Rebrand First, Then Sales Push for New Ace Franchise
Ace Hardware acquired Handyman Matters, with 57 franchisees across 23 states, and will rebrand all stores to Ace Handyman Services.
Ace Hardware, No. 5 on this year’s Franchise Times Top 200+ list, plans a major franchising push starting the second quarter of next year for Handyman Matters, the Denver-based home improvement service chain Ace acquired in September.
First, though, Ace will work on rebranding all of Handyman Matters stores to a new name, Ace Handyman Services, and integrating the brands with Ace’s websites and lead-generation system.
The franchise has 57 franchisees across 23 states, and Ace President and CEO John Venhuizen said there’s strong interest in adding Ace Handyman Services in all the places with Ace retail stores, numbering 4,559 in the United States as of last year.
“It’s a nice strategic fit for us, we believe,” Venhuizen said in an interview yesterday, noting Ace’s move up from No. 6 in the Franchise Times ranking published in October. “We’ve got really good momentum in our stores. We just read your article in the Top 200+. We’ve had a lot of momentum and we feel this tucks in nicely to fuel additional momentum.”
Ace has made “four or five” acquisitions in the past, he said, but this is the first in the service sector. “At a high level, it’s a good fit. The truth of the matter is our customers have been begging us for this,” he said.
Although he declined to give a number as to how many units of the new brand Ace expects to sell, he said, “The opportunity is significant. Right now those 57 franchisees really only cover about 10 percent of the United States households, whereas our retail base covers 85 percent. We don’t want to set numeric goals. There’s easily 10 times the number” than are open now.
The founder of Handyman Matters, Andy Bell, will continue to be the CEO. “I hope he stays until he’s a hundred years old. We like what they’re doing,” said Venhuizen. “The reasons we were interested, we really liked their system and their training, and it’s scalable.”
Average unit volume at Handyman Matters was $868,000 for the top quartile of operators and $488,000 for the second quartile. The franchise fee is $20,000; the territory fee is $35,000 to $40,000; and other costs of investment range from $91,000 to $137,000, according to the franchise disclosure document.