Dave Goka is an accountant and sales professional turned Groutsmith franchise owner. Since 2012, he and his wife Jan, a former franchise broker, have grown their grout and tile operation in San Diego into the area’s premier service provider. Today, the Gokas are making huge strides toward their ultimate goal: handing their son a lucrative business he can run himself.
- Dave Goka and his wife, Jan, a former franchise broker opened a Groutsmith franchise of their own in 2012. It was the first Groutsmith location in California.
- Since opening their franchise, the Gokas have established themselves as a household name in the San Diego area. Word-of-mouth referrals have led to steady, dependable business growth year after year.
- Dave and Jan had no prior experience in grout and tile service. Everything they learned was taught through a two-week training session and experience in the field.
- The Gokas have expanded to a second territory, which their son now covers. Eventually, Jan and Dave plan to hand the entire business over to him.
Read the full story below.
Franchise broker to franchise owner
Jan and Dave Goka, like many Groutsmith franchise owners, would have never guessed they’d own a grout and tile business had you asked them years ago. Neither of them had any experience in cleaning and restoration. Jan had worked as a legal secretary, administrative director, and franchise broker. Dave was a sales professional.
As a franchise broker, Jan first discovered The Groutsmith as an opportunity for others looking to buy a franchise. But always keep an eye out for business opportunities herself, she quickly realized The Groutsmith was the opportunity her and her husband had been looking for.
Unlike other franchises, The Groutsmith had the two huge advantages others didn’t: low startup costs and established systems that made it easy for first-time business owners.
Interested, they struck up a conversation with the corporate team and it was clear right away that this wasn’t just another company promising the world. It was positioned for growth and gave its franchisees access to a business model that could get them on their feet and running quickly. Most importantly for the Gokas, it was a business they could one day hand off to their son, Grant.
“Given our backgrounds in administration and sales, The Groutsmith was perfect. Jan knew she could handle scheduling. With her background, that was easy. My background in sales made it easy from the other side of the business. Going out to demonstrate what we can do for a customer is like taking candy from a baby. The products are so fantastic, they surprise people when I show them what we can do. We also wanted to start a family-owned business that our son Grant could take over. Today, he’s a partner with his own territory and will one day take over the whole business. It’s wonderful.”
Bringing The Groutsmith to San Diego
After deciding to move forward, Dave and Jan flew to The Groutsmith’s headquarters in Sarasota, Florida for training.
Stepping off the plane, neither of them knew the first thing about grout or tile. But after two weeks of hands-on training, including shadowing the Sarasota team in the field, they arrived back in San Diego––as Dave puts it––“experts” who were prepared to bring a new service to a hungry market.
“Training is easy––this is not rocket science. We discovered the market in southern California is different than Sarasota. That took some figuring out, but we had all the tools and knowledge we needed to do it thanks to the training. Again, this isn’t hard stuff to learn. We had no experience going into it and came out experts. Our market here in California has less tile and more stone, but they need cleaning and restoration just the same.”
A business built for two (or three!)
Spouses thinking about owning a business together often worry about what it could do their relationship. But with many spouses like Jan and Dave happily growing their businesses together, The Groutsmith is an example of how arranging a business the right way is half the battle.
As Dave explains below, building a business alongside your spouse means making sure each person’s role is separate but complementary of the other. For the Gokas, Jan puts her admin skills to work in the home office while Dave uses his sales skills to do estimates and manage cleaning and restoration out in the field.
“Typically for me, I’m the estimator, so my primary function is to go out and do the estimates and give the quotes. I’ll typically get up early and write up my estimates for the day. Then the technician crew shows up. I tell them where they’re going, who’s assigned to what job and what the tasks are. Jan and the rest of our office team spend much of the workday scheduling and organizing upcoming jobs. We’re a home-based business so we don’t have to pay for another office and Jan gets to work from home. It’s ideal. And by the way, you don’t need to have admin and sales experience like Jan and I. Anyone can do this.”
A clear model to follow
For the Goka family (and other Groutsmith owners), one of the biggest deciding factors for investing in this business is the model that lays everything out from day one. Long before The Groutsmith was a franchise with locations all over the country, it was a single business in Sarasota.
During this time, its founder, Jonathan Smith perfected the business model, writing everything down each step of the way. Today, that process is handed to all new Groutsmith owners to help them get up and running–– and grow–– as quickly and sustainably as possible.
For Dave Goka, having this model in his hand from day one was incredibly important:
“The Groutsmith, and Jonathan, in particular, is a role model for the rest of us. We pretty much follow in his footsteps. Now that we’re in our sixth year of the business, we have instant credibility. But at first, we relied on that model to help us grow and gain an audience of customers here in San Diego.”
Instant gratification, every day
Dave’s favorite part of being a Groutsmith owner is one you might not expect would be at the top of a business owner’s list: the instant gratification of starting and finishing projects the same day and hearing the reaction from homeowners.
We think Dave explains it best himself:
“This business is great because we start and end projects the same day. It’s instant gratification. There’s something about starting and finishing projects like these the same day that leaves you refreshed and invigorated. Plus, the restoration that we do on these homeowners’ homes makes them ecstatic. They can’t believe the before and after. Homeowners rave about the work we do. Now that we’ve been in business, there’s a big referral business. We’ll be in the neighborhood and we’ll do seven or eight homes on the same block just from referral. That has been great for us.”
“I wish we would have started this 20 years earlier.”
When asked whether there was anything we wished he’d done differently with the business, Dave simply says he wishes he’d had the drive earlier in life.
“It’s been a great ride. My only wish––and I tell this to new franchisees who call me––is that Jan and I wish we would have started this 20 years earlier. I wish we would have done this a long time ago. It’s afforded us a different lifestyle and a true sense of reward. It’s been a great business for us.”
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