ServiceMaster Franchisee Shows No Sign Of Slowing Down

ServiceMaster Franchisee Shows No Sign Of Slowing Down

When Paul Berg graduated from high school he set out on his own to tackle the world and succeed in business - and that's just what he did.

Today, at age 64 he is still going strong, and has spent the last 21 years in franchising. He purchased his first ServiceMaster franchise in 1997. He had built up his business portfolio to include 3 ServiceMaster territories and one Furniture Medic territory in southern California and Arizona. But at a time when many people are enjoying retirement, Berg still has growth on his mind. This past December he added another Furniture Medic territory in Riverside county.

Name: Paul Berg
Title: Owner/President of Furniture Medic by SMAP San Diego, Calif.; Imperial County, Calif.; Yuma, Arizona
No. of units by brand: ServiceMaster, 3; Furniture Medic, 2
Age: 64
Family: wife (Ericka), daughters (Erin and Marisol), son (Brandon)
Years in franchising: 21 years (started working for another franchisee in 1993, purchased first ServiceMaster in 1997)
Years in current position: 17 years


Formative influences/events:
After graduating from high school at 17, I moved out on my own and entered the business world.

Key accomplishments:
With no formal I started my own businesses and am now a successful business owner.

Smartest mistake:
Dropping out of college with no goal or plan for the future in mind.

How do you spend a typical day?
I start my days early and have a daily schedule in place by 6:30 a.m. At 7:30 a.m., I am off to the cabinet shop and into the Furniture Medic office by 9:00 a.m.

What's your passion in business?
Growing my business and achieving success.

How do you balance life and work?
I'm very dedicated to my business, so I always find it difficult to take personal time off. But I do try and balance my work and personal life when I can, like taking long weekends to spend more time with my family



Business philosophy:
Work hard, be fair, and don't expect others to do something you won't or haven't done in the past.

Management method or style:
Leading my team in a hands-on and engaging way, reinforcing the importance of customer service by doing the best job possible. I've built a reputation of honesty and dependability and have instilled that into my team.

Greatest challenge:
Continuing to grow the business through economic downturns.

How close are you to operations?
In the beginning of the business I was extremely involved in operations. As time went on and the business grew, I transitioned most of the operations on the ServiceMaster side to my partner Kevin but remain very involved on the Furniture Medic side.

What are the two most important things you rely on from your franchisor?
An honest and fair business system.

Have you changed your marketing strategy in response to the economy?
Not really. My focus is still doing the best work possible and guaranteeing the work. Customers recognize the benefits of working with a company that stands behind its word and reputation.

How is social media affecting your business?
It's early, but we are actively pursuing this vehicle to stay in touch with our customers. Our younger employees are great at managing those platforms.

How do you deal with problem employees?
We have an open forum-type policy so we can quickly get to the root of the problem and sort out any issues.

Bottom Line

Annual revenue:
$6 million in 2013.

2015 goals:
To continue to instill the business values I've been taught over the years in my employees; this will translate into success for them and the business as a whole.

Growth meter:
How do you measure your growth? By the growing number of employees. I started my business with only one employee - myself - and now have a thriving team of nearly 100 people.

Vision meter: Where do you want to be in 5 years? 10 years?
I still plan to be involved in my business but hope to spend more time traveling with my wife.

How is the current economy affecting you, your employees, your customers?
In terms of the business, I've noticed a lot more customers cashing out on their claims instead of having the work done.

How do you forecast for your business?
We've seen steady growth year after year and we expect continued growth over the next several years.

Is capital getting easier to access? Why/why not?
Cash flow is always an issue in this business, but the amounts available are getting larger. That being said, I'm not sure they are proportionally different from when the company was smaller.

Where do you find capital for expansion?
Banks and The ServiceMaster Acceptance Company (SMAC). Furniture Medic is now showing a growth in profit.

What are you doing to take care of your employees?
We give our employees opportunities to learn from an established and growing business and encourage them to utilize the skills they learn beyond the job. We are setting up profit sharing and are using incentive-based pay when possible.

How do you reward/recognize top-performing employees?
We believe people should be recognized and thanked for excellent work. Awarding bonuses is one way we accomplish this.

What kind of exit strategy do you have in place?
We are in the process of formalizing a succession plan strategy for business continuity.

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