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Cleaning Up and Helping Others

Cleaning Up and Helping Others
How one fast-growth cleaning company found community and purpose with the help of Vistage.

When AdvantaClean Systems helped a family tackle water damage in their home, the franchisee soon discovered a more serious mold problem. Unfortunately, the family’s insurance wouldn’t cover the cleanup. The unhealthy conditions meant the parents couldn’t bring their young daughter, who had terminal cancer, back home for hospice care. The franchisee stepped up and donated its services so she could spend her final days with her family.

CEO and Founder Jeff Dudan and the AdvantaClean team, headquartered in Huntersville, North Carolina, were deeply moved by this experience in 2008. The franchisee soon began reaching out to local cancer institutions, such as St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, offering to help families in any way they could. “It’s our job as leaders to take action on things that are going to make a difference,” says Dudan. AdvantaClean has since raised money for St. Jude’s and Hemby Children’s Hospital, a partner in Charlotte, North Carolina, with the Braylon Beam Celebrity Golf Classic and other fundraisers. In 2016, AdvantaClean entered into a strategic partnership with St. Jude. The goal is to help the world understand, treat and defeat childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases.

The company’s commitment to the community has had an unexpected side benefit. It has become a key differentiator for the 23-year-old business, which specializes in resolving the issues that take place in people’s homes when moisture gets into places where it doesn’t belong. “It’s become a positive rallying point,” Dudan says. “It really helps us attract the right people to join our brand. Our services are not sexy. We’re doing work in people’s homes and businesses that they would rather not do themselves.”

Belonging to Vistage has helped Dudan build a fast-growing company around a culture that cares. He joined the leadership training and executive coaching organization in 2011, when AdvantaClean was about two years into franchising.

At the time, Dudan was, like many, an overextended business owner, tackling almost every key area of the company—sales, operations, finance and training—on his own. Both his group’s Chair, veteran business executive Dave Zerfoss, and his fellow members proved to be valuable guides. Tapping their insights, he built a strong team of executives who now run the brand according to the company’s number one value: community.

“Vistage has been a tremendous influence on me in the way I have built the organization, in the people I have hired, in how we have really been able to identify and clarify our values and operate our business according to those values,” Dudan says. “Any time I wasn’t sure about a priority or initiative, I was able to take it to my Vistage group or monthly coaching sessions with Dave.”

AdvantaClean’s growth has accelerated rapidly along the way. Today, it has 40 company employees and 100 groups of owners with franchises in 230 territories spanning 34 states. Running such a complex operation might seem daunting, but Dudan is confident, thanks to his membership in Vistage. “If you get stuck, you’ve got somewhere to go where people are going to give their best effort to help you out,” he says.

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