The deck and outdoor living space refurbishment leader is all about building relationships.
A passion for working with people. A desire to provide long-term solutions.
Oh, and a strong interest in working outdoors.
Unless you possess these traits, don’t even bother asking Jeff Konopack about franchising.
Konopack is the vice president of franchise development for Deck Medic. Based in Frankfort, Illinois, Deck Medic is all about improving outdoor deck spaces. Deck Medic’s services include deck cleaning, minor wood repairs, sanding and staining.
Outdoor decks are the name of the game, but Deck Medic also takes care of fences, pergolas, gazebos - “pretty much any outdoor wood living space like that that you would use for enjoyment,” Konopack said.
The company has been around since 1990, but it only started franchising in 2016. Most of the company’s recent growth has been outside of Illinois. Deck Medic now has 11 franchises all around the country - and the brand is looking for more franchisees.
The decision to franchise Deck Medic happened in 2012 and was carefully thought out. The company considered simply expanding its employee base in other locations, but ultimately the idea to franchise won.
“An employee cares about his check in two weeks,” Konopack said. “Owners care about their customers coming back in two years and we’re all about repeat business. With decks you’re redoing those jobs every two to three years.”
That repeat business leads to long-term relationships with clients, which Konopack identifies as the main reason that he’s been with Deck Medic since 2008.
“I really like the repeat business,” he said. “I like the fact that you get to know these customers. You’re back every two to three years. You know what they like, you know the parties that they have typically every year. You know what’s going on in their life. You kind of almost see their kids grow up as you go and they’re good customers and we see the kids grow up and the kids buy houses and the kids have us out to do their decks. Makes you start to feel really old but I like the relationships that we build with the customers and also with the employees.”
Like any growing franchise, Deck Medic has seen its share of challenges along the way. Konopack cited “different oddball rules” across states that make franchising more difficult than it should be. He understands why some states may want to protect the businesses within that state.
“It’d be nice if it was federal, if it was just one set of guidelines,” he said. “What we go through - and every state’s a little different, some are easy, some are hard - there are states we don’t even mess with because they’re just nightmare states to deal with. And so people in that state lose out on the opportunity to buy a franchise because we’re not going to even bother trying to get registered there because the state makes it so hard because they don’t want it.”
When evaluating prospective franchisees, superb communication skills and a desire to work with people and put customers and employees first are crucial for Deck Medic. Of course, prospective franchisees must also have a desire to work outdoors. This is, after all, a deck company. Konopack is also a Deck Medic franchisee who owns three locations, so he would know.
“A prospective franchisee has to be a people person,” Konopack said. “You’ve got to care about doing quality work, you’ve got to care about the people you’re working with, you’ve got to care about their issues or problems. Starting with Cinco de Mayo all the way to Fourth of July, my life is all about parties that I’m not invited to. Every single weekend, one weekend after another, I’ve got to stop and worry about this party and that party and there’s several every weekend that I’ve got to make sure we have projects done in time for.”
Right now, Deck Medic is focused on figuring out what works for the company in terms of marketing and franchisee recruitment. One thing is for certain, though: Deck Medic prides itself on having a friendly company culture where franchisees have a protected territory and are willing to help each other out and are generous with their knowledge.
Validation calls are usually what seal the deal for Deck Medic, Konopack said, turning prospective franchisees into franchisees who are 100 percent committed to the company’s mission. Finding the right franchisee is “the hardest part about this whole thing,” he said.
But great things happen when that perfect fit comes. Konopack and his team take their craft very seriously, and he noted how impressed prospective customers are with the vast knowledge he and his team possess.
“We’re not here for short-term solutions,” he said. “We’re here for long-term solutions.”