When a devastating hurricane strikes, many people want to head to safety and security.
This week’s guest did the opposite.
Jeff Dudan is the Franchise Executive for Dudan Partners, and the Founder and former CEO of AdvantaClean. Originally started as a painting business, AdvantaClean became a cleanup company in the wake of a devastating hurricane in South Florida. Jeff is also an author and member of YPO.
In this episode, host John Corcoran welcomes Jeff Dudan to talk about starting AdvantaClean and growing it to over 200 franchises, why he decided to sell the company, and some other projects that Jeff is working on.
Here’s a Glimpse of What You’ll Hear:
- Jeff’s Story of Growing Up
- How Jeff’s Painting Business Turned into a Cleanup Business
- Staying After a Hurricane Instead of Running Away
- Scaling Up into the Franchise Model
- The Challenges of Having Franchises
- Jeff’s Experience in YPO
- Why Jeff Decided to Sell the Business
- The Autonomous Lawn Mower Technology that Jeff is Involved In
- Other Projects Jeff is Leading
- Jeff’s Book Hey, Coach
- The Experience of Being on the Undercover Boss TV Show
- Who Jeff Thanks for His Success
Today’s episode is sponsored by Rise25 Media, where our mission is to connect you with your best referral partners, clients, and strategic partners. We do this through our done for you business podcast solution and content marketing.
Along with my business partner Dr. Jeremy Weisz, we have over 18 years of experience with B2B podcasting, which is one of the best things you can do for your business and you personally.
If you do it right, a podcast is like a “Swiss Army Knife” – it is a tool that accomplishes many things at once. It can and will lead to great ROI, great clients, referrals, strategic partnerships, and more. It is networking and business development; and it is personal and professional development which doubles as content marketing.
A podcast is the highest and best use of your time and will save you time by connecting you to higher caliber people to uplevel your network.
To learn more, go to Rise25.com or email us at [email protected].
To learn more, book a call with us here.
Check out Rise25 to learn more about our done-for-you lead generation and done-for-you podcast services.
John Corcoran 0:40
Alright welcome everybody. My guest on the show is Jeff duden. And you know, back in 1994, shortly after graduating from college with a degree in marketing, Jeff founded a small business painting student housing and not too long after he was in South Florida and hurricane Florida just clobbered. South Florida and the company turned to helping with the claim. And over the next 20 years or so the company became advanta clean grew to over 200 franchise franchises. hundreds of employees 10s of thousands of clients and he even grew as he was growing up. The company eventually became an Undercover Boss on the TV show Undercover Boss an episode of that if you’ve seen that show before. And now most recently, he sold the business recently and today advises other companies in the franchise industry and growth strategy. So in this episode, we’re going to talk about Jeff’s journey of scaling up advantage clean, but we’ll also talk about some of the advantages from a business owners perspective of pursuing a franchise model because I know that’s something that people are are interested in curious about. there’s pros and cons. So we’re going to talk about that. But first, if you’re new this show, take a moment think about what are some of the most important factors in your career so far? I’m going to guess that when you really just don’t distill down your career, one of the most important things is relationships, relationships really make all the difference and this podcast is about talking to top leaders, CEOs, founders and experts, and asking them to break down their business and the key relationships with clients, mentors, peers, referral partners and influencers that are the backbone of any business and to share how you can do it too. And so that’s what we do in this podcast. And if you enjoy this, which I know you will, all we ask is that you subscribe so you receive those downloads automatically and you keep focusing on this critical piece in anyone’s career in anyone’s business. And before we get to this interview This podcast is brought to you by rise 25 Media it’s our done for you agency focusing on helping b2b businesses to get more clients referral partners and strategic partners through done for you podcasts and done for you content marketing, and our company has over 20 years of experience with podcasting what I’m doing right here today, we believe that starting a podcast is one of the best things you can do for your business. And you personally, if you do it, right, it’s so many things in one, its business development, networking, client acquisition, referral, marketing, and more. It even allows you to have a conversation with people whose work you admire and to learn from them like I’m up I’m about to do with my buddy Jeff here. So if that is of interest, you go Ride 25 dot com you can learn more about it. So as I mentioned, my guest is Jeff student and Jeff know you got your start after college, you started this painting business, and then bam, Hurricane Florida hits and talk about turning lemons and lemonade. You pivot the business but I’m curious to know, what was that process like, you know, at what point did you say okay, we’re no longer a painting company. Now we’re going to be a cleanup company What did it happen right away where they’re like no opportunities painting at that point. So you had to pivot come pump company, take us through that process.
