Successful remodeler joined the brand to diversify his job sources, and provide greater stability to his family and employees
Nassif Harb likes to joke that when other contractors learn he has become a Re-Bath franchisee, they respond, “Are you crazy? Why do you want to join Re-Bath?” After all, Nassif was already an extremely successful remodeler in East Tennessee. Why join a franchise and have to pay royalties?
For Nassif, it’s about building stability and better systems for his company, for his family, and for his employees.
“I was actually looking at so many franchises for so many reasons,” he says. “I have a lot of people that are depending on my company. I know their families. I know their kids. I know they have mortgage payments. And they have been with me for years. Some of my installers have been with me for 8, 10, 12 years. And I wanted to do something where we can all retire together, and where those who aren’t ready to retire have a sense of security so they can plan for their future.”
Nassif is preparing the company for a transition. His three kids — Mary, Ghandi and Reem — will eventually take over the business.
He is also eager to diversify the ways he gets business. The business is already an exclusive kitchen installer for several big box hardware stores in the Knoxville area, and joining forces with Re-Bath opens the door to become a preferred bathroom remodeling provider for several more. Beyond the additional relationships home improvement retail giants, Nassif is most excited about the organic business he expects from Re-Bath thanks to its national advertising and sophisticated marketing approaches.
We recently spoke with Nassif about his decision and his plans:
You have been operating a successful remodeling business in the Knoxville area for a while. How long have you had your own business?
We have been open since in 2006. We started as a carpet installer with one of the country’s biggest home improvement retailers. It was just me and a helper. Things progressed and a couple of years down the road, I was doing carpet installation for all of the brand’s stores in East Tennessee. We also started doing hardwood, tile, laminate — all types of flooring. We were dealing with 26 big box stores. I had 17 crews running every day.
That’s a lot to manage.
Yeah, it was. It was challenging and exciting. We don’t do flooring anymore. We only do kitchen and bathroom remodels.
Talk a little bit about how you transitioned from your original business into now focusing exclusively on kitchen and bathroom.
The brand I was doing so much business with shifted its flooring business to a bigger contractor whose owner had some connections to their corporate office. But they also started a program called to provide remodeling services, and I was one of about a half dozen companies that participated in my area. Within about a year, it was just me. That program ended, but in the meantime I had diversified by contacting a different big box home improvement chain, and they took me on to provide kitchen remodeling services for three of their stores. Now we handle their kitchen remodeling all the way from Johnson City to Lenoir City.
One of the reasons I wanted to get into a franchise was for diversification. I did not go with Re-Bath just because they have a national contract that generates leads through big box store referrals. I am more interested in the organic business, to be honest with you. But I would never say no to any other business.
What made Re-Bath the right remodeling franchise opportunity for you?
I needed the backup. I also wanted a corporation that has a strong working process for sales, management software, and all that good stuff. Re-Bath offers that — and they have been wonderful.
I am pretty adamant about sending our lead installer or our foreman to go and see how to install Re-Bath products. I have to make a very good impression with our Re-Bath customers. Fortunately, a franchisee in Chattanooga, TN, has allowed us to watch his guys on some installations — see how they cut the Durabath, how they install it. That’s all we needed to know, because our guys are used to building from the ground up.
Once they’re trained, I will let go of leash on all our design consultants. Instead of just concentrating on one home improvement chain’s customers, we’ll also be serving another chain’s customers, as well as the customers we get organically by marketing Re-Bath.
That’ll vastly expand the number of referrals coming into your business, I would imagine.
I do believe that that business will explode here partially due to the referral program. We’ve been a very good partner for the home improvement stores. We generate pretty good money for them. And I’m very happy that I will be able to generate money for Re-Bath as well (through royalties). I am happy to do my part to support the people at the corporate level — for example, Wendy, Melissa, Donnelly, Lindsay, Jody — because they have been fantastic. They have been what I have been wanting — that support.
They are providing me what our company was lacking, which is the process for our business. They give you the feeling that they want you to succeed. They will do whatever it takes for a franchisee to succeed. This is the vibe that I get from everybody at Re-Bath corporate.
When Brad, the CEO of Re-Bath, asked to speak to me, he was very humble. Taylor (the recruiter and the initial point of contact for people who inquire about franchise opportunities) was fantastic. When they hooked me up with all the people at the corporate office — I mean, it’s just a gut feeling that these are the people I want to work with. And I have worked with hundreds of people. And usually my gut feeling is correct 90% of the time.
How do you see being part of Re-Bath changing your role within the business and creating more stability and opportunity for your team?
I’ve been in business all of my life and I could see where Re-Bath is going. I did have the opportunity to go with other franchises — not necessarily in the remodeling business. But I see that Re-Bath is going somewhere special. And I would like to be a part of it here in the Tennessee market.
We are definitely going to open a few locations due to the fact that we know this market very well. I think a location in Sevierville, TN, would do very well. And I also believe a location in Maryville, TN, would do very well. We do have the installers to back us up and our installers are wonderful. We also have some great installers in our area who have reached out because they want to join us.
Tell us about your plans to transition the business? Are you planning to turn the business over to your kids and retire soon?
Everybody’s telling me I cannot. (Chuckles.) Well, I’m hoping. But my wife is saying there’s no way I could retire. I don’t know. I like to work. I like the challenge. And I like to see the company grow with the employees and the kids, of course. And, you know, I like to see everybody happy — all of our people happy.
This is a family business that I’m building for my kids. My oldest daughter, Mary, will graduate next year with an MBA from Carson-Newman University. My other two kids will graduate from the University of Tennessee. Right now, all of my kids are working with me. They are involved in the business, and they will be taking over after they finish college. They’ve got to have a college degree before they take over. That was my condition. Gandhi will have an architectural degree, and Reem will have a business administration degree.
They will be working with me and they will be helping me expand to other locations and no matter how much we grow, we would like it to be a family business — especially with our employees and our installers. I want to continue to give them that family business atmosphere.
What do you enjoy when you’re not working?
I like the outdoors. And I basically like business — even when I’m home relaxing, I like to read. and I’m always thinking, “How am I going to expand? How am I going to take care of my people? How am I going to do this? How can I do that?” That’s what’s always on my mind.
Is there any advice you’d offer to others considering the Re-Bath franchise opportunity?
Some people will ask themselves, “Why is that guy going with Re-Bath? What’s the reason?” Well, I see a very strong future for Re-Bath. I think Re-Bath sales are going to explode. Not this year because of coronavirus. Let’s call this year a wash off. But I think starting next year, I think Re-Bath is going to be doing wonderful.