MEET MASTER FRANCHISEE DARREN WILLIAMS
In his former profession as a stockbroker working in downtown Atlanta, Darren Williams experienced an “aha” moment. He discovered that cleaning companies were fetching more than $30,000 a month to service his building. “I was amazed. That’s what really planted the seed for me to enter the janitorial business,” he recalls.
Today, Williams, 40, is a master franchisee and regional director for Anago Cleaning Systems in Washington, D.C. He oversees 54 franchisees. Clients include multi-tenant offce buildings, sporting stadiums, and bowling alleys in the nation’s capital. Williams’s franchise was the offcial cleaning service of the 2012 Citi Open (formerly the Legg Mason Tennis Classic). He also counts Jenny Craig, Amtrak, and multiple embassies as clients.
Making the shift to Main Street from Wall Street was not easy. Williams’s greatest obstacle was coming up with the funding. He and two business partners (younger brother Michael and lifelong friend Roscoe Hamilton) bought the master franchise rights to the Washington, D.C., territory in 2002, pooling together their resources aer being turned down for bank loans. They used personal savings and the sale proceeds from a previously owned single-unit janitorial franchise (not Anago) in Atlanta to obtain startup and operating capital. Anago agreed to help finance their endeavor.
Williams chose Anago over other janitorial firms because of its direct personal relationship with franchise owners. He met and worked out a deal with Anago’s chairman and CEO David Povlitz a week after contacting the company.
Founded in 1989, Anago Cleaning Systems out of Pompano Beach, Florida, has more than 2,200 unit locations nationwide, of which 89% are minority owned. As a master franchisee, Williams’s sales team finds cleaning contracts for Anago franchisees he recruits to the area. He also helps provide the necessary tools to run their business, including cleaning supplies and equipment. He also offers training in customer service, collections, help securing janitorial contracts, and other support. Financing is also available for units from master franchisees.
Williams says it took nearly two years to become profitable. He expects to post revenues of nearly $2.5 million this year and around $3 million for 2013. He became a master franchisee because the income potential is greater than that of a single-unit owner. He gets a franchising fee from his recruits plus a 10% royalty of their annual sales. He also charges fees for services such as insurance, bonding, workers’ compensation, and financing equipment such as carpet-cleaning machines. “It’s the best decision I ever made.”