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Smooth Sailing

Even on the busiest days, life's a breeze for this Super Clean Yacht Service franchisee.
May 27, 2003
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/62154

"Growing up, I lived on Lake Erie and my family had boats, so it was kind of in my blood," says Mark Cassidy. In other words, it makes perfect sense that Cassidy, 38, would find his life's calling in two yachting businesses--a yacht brokerage and a Super Clean Yacht Service detailing franchise.

Two years ago, Cassidy joined the Super Clean franchise to supplement his income as yacht sales slowed. "The maintenance business of the yacht industry is a lot more stable than the sales business," he says. "Even though [the franchise] required a lot of effort and a lot of work, it was a way for me to [be more financially stable]."

For the time being, Cassidy's franchise, based in the Southern California beach community of Huntington Harbour, does require, well, a lot of work. Cassidy's workday actually starts the night before, when he checks his schedule and assigns employees to their various tasks--either doing wash downs, waxing, varnishing/teak restoration or interior/carpet cleaning.

The next day, Cassidy heads to the office and gets his employees' equipment and supplies ready. Cassidy's seven employees arrive shortly after and are given their assignments for the day. Then it's time to head to the job sites, where Cassidy meets each of his employees to make sure they fully understand what they need to do and have everything they need to get the job done.

Once his employees are established at their various jobs, Cassidy heads back to the office, where he makes phone calls, arranging estimates, scheduling jobs and following up on completed jobs to make sure customers are satisfied. He also calls past customers to remind them when they're due for new services.

"Generally, I'm not meeting the customers in person. Most of our relationship is over the phone," explains Cassidy, who speaks with five to 10 customers a day. For estimates, Cassidy can give the customer a ballpark estimate over the phone, but he'll usually go and see the boat in person, taking digital photos of the project to examine at the office, before faxing or e-mailing a written quote.

Many of Cassidy's customers are getting scheduled service--washings every week or every other week, waxing and varnishing/teak restoration every six weeks and interior/carpet cleaning on an as-needed basis. These regular customers do get priority scheduling, and Super Clean employees do weekend work for these customers in some instances.

At the end of the day, Cassidy goes back to the various job sites to check up on his employees' work. He also likes to do a final inspection of completed jobs to give everything a once-over before the customer sees it. "[I'm doing] quality control on an ongoing basis, to make sure the work is up to par," he says.

For now, the yacht-detailing franchise is consuming most of Cassidy's time, and his yacht brokerage is on the back burner. "I plan on spending more time with the brokerage business once I get to a point where I can afford to do that," he says. "Right now, the main emphasis is growing the detailing business. [It's] in its infancy and is going to take a lot of time."

Just because Cassidy is working the long hours now--up to 10-hour days in the warmer months--that doesn't mean he expects his days to be this packed forever. "I don't see working these hours in a year or two," he says. "Once the business plateaus to a point I'm comfortable with, I'm probably going to be working more 9-to-5 days."

But even with all the work, Cassidy still feels completely fortunate to be running this franchise. "This allows me to spend most of my day outside working on the water," he says. "You can't beat the environment."