Jeff Dudan 3:35
Be happy to and want to thank you for the opportunity of being here today and thinking about your opening comments. One of my mentors, Dave, zero, false, always shared with me that our lives are going to be impacted by the books that we read, the people that we meet and the conversations that we have, and the relationship equity that we build along the way. So relationships matter and, and I appreciate your opening comments on that. So Really quickly in the story but so I grew up in Chicago as a as a mediocre student basketball player got exposed to football late as a junior in high school and I decided it was something that I wanted to pursue so had a couple of false starts in college but I ended up as a junior college transfer getting a football scholarship out to Appalachian State University in Boone North Carolina in 1989. And when I got there it was I drove my my mom had given me her car to get there and it was a one way trip it died up in student housing on the hill behind the university and I think it’s probably still there because I never did go back to get it
John Corcoran 4:42
sounds like the cars I drove in college.
Jeff Dudan 4:44
Absolutely, absolutely. So so but I in going to school there and I became a very serious student and playing football. They’re being impacted by the by the coaches and the opportunity that I had as I honored that opportunity. with hard work, but I needed money. And I was used to working the trades in Chicago and making really good wages, and it just wasn’t there and in a college town. So I said, Well, I was a painter back in Chicago and one of my various jobs. So let’s start a painting company. So with my roommate, at the time, we started the painting business. And we very quickly became the largest painting company in town doing student housing and we would use the athletes who stayed over the summer to paint we’d have the basketball players cutting in the ceilings, because they didn’t need ladders, and we’d have the wrestlers running the baseboards and the football players would be on a big 18 inch roller that we had constructed that we could so we could paint really fast. So we would paint apartments. And that’s what we did. So that business grew over the summers that we were there. And then when I graduated, I really had become an entrepreneur and it was looking around and I took one job interview and it just it just didn’t sit well with me and I, I was waiting there. And in the in the interim, an interesting fact my younger brother, Mike was he was washing cars at schomburg Toyota, he was going to the same community college that I had went to and I said, Well, why don’t you come out and get your driver’s license, go back live at home for a year. And then when you come back, you’ll be able to get in state tuition and you can work in the painting business and you could live in the house that I had purchased from somebody no money down, owner financed and run the painting business and put yourself through college. And he ended up doing that and became an excellent student. He got a job with Arthur Andersen out of college, and then he ended up as the CFO of the Carolina Panthers. Wow. And so so he led the transaction from the as the CFO with the Panthers when they the Richards sin family sold it to the Tepper family recently. And then he resigned from there and now we work together in our in our business. So we Get to work together again after 30 years off.
Unknown Speaker 7:03
Yeah, cool. That’s a great reunited.
Jeff Dudan 7:06
Yeah. So So we started this painting business and it went gray. Hurricane Andrew hit South Florida and I had a Buddy call me and he said, Look, this hurricanes down here. So my partner and I drove down. We saw the opportunity there to help the people in South Florida recover. And we started doing some jobs we actually threw in with another company for a little while to help us with licensing and, and that and then after 18 months, the storm was winding down. And we had met two other gentlemen so we decided to start the company in 1994 that would one day become advanta clean.
John Corcoran 7:39
I’m just stopping for a second there. So the painting business was going okay, but you just kind of like left it behind. You just figured there was a bigger opportunity to go help with the cleanup in South Florida.
Jeff Dudan 7:49
The painting business was really student housing around Appalachian State University in Boone and and it was seasonal. So at the end You know, when the when the kids are all moved in? I mean, it was really? Yeah, we had a couple of big, big things. So, yeah, we just took a flyer and my son asked me a couple weeks ago he was because he’s my son’s a senior at Ilan University, economics and finance. And he’s trying to decide what he wants to do. And he’s like, How in the world did you decide to drive from Boone North Carolina to south and I really don’t remember, but, you know, half a life is showing up. And there’s a lesson in that and, you know, when you’re, you know, what, you know, don’t ask yourself why ask yourself, why not? Yeah,
John Corcoran 8:32
yeah, it was also you know, a lot of people flee a natural disaster they go away from it. So the idea I mean, I guess a restoration company naturally would be going going towards some something that needs cleanup, but you know, that that’s an interesting approach.
Jeff Dudan 8:47
That’s right. That’s right. Fire a fireman run in. And, you know, and, and, you know, if you, you know, we that’s what we do as well in that industry.
John Corcoran 8:56
Yeah, yeah. So, take me through the growth trajectory, then after Hurricane Andrew wraps up, then you move on to just kind of moving into more commercial and residential and for lack of a better term run of the mill, you know, fires and floods and stuff like that.
