By Susan Ellis
Projects Editor, Memphis Business Journal
Feb 22, 2022
Water damage can be insidious. A small hole in a roof or an undetected dishwasher leak can cause thousands of dollars of damage as well as an outbreak of harmful mold.
That’s where 1-800 Water Damage comes in.
1-800 Water Damage is a property damage restoration business that is part of Michigan-based Belfor Franchise Group, which specializes in residential and commercial services.
The franchise is looking to enter the Memphis market.
“A common question that we get from people looking at the business is, ‘Why would I ever have an issue? I don’t live in Miami or New Orleans.’ The answer is anywhere where there is plumbing, anywhere where there is rain, snow, or fires, there’s the need for our services,” said Ken Osness, VP of franchise development for Belfor.
Among the services 1-800 Water Damage offers are water and flood damage restoration, mold remediation, sewage cleanup, fire and smoke damage restoration, critical cleaning, and sanitizing.
Osness said that weather does not determine whether or not a city is attractive to 1-800 Water Damage, though he points out that Memphis’ recent storms have made a case for the business.
Belfor is currently in expansion mode. They planted their flag with about 20 locations in 2016 and are at nearly 200 locations in 40 cities now.
Osness said they like to go into cities with around 400,000 in population. Franchisees work in territories and often buy two territories at a time.
The franchise fee for 1-800 Water Damage is $59,000, with an additional $40,000 for the equipment. Osness said they will finance up to 85% of start-up costs.
The ideal franchisee is someone with the “helping gene.”
“This is the kind of work that you’re going to find people at their worst moment in life,” Osness said. “If you have six inches of water in your house and all of your prized possessions are floating around the home, you’re not going to be too happy. So, we need people who have a desire to help people.”
Franchisees typically start the business with themselves and one technician to help, Osness said. As the business grows, more technicians are hired.
Osness said that one advantage of the 1-800 Water Damage brand is that they have the family of Belfor franchises to collaborate with, covering everything from duct cleaning and drywall to cabinet refinishing and dumpster rental.
“One of our favorite phrases around here is, ‘We provide everything needed to build a great business, just add water,” Osness said.