Daryl Mirza founded a small restaurant ventilation cleaning company in 1985. Originally doing business as Facilitec USA, the company rebranded in 2012 and now operates as Averus. “Our company is unique in that we started from the ground up,” says Ron Schaefer, CFO of Averus. “Daryl began as a sole proprietor. He had been working in the trenches and, while doing that work, he identified many customer service issues. He wanted to build a business that could sustain a core of customer service and build relationships.”
Schaefer is adamant about the company’s prestige. “We are not just the company that comes out to do a job,” he continues. “We understand the business, we understand the risks and we know what to look out for and what to worry about. We know that reporting is as important to the business as the cleaning process.”
With the experience and resources to back up the business, Averus has grown to become a premier kitchen vent cleaning company at the national level. The business has few, if any, national competitors and focuses on building relationships regionally in order to grow.
Casting a Broad Net
Schaefer describes the company’s niche as offering a little of everything to everyone. “We are one of the only national providers of this service, but that doesn’t describe us well,” he elaborates. “We are that business, but we consider our service to be national with regional flavor.”
Catering to individual markets allows Averus to compete with smaller local companies, which for the most part comprise the only other options for restaurant owners. The business offers a high level of service to the same customers with the advantage of building contracts with national clients.
Averus works in all 50 states, either with its own staff and equipment, or working with local independent contractors. Between all of the business’ regional service offices, the company employs approximately 130 technicians. The team completes daily routes either out of a centralized office or independently with company-owned vehicles. Remote route managers perform their own scheduling with some assistance from the home office. With contractors, Averus often hires smaller operations to pick up occasional appointments with national clients outside of standard service areas. The process is generally smooth, with some flexibility from both ends.
The restaurant market managed to survive fairly well, despite the recent economic downturn. “The economy was certainly a challenge for us, but even in the recession, people like to treat themselves to a little something,” Schaefer notes. “That is oftentimes a dinner out. The restaurant industry suffered a little and you can’t really say it is recession-proof, but it certainly wasn’t affected as much as other luxury items. There has been a consistent demand for our services.”
Like many companies, Averus has been extra tight in the management of expenses, performance and pricing. The company has also made a number of internal changes to help the business run more smoothly.
“These are things that our customers might not even notice,” Schaefer explains. “For example, we have adopted new technology that will improve our turnaround time for services. We have a point of sale signature capture system, where our clients can immediately sign off once the work is completed to their satisfaction. Shortly after that, we have completed documentation of our work, including pictures. We have the paperwork, invoices and reports sooner than ever. Like many companies, we have turned to web-based tools that give our customers better access to information instantly. That has been a driving change in the industry.”
While the management end of the business has undergone a number of changes in recent years, the basic premise and practice at Averus remains the same. “From a process perspective, not much changes in this industry,” Schaefer notes. “We do this work the same way we did years ago. Many industries are going green these days, but our process is hard to label that way. The products we use are digestible and biodegradable. Grease is grease and we use the same products every time to clean out these systems.”
Averus also has a fairly old-school approach to marketing. Much of the company’s work is for repeat customers and national chains, and the majority contact Averus through direct marketing or just stopping by.
“We will have an appointment at one location and there may be another restaurant across the street,” he explains. “So a tech will stop in and say, ‘Hey, we’re providing kitchen exhaust cleaning services across the street and we can do yours, too.’ If it’s a chain operation, sometimes we can pick up multiple location contracts that way.”
The team continues to reach out to potential clients, offering friendly, professional and efficient service at competitive prices. As the economy continues to improve gradually, the company is looking forward to continued growth. With a strong national core and reputable regional presence, Averus offers consistent, high-quality cleaning services to a broad client base.