Jeff Dudan 9:15
Exactly. So we moved up to Orlando when we started our first location, my job, my responsibility was to be the marketing guy. And to get the first accounts and contracts, there was four of us together. And, and then after one, I agreed to do it for one year at that point, I was engaged to be married and we had decided we wanted to live and raise our family in the Carolinas. So I moved back up to Charlotte, North Carolina and got married and started our second location here. between 95 and 2004. The partners were bought out one by one, just differences of opinion or with them wanting to do something different. And then in 2004, I bought my last partner out, and that’s really when the growth of the company started to go. I think it’s Very important when you think about partnerships, and some people say, partnerships and sinking ships, you should avoid them all. But I don’t. I don’t subscribe to that necessarily. I think that, but you have to have aligned partnerships and from from the ability, you know, people’s desire to take on risk, and, you know, shared vision, shared fate and things like that, right. So in 2004, we had some hurricanes that ran across Florida, and it provided the opportunity from a cash flow perspective to buy out my last partner, Dan looby, who I will say was one of my mentors. And we can chat about that. And then in 2000, so we hired some consultants and we reorganized the company, and it was around this concept of franchising it. Then Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. And between 2004 and 2005, we had built a complete mobile fleet with campers and trucks and generators and technology of the day, which was wireless devices and little networks and stuff. So we basically built a mobile response division.
John Corcoran 11:08
And was this day in anticipation that you know, when another disaster comes, you would come in.
Jeff Dudan 11:13
That’s right. That’s right. And also to be able to do large projects, we have become a pretty sophisticated contractor working in hospitals and universities and those types of situations, a lot of institutional work, and government contracting is something else that we had learned how to do. So we responded, and I remember and this was recently developed for me doing another interview for somebody else’s a book that they were writing, but it was talking about the decision points of how you make your decisions. And I remember when I was driving up from Katrina, we had we had established the Katrina response. I had been down there for three months, and I was driving up and I was I had missed my son’s first football season. And to me, you know, I was like, wow, I said, you know, we’re growing to be a national company, and we really have an opportunity to do it. But I think to do it, I think I’m gonna have to be on the road all the time. And to me, you know, that was unacceptable. And, you know, I’ve come to understand that, you know, our values, our true values are what we tolerate. And for me, you know, being on the road, and, you know, missing my children’s ability to grow up, it just wasn’t something I wanted to tolerate. And I so that’s what I really threw myself back in to the franchising piece of it. And I said in so a month or two later, I called a company meeting and I said, I said, we have this great, you know, many multi million dollar business running, I said, but we’re going to sell all of our friends. We’re going to sell all of our stores under a franchise model. And we’re going to keep this commercial services group that will romp and stomp around the country and, and do projects and when do bids I said, but we’re going to sell all of our locations and and we’re going to turn them into franchises so that we can learn how to be a great franchise or, and how to support franchisees. So in 2006, seven and eight, we sold all of our stores under the franchise model. And how many did you have that did you mean you stole his he’s sorry, sold your existing stores that you sold new stores. So we sold our existing we had operations, permanent operations in Orlando, and in the Carolinas. So it ended up being three deals is what it would end up so we found some great business people and we sold them our company locations. And then in 2000, we did that for three years. And in 2009, we went to the marketplace and over, really a nine year period we we sold hundreds and hundreds of locations. We ended up in 37 states and and then on January 1 2019 that business was acquired by home franchise concepts out of Irvine, California. Which is the parent company for Budget Blinds. Got it? Okay, I now want to ask about that. But first before we get to that, so were you affected at all by the downturn? And oh 809 or is it a business that wasn’t affected by the economic downturn? Oh, we were definitely affected. And here’s how it positively. Wow. Yeah. So franchising can be inverse to the economy. Because when unemployment is low, and wages are high, people are less likely to be able to take risk and go out and start their own business. And we’re in a special category called low investment, needs based service. So no matter what houses are going to flood, things are going to happen, right? People are always going to invest money in you know, people’s people’s families are their greatest asset and their homes are typically their greatest investment. And when something’s going wrong there going to spend the money to get it fixed and protect their family and protect their homes. So, so our business was in this unique category to where we, we were low investment, and we had all the great financial crisis happened, and everybody’s 401 K’s were affected and their jobs were affected. And people had to solve for college education for their kids, or they had to solve for their retirement. We absolutely went crazy.
John Corcoran 15:28
You had more. You had people who wanted to buy franchises.
Jeff Dudan 15:31
We had people that wanted to buy franchises. And the other thing was we had a 15 year history and we had a great brand. We had 10s of millions of dollars of sales going on. And I mean, we were authentic and some of the best technical people in the industry. So you know, you do make your own luck, but timing, you don’t control your timing and the timing for us. We had put the work in to be a franchise company. Yeah. And, and so yeah, so working
John Corcoran 15:57
now. So tell me about some of the challenges. Though with cut making that pivot to having your own own stores, to all sudden you have these independent franchisees. I recently interviewed the former CEO and owner of California closets, which had 100 or so franchisees around the country. And we were talking about some of the, you know, the downsides of the franchisees sometimes they’re not doing things the way you want them to do them, right. So you have to adjust on the fly. So, tell us a little bit about some of the challenges and in the new model.
