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Before You Grow, Focus on Building a Strong Reputation As a Green Home Solutions franchisee, Jason Toliver works to make customers' homes safer and healthier. He's focused on earning their trust-because his business depends on it.

By Stephanie Schomer

This story appears in the December 2020 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Green Home Solutions

When Jason Toliver signed on to be a Green Home Solutions franchisee, he knew he was entering a crowded market. The mold-remediation franchise, which operates 208 locations nationwide, has plenty of competition in his local Baltimore area. But those competitors, Toliver says, are often keen on tearing down walls to remove mold in homes. Green Home, in contrast, focuses on surface and air treatment, using proprietary products that can eliminate mold without renovations. To Toliver, that was an opportunity worth betting on, and three years later, he has three territories and has experienced his best months ever in 2020.

Prior to joining Green Home Solutions, you were a franchisee with Wireless Zone. What was the biggest challenge when you made that shift?

Wireless Zone is an authorized Verizon retailer, so when you open a location, it's pretty turnkey — everyone already knows Verizon. But with Green Home, even though it is a franchise, we didn't start with that name recognition locally. It was like starting a business and building that branding on my own.

Related: Why You Should Build a Personal Reputation Before Starting a Business

How did you do that?

One of the things that really hit home during my initial training was the idea of grassroots marketing — getting out there, creating those relationships with real estate agents, real estate investors, and property managers, because that's how you get referrals. It's kind of like cold-calling. We'll go to agents' offices, make an intro, and ask to schedule a lunch-and-learn: a 20-­minute presentation on what we do and who we are, and we bring lunch and refreshments. It's been a big hit — once those agents realize we're not trying to sell them something but rather help them solve problems quickly and get them to the settlement table, they want to hear more.

Is there a strong sense of community among franchisees within the system?

A lot of it is really regional — we have WhatsApp groups where we can bounce ideas off each other and send questions, so there's a ton of support there. And with corporate — whether I'm trying to contact a franchisee or someone at headquarters — everyone is very eager to help.

Related: She Sold Her Co-Working Business and Joined a Giant Competitor. Here's Why.

This year seems like a great time to be in the air-quality business. How did the pandemic impact you?

At first, people didn't want us in their homes. But then by July, things started to pick up. August was our best month ever, and then September outpaced August. My goal is to continue to grow, and I'm thinking about making a new hire — but the uncertainty around the economy, and even the future course of the pandemic, is making me hesitant. Is this the best time to invest? Or do I get through the winter first? Those are my considerations now.

Once 2020 is behind us, what are your long-term goals?

I want to expand into new territories, but I'm focused on growing responsibly. I'm a consumer, too, and as a consumer, if a company makes a mistake, it's all about how they handle it. I want to make sure that as we expand, we can maintain our level of excellence and address any problems immediately. We've got great reviews right now because we work hard to do things the right way. I want to keep my hands wrapped around that while we grow.

Stephanie Schomer

Entrepreneur Staff

Deputy Editor

Stephanie Schomer is Entrepreneur magazine's deputy editor. She previously worked at Entertainment WeeklyArchitectural Digest and Fast Company. Follow her on Twitter @stephschomer.

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