Originally from Greensboro, NC, Joseph Dalton (Joe) and his family relocated to the Lake Mary area in 1979. Joe’s father, Joseph Dalton Jr., purchased the Servpro of North Seminole County franchise not long after they moved. Six years later, he purchased Servpro of West Volusia County. After 35 years in business, Joe’s father was ready to step down and he asked Joe to come on board and help facilitate that transition.
“As my father started looking for an exit strategy, he approached me about taking over," Joe said. "He wanted me, along with my younger brother, whom had spent his entire career there, to begin buying him out. He had very little growth in the years leading up to his retirement and I was confident I could take the business in a new direction. The timing was also perfect. I was ready to move on from my previous business.”
Before officially taking over as partner/operator in September 2016, Joe spent the previous four years as owner of a management consulting firm. He gained a tremendous amount of experience working with small business owners and helping improve their operations. He also worked with many struggling companies and saw the potential to revitalize his father’s business as a great opportunity.
“The Servpro brand is incredibly strong,” Joe said. “The company was started 50 years ago and, today, it’s the number one restoration company in the country. Our franchise reputation was good, but when I took over, there was a tremendous amount of complacency among the employees. There were minimal sales and marketing strategies in place to enable us to compete in today’s restoration market. I established a marketing division with a strong social media/internet focus. I restructured the operations and accounting department and brought in a very strong Office Manager. In 2017, we saw 17% growth and 2018 saw 28% growth. We currently only have one employee remaining from the group that was here when I took over.”
As commercial and residential water/mold/fire damage remediation, clean-up and restoration companies, ServPro of North Seminole & West Volusia Counties are unique for a number of reasons. Joe’s franchises are licensed to handle biohazard/crime scene clean-up; cigarette smoke odor removal; move-outs/pack-outs, etc. They’re also part of ServPro's Large Loss Team. If a hurricane or natural disaster affects Georgia or the Florida Panhandle, Joe is able to send his teams to assist. They also provide an ‘Emergency Response Profile’ for commercial buildings. It's an "app" that allows a facility manager or anyone on site to quickly determine where necessary water/gas/electric shut-offs are in the event of an emergency. They’re also able to call Joe and his team with the push of a button.
Perhaps the biggest thing that sets them apart from other competitors in the market is company culture. “We recognize that when our phone rings, the person on the other end is not happy,” Joe said. “Their life has been turned upside down by fire, water or mold damage or they’re a commercial business and they want to get up and running quickly. It’s our job to go in and help them visualize how we’re going to get their home or business back. We’re all about positively impacting our customer’s lives. When we’re done, we want them to believe our slogan, 'Like It Never Even Happened'."
Joe and his team are also very involved in the community. They’ve been asked to participate in National Night Out in October with the Sanford Police Department and they also support Breast Cancer Awareness month in October by wearing pink Servpro shirts. Joe serves on the Economic Development Board of Directors for the City of Sanford, on the Board for Seminole County Young Life, a faith based organization that works with high schools and on the Board for Teen Challenge, a program that works with young men struggling with addiction.
Joe, and his brother/partner, Jason Dalton, thoroughly enjoy and take pride in what they do. “We have the unique opportunity to impact someone’s life in a positive way every day,” he said. “Our customers have had their lives and/or businesses interrupted with a water/fire/mold loss. Our immediate goal is to ease that fear of what happens next.”
Looking ahead, Joe is focused on being the leading restoration company in Seminole/Volusia County and giving back to his customers, employees and community. He’s not interested in adding a third location. According to Joe, the growth potential with the two franchises is right where he wants to be.
What advice does Joe have for aspiring entrepreneurs? “Hold yourself accountable first,” he said. “Own your mistake(s) and move on. Be better today than you were yesterday.”