Building a Business: The Grout Doctor of Oakland

I recently had the opportunity to speak with some Estimate Rocket users about their businesses. It was a wonderful chance to get to know our customers and learn about how they got to where they are today. In this series, we’ll share stories about what they did before, how they got started, and their experiences along the way.

This time, I asked Charles Pellicci IV some questions about his business, The Grout Doctor of Oakland.

What were you doing before you started your business?

I was a student at Golden Gate University, majoring in Business Management, while working full time for a law firm in the financial district of San Francisco. After graduating, I realized that it was time to start paying back my student loans, which I wouldn’t be able to do on my current salary as a records manager.

What made you decide to start a business?

I was walking to the subway station and saw there was a franchise expo at the Moscone Center, so I took a walk through. Most known franchises like Subway were there, but there was also a little booth with a sign saying “The Grout Doctor” where they did a demonstration on changing the color of your grout without removing it. The start up costs were very low compared to most franchises, and you didn’t need a special truck or an actual street location. I decided to give it a try for a while “until I knew what I wanted to do when I grew up”. Now, 25 years later, I’m still at it.

What are the most difficult parts of running your own business?

Not ever being able to call in sick or take a paid vacation can be difficult. I’m always working, even if it's only strategizing in my mind. I’ve seen many people try and fail because it was simply too much pressure to have to be on all of the time.

Estimate Rocket has helped in this area. It’s saved me so much time and effort and frees me up to enjoy more things in life. Before we were using Estimate Rocket, I would have to go out all day and do in-home estimates by hand. When I returned to the office in the evenings, I would then type all of the estimates and file the paper copy and tech copy for future reference.

Now, I just bring my iPad with me to do estimates. The line items we use are already saved in the system so they just pop up (no more remembering to write every little detail on each estimate form). We take before pictures and either send the estimate to the customer, or schedule the job and send a work order to the tech right on the spot. DONE.

What are the most rewarding parts?

The most rewarding thing is knowing I have control over what we do. Being a hard worker who used to do more work than my co-workers and didn’t get anything extra for it, I feel rewarded for how much I do now.

What advice would you give to someone starting a similar business today?

My advice to someone who wants to start their own business is this: Only do it if you're the personality type that doesn’t need a pat on the back when you do well. You need to be self motivated.

Having a paperless system is also helpful. Before, when a customer scheduled a job, I had to pull the paper copy, open the customer in our system, schedule it, add it to that calendar so the office could see it, print the job, staple the hand written copy to it, and write it in my paper calendar book that I carried with me everywhere I went. If a customer called to change the date, I had to reverse all of this and redo it, remembering to erase and change my paper calendar and to change it in the systems calendar (that system was not available for mobile use), pull the tech and office copies, change the dates on them and re-file them.

Now when someone emails to schedule a job, I can do it anywhere from my iPhone or iPad. I could be at the beach, sitting on my sofa or even at the gym. I simply give the customer a date, press email and both the tech and customer gets their work order. Completing jobs is just as easy because my techs can take pictures of the check and complete their jobs themselves. It’s all done for me.

Thank you so much, Charles, for taking time to talk with me about The Grout Doctor of Oakland!

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