Jeff Dudan 16:30
Well, I think, you know, you have to have it when you’re starting a brand and it’s not established. You have to have a real heart for franchising, and you have to have a heart for people. And, you know, not all franchisees are true entrepreneurs. And some of them are some of them are but you’re going to have a cross section of the population and people have experiences in their life. Doing sometimes it’s something completely different than what you’re going to ask them to do. So, the change management of taking somebody from banking or wall street or something else and making them into a light environmental remediation of restoration contractor, change management involves and you know, sometimes the curse of knowledge the more people know the more they have to relearn
John Corcoran 17:27
things so so that actually it could be an advantage if someone doesn’t have experience in that area.
Jeff Dudan 17:32
That’s a new broom sweeps clean sometimes but regardless of it Our job is franchise ORS is to care for these people, and to support these people and to educate these people. And so and and it’s a in their long term relationships. I mean, you’re you’re talking about a marriage, that’s a 10 year contract with 255 year renewals. So you have to, you have to you have to find people in your franchise organization that have tremendous empathy that want to help people and Get get excited about seeing people succeed. So you the culture that you build at the home office is absolutely imperative to how the organization feels and how it reacts. And, and and yeah, so so it’s a it’s a completely different model because there’s always going to be some variations to which people follow the plan
John Corcoran 18:24
right and there so from a personal perspective, it allows you to be home with the family. You don’t have to travel as much you’re selling these franchises around the country abroad from home.
Jeff Dudan 18:36
That’s right. Yeah, we in there is travel to do but it’s the courses are
Unknown Speaker 18:41
like something like that. Yeah.
Jeff Dudan 18:42
There are conferences there. You know, in our professional lives, john, we can travel as much as we want to. There’s always there’s always somewhere to get the
John Corcoran 18:51
right Tracy. Yeah.
Jeff Dudan 18:53
But what franchising does is it it does reallocate some of the risk of business ownership to the local level. Hmm, interesting. Yeah. So if I’ve got a project going on in California and it’s not going well and I could lose a million dollars, then I need to be there. Where with franchising, you know, you have business owners and people that are protecting the brand and protecting their investment and their assets right there at the local point of attack. So,
John Corcoran 19:20
yeah, right. Yeah. It’s an interesting point. Yeah. Well, as far as the travel piece, I got four young kids. That’s why I do stuff like this, these interviews because then I don’t have to travel as much. And I’d like that part about it. I wanted to ask you about you’ve been very active and involved in an organization called YPO. Young you’re originally called young presidents organization, usually known by white YPO. Now, it’s an amazing organization. I recently interviewed Sean McGinnis, the President and CEO and I’ve interviewed a number of members. it tell us a little about what it is and what role it’s played in your development as a leader as a business leader in growing your company or person
Jeff Dudan 20:01
I’d be happy to YPO started in the 1950s with 20 presidents in a New York having a meeting where they wanted to share things confidentially. And they wanted to be in a peer network where learning was a focus and confidentiality was a focus. And now it has, we have, we have 28,000 members and behind the US and China, our businesses are the third largest GDP in the world. It is a massive, massively powerful organization, very connected. And so for me, it was really getting involved in YPO. And volunteering to be in leadership has been I can’t even quantify the impact. It’s had to be around the thinking of people who have built businesses many times larger than mine who have built many businesses and who think differently and act differently the way that they use time There’s a currency, how they spend it, how they invest it, how they, how they don’t waste it. It’s really been interesting for me coming from an operator of a of a construction and cleanup business then evolving into throwing it all away. By the way, throwing it all the way to how to take take a chance on building a great national brand that a franchise organization and and now selling that if you think about it from one brand now I’m involved with many brands and I’m involved on the supplier side also. So diversifying my involvement diversifying, where I focus my time, energy and money into a broader space. So doing that with people available to me and YPO I might need to so it’s it’s a first of all, it’s a network of connection. So if I’m working with a company and we need to be connected to another CEO somewhere or another Somebody at an organization then, you know, we have a 24 hour callback rule. So we have the opportunity to get in touch with people through YPO that would, we would never have been able to. And then you have the learning aspect of it, and how the the programming is catered to people that have the kinds of kinds of challenges and things that presidents and CEOs are going to have. It’s pretty lonely at the top sometimes and, and you don’t want to burden everybody with some strategy problems with a business or, or regulatory problems or, you know, there’s just there’s, there’s just, I think, one of my favorite things about YPO is that it’s experienced, not advice. So when when we get together in our small groups, it’s you know, we share experiences, and there’s always somebody that has an experience that they can share that’s going to be helpful to you. So so those are Some of the things about YPO. And and then it’s and then it’s a, you know, it’s a fun groups to be with. And we do interesting things together.
