Q&A with Dan Tarantin, president and CEO at Harris Research
Now in his 21st year in franchising, Dan Tarantin became CEO of Jackson Hewitt Tax Services at the ripe age of 31. Now, at 47, he is the president and CEO of Nashville-Tennessee-Harris Research, Inc., the parent company of Chem-Dry and N-Hance home services brands.
Chem-Dry Carpet Cleaning is a naturally cleaning service that removes allergens from carpets while simultaneously improving indoor air quality. The franchise has 3,500 locations across the world, 2,096 of which are located in the United States and Canada. N-Hance Wood Renewal is a restoration service for cabinets, floors and commercial services, with 363 franchised locations in the U.S. and Canada. While it hasn't crossed the pond yet, Tarantin says such a move is in the cards.
We spoke with Tarantin about how he landed his first CEO role at a young age, his opportunities for future expansion at Harris and what it's like to manage such a massive, sprawling pair of brands.
Franchise Times: What's it like to be at the helm of such a large global enterprise?
Dan Tarantin: It makes it interesting interacting with people from many different backgrounds. You get the international part of many different cultures. There's such a great commonality amongst everybody, because everyone has an entrepreneurial spirit. There's a unique bond between everybody.
FT: With so many international units with Chem-Dry already, why is Harris Research focused on adding additional units?
DT: The home services category is just so big that, even with the size we have, there are still plenty of opportunities for additional growth. There are a lot of opportunities for branding, and I feel home services in general is the next big category to embrace national brands. People are moving so often now that they look for familiarity with services providers who they trust to come into their homes.
FT: How important are online reviews and sites like Angie's List in the home services space?
DT: We encourage and help our franchisees pay attention to that, because it's a reality of how the world works these days. We encourage them to not only pay attention to focusing on customer service, but also to use it as a way to market themselves.
FT: How quickly have you been growing?
DT: We have availability in almost all of the areas that we're in. Last year we sold over 200 franchises. If you look at the industry, that's a pretty significant number. There aren't many franchisors that are selling that many units.
FT: How important is the health aspect of Chem-Dry's positioning?
DT: It's obviously important, because people are concerned about providing a healthy home for their children and pets. We just came out with a very large study that we did where [we showed] that our process removes 99 percent of allergens out of carpet and upholstery and 89 percent of the bacteria out of the air when we leave your house. That helps our franchisees be successful and makes a compelling case for our consumers.
FT: Being in so many countries, who's up and who's down these days?
DT: We have a portfolio theory. With 45 countries, some are going to be doing really well and some countries will be having some issues. Outside the U.S. is moving in a positive direction. We saw softening in Europe for the past few years, but we've seen that turn in the last year. The early success we've had in France and Spain has been very positive.
FT: Excluding your current role, what's been your favorite job in franchising?
DT: Excluding my current job, I would say my time spent at Jackson Hewitt. That was the first franchise system that I ran, and that's where I fell in love with franchising. I would credit it to some very good mentors I had in the company. We were a very performance-oriented culture, so it could have been a short stint, but fortunately it wasn't. We had great growth in those years and great franchisee growth, too.