2022 Restoration Industry Leaders Review: AdvantaClean
Content created and produced by:
Jeff Cross, media director | Samantha Hager, associate editor | Amy Hughes, editorial assistant
Restoration companies actively focus on providing help to those in need. While this tends to come in the form of water, fire, or mold damage remediation, for Artem Lopatchenko, owner of AdvantaClean in the Cary/Apex region of North Carolina, this crisis assistance recently went one step further.
Providing a helping hand to the culture that raised him
In a recent post on Facebook, AdvantaClean shared Lopatchenko’s efforts to help the Ukrainian people—a culture and country he himself grew up in before coming to America. “I still have friends (former classmates) with whom I keep in touch with daily. When the war began for the first week, I was paralyzed not knowing what to do, how to help, or how to process it all,” Lopatchenko stated. “After about a week or two, I came across a local organization that was spearheading efforts to ship items overseas. In working with them and my friends, family, franchise, and business network, we were able to raise items to send out to Ukraine.”
As a young entrepreneur and franchise owner, Lopatchenko has not only helped his North Carolina community with various forms of restoration and remediation, but also has been able to turn his American Dream into Ukrainian assistance in a time of great need. As he shared, “In addition to items sent over, I’ve been sending funds directly to my friends in Zaporizhzhia. One of them is a pharmacist and has been able to use the funds to purchase the necessary medicine, medical supplies, food, and baby items for refugees and those who don’t have the means of obtaining the much-needed items.” While these efforts certainly show his empathetic and driven side, it’s the origins of AdvantaClean that solidify his position as an industry leader.
Starting in the accounting, finance, and real estate industries, Lopatchenko understands the process of earning money and seizing opportunities. After one property’s remediation job got him thinking about the future, Lopatchenko bought the North Carolina AdvantaClean franchise, and the results have been an increase in profits and satisfied customers alike.
With a 28-year-old entrepreneur redefining restoration and success strategies for this restoration brand, AdvantaClean was able to use Lopatchenko’s prior experiences to tailor products, services, and marketing to the right audience and at the right price. However, to succeed, the company’s owner and its team would first need to learn the ropes and grow organically while conquering the common obstacles that restoration pros have all faced at some point in their careers.
Learning the ‘restoration ropes’
Starting out, this new franchise leader faced challenges like any other business owner and began to learn what makes the restoration industry so special. When asked about what he would do differently if he could start over again, he stated, “If I had to do it again, I’d hire a business development person earlier on. My intent was to run this semi-passively. To achieve this, having a good pipeline that doesn’t rely on marketing dollars or myself is ideal.”
Lopatchenko also shared what he loves most about the restoration industry and his franchise’s established branding as well. “The industry is unique in the sense that there are no two days that are alike. Even on jobs that are of the same service line, there are numerous factors that can make the job go faster or slower,” he stated. “The network and the brand are also great and have been supportive. Our corporate office and leadership have been putting in place systems and processes that will allow us to go after larger losses and ease our ability to mobilize for storms.”
Using previous industry skills acquired by Lopatchenko along with company-wide drive and determination, AdvantaClean has successfully grown in multiple ways—from its size to its efficacy in the industry. With two crews, an estimator, and a project manager on board, the company has increased its workforce and made it possible to service more community members in a shorter period. As a result, the brand and young industry leader have seen some big returns on their investments.
As Lopatchenko stated in his interview with the Cleanfax team, “Since taking over the company, our annual revenue has just about tripled. This has been achieved through strategic partnerships and having a customer-first mentality. Not every job goes well, but we pride ourselves on ensuring that the customer is happy and will call/refer us out in the future.”
Even with all its success, there are still challenges the company faces as all businesses do. For Lopatchenko, he says his challenges are about time management more than anything else. “The biggest challenge has been balancing everything else I have going on in addition to running the business. As an adjunct professor, real estate investor, and new owner of a second franchise location, time has been limited. My role has been limited to administrative and sales functions.”
To combat this, the company believes that having a strong leadership team that can help run daily operations is crucial. Working with other companies for marketing and cross-advertising is yet another way AdvantaClean has found success in the North Carolina area. Facebook posts such as the one detailing their donations to Ukraine are highly valuable marketing strategies to help leadership focus less on acquisition and more on the restoration projects performed daily.
Lessons to live by
Sometimes, the best way to connect with your audience is to be your audience. For AdvantaClean’s leader, that’s exactly how the company gained such a loyal customer base in North Carolina and surrounding areas. As Lopatchenko explains, “Through my real estate investing, I have learned what the pain points are when it comes to our target audience (property managers, real estate agents, etc.).” Knowing these pain points has helped AdvantaClean to not just run successfully, but also find solutions to problems the competition may not even recognize their customers have. As Mel Brooks once said when playing the role of Bigweld in the 2005 movie, Robots, “See a need, fill a need.” With access to the needs and wants of your target audience, your company can easily become the answer to all their problems and know what they want even before they do.
You must also be willing to be an expert in all aspects of the industry for long-lasting success. As Lopatchenko claims, “If you are not going to be a subject matter expert who is one of the best in the area, it is vital that you hire one. In my instance, I have an incredible team that has the necessary knowledge to complete the jobs. There are others in the network and industry who rely on their own knowledge and have their employees ask them for advice. Ultimately, there are various ways to run a company, but in-house expertise is a must.”
Additionally, the AdvantaClean team sees obstacles and hardships as a necessary part of any successful business journey. “Nothing is as difficult as it seems, nor is it as simple as it ever seems. There will be challenges, and understanding of seasonality, forecasting, and budgeting will very much come in handy. It is also important to focus on the process rather than the ultimate outcome,” Lopatchenko explains. “Consistent networking, reaching out, training, and follow through will lead to business down the road and the results will not always be instant. I’ve signed up for vendor lists where I did not hear anything back for nine months, and then once I got the call, I became their number one go-to vendor and started getting numerous jobs every single week. Just like in fitness, by trusting and working the process, the results will follow.”
One thing the restoration leader believes helps significantly when building a business’ online and community presence is word-of-mouth and personal relationships. As he calls it, the restoration business is a relationship-based business, and the best use of marketing dollars is buying a cup of coffee or a donut. As he says, “The majority of my long-term relationships have been built over coffee or food as it allows me to learn what the needs are and how we can serve our future and present customers better.”
Lastly, as a company run by a relatively young business entrepreneur, AdvantaClean knows the struggles that come with a lack of tenure in the workforce. However, the team stands by its leadership and also believes committing is the answer no matter how scary it can be. “If you’re young, just do it. It is better to try and fail than it is to always wonder what if. Those who try the most tend to succeed the most, not because they’re better but because they try more. Babe Ruth was known as the home run king for the Yankees, but he was also their strikeout king and held that record for 30 years before it was broken.”
The future isn’t ‘blue’—it’s gold
With the difficult part of establishing their successful location behind them, AdvantaClean now has big plans for the future. As Lopatchenko shared, “Last year was a big year for us in terms of growth. This year, the plan is to stabilize from last year’s growth. Focusing on the operations of the business will allow for the organic growth of AdvantaClean to continue.”
The restoration leader’s final words are about helping others follow in his footsteps moving forward: “If anyone is looking to purchase a franchise in the industry or is looking to integrate other business with the restoration business, they can reach out to me on LinkedIn.”
As the Ukrainian business leader and his company achieve the American Dream and inspire others to do the same, it’s plain to see both the blue period of the brand’s past and the golden future ahead. All that’s left is to fly their flag high and march on.
Watch the full interview below:
If you would like to be featured in a future profile, reach out to Jeff Cross, media director, at [email protected].