Few projects can be more expensive, invasive, messy, and bad for the environment than ripping out your bathtub, shower, or countertops and entirely replacing them. In many cases, refinishing existing surfaces is a better way to go.
As long as the surfaces are structurally sound, they can be refinished. The result is a sparkling, new surface that comes in for a fraction of the cost of replacement. Besides the cost savings and expediency, the best thing of all: one less bathtub or shower pan buried in a landfill.
One company, Perma-Glaze, headquartered in Tucson, franchises and licenses out its proprietary system of multi-surface refinishing to individuals and companies across the U.S.
From Bathtubs to Multi-Surfaces
At one time, this service was simply called bathtub refinishing. Homes typically had bathtubs, and those bathtubs would gradually break down over the years.
Steel and cast-iron tubs, especially were a problem because the smallest chip or nick would cause the tub to develop rust. That rust would work its way underneath the paint and bubble it up. Fiberglass and acrylic tubs did not deteriorate as rapidly but they would easily become scratched and dull.
But improved technologies coupled with a greater awareness for green building and remodeling pushed mere bathtub resurfacing into other household surfaces: shower pans, shower and tub surrounds, bathroom and kitchen countertops, and sinks.
Selling to Franchisees
The bath refinishing franchise industry is dominated by two companies: Miracle Method, of Colorado Springs, Colorado, and Perma-Glaze, of Tucson, Arizona. The main value of going with one of these national franchises is that you are getting some degree of predictability and consistency. That's the reason why homeowners may choose Pella Windows or Andersen Windows versus local independent window companies. There is the perception that Pella or Andersen can deliver a better product than an independent can.
Whether or not this is true depends on the franchise and on the quality of the independent. Dale Young, founder, CEO, and current president of Perma-Glaze, says the strength of Perma-Glaze is its "ability to satisfy the increasingly growing hunger by homeowners for inexpensive and fast ways to refinish their bathtubs, sinks, counters, and more."
One thing that Perma-Glaze has going for it is history. Founded in 1978, Perma-Glaze has over 40 years of experience in the bathtub and multi-surface refinishing business. From the start, Dale Young was an industry insider, familiar with the actual finishing process before he took Perma-Glaze corporate. Quickly, he realized the value of selling franchises rather than selling refinishing at a retail level: top-level quality control of the Perma-Glaze system.
Perma-Glaze vs. Miracle Method
Dale Young mentions that one point of difference between Miracle Method and Perma-Glaze is that Miracle Method returns to the job site several days later to buff out any imperfections.
Perma-Glaze, according to Young, gets it "done right the first time," meaning that the entire Perma-Glaze process happens in one day. There are two advantages to this: from the Perma-Glaze franchisee's perspective, they save on gas and technician costs. From a homeowner's standpoint, they do not have to open the house up another time to have work performed on their bathroom, which can be a headache if they need to take time off from work.
Perma-Glaze compounds are proprietary, meaning that Perma-Glaze franchisees need to buy the chemicals from the company itself. Dale Young says that Perma-Glaze can maintain quality standards better this way, not just by controlling the services offered by the franchisees, but also the tools and materials.
Maintaining Quality of Franchisees
Perma-Glaze has about 13 United States franchises. As with all franchises, bad franchisees must be dropped before they poison the entire system. Perma-Glaze has had to disenfranchise a company associated with it. Over the years, if Young has not been able to coax a change to a franchisee through conventional methods, he has had to take the unfortunate step of "forcing the agreement” and disengaging from the franchisee.
Selling franchises do not mean that the corporate office disassociates itself from the ground-level business. Young once had a franchisee who had performed a job at a hotel but had not done it to expected quality standards. Instead of complaining to the franchisee, the hotel called Young directly at corporate headquarters in Tucson and complained. Young was able to work through the franchisee to rectify the problem.
Not everything that Dale Young has touched has turned to magic. Years back, Young was involved in the decorative concrete business. And while the business went well, he felt that there were too many restrictions involved with the business for either the corporation or franchisees to make any kind of significant profit. But Perma-Glaze is a system that has worked well for him, franchisees, and customers for the last 40 years, and still is going strong.