CRATE Franchise Systems

CRATE Franchise Systems is one of the newest home improvement franchises on the market. We recently spoke with Scott Monday, co-founder of CRATE Franchise Systems (kitchenCRATE and bathCRATE), about the franchise. We learned how the franchise started out as a “crazy idea” while he and his wife were shopping at Costco, the secrets to its success and what advice he has for aspiring entrepreneurs.

What’s special about the franchise?

There are a number of elements that set us apart as a home improvement franchise. Our new franchisees will have the opportunity to work directly with the founders of CRATE Franchise Systems, which is something many other franchisors can’t say. Franchisees will also focus on maximizing profit-per-day with our business model. The CRATE model emphasizes quickly executed projects and a limited scope of work that allows franchisees to complete a high number of projects, each with their own profit margin.

But what really sets us apart is our effective marketing techniques coupled with our lead screening system. CRATE’s franchise support team screens leads for franchisees, which allows our owner-operators to focus on customer service and completing more home improvement projects.

What is the idea behind the franchise?

Believe it or not, it all started as a crazy idea while shopping at Costco. My wife and I had just checked out and were walking down the isle-of-big-ticket items, joking to each other about the fact that the store sold everything but kitchen remodels.

In the moment, we thought of how it could be done: a helicopter-delivered storage crate full of all the materials needed for a kitchen remodel. We thought of construction people sprinting out of your crate, ready to work. And of course, the renovation would be completed in under a week.

And after more absurd joking, it dawned on me: Why couldn’t kitchen remodeling actually be turned into an easy-to-repeat system? Sure, the materials would change, and each project would be a little bit different, but there was certainly enough commonality between jobs to turn it into a formula.

That’s how my business partner, Jared Oller, and I created kitchenCRATE. At the time, we owned and operated Trinity Renovation, Inc., a commercial and custom residential general contracting business. Over the next few years, Trinity Renovation, Inc. pivoted to offering kitchenCRATE and bathCRATE products only, and now operates the corporately-owned franchise based in Modesto, California.

How does it compare to its competition?

There are other home improvement franchises out there. What makes us different than the others in our space is our lead generation and screening system, our attention to detail and our idea-to-completion remodeling system. We’ve streamlined the kitchen and bathroom remodeling process into a step-by-step project management system for franchisees. Plus, we’ve learned how to effectively market the kitchenCRATE and bathCRATE concept on a regional level.

The fact that our marketing system and call-screening model maximizes profit-per-day through a proven kitchen and bath remodeling system really sets us apart and entices franchisees and prospects.

What do you look for in a potential franchisee?

We’re looking for people who want to follow the system we’ve developed. They need to be passionate about home improvement and should come in with some working knowledge of renovations. Franchisees will either need to have a contractor’s license or the ability to obtain one.

Our franchise system works extremely well as a conversion model. So many home improvement business owners struggle to either generate leads or screen new leads. The beauty of our model is we provide support and management to cultivate leads and ultimately help franchisees focus on projects and profits.

Where do you see the franchise in five years?

We’re ambitious and driven to make this franchise system thrive. By the end of 2020, we’d like to have 50 operating franchise locations and, perhaps most importantly, the strongest brand recognition in our sector.

Can you describe a typical day in the life of a franchisee?

Since our system provides lead screening and marketing support, our franchisees can really focus on delivering kitchen and bath remodeling projects on time. While no two days are the same, a typical day involves an assortment of in-home consultations, proposal meetings, design meetings and checking in on projects under construction.  As the franchisee grows their business they’ll focus more on big-picture strategy and long-term goals while their team handles the details of execution.

As franchisees develop their territory and maximize, many will look to develop additional territories and/or bring on more support, creating jobs in their communities and helping homeowners remodeling kitchens and bathrooms.

What’s your background?

I have experience in all facets of residential and commercial development, specifically in residential design and remodel, commercial design-build project delivery, land entitlements and insurance restoration.

Prior to founding my own businesses, I spent nearly eight years with a large commercial contractor in Modesto, CA, leading two separate divisions and implementing numerous new business elements. I directed a division specializing in commercial tenant improvements, repairs and insurance restoration, completing more than 300 projects over three years valued at more than $5 million. I also gained additional experience in design project management, directing a division specializing in design-build delivery of private commercial construction projects and overseeing more than 40 projects in a three-year period.