John Corcoran 23:08
Great. Great. So you did mention selling your business. That’s a big decision and big change for you just in the last nine months or so. Why did you decide to sell? Was it just the timing was right. Had you lost passion for it? Was it diversification sounds like it was an important factor for you?
Jeff Dudan 23:25
I think so. And diversification was, and I also there was a consolidation movement in the industry, with service franchises. So there was there there was somebody, several groups, one in particular, one large group that put together 19 service businesses, and the benefits of being together as a group of multiple types of brands that offer different services into the same home. There’s synergies that are created there. So so there was a lot of pressure to sell and in the market was good. So there was a timing element to it. But also I, I, I do believe that, you know, to get the brand to get everything out of the brand for the franchise owners if we could find the right partner and home franchise concepts Budget Blinds company $600 million plus business they’re in 65,000 homes a week. Wow. Think of think about the leverage that that provides for our franchise owners. Yeah. And combined now with with all four their companies their 780 million dollars in sales this year. So our franchise owners have the at the the opportunity now to get a lot of leverage in customer acquisition. And and I felt like for the brand for the franchise owners for the create opportunities for people here at the home office to to go on with a bigger organization and to continue to grow their careers. It felt like the right thing to do it was it’s hard to sell something that you’ve been with for 24 years and 11 months.
John Corcoran 25:09
but who’s counting,
Jeff Dudan 25:10
but who’s counting, but I wanted to make it the 25. But we did. So
you know it but but at the end of the day to, you know, you, if you want to get something, it’s very rare in life that you can get something of meaning without giving something of meaning up. And, you know, I’ve worked very hard through YPO and Vistage was another organization that I was, I’ve been a member of since 2011, which was instrumental in my growth. And there was a lot to do. I was quite a project for Dave’s here thoughts. But, you know, through his tutelage and the the monthly training and speakers and education that we got, it really just rounded me out. So I wanted to take my skill set, and challenge myself to go on to the next opportunity to see if I could evolve and create value and otherwise.
John Corcoran 26:01
And we were talking beforehand about one of those opportunities you’re involved in, which is super cool. I just discovered that this even existed as a category A few months ago, having grown up partially in Massachusetts, in the muggy heat of the summer and mowing lawns, and we had a huge lawn it took forever. And now they’re these autonomous lawn mowers that exist. And that’s one of the opportunities that you’ve pursued. So tell us about that one and any other ones you’re involved in?
Jeff Dudan 26:31
Yeah, so in 2017, I, I met a gentleman who was a technologist and a lot of different industries and he brought to me this concept of robots cutting grass. He says, I think this is going to be a thing. I’ve built 16 businesses, but I’ve never built a franchise. Can we help each other figure out a way to get this done? So we worked together a while we piloted the technology and I said you know, this is going to be this I this is going to be a thing. So we created a company and got the intellectual property done around the brand mobot. And we went to market and and then in May of 2019, we took an investment from Husqvarna North America $5 billion company who is the world’s leader in robotic mowing equipment there with their automower, they have over a million of these deployed in Europe. And they needed help in finding a way to get these, the last mile of these things installed into customers homes and mobot for to them looks like the solution. So we’ve just, we’re sitting here and it is September. So we’ve been in business with Husqvarna for three months. And we are now starting to place additional franchise owners and kind of get the we’ve got our strategy all clear. So we’re really working very quickly to build market across the United States and the place franchise owners its territories and and it’s neat. I mean the benefits of this to the environment are here. 5% of all air pollution comes from the lawn and landscaping industry. Wow. Yeah, it’s it’s huge in terms of that. The way these mowers operate, your grass is always cut, they live at the property they cut every day your grass, your takes less irrigation, less chemistry, there’s less cross contamination of weeds and things like that. So it’s a healthier, fuller lawn. There’s no noise pollution, they’re virtually silent is their electric, their electric, they just and they have little razor blades. So they just snip snip, snip snip along and you can barely hear them. They’re super cool. And people get really, really attached to them. And it’s just a matter of and then and then it solves a huge problem facing the United States, which is this this labor shortage, this labor crisis that we’re going into, you know, these, the labor that we do have doesn’t need to be riding on on a lot more if it doesn’t have to. So it’s, there’s no doubt that this is the way grass is going to be Cut. Yeah, and it’s just a matter now of consumer adoption and, and being able to solve, you know how to get them installed and who maintains them because as Americans, we just, we’re not really interested in that extra, that extra project. So that’s
John Corcoran 29:15
where the franchise can come in is maintaining it and all that. I got it. Okay.
Unknown Speaker 29:19
John Corcoran 29:20
Okay. Yeah. Okay, so it sounds like it’s a recurring subscription model then for the franchise. That’s right. Yeah, that’s smart. Any other projects or companies that you’re excited about or advising?
