Franchisor Profile: Jerry Crawford, Jani-King

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Jerry Crawford, CFE, is President & CEO of Jani-King International, Inc., “The King of Clean,” and holds various officer and director positions of subsidiary and affiliated companies. Jerry also serves as a member of the IFA Board of Directors.

“As any entrepreneur knows, it takes a high level of determination and a never-quit attitude to be successful,” said Jerry Crawford, CEO and President of Jani-King International, one of the world’s largest franchise systems.

“Our founder had that determination and, when the cards were stacked against him, he never quit. He believed 100% that he would build a successful business by doing what no one had ever done before. He knew that the more doors he knocked on, the better chance of success he had and the more dreams he could help bring to life for others.”

Founded in 1969, Jani-King was born when its founder, Jim Cavanaugh, befriended a night-time janitor and discovered that there was an untapped opportunity to help that janitor grow his business by signing new customers for him to service. Over the next couple of years, the concept proved to be fruitful, but it certainly did not come easily. After opening its first full-time office in Norman, Oklahoma in 1969, Jani-King began to take flight as other entrepreneurs came on board to help put systems in place for opening new areas. Then, with its most ambitious decision yet, Jani-King embraced the franchise concept in 1974 and sold its first unit franchise in Oklahoma.

Soon the company sold its second and third franchises in Oklahoma, and began to expand into other markets. As more franchisees invested and more support was established, the company moved its headquarters to the Dallas, TX area and began its national development plans. With endless determination the company continued to grow, expanding its franchise system state by state over the next 10 years.

Jani-King's steady domestic growth blossomed into an international success story in 1986 with the system’s first international Master Franchise in Canada. Less than a year later, Entrepreneur magazine ranked Jani-King as the #1 Commercial Cleaning Franchisor for the first time, an honor bestowed upon Jani-King 23 more times.

The 1990s saw exceptional growth for Jani-King both nationally and internationally. The company sold its 5,000th franchise and expanded into Argentina, Australia, Brazil, France, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey. In 1998, Entrepreneur magazine ranked Jani-King the No. 1 Maintenance Franchise and the No. 1 International Franchise in its Top 200 list.

Following the turn of the new millennium, Jani-King boasted more than 12,000 franchisees in 17 countries. The company also bolstered its system and programs by focusing on specialty divisions that trained franchisees to clean hotels, resorts, hospitals, surgery centers, and educational facilities. With regional support offices all over the country, Jani-King’s national accounts program was also in full swing and provided a one-stop shop for customers with multiple locations.

At the controls throughout this tremendous growth cycle, Crawford continued to provide excellent leadership at Jani-King and also to other franchise companies as a member of the International Franchise Association’s Board of Directors. Through his role with the IFA, Crawford has been active on international trade missions which have fostered growth of the franchise industry outside of the United States. Domestically with the IFA, Crawford has participated in meetings on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, has led the IFA’s Educational Foundation, and continues his impressive contributions to the growth of the franchise industry.

At Jani-King, the company is excited to be on path for another successful year in 2015. When other companies were forced to downsize or even close their doors during the recent recession, Jani-King held strong and is proud to have posted positive growth every year of its existence.

While part of that can be attributed to the resilience of the commercial cleaning industry, a solid system must still be in place to withstand any amount of economic turbulence.

“We are fortunate that our founder had the vision to build a business in an industry which is in constant demand,” said Crawford. “What I’ve learned through my experience in this industry is that there are always going to be opportunities to provide cleaning services. In strong economic times, we see an increase in new construction and more companies who are willing to allocate dollars toward outsourcing their cleaning needs so that they can focus on their own growth. In economic downturns, we provide a value solution by offering companies the opportunity to shed costs associated with employee insurance, payroll, hiring and training. When they outsource their cleaning services to Jani-King, those become the responsibility of our franchisees, and Jani-King’s system is set up to help meet those needs.”

While Jani-King may have timely solutions that businesses are looking for, it’s interesting to see how the company has expanded its services from basic office cleaning to environmental services, housekeeping, and stadium cleaning. When you take a step back and consider all of the business that demand janitorial services, you’ll see that there really is a world of opportunity at Jani-King.

Today, Jani-King’s healthcare services team trains franchisees to provide environmental services to hospitals and other health treatment facilities, helping to reduce Healthcare Associated Infections (HAIs). This is a critical role in the health and recovery of patients whose immune systems may already be compromised. Jani-King franchisees also participate in housekeeping training in order to clean hotels, resorts, and timeshare properties. Knowing the details of the hospitality industry has been a key factor in separating Jani-King from general commercial cleaning companies.

An area that has seen tremendous growth over the past few years for Jani-King has been within the stadium and event facility industry. With more than 40 team partnerships, Jani-King has become a leading resource and trusted service provider to many of the largest venues including AT&T Stadium, the world’s largest indoor stadium. Furthermore, Jani-King’s experience in stadium cleaning helped the company exceed expectations at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. As a service partner to several of the host stadiums, Jani-King was awarded a prestigious Best Service Provider award at the conclusion of the tournament.

From a single office in Norman, Oklahoma in 1969 to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, it’s clear that the Jani-King story is one of extraordinary success. But, it’s also an inspiring story of commitment, vision and the never-ending desire to help individuals from all backgrounds realize an opportunity to build a business of their own and reach their goals. That’s the beauty of the franchise industry as a whole – the opportunity to benefit from a system that supports the achievement of dreams.

For more information about IFA and franchising in general, visit the IFA’s website at franchise.org.