Case Study: After 20 Years as an Epcon Franchise Builder, Craig Crossley Shares Why He Believes the Future Looks Even More Promising
In 2016 Epcon Communities Franchising, Inc. celebrates 30 years in homebuilding, and 20 years in the franchise homebuilding business. Craig Crossley is one of the original Franchise Builders and 20 years later he continues to build Epcon homes with no thought of slowing down any time soon. Here’s how he described the benefits of working with Epcon.
Epcon Franchise Builder Craig Crossley
- Crosstowne Properties, Ltd.
- Springfield, Ohio
- Epcon Franchise Builder since 1996
- Homes built: 475 units in Ohio area. 300+ units in Carolinas.
- 12 completed communities as of 02/2016
- Plans to build 1-2 communities per year, with 10-30 homes per community for the foreseeable future
- Former mortgage banker with Buckeye Federal bank in Columbus, OH.
- Craig Crossley and his wife are soon to be Epcon homeowners, “The new “detached Courtyard homes” are innovative and exciting, and quite frankly the best choice in our market”, he says.
As a mortgage banker, Crossley developed a professional relationship with Epcon co-founder Phil Fankhauser. With a first-hand knowledge of many of the homebuilding businesses in the Central Ohio area, Crossley, after evaluating the financial statements and business models of the various builders, found that Epcon was one of the strongest he had seen. “When Epcon decided to start franchising in the mid-90s, I had already seen what they were able to accomplish, and knew they had developed something really interesting and unique, so I decided to dive in.”
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The Epcon Advantage
The Perfect Recipe. Years ago, when Crossley was deciding whether to join as an Epcon Franchise Builder, he was told, “it’s going to be a lot of hard work, but we’re going to give you the recipe to “bake the cake” and you just have to follow the recipe for your business.” Since then, Crossley has stuck to instructions carefully. “If you don’t follow the recipe, will you screw up the cake? Absolutely,” he says. “But you find out pretty quickly that the recipe that you’re buying into works. To copy something that works takes away a lot of the risk associated with homebuilding. Equally important, it’s a formula that works as well today as it did twenty years ago.”
Research-Backed Rigor. “One of the things that Epcon does better than 99% of the one-off builders is research and development,” Crossley says. He remembers being part of a meeting where demographic shifts in the marketplace and changes in buying behavior were being discussed. Epcon hired an outside consulting firm to do an extensive survey of buyer preferences to determine what product changes would be required to appeal to a rapidly evolving home buyer.
Capacity for Change. After buyer preference surveys pointed to specific modifications that would be more appealing to Epcon’s target audience, Epcon was all ears. “One of the things Epcon did was narrow down the changing needs of home buyers. When the company started, the people buying Epcon homes were much different. They were part of the “Eisenhower generation” and had a modest set of expectations for their home. But new buyers were starting to emerge en masse, and these buyers had much different tastes and expectations. The Epcon product needed to evolve if they wanted to appeal to this huge wave of potential home buyers. To Epcon’s credit, they took the time to learn about and understand the wants and needs of these buyers, and developed a new line of home products that met every criteria that was indicated in the survey results. Key to the buyers as well as Franchise Builders was a home at relatively the same price point as their previous homes, and that could be built with the same level of detail and efficiency, Crossley remembers, a formula that Epcon worked very hard to deliver.
Franchise Family. Crossley says he can pick up the phone and rely on the support of Epcon’s talented and capable staff, as well as other Franchise Builders at any time. “My small home building company now has a Board of Directors so to speak that I can draw from and that’s a tremendous value of the franchise system,” he says, “With the support you have from Epcon and from fellow Franchise Builders, the likelihood for success is high.”
Crossley says he joined Epcon in the mid-nineties because of the product quality and is more excited today than he was 20 years ago because of the evolving product line. “I think I can have as much fun and enjoy as much success going forward as I have ever had. We’ve come full circle and built all the various Epcon products,” Crossley says.
“After the Great Recession, many builders didn’t make it. The fact that I and other Franchise Builders did, is a testament to Epcon’s products, the things we learned as part of the system and the support we received,” Crossley says.
“There’s going to be a lot of good things in our business for the foreseeable future. Epcon gives you the best product at a great value and when you put it in a good location it’s going to work. I’ve done it many times,” Crossley says. “I’ve looked at some other builders in my backyard and Epcon’s on to something with their current product line. We’re going to smoke them. We just have a better product.
“As an Epcon Franchise Builder, two of the things I value most about Epcon and its product line are diversity and flexibility. We can buy a big site and build attached homes with density. We can buy a small site and build detached homes. Or we can design a site plan and build a community with both home types in mind. It’s a wonderful thing.”
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