Top 500 Profile: License to Sell
authors Kyle Clapham | May 17, 2019
After graduating from high school, Ted Franssen worked as a subcontractor for a few different home improvement companies in Lincoln, Nebraska. The owner of ABC Seamless—one of his main employers—told Franssen about an impending opportunity to buy the company’s office in Grand Island, or central Nebraska, and encouraged him to purchase the business and move there.
“ABC in Lincoln basically said, ‘Ted, you go buy a truck, buy these ladders and a couple of planks, and I’ll give you a job,’” Franssen recalls of his very first gig in the home improvement industry. “So, I always had a loyalty to ABC, and I believed in the product. I’ve seen it, and I’ve seen what it [could do]. I’ve done all kinds of other products; it was definitely a quality product.”
The previous owner in Grand Island had never done much volume, which extended the learning curve for Franssen once he acquired the business. His background as an installer came in handy on the jobsite, but understanding how to sell home improvement projects to potential customers would dictate his success. After his first year, the office turned almost $1 million, Franssen says.
“I didn’t know the value of a franchise or the value of ABC until going into it and just believing it,” he explains. “I had the attitude that I’m not going to lose. I don’t fear anything. I just went out and did it. I said, ‘I’m going to do this, we’re going to do this—and let’s go make some money.’
“I never went to college, so going to franchise meetings and being able to talk with other dealers and that sort of thing was a huge benefit,” Franssen adds. “And they were very willing to talk to me and tell me the do’s and don’ts and all that other stuff. That part was very important for me.”
ABC Seamless produces steel roofing and gutters in addition to steel siding, soffit and fascia. For the last 18 years, Franssen also has been a dealer of TEMO outdoor living products, namely patio covers, sunrooms and pool and spa enclosures. He sells replacement windows and doors, too, as the cost of a quality lead keeps rising despite an increase in the online sources that provide them.
“Once these people buy from you—and they’re happy—they’re your customer for as long as you nurture them,” he says. “Then you market to them, and it gives you an opportunity to sell the rest of the products to them. That is why we’ve gotten into so many other [products]. We have repeat customers every year. Maybe they did siding last year, and this year they’re doing the windows.”
Converting a lead from the internet into a real-life appointment has become increasingly difficult for the company, though, Franssen notes. “It didn’t used to be this tough. If they were looking [in the past] it was like, ‘Yeah, we want you to come out,’” he says. “I think these [people] selling the leads, they’re selling them to too many [consumers]. And it’s ruining the credibility of that lead.”
Eventually, the franchise convinced Franssen to take over its three other locations in Nebraska—Lincoln, Omaha and North Platte—and resuscitate them like the Grand Island office, which sits just outside the city in Wood River. “If you’re not staying on top of them, they’ll go down pretty quick. All three of those I had to pick up and turn around to get them back in the black,” he says.
“We’ve got it down; the core foundation of our systems is set and in place,” Franssen adds. “But I will say this: It’s always a work in progress. There is a point where you’ve got to stay in a certain geographic [area] to stay profitable and to actually take care of your people. Geographically, I’m pretty content. We own pretty much all of Nebraska. We don’t really need any more [locations].”
The company continually evaluates new product lines, however, and plans to expand its offering soon, although Franssen cannot divulge any details. “We’re shooting for more volume from the locations that we have. Adding another product line, we can market that to those customers. And that’s how you do it: growing in different ways of marketing and adding to your customer base.”
Regardless of what the future might hold, he remains grateful for the opportunity he received from ABC Seamless nearly 25 years ago. “As a company and a business owner, you’re out there selling yourself and the product,” Franssen explains. “You’ve got to have a product that you can stand behind, and the manufacturer’s got to stand behind you. That’s exactly what they’ve done.
“With the franchise, you’re not just out there by yourself,” he adds. “You’re a part of something bigger than just you—a family, a team.” QR