Jeff Dudan 29:32
Yeah, there’s a company called rock box fitness. It’s a really outstanding fitness concept. It combines boxing and martial arts with kind of a CrossFit they got the customer experience extremely right. So that brand has busy opening about 40 locations. And, you know, they’re, they’re developing markets across the US and even Scandinavia, right now. So I’m helping With those guys I get introduced to those guys last year, and just a great team but moreover a really solid product offering that that serves a niche. That’s really exciting. So those are those are the two brands that I’m working the most with. And then I’m working with other people in an outsourced France franchise sales organization called friend dev CO, with the franchise consulting company, which is a large broker consultant group. And some things like that I also work with you know, some marketing and media company so really diversified kind of balanced on the brand side and then also on the supplier side just to overall help the industry
John Corcoran 30:42
you know, it’s funny talking to a founder like yourself at this point in time because I’ve talked to other founders are at this point in time within a year of leaving their previous company. And it’s so funny like the the issues they have to deal with, like getting a new assistant that going from a team of 200 or whatever To like one or two or like, Who’s going to make the coffee? What is it been like for you with this transition? It’s so fresh for you. So what’s the you know, what have been some of the more mundane challenges and was also some of the bigger or more challenging, you know, have you woken up in the morning and did like, I don’t even want to go to work are you wake up in the morning going, I’m so excited to go to work. This is new, this is fresh.
Jeff Dudan 31:23
That is such an observant question. And it was something that’s it’s hard. So I had my business for 24 years and 11 months. And if you lived in a house for 24 years and 11 months, imagine what the attic would look like.
John Corcoran 31:37
Unknown Speaker 31:39
Jeff Dudan 31:40
You know, I had little real estate businesses and I had all these other things and everything the rug was pulled out, pulled out from under me. And you know, how am I good? You know, I mean, we had an incredible team here, but you know, there was a real blend of personal and other businesses and everything. So you know, deconstructing our business office And extracting that was was a real opportunity. And so it took, I mean, it really took three or four months. Well, first of all, I mentioned my brother Mike had left resigned as the CFO of the Panthers, and had joined me back. So he went about busy of kind of getting his hands around everything and, and, and figuring out, you know, how we’re going to create revenue and what we’re going to do and, and so we’d had to work on the strategy, but just the blocking and tackling of it. And, I mean, it was really bad. I mean, literally, you know, kind of working on boxes and stuff. Yeah, and boxes and folding tables again for a little while there, but, but it’s work, but it was it was good. And then, you know, is it I think, you know, the best advice people say is you need to take a year off because you’re gonna you know, you’re going to try to get into something and then you’re going to make a mistake and you’re going to wish that you would have waited because something better came along or then Dave zero false. My coach said, you know, a lot of people try to do the same thing just bigger, better, faster, and that’s going to be unfulfilling. So he gave me the advice. He said, Look, make sure that everything you do is aligned with your purpose. And that you, you take the time to check in and really redefine why you do everything that you do, what matters to you, what you care about. And make sure just make sure that what you’re doing is aligned with that and, and, and don’t don’t run around like a you know, one of those shopping sprees where you got you know, you got three minutes to fill up the cart with everything you have and run out the door and take you know, be a little more thoughtful about things so, so I took three days off.
John Corcoran 33:52
true entrepreneur ignored all the advice their own way,
Jeff Dudan 33:57
but I don’t think we’ve made we haven’t made any any fatal mistake. And what I really wanted to do was I just wanted to keep the momentum, I have a 15 year old at home and I so I went back into my purpose and I said, What would be the best thing for my family in terms of my ability to be a leader, be a mentor, be an example and be involved. So, I have a 15 year old at home, and he’s a freshman. So, you know, I talked with my wife about it, we ever you know, so we didn’t do anything crazy. And we just basically re contracted for another three or four years and said, let’s just let’s just keep rolling and maybe do some exciting things in the career help a lot of people and, and you know, so that’s, that’s kind of what we did. And and I don’t have any regrets about it. It’s been a little bit. It’s been a little bit tiring at times, but we’ve got things under control now moving in the right direction.
John Corcoran 34:50
Did it worry you with a 15 year old at home what kind of an example it would set if you had cashed out from the business and then checked out Bought a big boat? Or maybe you also bought a big boat, you know, just like just kind of coasted? Do you think that that would have it was that your fear? Is that the reason why you went back to work?
