildable lots. In response, Ed shifted his business toward remodeling, which allowed him to use his skills and creativity to tackle complex projects for homeowners. As he grew Gribben Construction, though, he saw a few holes in his business model. As the fountainhead for the business, he had to be actively involved at all times for the business to succeed — and if he ever decided to sell his business, the second he stepped away it would lose almost all its value. When he learned about DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen, its competitive advantages and its systems for running the business smoothly, he was intrigued. Four years later, Ed has been able to step back from his business and pursue more opportunities while his son and son-in-law use DreamMaker systems to keep the remodeling business healthy and growing in Stuart, FL.
This is Ed’s story.
How did you find out about DreamMaker?
I got a phone call from a franchise coordinator who ran the idea past me about getting into kitchen and bath remodeling, and it interested me because as I was remodeling homes, I always had to give kitchen and bath work away. The biggest reason for that was that I couldn’t offer competitive pricing. Cabinet companies would not sell to you unless you were a licensed cabinet dealer, so the pricing structure wasn’t there to allow us to do the work. With DreamMaker and its national buying power, we are able to buy cabinets at much better prices. As home building slowed and I could see that I would be doing much less, I figured having a DreamMaker franchise would position me to become a complete remodeler. It made sense to have that capability.
What do you like about being part of DreamMaker?
I like that there is a system for how to design and sell projects and a system for accounting. The systems are very defined, and once you put them in place and put people into well-defined roles, which is what I’ve done, you don’t have to do all the work yourself. My son and son-in-law (Joseph Gribben and Carl McCaughey) are pretty much running the company now, and as long as they follow the systems, it works. In custom-home building, it was hard to replace me and my experience, and I was the person people knew, so if I wasn’t available, it would be hard to keep getting custom homes developed. With DreamMaker, it’s the franchise that people are looking to, not the person. That’s great for branding, and it’s also great for when you are ready to sell the business. With Gribben Construction, when I left, Gribben Construction was no more. With DreamMaker, the system is more important than me. I can sell it to my kids and they can sell it to someone else. DreamMaker continues to perfect the system, and it’s definitely already better than my system at Gribben, which was: I do everything and try to get people to help me. Here, everybody has a job description, and if everyone follows the system, the company does well.
What sets DreamMaker apart?
We’re a full-service remodeling company. Once you walk through our doors, you can pick out the cabinets, the tile, the flooring, the plumbing fixtures, the light fixtures. It’s one-stop shopping. You don’t have to run a dozen different places to find what you want for your kitchen, and you don’t have to hunt for an electrician and plumber.
Our Design Center has samples of just about everything, so we can show samples as well as pictures of before and after projects. That lets people get a feel for what’s possible, and then we create custom designs. We do 3D renderings that we can rotate around so customers can see what their kitchen and bathroom will look like before they have it built. Most people don’t know everything that goes into a remodel, and it would be unnerving if you didn’t have clear expectations, so we provide a lot of communication.
Our average job is around $22,000. We’ll go as high as $50,000 to $60,000 for a kitchen. One of the good things about DreamMaker being a full-service remodeler is that we do bathrooms, too. Most houses only have one kitchen, but they have two or three bathrooms, so they might bring us in for a $10,000 bathroom remodel, and within a few years we’ve remodeled their whole house.
How does DreamMaker help you win and keep customers?
They’ve got a marketing department that is constantly at work to help us place our limited advertising dollars in the right places, and they get very creative on social media marketing and in traditional marketing. If you were trying to do it all yourself and you weren’t a creative person, it would be terrible. They have a lot of great canned ads and an extensive marketing program.
What do you appreciate about the leadership and support staff at DreamMaker?
The support from DreamMaker starts with (DreamMaker President) Doug Dwyer and his commitment to treating people right, and it just telegraphs down to everyone. I’ve never heard them say “no, I can’t help you with that.” They are always willing to help and willing to spend time to help me. They are methodical, and they are very supportive. You become part of a family with them. They are interested in your life, not just your royalty fee.
At our annual Reunion, it’s more than just about dollars and cents. Doug goes out of the way to make sure people’s lives are improving and lifestyles are becoming better. There’s a concern there, and you can see it. He will call us every once in a while to talk. The franchise coaches call on a regular basis.
How important is previous remodeling experience?
I’m a remodeler and custom home builder. I think you should have some experience, but there are guys who follow the system and who are not contractors who are doing very well. If you put the systems in place, I guess you might not have to have as much construction knowledge, but it can help you if problems arise. I think it’s a leg up to have a little experience.
How has having a franchise coach benefited you?
They prod you to make sure you get systems in place and follow the systems. It’s a valuable tool. When you get into this, in any franchise, you still have to run your business well, but when you have coaches telling you to bring this online now, do this, do that, it helps. We all forget to do things we’re supposed to do for the business, and they keep prodding you to do it. It’s like a having a personal trainer for your business. They call about every two weeks.
Has DreamMaker helped you improve your gross profit margins?
Yes. I wouldn’t be in business today if I hadn’t gotten into a DreamMaker when I did. If I had gotten into it a few years earlier, I’d be better off! Kitchen and bath remodeling really kept us alive during the recession.
Learn more about DreamMaker
DreamMaker Bath & Kitchen helps franchise partners stand out by offering savvy, proven marketing plans and tools, excellent systems for operating your business, and a wealth of support to help you grow. To learn more about the remodeling industry, and why we are excited about the growth potential for our franchisees, visit our research pages. To learn even more, fill out a form to download our free franchise report and start a conversation. We look forward to talking with you!