Dwyer Group Brands Finally Acting ‘Neighborly’
Dwyer Group CEO Mike Bidwell says a longstanding company vision to market a family of brands is in place, and he's gearing up for a nearly $2 billion year.
Under the Neighborly flag that the company launched last March, Dwyer now operates 20 brands with more than 3,100 franchisees. Bidwell said he and the team have been focused on that comprehensive collection of brands for years, but the cross-pollination didn’t work that well at first.
“A few years ago, we were in seven service verticals and seven brands. Then we had never been able to promote the customer from one brand to another. We’ve always been focused on delivering premium service experiences to a customer. So we thought if we could do that, why wouldn’t we be able to promote them to another brand? But it’s never worked,” said Bidwell.
Bidwell started out as a franchisee in the Dwyer Group back in 1984, taking a job at corporate in the '90s. He said it took a long time to evolve to the point where the group could really deliver on that big goal.
“We remained focused on that objective. And as some things came together, one has been the fact that Dwyer got bigger and more scale. With that, we became more capable and more sophisticated. Then also, there was this evolving consumer preferences in the marketplace and how they get services: the web. We saw that as an opportunity to really accelerate growth and capture that dream,” said Bidwell. “So we thought that we could create an overarching group and create a destination or a place that would be all things about the home.”
But with seven service brands, there were still some big gaps in the service needs. So Dwyer got acquisitive—very acquisitive.
“In the last three and a half years, we’ve completed an acquisition every four months,” said Bidwell.
Cash flow from the more than $1 billion in sales helped, as did Dwyer’s private equity partner Riverside to help with additional capital and expertise as they picked up brand after brand in that short timeframe. And as they did, service company owners started reaching out, which Bidwell said was a huge vote of confidence. Some founders were ready to retire, others were ready to hand off some of the back-office work but still lead the brand.
And with the brands in place, the overarching Neighborly platform was born. And the longstanding goal of converting customers to other Dwyer brands could be realized.
“As we got this all in place, and we analyzed it, we asked, now that we have all this information, how many of the 1.5 million customers in the last two years have done business with our other brands. We found that it was less than 2 percent that had done business with another of our brands,” said Bidwell.
At that level, it was almost a coincidence when a customer used both Window Genie and Mr. Rooter, for example. But Bidwell said the Neighborly platform did wonders to connect the 20 service brands under one umbrella.
“Over the last year, we’ve improve that number by 30 percent,” said Bidwell.
He said they’re going to keep working on the platform, now in its second year. As always, he has some big goals.
“I think 100 percent would be great. That is kind of our aspirational number, why can’t we do it?” pondered Bidwell. “If they’re buying one of our services, they are a consumer of professional services, why can’t we just get them to use two? That would essentially double our business, so that’s an aspirational goal, but it’s achievable.”