I also managed all contractual aspects of dozens of commercial construction projects — over 35 projects totaling more than 400,000 square feet of new construction and over $30 million of total project revenue.

I studied architecture, engineering and construction management at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, graduating with a degree in Construction Management in 2002.

What motivates you to keep going?

We’re driven and we want this model to spread like wildfire across the U.S. A big part of what motivates us is the fact that we’ve seen first-hand the fragmented home improvement industry. Our brand is a response to years spent working with and observing contractors who would overpromise and under-deliver. We had a vision to deliver on time, every time and we’ve made it the cornerstone of CRATE Franchise Systems.

But we know, in order to really succeed, our entire franchise system will need to continue to deliver optimal results. We realize that reputation in the home remodeling industry depends on the outcome of each project completed. When our post-project customer interviews are 100% positive and our franchisees — because of the growth of their respective businesses and the reputation they’ve built from satisfied customers — are asking to purchase additional territories, we’ll know we’ve made it.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

In retrospect, we should have moved more aggressively into a franchise model. Like anyone who creates a concept, it’s hard to actually “ship” when there’s even the smallest of adjustments to make. We probably spent a bit too long building the system and making sure all the parts and pieces worked. It’s critical to make sure the system works, of course, but I feel like we knew it was a hit earlier than we were willing to admit. Part of that was caution, but part of it was the perfectionist in us coming out. There’s always tension between making something perfect and actually getting it to market.

Please tell us your secret to success…

When it comes to our kitchenCRATE and bathCRATE concepts, the secret to success has been to live by our pledge to deliver projects on time, every time. I think another secret to success for us is really understanding how we fit in the home remodeling industry. We’ve streamlined two extremely important types of remodels — kitchens and bathrooms. That’s what we do and we do it very well.

But overall, it comes down to one word: remarkable. Each day we challenge ourselves and our team to be remarkable; that is, worthy of remark. Entrepreneur and author Seth Godin champions the concept, but we have borrowed it as our company mission. If you’re remarkable, the rest takes care of itself. But it’s a high bar to set!

What is the worst job you have ever had and what did you learn from it?

Growing up in Modesto, CA, most of the summer months were spent helping my father with his piano renovation business. Bare in mind, Modesto averages 95 degrees in the summer, and many days are in the 100s. And my father’s shop was wholly un-air conditioned!

Needless to say, hours spent stripping old pianos of their lacquer finish, sanding, staining and even stringing pianos in exceptional heat gave me a certain toughness. Whenever I have an unusually challenging day, I think back to those times and appreciate that, no matter what I’m dealing with, I’m most likely not about to pass out from heat stroke.

What is one trend that really excites you?

I’m really excited about the rise of virtual reality and how it will affect the remodel industry. One key struggle for many homeowners is visualizing their completed project. I think in the next 10 years software and hardware will mesh to provide high-resolution, easy-to-design, project complete “experiences” for customers that will give them peace-of-mind that what they’re getting (in their remodel) is what they want (in their head).

Of course, this software and hardware exists right now, but I’m looking forward to it being available to the masses.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Social media is such a powerful, fun, easy-to-use tool that it’s hard to not crown it our favorite. Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest are amazing resources for picture-friendly industries like home improvement, and we learn how to better use them each day!

Do you (or did you ever) have a mentor?

I’ve had the great fortune of learning from dozens of mentors over the years. Some great men and women have invested in my life from a business and/or professional perspective. Two come to mind: the first is my sister, a very successful president of a publishing company. Her intuition into our target customer is second-to-none and her ability to thoughtfully navigate a problem is a joy to watch (and something I benefit from!). She’s also one of my biggest cheerleaders.

The second is a business coach, Greg Campbell, who agreed to take us on about a year ago. He’s pushed us beyond what we thought we could do and offers a critical outside-perspective to our business. Greg’s decades of success in various sectors make him a wealth of knowledge. We’re lucky to chat with him weekly.

Any final words for aspiring entrepreneurs?

In my opinion, the biggest hurdle we all face is fear. Fear keeps us from taking risks, fear causes us to take too much risk, fear keeps us up at night and fear causes us to be lazy. Fear has been the root of any business issue with which I’ve struggled.

So, the name of the game is to acknowledge the fear, look it in the eye and then punch it directly in the nose.  Fear always shies away from a good fight… (and read Steven Pressfield’s The War of Art).

Where can people get more information on CRATE Franchise Systems franchise opportunities?

Visit the website here.

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