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Talking with Impresa Modular Franchise’s Jim Griffin

photos of Jim Griffin and Gary Fleischer

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We’ve all been hearing about ways to improve modular construction and it usually means things like automation and advancements in programming but one area that has never been looked at until recently was franchising the modular housing industry.

Introduced at IBS in Las Vegas in 2020, Impresa Modular Franchising saw a lot of interest, and then like most industries in the US, the pandemic hit in March of 2020 stalling growth throughout the entire construction industry. But that has changed and so has the demand for builders wanting to become part of a national modular home franchise.

I recently tracked down Jim Griffin, the Director of Franchise Development at Impresa Modular, and asked him what is happening at Impresa Modular Franchising.

Gary Fleisher: It’s always tough being the first pioneer. Has there been a good response to learn more about the Impresa Modular Franchise?

Jim Griffin: Yes, the response has been very good.  Our franchise offering is one of a kind.  No one has ever rolled out a “homebuilding franchise that utilizes off-site modular construction as its principal means of construction.” We are the first to bring this to market and being first is what excited me the most from the very beginning.  Working with Ken Selmer bringing this dream of his to fruition has been a BIG BONUS!   

By being first to market, it forced us to look at the opportunity from all angles and begin putting the pieces together, allowing us to roll out a new cohesive business model.  Looking back, building new business models from scratch has been in my DNA my entire career. I thrive in a start-up entrepreneurial environment and am very happy I recognized this opportunity when it presented itself to me. You can say “I wasn’t looking for this, it found me.”  The cautionary note I share is… “inventing something new is not for the faint of heart.” As my unofficial motto, I’ve always liked the verse pinned by one of my favorite songwriters Guy Clark (I’m from Nashville) “Always Trust Your Cape.”

Gary Fleisher: Is there one single type of prospect you see the most wanted a franchise? 

Jim Griffin: We have identified 12 personas that touch real estate and construction.  We haven’t heard from all of them, yet. I’d say Realtors haven’t surprised me as they are on the frontlines working with home buyers, builders, and developers.   Homebuilders, 1-10 homes per year have the most to gain, if they can pivot their resources, they can benefit greatly from the scalability that modular brings to their business.  

Remodeling companies are beginning to find us.  They come in with skill sets that automatically transfer to building modular. Project Management and being able to span across a project’s many aspects and trades are naturally in a remodeler’s wheelhouse.  In these cases, we are a great bolt-on business to their existing businesses.

Gary Fleisher: I often write a lot about the lack of training for “new to modular” builders. Can you tell me about your training program? 

Jim Griffin: Yes, training is one of the 4 pillars of any Franchise, consisting of a Strong Recognizable Brand, Robust Systems, Quality Training, and Superior Support. We have developed Impresa Modular Franchising around these 4 pillars and Training is Key. 

Our training is ongoing and comprehensive.  The learning never ends. To create our Impresa Modular Training, we took the approach of drawing from all the many decades of knowledge base we have as a team. Then organizing and compiling all the information allows us to build a training system around the knowledge base. Our training is a Living, Breathing, and Ever-Expanding Knowledge Base of Materials that lives in the Impresa Modular online portal.  In this learning environment franchisees can always access the materials 24/7, collaborate with the team and other franchisees, add to the materials and get their questions answered in real-time. 

Additionally, we are constantly doing “Live One-on-One Field Training” and always offering “On-Going-Support.” The end game is to flatten the learning curve by helping “first-time off-site Impresa Modular Franchise Home Builders” to be successful in building new homes, by not making the many mistakes many first-timers typically make. I tell prospects that “building modular isn’t necessarily the easy button, it’s different” and you really need our team in your corner. because we’ve lived it, made the mistakes, and can help to avoid their costly mistakes. They don’t want to join the first-time modular home builders “one and done club!”

Gary Fleisher: I understand you already have franchises up and running. Is there a particular part of the US that seems to want to join the Impresa Modular Franchise more than others?

Jim Griffin: I believe if you asked Ken Semler, the founder and President of Impresa Modular Franchising, this question 3 years ago when we embarked on this journey, he would tell you the Mid-Atlantic, Upper East Coast, and Midwest. He would also say he’s totally surprised at where the most inquiries are coming in from. The Southern and Southwestern States.  

We do have many strong valued franchises approved factory relationships in the aforementioned Mid-Atlantic, East, and Midwest and I’m actively talking to many good prospects in these areas. The reality is, I field inquiries from all over the US, on a daily basis. Florida, Texas, Colorado, California the list goes on. 

Presently the strongest areas of demand are coming in from the Southern and South Western States. At the present time, this puts my primary focus on what I call the Upper South. North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, and soon Florida and Tennessee. It is no secret we have embarked on building our own factory in South Carolina, so meeting the demand there is a driver.  

Gary Fleisher: You began offering franchises just as COVID-19 hit. How does 2022 look for expanding the number of franchises?  

Jim Griffin: Yes, after a full year of building out the franchise offering, we soft-launched the last week of January 2020 at IBS 2020, if you can call that a soft launch.  We left the show with a lot of strong interest and as you know walked straight into the Pandemic. I don’t think I have to say more. We used the downtime to sharpen our sword!  

Fast forward to today, we are now populating in new territories with new Impresa Modular Franchise Home Builders, and I expect many more to follow suit. There have been those pausing on the sidelines watching what we are doing, not wanting to be first. Emphasis on “pausing.”  I applaud all the early adopters of the world! It takes leaders to lead. I intend to be a leader in anything I do, and we feel along with our first franchises we are most assuredly leading by paving a new path for others to fall in, join, and lead with us.  

By the time we arrive at IBS 2022, we will have a strong contingent of new active franchise markets open, mostly in Virginia, North Carolina, and West Virginia.  The pipeline is filling and I expect robust expansion over the next coming years.  I’m convinced we are at the right place at the right time considering there’s an extremely dire need for new homes nationwide. Those that are seeing modular construction as the way to fulfill the need for housing will thrive in our new normal that has been forced on us all by the Pandemic. For what we are doing…

I see the future as very bright for the Impresa Modular Brand!

Gary Fleisher: Jim, thanks for this insight into what is happening behind the scenes at the nation’s only modular housing franchise.

This post was sourced from OffsiteBuilder.com

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