Jeff Dudan 35:14
I think that played into it, because that would have been inconsistent with who we are. And those conversations have been had, you know, it’s like, because I think people were watching in the family to see how things changed. And the reality of is they haven’t. And, and I think that you do want to, you want to you want to stop and smell the roses, but you also, you know, I’m big about creating value and creating value and other people, you know, I’ve got this, I’ve got a book coming out. I’ve got a series of books coming out and it’s the series is around this concept of the business athlete. And, you know, and the first book is on discernment, and how You grow great decision making, what are the elements of great decision making? And you know, what are the steps in that? And if I’m a if I’m a 20 year old and I want to become a great decision maker, what what are the things that I need to be thinking about? So one of the concepts in this book is, is this this balance sheet that I’ve always had of creating value versus consumption? And, you know, we can’t consume our way to fulfillment. You know, and consumption is a kind of a rabbit hole that we fall down. So yeah, I could, you know, sure I could. Now I already had a boat, so I didn’t need another boat. But, you know, I think I think it’s dangerous to go out and, you know, have a consumptive mindset. And I think it I think, so really going back into the idea of, you know, well, how can I best create value, and maybe there’s some guardrails, I want to put around this That, you know, I want to get my hands dirty, but I don’t want to get them tired. And can I be a better business builder? Can I be a better delegator? Can I think I’ve noticed, so one of the things I’ve noticed is now when I hire people, I’m very upfront and I say, you know, one of the things that I want to make sure in hiring people is that I look at it from your perspective, that this is good for you. And I’ve become a little more extra spective about making sure that I’m working with people that really want to grow, and that I can mentor and because that’s what lights me up is when people are making progress and, and while they’re incredible for the company, but they’re also being incredible for themselves. And maybe, you know, you know, maybe I have a little bit more cushion than I did before, to be able to, to, and I think it just gives you confidence. So so those are those are some of the things but yeah, you know, so so I’m gonna, I’m gonna four year contract Right now, and then we’ll just get there. And
John Corcoran 38:03
yeah, and see what happens. That’s a great lesson. And you mentioned these upcoming books. I’m excited that I’ll be excited to see those when they come out. And you already have one book that came out that was about you based on your experience as a youth coach and some of the, you know, ways in which you extracted that into life lessons. So tell us a little bit about that.
Jeff Dudan 38:26
Yeah, it was. So the book is called Hey, coach, and it’s, it’s based on a baseball team. And so one of the things that I did was I’ve coached over 30 seasons of my kids sports, and I just it’s such a passion for taking any group of kids that they give you and having three to four months to turn them into a team and to to educate them on like, why, like how to build a great team and starting with so what I would What I tried to do was to take because people would come to me and they’d say, you know, at the you know, you you, you’d never, you would never think at the start of a season that the lineup that you walked out of the draft with was going to get you there. But every year, you’re in the championship or you’re winning it, and or, you know, we’d be at the draft and the last thing that they would do at the draft, after you draft the kids was they’d open up the notes from the parents, like what if, like, requests to be on certain teams, and you know, there’d be like seven requests out of seven would be to come over to our team. One year it was funny, the, it was a football league we’re playing in and the ref one of the referees had their kid coming into the league as a, as a six year old and you really weren’t even supposed to be in there until you were, you were, I think, seven or eight. And, but he just, he was going to be out there all weekend. So he wanted this kid out there and you know, he requested to be on our team and so that’s a real source of pride and It came from our approach of, of not give me your kids and everybody’s, you leave them to me and don’t talk to them, it was a very inclusive program. It was based on, you know, really agreeing on a set of values right up front for, you know, how we rolled and it was a, it was a process of, of really creating autonomy to where you know, it, you know, we, our ultimate goal was, we would all be the best that we could be on the last day of the season, whenever that was. So that was our overarching our single overarching goal. And that meant coaches, parents and players together. And so we had a process that we would go through and you know, if we had to break up a few clicks or whatever it is, but then, from an autonomous perspective, I don’t care if it’s an eight year old, 12 year old baseball team or whatever it is, we turn the team over to them over by the end years old. So the other concept was if all the coaches were stuck in traffic and we couldn’t get to the championship, could you do it? You know, so so when you start with those premises, you know, the future always informs the present what matters. So when you start with those premises, it creates a certain set of things you have to go through to prepare them to be there. And in youth sports, Mojo is everything. And if you can create a team that’s just a little bit looser, and plays a little bit faster, without hesitation, and plays happy without fear of reprisal from making mistakes. It’s it’s usually good enough to win by a touchdown.
John Corcoran 41:41
That’s great. Well, we’re going long here, we’re, we’re I’m sorry. No, no, it’s okay. I didn’t want to interrupt you. I just hope I’m not going into another meeting. But so I want to wrap things up in a moment with my last question, but before I do that, I have to ask about Undercover Boss and what that experience was like, how did you end up doing that? Why did you decide to do it? Looking back do you regret it? You know, like some people in reality TV did you did it turn out okay for you.
