David Benoit never would have guessed his passion for rugby would open the doors to a rewarding career in the cleaning industry. The British Columbia Institute of Technology graduate was playing the sport when he was offered a job opportunity that would change his life.
“My rugby coach at the time worked in insurance, and one of his clients was ServiceMaster Clean & Restore Vancouver. He introduced me to a contact at the business, and I got hired on as a project manager for ServiceMaster Restore,” he recalls.
It didn’t take long for Benoit to excel in the position, eventually getting noticed by ServiceMaster of Canada President Gary Franklin.
“Gary took me under his wing and put me in charge of ServiceMaster Clean (SMC) Residential for Vancouver as the General Manager. He spent a lot of time mentoring and helping me learn the ropes of the business.”
After four years in this position, Benoit was presented with the opportunity to buy the location and become a business owner. He describes the process as a natural transition due to his experience, knowledge of company operations, and strong relationships with clients and staff. Today, Benoit owns SMC Residential Vancouver and continues to act as the location’s General Manager, in addition to President.
Though it’s licensed as a ServiceMaster of Canada business, SMC Residential Vancouver is locally operated in the Greater Vancouver Area, servicing the niche market of condominiums and strata properties that overpower the Vancouver skyline. These properties represent 90 per cent of the business’s client base, as they provide a wide range of cleaning services including carpet and hard surface floor, roof, window and gutter, and ventilation and janitorial management.
A typical day
Benoit will be the first to tell you that every day brings a new set of challenges and opportunities. Since joining the ServiceMaster team nearly 20 years ago, he’s witnessed the business grow and adapt to meet the needs of an expanding metropolitan Vancouver area. The result has been a drastic change in his own responsibilities.
When he first started as General Manager, SMC Residential Vancouver was fairly small, with three carpet cleaning vans, four janitorial staff members, and one exterior window cleaner. Today, the business is booming, with 22 service vans and approximately 70 employees.
As new business owner, Benoit dedicated much of his time in the beginning to wearing many hats and juggling many tasks, from administration and operations to marketing and sales. Today, he’s built a strong team that runs the day-to-day operations, which allows him to focus on building relationships with clients and working with his staff on business development initiatives. Still, Benoit cannot say with absolute certainty what his day will look like when he wakes up, just that every day is an exciting opportunity to do something new, better, or different.
“When you’re the owner of a business, you have to be flexible. Every day you have to plan out what you want to accomplish, but what it really comes down to is focusing on what’s most important for your company on that given day.”
The flexibility of running his own business is one of Benoit’s favourite aspects of the job, and one he credits to the nature of the ServiceMaster culture. “I view my relationship with ServiceMaster head office as a partnership. There is a proven system in place, but you can adapt it to fit your business needs,” he says.
For example, Benoit has the flexibility to set his own prices and determine what service lines he wants to offer. The local market driven mentality has enabled him to tap into the strata business in Vancouver.
There’s no “I” in team
Benoit has always been attracted to sales and marketing, making his role within ServiceMaster the perfect fit for his career goals. Still, he never passes up the opportunity to praise the relationships within the organization as the heart and driving force behind its success.
“Hands down, the best thing about ServiceMaster of Canada is the fantastic leadership. I’ve worked alongside three ServiceMaster Presidents, and the one thing they all have in common is that they crave relationships with the people they work with. Head office works with you, and they care if you’re successful.”
One of ServiceMaster’s core values is to help people develop their skills, whether they’re in a managerial position or work in the field specializing in central air cleaning, a factor Benoit takes into consideration while running his own location.
“I want to be able to provide growth and developmental opportunities for my staff, and if I can’t do that, I’m disappointed.”
True to his word, every six months, Benoit gathers his team together for a day of training and learning sessions. The day is also spent recognizing and handing out prizes to staff for their hard work. It’s team-building initiatives like this that improve relationships and comradery between employees, something Benoit says he is most proud of.
A willingness to learn
Whether he’s motivating himself or his staff, Benoit begins each and every day with an openness to learning. He describes himself as growth-oriented, and operates with the mentality that nothing in life is permanent, saying “success is only a moment in time, and it can disappear as quickly as it appears.”
Refusing to accept that his job is ever complete, Benoit is known in the ServiceMaster community as the guy consistently pushing ideas and encouraging staff to learn about all SMC Residential Vancouver services, not just their own specialty. “I believe that for us to be successful, we all need to have a 360-degree view of our client base and their specific service needs. It doesn’t matter if you’re in the field or at the office.”
And although he says doing this is one of the biggest challenges he faces as a service-oriented business owner, he wouldn’t change it for the world. “My job isn’t exciting if I’m not working to improve and make things better. I believe that if you want to have success owning a ServiceMaster business, you need to be an entrepreneur who loves to learn!”
While Benoit is modest about his own business achievements, instead preferring to talk about the successes of his team, he does offer up tips that have helped him throughout his career.
“If you’re an entrepreneur and want to be successful with ServiceMaster, you need to be service-oriented, engaged, transparent, and have the intuition to hire the right person for the right job. But most importantly, you need to be able to talk with your staff in order to solve problems and brainstorm ideas on how you can improve. Plain and simple: work together.”
By Kristin Di Tommaso