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Press Release
: : 6 April, 2005

Water damage related incidents are the No. 1 reason homeowners file claims with their insurance companies, according to the Insurance Information Institute, which is why the nation’s first franchise to specialize in water damage restoration is “flooded” with inquiries from eager entrepreneurs and is quickly running out of available territories around the country.

Based on service demand and the rising level of interest in its niche franchise opportunity, 1-800-WATER DAMAGE, with 70 locations thriving across the United States, projects to dominate the water damage restoration industry with 500 franchises on the U.S. map in the next five years. 1-800-WATER DAMAGE technicians offer homes and businesses, that have experienced water damage, a 24/7 array of services, including: water extraction; basement, crawl space and structural drying; dehumidifying; removing odors; sanitizing; and disinfecting. Technicians respond to customers within 90 minutes.

“The response from entrepreneurs interested in opening 1-800-WATER DAMAGE franchise locations has been amazing,” said Lisa Bongi, president of 1-800-WATER DAMAGE. “It exemplifies the growing demand for our services in communities around the country. We are the only franchise to fill the niche for water damage repair, which is why available franchise territories are going almost as fast as we offer them.”

A Moist Market
On average, two of every 100 insured homes will file a water-damage claim within the year, according to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the nation’s primary source of information, analysis and referral concerning insurance. Also, while most people mistakenly associate home or business water damage with heavy rains, the III attributes the majority of water-damage claims to accidents within the home, such as water heater leaks, pipe bursts and washing machine malfunctions, etc.

Rick Stonell, originally the owner of a carpet-cleaning business in California, realized a business opportunity to focus exclusively on water damage restoration after noticing that most carpet-cleaning services in the Yellow Pages listed water damage restoration as only a small “bullet” in their advertisements. In 1988, he established a company promoting water damage restoration (with carpet-cleaning only a “bullet-point” add-on service in its ads) and quickly became the largest provider in California’s Greater Bay area. He opened a second location in Seattle in the 1990’s and started franchising via word-of-mouth in 1997.

In Fall 2004, with just 18 franchises operating nationwide, the company changed its name to 1-800-WATER DAMAGE, launched a major branding campaign and initiated an official public offering of the newly-named franchise opportunity around the United States. Today, just three months later, 50 new 1-800-WATER DAMAGE locations are open and operating from coast-to-coast.

With its corporate headquarters in Seattle, 1-800-WATER DAMAGE converted a Downtown Seattle warehouse into a training facility and customer support center, which includes a 1,100-square foot residential “flood house.” Equipped with several shower heads , the company actually floods the house to allow franchisees hands-on technical training in restoration techniques. The company also tests new technology at the house.

Eric Little, Director of Franchise Development for 1-800-WATER DAMAGE, previously with AlphaGraphics and Valvoline, believes in a “selective and slow growth” strategy. “We actually have turned away certain candidates because we only want the best and most professional franchise owners representing the quality of our brand,” Little said. “We don’t want to just grow fast; we want to grow right, with the right people.”

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1-800- WATER DAMAGE is a pioneer in the $5 billion dollar water restoration industry, known for bringing its franchisees and customers cutting-edge water damage restoration techniques. The 16-year-old company takes a one-of-a-kind approach to water damage restoration, working directly with home and business owners to ensure that the restoration process is done quickly and to the customer’s satisfaction following a water damage loss. Any customer calling into the 1-800-WATER DAMAGE number is automatically routed to the 1-800-WATER DAMAGE location nearest them.

For franchise information, call (206) 381-3047


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