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Unusual Franchises: The Garage Door Depot

crop1By Peter Saunders
The installation, maintenance, repair and replacement of garage doors are not typically the domain of franchisees, but The Garage Door Depot has set out to change that. Currently comprising 28 locations across Canada, the chain grew out of its parent company’s need to diversify.

“Canadian Access and Door Systems was founded in Port Coquitlam, B.C., in 2005 and served a predominantly commercial market,” explains Dean Carman, president and CEO. “In 2007, though, we realized new construction would soon take a nose dive, so we started another brand to target consumers instead. We began securing a relationship with Costco in 2008, ran a pilot program in Ontario in 2009 and sold our first franchise in 2010.”

The franchisor initially focused on British Columbia. The first territory covered the Fraser Valley, followed by a second franchise in Kelowna in early 2011 and then three more across Vancouver Island.

“The Kelowna franchisee timed his opening for when Costco’s in-store demonstrations of our products started,” Carman says. “Now he has his own storefront, warehouse and staff.”

Profit magazine called The Garage Door Depot one of the fastest-growing companies in Canada in 2011. One of the primary factors for this growth was increased visibility. In addition to working with Costco, the franchise system struck deals to have its services offered through Canadian Tire, Sears and Lowe’s stores in select markets.

“This has aligned us as the only retail-focused garage door company in the country,” says Carman. “It continually puts our brand out there and it’s comforting for new franchisees to see that.”

Despite the company’s niche focus, Carman says franchisees can include anyone who is mature, entrepreneurial and financially stable. Garage door experience is not required.

crop2“People in the industry think the work is too technical, but if you ‘compartmentalize’ those skills and train them, anyone can do it,” says Carman. “We have former bankers, information technology (IT) consultants, police officers and food-service professionals. Some of them do everything themselves, while others focus on business development and hire technicians.”

In addition to British Columbia, there are now franchises in the Yukon, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario and Nova Scotia. The newest locations will open in early 2013 in Calgary and Winnipeg.

“The concept has worked because the consumer market is easier to service, offers higher profits and generates referrals,” says Carman. “And once we have a foothold in a market, our franchisees do also go after commercial clients. If we had only focused on new construction, though, we would have faded out in 2009 or 2010.”

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