Owner of Orlando's Blown Away, LLC Provides Insight Into Successful Business Modeling
Ron Barnett has grown his business from the ground up in the last decade. Barnett's extensive audio interview explores the 'bigger picture' for growing your sweeping company.
by Ranger Kidwell-Ross
In ten years, Ron Barnett has grown his Blown Away, LLC operation from a sweat equity startup to 20 service vehicles and 40 employees. Plus, they are now offering a franchise system designed not just for startups, but for helping ensure profitability to current one- and two-sweeper contractors.
In 1999, Barnett tried to buy his way in as a partner in an existing sweeper contracting business. When negotiations ultimately fell through, he decided to start his own sweeping firm. Although Barnett says he didn't have a large amount of money to get into the business, he did have a strong sales background and a willingness to work as many hours as was necessary to do whatever was needed to get the job of sweeping done, make the sales calls, keep the sweepers operating well and anything else needed to make his fledgling company a success.
"Looking back," Barnett recalled ruefully, "my wife and I have photos showing us celebrating both New Years and the Fourth of July in a sweeper with a bottle of sparkling cider... and my personal record for work hours in a row is 51 total hours at work, four complete shifts. Those now show me a couple of things. One, that is no way to have a real life of quality. Secondly, no one should work that long, both for their own health and for safety considerations. I recall almost falling asleep that time when I was outside washing down the sweeper.
"That's one of the values we bring to the table with our franchise opportunity. It's important to have both a good income and a good quality of life. There are a lot of current contractors out there who don't know how to sidestep the mistakes that cost them money, time and, ultimately in many cases, their businesses. For example, many contractors simply don't recognize the concept of the density needed for efficient sweeping routes. Our economy has been so robust that people could be successful and yet run a company full of inefficiencies. Those days are now gone."
In his audio interview, Barnett talks about some of the big picture strategies that face sweeping company owners, often when they don't even know about them. They make short run decisions without recognizing what will happen in the long term when situations change. "I'm guilty in that regard, too, don't get me wrong," Barnett says with a laugh. "I have three trailers sitting in my yard right now because I didn't start out by getting the one I needed from the start. Instead, I kept growing into a larger trailer and it cost me at least twice as much as it would have if I'd bought the trailer I really needed from the start."
Barnett has a philosophy of equipment that existing contractors will appreciate, as well. In the audio, you'll hear a detailed analysis of exactly what drives their sweeper purchasing choices. "Our core driving principle," says Barnett, "is the needs of the properties. If you're not able to reach a volume of business that allows you to have the type of security that allows you to use multiple pieces of equipment, your business is at risk. And, the other big driving component is ease of repair. The cost of downtime for a contractor is an enormous one, and you want to work with a manufacturer that has engineering designs that take that into consideration."
When you finish listening to this interview you will have a host of thought-provoking ideas about how you run your own contracting business. Plus, you can hear a bit about Blown Away's franchise plans in a marketplace where Barnett believes small contractors will have a need to consolidate with larger contractors, and where larger firms will also be consolidating with other larger contractors.
The Florida market is one of the toughest in the nation in the time period when this interview was conducted. The ideas and information brought up by Ron Barnett bring to light a number of ideas that show why he has been able to grow Blown Away, LLC throughout the last decade, with big plans for the future. And, you'll be provided with some interesting ideas about the importance of having a positive quality of life at the same time.
Note: The following audio interview with Ron Barnett, which is approximately 60-minutes in length, will play without downloading any files onto your computer. If you hear the interview at 'chipmunk speed,' you will need to download the latest version of Adobe's free Flash player.
If you have questions or comments about this interview, please, let us know and we can add it in as an addendum to this article.
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