Jeff Dudan 42:08
It was it was the most wonderful platform to highlight the great people of advanta clean. We were going through the selection process not the selection process but the selection for the which ones that we were going to do the episodes and and they interviewed 60 locations and they said Where are you hiding all the crazy people? Yeah. I mean, we have advantage clean is just such a body of good people out there that care about the customers. Yeah. So we ended up as a result of that just having a fabulous show. We you know, they were looking for somebody that for a spring season that they usually didn’t do and they had one spot so we had about 10 days to get the contract done with them and then we were going to go on the road two weeks after that. So it was kind of a snap decision, and we reacted quick enough to be able to get in involved in the show. And and it was an incredible experience. It really was it. It catapulted the brand that really exposed kind of the goodness that we had. And there’s a lot of risk in it because,
John Corcoran 43:11
yeah, because they can expose all warts and everything too. Yeah.
Jeff Dudan 43:15
It was. It was a lot of filming for just a few minutes on TV. Yeah. And you don’t have any idea and no control. You have no control. So it worked out well for us and, and I
John Corcoran 43:29
had a great little beard on the show.
Jeff Dudan 43:33
John Corcoran 43:35
Yeah. So and the premise was you’re the new guy and they’re filming them. That’s what I understand about that shows there. They happen to be filming the new guys starting I don’t know how that works, but I guess it works.
Jeff Dudan 43:45
Well. It’s there’s a there’s a three to six inches of confidentiality paperwork around it. But here’s what I can tell you is, is they pull it off, and what you see is of course It has to be edited together to make sense and for brevity and all that, but it’s a very authentic experience. And when you’re working with the people, after three or four hours, the cameras just kind of blend away at it. And you’re just in there. And the way that the premise is set up, it does work. So they do a really nice job with it.
John Corcoran 44:20
Cool. What a cool experience. All right, wrapping things up. So let’s pretend we’re at an awards banquet, much like the Oscars, the Emmys. And you Jeff are receiving an award for lifetime achievement for everything you’ve done up until this point, and we will what we all want to know is, who do you think who are the mentors? Who are the friends in addition to our family and friends? Who are the mentors or their friends, business partners, you name it, coaches that you would acknowledge?
Jeff Dudan 44:41
Well, that’s great. I think the first one I would think would be definitely my wife. I mean, the project that she undertook I mean, the lack of civic civil civility that she had to deal with. It was that one That was tough sledding for her. So you know, she’s, and you know, the nice thing about it is we’ve created this, like, we don’t let worlds collide. I mean, we’ve got our business world and we got our family world and I think a lot of people blend those things, but we don’t and it works. And I think it creates an area where you can go home and not have to, not enough to talk shop all the time. And I think that’s been valuable. So kids have been really great and supportive, and, you know, allowing me to work with them and coach has has really helped my management. It’s, it’s, you know, the field of leadership is everywhere. You can practice in every situation so help that that really helped me grow as a leader and understanding how to communicate carefully and clearly. I think Dave zere FOSS has been my Vistage chair has just been an amazing mentor. And he was the president of as oddly, he was the president of Husqvarna North America. For 18 and a half years he took them from 29 million In sales to over 500 billion in sales. Wow. So to have a coach that grew a business like that through dealerships be my coach is I’m building a franchise. It was perfect. So and he’s just a wise and generous man, Dan looby. My last partner and advantage clean was a great mentor. And then and then coaches like I think I think all of them along the way, you know, coaches, coaches generally get into that, because they do want to work with kids and they do want to pour into people. So whether that be at schomburg High School or the coaches at Harper junior college or Appalachian State University, I think they all and I think if I was going to pick the most formative at to Basketball Coaches when I was in high school, and they were way before their time with like goal setting and goal cards and visualization and like how to put a gold card up in your mirror and how to how to know what they are So they really instilled in me early like, Okay, well you know how to set goals and then how to work backwards and achieve Okay, well, I’ve got to do you know, 500 left hand dribbles if I want to be a better, you know, left hand dribble or so that that’s stuff that stuck with me. I mean, I’m just the plugger. But I mean, like, I’m, you know, my last book is probably going to be too stupid to fail.
John Corcoran 47:24
I highly doubt that, but you can call it whatever you want. Well, Jeff, thank you so much. It’s been a pleasure, dude. And partners is the name of the company. Hey, coaches, the name of the business? Where can people connect with you are learn more about you?
Jeff Dudan 47:37
That’s great. You can email me at [email protected] Find me on LinkedIn. I will be with the book coming out. I’m going to be relaunching social media. So you know, Instagram, Twitter going to be places where we’re going to be very active. We’re putting all that together right now. And two
John Corcoran 47:55
guests, I hope to do a
Jeff Dudan 47:57
salutely Absolutely. They’ll be podcast gotta do
John Corcoran 48:00
a podcast. Yeah, I’m a huge advocate. Alright. Well, Jeff, thanks so much, and we’ll talk to you again soon. been a pleasure, john. Thank you.
Unknown Speaker 48:08
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