Interview with Steamatic Canada CEO – Nancy Raymond


Jul 16, 2020

Entrepreneur recognized in the business community across Canada, Nancy Raymond decided to take the plunge into the business world by acquiring a disaster recovery branch in Gatineau in 2005. Her first challenge: completely turn the business around and consolidate her family life with her professional obligations. In 2007, she acquired the network to which her office belonged, becoming sole shareholder, president, and general manager of this network. In 2016, she acquired the Steamatic Canada network, with 35 franchises at the time. She also believes in being involved in various associations and causes related or not to the insurance field and sits on several committees. Today, a graduate from the École d'Entrepreneurship de Beauce and recipient of several awards in entrepreneurship, it is thanks to her business acumen, leadership and ambitions that she has become a highly appreciated, respected and influential woman in the business world and in the insurance industry.

.  What’s the story behind Steamatic Canada?

Nancy Raymond:  Steamatic is a globally known company dedicated in cleaning and restoration following a disaster, as well as specialized cleaning. With 46 franchises around Canada, Steamatic Canada also benefits from international support from all over the world, most notably in the USA, South America, Europe, and Australia.

My experienced team and I are leading Steamatic Canada into a new era of development by becoming one of the most powerful players in the industry. Steamatic focuses on using the best practices and meeting the highest expectations of the industry. Our values are respect, rigour, devotion, team spirit and social commitment. Because of this, Steamatic is the undisputed choice in restoration.

.   What made you decide to create this franchise?

Nancy Raymond:   I didn’t create it. The Canadian division was founded in 1968 and I have been the Master Owner of it since 2016.

.   What was your background prior to forming the company?

Nancy Raymond:   I worked in different fields over the years and I had been looking for my vocation for a while. I knew I had some leadership qualities, but I didn’t know where to go. At some point, I had four separate jobs, including one part-time job in the family business.  I have always been passionate about the business world. But at that time, I was a single mom, so I accepted a position with the Federal Government to have a little more stability and security. After 10 years, I realized that this wasn’t for me at all. I tried to go back to the family business but there wasn’t room for me. I was introduced to a few different businesses who needed some new blood, and it’s at that moment that I met someone who owned a property restoration business here in Gatineau. I bought his franchise and became part of his network in 2005. In 2007, I purchased his master licence in order to run his whole Quebec division.

.   Can you tell us a about the property restoration market?

Nancy Raymond:   The market has evolved over the years, primarily with the implementation of various estimations and communications software. Fifteen years ago, the claims adjuster would give you an assignment over the phone or by fax. We now have platforms like Xactimate or Symbility with which we can exchange directly with them. Nowadays, our industry is much more structured than it was 15 years ago. Another direct effect of this has been the growth and evolution of more networks, which is why I decided to leave my previous position to purchase Steamatic Canada. The offers from the insurance companies were going more and more towards the direction of the networks who were represented from coast to coast. One reason was because they preferred dealing with one head office and not 46 independent companies. I have seen many of those independent dealers go out of business because they couldn’t adapt to this new reality. The fact that all our franchisees use the same guidelines reassures the insurers and helps to build trust between us.

.   Could you describe your corporate culture?

Nancy Raymond:   As customers become increasingly demanding, it is essential to question the direction of the company through the demand for the industry. It is important that all employees are aware of these aspects as they are the foundation that connects every Steamatic employee from coast to coast. We all have the same goal and we all must work together to achieve these goals. As representatives of the Network, our duty is to uphold our values of respect, devotion, rigour, team spirit and community evolvement at every level of the business.

.   Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?

Nancy Raymond:   I come from a family for whom, business is in their blood. I’ve seen firsthand what a great work ethic is, how important customer service is, the importance of respecting your commitments, the name and the reputation of your brand, etc. My greatest inspiration is my grandfather. When I had a chance to spend some time with him and that we talked, I could feel that he was really listening and that I had 100% of his attention. I could feel that I was the most important on Earth during those moments and he was always there for me.

The people who impress me the most are the ones who have a fighting mentality and have survived through tough times in their lives and have always kept going forward. I admire people who are very resilient.

.   What are the advantages of being a Steamatic Canada franchisee?

Nancy Raymond:   Every entrepreneur knows that they must work within their strengths and that they must surround themselves with people who can make up for their weaknesses. For example, some are good in the daily operations, while others might be better in finance. You must surround yourself with good people. Being part of a franchise network gives you the chance to be the best at what you do, while being backed by a large group of people who are there to help you in different aspects of your business like HR, finances, etc. It’s almost like a franchisee would hire a Business Development Manager or an HR Manager, but he doesn’t have to bring him/her on his team since he can benefit from the Head office’s expertise. We always put the franchisee’s interests before ours. When we sign a new corporate partnership, we are always present them to our franchisees to make sure that they’re comfortable with it. It’s similar to a business club. An entrepreneur might isolate himself when things get tough, but when you’re a part of a network like ours, it enables you to have different options when you have questions. The fact that you’re not alone, saves you time and energy therefore you can focus on your daily operations instead of having to think about everything else.

.   What differentiates Steamatic Canada from its competitors?

Nancy Raymond:   Great question. I often answer that it’s our team at the head office because we have the experience and expertise, but also very open-minded and we always focus on integrity. We don’t sugar coat things. Our clients know that when they talk to us, it will be a very intelligent and honest discussion. It’s a win-win situation. Whether with my franchisees or my corporate partners, I have the same mentality. It must benefit everyone. We are honest, ambitious, and easy-going people who will always be there to help. Some of our competitors might have lost this mentality because they have become much bigger and corporate oriented, but we are one of the only networks who is Canadian owned. We have the Canadians’ interest at heart and we’re there to help people who have been impacted by a disaster. Our mission is to offer an exceptional quality service every single time.

.   What advice do you have for someone looking to acquire a franchise?

Nancy Raymond:   From the bottom of my heart, the best advice I could give would be to make sure that the people at the head of the network share the same values as you do. You could be in a business partnership for 10, 15 or 20 years, so if you don’t think that the people at the head office share the same vision of things as you – both personally and professionally – look elsewhere. Those people will represent you, so you need to be comfortable with them and you have to be proud to say that you’re part of their team. You’ll invest money there or elsewhere, better do it somewhere where you’ll feel good. I really believe that Steamatic belongs to the people who form the network.

.   In your opinion, why do you think that Steamatic Canada would be a great opportunity for someone?

Nancy Raymond:   Even though Steamatic is 52-year old, my team and I have managed the Canadian division for only four years. Our numbers show it, we’re still growing, and it keeps getting better. Our franchisees are excellent partners because we have selected them and there’s a natural fit with them. I take the time to personally talk with each of them to make sure that I, Nancy Raymond, can put my name beside the franchisee’s name. It’s a partnership and it has to be enjoyable for everyone. We are a young company and the fact that we don’t have deals with all of the insurance companies allows us to offer our clients an exceptional quality service as opposed to a bigger company who has deals with all of them, but when there is an overload, they’ll part with their clients. At Steamatic Canada, each and every one of our clients is important. Also, when I was a franchisee many years ago, I was disappointed by the service I was getting from my own network at the time. My management team and I are continuously asking ourselves if we offer enough and if we’re present enough for our franchisees. They spend a certain amount of money when joining our network.  Plus, they pay royalties. We hope that they think that they’re getting their money’s worth and that they know that if anything happens, we will be there for them.