ZOOM DRAIN franchise review: Sam Marcisso III of New England
Father-and-son team up to invigorate the family business, see tenfold increase in sewer & drain sales
Pine State Services, a family-owned business in Westbrook, Maine, was doing well with its plumbing, HVAC and electrical services, but they couldn’t really get the sewer and drain division off the ground. “It wasn’t making any money,” says Sam Marcisso III, who was running Pine State’s warehouse for his father after working in New York for a few years. But luckily, ZOOM DRAIN COO Ellen Rohr and Zoom Co-founder Al Levi were already business coaches for Pine State Services President and Owner Sam Marcisso Jr. When Rohr and Levi decided to franchise, they naturally approached Marcisso Jr. He thought running the franchise division would be the perfect opportunity for his namesake son. The results far exceeded their expectations, with a tenfold increase in sales. Marcisso III tells their story in this ZOOM DRAIN franchise review.
When did you become a ZOOM DRAIN franchisee?
We signed the contract in April of 2016, and then we took our first call and business was open in October of 2016.
Where are you located?
We’re located in Westbrook, Maine. Our territory is Southern Maine, Southern New Hampshire and Northeastern Massachusetts.
How did you find out about ZOOM DRAIN?
My father found out about them via Ellen Rohr and Al Levi. They were business coaches of his, just like they’re business coaches for ZOOM DRAIN, so when they decided to franchise, they contacted my father to see if he was interested.
What was it about the opportunity that made your father take that chance?
Well, I had just come back to town. I was working for a bigger company in New York for a few years and decided I didn’t want to do that anymore, so I came back to work for him at Pine State, and at the same time I came back, this opportunity came up. The sewer and drain division of Pine State wasn’t making any money, so he thought it was a good opportunity for me to grow more sales and revenue.
Has ZOOM DRAIN helped the drain and sewer division become profitable?
Absolutely. I think we’ve increased sales about tenfold.
How was ZOOM DRAIN able to do that?
What most people will probably find is, technicians who clear drains are generally plumbers, if they don’t work for a drain-only company, and plumbers have licenses. They don’t always do sewer work, so they don’t want to do sewer work, generally. So finding a person that will clear drains and be happy about it is, I think, a big part of why we’re successful. We focus on it, so the guys don’t expect to do other things; they know when they come to work what they’re doing to do and they stay positive about it. I think that’s a big thing, the willingness to do it.
Since that’s all we do, we get better at it than a generic plumber would because that’s what we do all day, not just once or twice a week. We’re a lot more efficient, and on the truck we always have every tool you can dream of for a drain call, rather than having one or two drain cleaning pieces and that’s it. So we’re much better equipped and much more willing to take those calls on.
What percentage of your Zoom franchise is residential services versus commercial services?
About 65% residential and 35% commercial. And for us right now, commercial is very light — small office buildings, restaurants, motels, and hotels here and there. The main reason for that is just where we operate right now, right now we’re just in Southern Maine, we haven’t expanded into Massachusetts or New Hampshire yet, so there aren’t a whole lot of big industrial buildings here.
In that particular area of the country, you’re subject to such severe or long-lasting winters. Is the work seasonal in nature at all?
We find in the winter it slows down a bit, and that is mostly because we’re kind of a vacation area for a lot of people. There’s just less population come winter time. People will lock up their summer homes and head South or head wherever. So we do get a little bit more business in the summer. Also, in summer, we can do repair work outside, digging up yards and replacing pipe and things like that, whereas in the winter, we really can’t because there’s too much snow and frost, and no pavement plants are open.
Do you have things that you do during the winter, like strategizing, planning for growth, things like that?
Winter’s our time to increase commercial sales as far as doing planned maintenance work, grease traps for restaurants, different things like that.
How do you feel about the direction of the brand today?
I think it’s good. We’re growing fast and we get a lot of interest from people who don’t want to sign up with a Roto-Rooter or someone that’s a really big corporate entity. They get that small-town feel with us, and we’re a tight-knit family rather than a big huge company where you don’t know your neighbors kind of thing.
Did you and your father ever consider other franchises in this segment?
Not that I’m aware of, no. It wasn’t something he was interested in. And part of the reason he even did consider it was the fact that he knew that it was going to operate well because Ellen and Al helped him organize his company and make it operate well. He would not have been overly interested in some outsider that he doesn’t know and signing up with them.
Was there a moment when you knew you’d made the right decision to open a ZOOM DRAIN franchise?
I think it was somewhere in 2017, and it wasn’t necessarily a specific call or anything like that, The moment I knew my father and I had made the right decision to open a ZOOM DRAIN franchise was about eight or nine months in, looking at the books. We were already profitable. And our sales had already increased over what my father’s business, Pine State Services, had originally done. That’s kind of when I knew what we were doing was going to work, and we just had to keep up with everyone else and stay with the training and stay with the marketing that they were coming out with.
What would you say is the most rewarding thing about owning a Zoom franchise?
There’s plenty of examples of all the franchises being fairly successful and fairly successful right out of the gate, so I think the most rewarding thing is being part of a team with so much positivity. It’s rewarding to know that you made a good decision in joining up with the Zoom team, and the results prove that we made a good decision.
How often do you interact with the other franchisees?
At least once a week, if not more.
You mentioned you’re a tight-knit group, so it sounds like you can pretty easily turn to them for advice and troubleshooting.
Absolutely. We have an open forum chat for technical help, and then the owners and managers have an open forum chat for any sort of organizational or administration type help if you need it, or just conversing.
What kind of experience do you think somebody needs to be successful with this kind of franchise?
Maybe a little bit of business experience and/or supervising experience if you’re going to be a manager or owner, just because you would need that to help manage your guys. But really as far as technical knowledge, you don’t need much because the Zoom family will teach you and all the manuals will teach you exactly what you need to know. I was not a plumber myself and I’m still not a licensed plumber, but I learned quickly and I’m able to answer pretty much any question that gets thrown at me.
What are some of the most valuable things the corporate office does to support you?
Training is huge. They support you with the manuals that are already written, but then if you have questions about training, you can also send in a technician or even office personnel to Philly for training. Al and Ellen will come visit you to help you get off your feet when you first sign up, and then as you keep going, they stick with you and make sure you’re growing as you need to and making money. So that’s big, and they don’t let you fail.
Another big one that I’m starting to use more is marketing. Most of the marketing material that you would need is already made, all you’ve got to do is put your local address and phone number on it and it’s pretty much good to go. So that’s huge for me right now because I’m starting to get into that and use that a lot more.
Is there anything else a prospective buyer should know about opening a ZOOM DRAIN franchise?
I think they should know that they’re in very knowledgeable hands, and they will be supported. They’re not going to sign up and hear, “Here’s your logo” and, “Okay, you’re on your own.” There’s a lot of support, especially for newcomers. I’ve never felt that I’ve been left alone or abandoned or needed more help. Whenever I need it, I have it. And oftentimes, they’re trying to help even more than I think I need.
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