This Entrepreneur's Franchise Made More Than $1 Million This Year — And it All Started Because of a Devastating Water Leak A homeowner saw a disaster, but this entrepreneur saw a gap in the market — and a franchise opportunity.

By Carl Stoffers

Key Takeaways

  • Fatima Landa recognized a significant opportunity in the water restoration industry when she encountered unprofessional work during one of her husband's construction jobs.
  • Instead of just noting the poor service, she saw it as a chance to fill a gap in the market.
  • She went on to establish her own franchise in this sector, which rapidly succeeded, surpassing the $1 million revenue mark within a short period.

Homeowners dread the inconvenience of a water leak, with its inevitable attached costs. But for entrepreneur Fatima Landa, that inconvenience became an unexpected inspiration. In a strange twist, a domestic disaster paved the way for a successful franchise business venture that has already exceeded $1 million in revenue this year.

"We were on a job [for my husband's construction company] where there was a water leak," says Landa, a United Water Restoration Group franchisee in Oregon. "The restoration company that was there was unprofessional; the techs acted like they didn't care. We realized there was an opportunity there."

That opportunity led to her becoming a UWRG franchisee in February 2021. Since then, she overcame initial operational struggles to build the franchise into a $1 million juggernaut.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

Cleaning franchise

Landa began franchising with Prestige Cleaning in 2013. Getting into the commercial cleaning business was tough for Landa, whose background was in loan modification at Wells Fargo. "Competition in the commercial cleaning business is rough," Landa says. "It seems like everyone has a cleaning business. It's tough for sure."

Another challenge in the cleaning business is hiring and keeping employees. "Your churn rate is higher than any other job because it's not someone's main source of income," she says. "It's normally a part-time job to get extra income. It's not a career. It's kind of a side hustle."

Today, she is 10 years into her first franchise venture, which remains a successful — if challenging — franchise. It was good training for her next venture, Prestige Home Construction, a small, non-franchise home improvement and renovation company she started with her husband in 2014.

Disaster — and opportunity

Landa was at a job site with her husband for the construction company when a restoration company arrived and began working. She immediately noticed the lack of quality, both in the company's personnel and work. Soon, she encountered the same issue at another site.

"We were on these jobs and we're thinking, Oh, gosh, there's no way that this technician should show up looking like this," she says. "And we would have to fix the weird types of patches and improper work they were doing. So we thought, How do we get there from the beginning and provide service from beginning to end? We saw that as an opportunity."

Landa began researching and realized that there was a lack of restoration companies in her area. She opened a United Water Restoration Group franchise in 2021. The company specializes in infrastructure restoration following incidents such as water, fire and smoke damage, mold treatments and construction services. The company frequently handles jobs arising from outdated electrical and plumbing systems, ongoing property refurbishments and old HVAC units.

Related: Become a Franchise Owner in 5 Easy Steps

$1 million in revenue this year

Barely two years into a year into her journey, the business has exceeded Landa's expectations. The success of the business — it has already passed the $1 million revenue mark for the year — has been hard-earned.

"There have been a lot of ups and downs," she says. "A lot of difficult jobs, a lot of stress. A lot of good moments, too." The trying times included a brief period early in the franchise when Landa was struggling to get things operating.

She took the coaching and counsel and really ran with it and turned it around, and now they're just on fire.

"She [Landa] raised her hand and said, 'I'm struggling. We need some help,'" says Bob Moore, VP of development for UWRG. "My VP of operations went out for a visit and helped to get them on track." Following the visit, things began to run smoothly, and the franchise took off. "She [Landa] took the coaching and counsel and really ran with it and turned it around, and now they're just on fire."

Evan Landa is surprised at the swift success of the franchise. "I can't even believe that we have been successful in such a short amount of time," she says.

Pairing businesses

Landa explained that the construction company is basically a division of her company now and works hand-in-hand with the restoration franchise. It's all part of the start-to-finish service Landa envisioned when she saw that water leak four years ago.

"Because the water restoration has taken off, we're like two departments [or] two divisions now. I'm fully in charge of water restoration, and my husband is in charge of the repairs. We are a full-service water restoration company now, where we do the water and then we do the repairs to put your house back to pre-loss condition."

Related: How to Find the Best CRM for Your Franchise

Entering a male-dominated industry

Landa has encountered challenges entering the male-dominated industry of remediation firms, which is closely related to other male-dominated occupations such as construction. "There's been a couple of times where a client has said, 'I want to talk to your boss,' or 'I want to meet with your boss,' to one of my marketers or my project managers," she says. "And when I show up, they're like, 'Oh, gosh, I was expecting a 200-pound man.'"

There's really nothing that I don't know of what they do. I know how to do the job.

She credits her strong knowledge of the industry with helping her overcome any pushback from men in the industry. "They don't realize how much knowledge I have. It's tough, but I set my foot down where it's all about respect. And there's really nothing that I don't know of what they do. I know how to do the job."

Low barriers to entry in many markets

The restoration and remediation industry is highly competitive, driven by booming housing markets and relatively low barriers to entry in some markets. "For the kind of revenue we can generate, though, it's still very affordable in terms of an investment level," UWRG's Moore says. "You can drive pretty significant revenues before you have to start to reinvest in more vans and equipment and things like that."

The industry includes several national giants, such as ServPro (2,199 units) and Service Master Restore (2,300 units) and dozens of smaller, national franchises as well.

Licensing and regulation also vary widely from state to state. States such as Florida, Texas and New York have specific licensing requirements for companies and technicians to work in the industry. However, states such as Alabama, Michigan and Nevada have little or no licensing requirements, enabling virtually anyone to enter the market.

Recognizing opportunities, leveraging systems

Landa turned a household inconvenience into a thriving franchise business, capitalizing on an identified service gap in the professional restoration sector. Despite a challenging start and operating in a predominantly male-dominated industry, the franchise exceeded the $1 million revenue mark within just over two years.

Leveraging synergies with her husband's construction company, Landa has put her idea for comprehensive water restoration services, from initial restoration to final repairs, into practice.

Carl Stoffers

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Business Editor

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