The Business Journal of Jacksonville - December 22, 2003
http://jacksonville.bizjournals.com/jacksonville/stories/2003/12/22/smallb1.html

ENTERPRISE
From the December 19, 2003 print edition

Orange Park franchisor helps color the world

Dyeing system allows for color matching

From a small office in an Orange Park strip center, Connie D'Imperio runs an international franchise. And as she loves to say, "We're dyeing for business."

D'Imperio, is president of Color Your Carpet, which promises to "restore the beauty, color, functionality, life and original pristine appearance of your carpet at a fraction of the cost of new carpet."

Using a low-moisture system with a spray wand -- or in intricate cases, an eyedropper or needle syringe -- D'Imperio's franchisees refashion the color of nylon or wool carpets in commercial and residential properties. A 2000+ square foot home can be completed usually within a day.

D'Imperio said she developed the technology from it's infancy. She then bought the company in 1990 and today has 38 franchises -- 21 in the United States plus Canada, Ireland, England, Ireland, Switzerland, Colombia, Venezuela, Australia and New Zealand who serve 200+ locations total.

Clients have included the National Art Gallery in Washington, D.C.; Donald Trump's Mar-A-Lago estate in Palm Beach; and the White House, where a franchisee touched up a sofa and colored beige carpet gold. Photos in a White House briefing room are on D'Imperio's extensive Web site -- www.coloryourcarpet.com -- along with a thank-you from the General Services Administration.

"Carpets don't wear out, they ugly out" is another favorite D'Imperio saying. Holding forth on all things carpeted one December night at a training session, she explained that "traffic will never ruin a carpet -- dirt will" and "hot water and vinegar will clean a carpet a whole lot better than anything else."

There are five franchisees at headquarters tonight. The newest, Paul Boxcer from Essex, England, said Color Your Carpet "seems like a great idea. I saw it work at a residential property and got in touch with Connie. I knew it would be well received in the UK."

The other franchisees are attending for advanced dyeing courses like Robert Coleman of Bend, Ore., who pursued carpet dyeing three years ago. "From car restoration and detailing, I knew car carpets can't be dyed with the technology we had, so I thought you couldn't do households. Now I've sold my other businesses to stay busy with this."

David Harris of St. Paul, Minn., was a senior sourcing analyst with the St. Paul Cos. insurance firm. "After 25 years in corporate America, I wanted to start my own business," Harris said. "I spent four years researching franchises before I bought. You get back-up training, and there didn't seem to be any competition."

Leanne Osborn of Plano, Texas., saw an episode of Trading Spaces that rejected homeowners trying to dye a carpet on their own. "I just knew somebody had a  way to do this and it seemed a great idea for a business"  Osborn said. "I have instant identity with the trademark name so people know what we do right away."

A Color Your Carpet franchise costs $25,890 to $49,500, including $15,000 for a single-area franchise fee plus at least $4,890 for equipment. D'Imperio charges a 3 percent royalty on sales.

Keith Moellmer of Orange Park, the local franchisee at training night, said his income reaches $6,000 in "a high week" and averages $1,500 to $2,000. His clients included Marriott's Spring Hill Suites in Baymeadows and the Holiday Inn near Jacksonville airport, he said. Neither hotel's general manager returned calls for comment, but many letters from hoteliers are displayed on the company's websites.

A former Navy energy lab technician, Moellmer said with his two-year-old Color Your Carpet franchise, "I solve people's problems. It's almost like taking an artist's view on things."

D'Imperio claims three decades' experience in franchise consulting and authorship of a book, "Owning a Franchise Made E-Z." She's listed by the Federal Trade Commission among 22 panelists in a 1995 franchising workshop.She has not joined the large association of franchisors - the International Franchise Association although she does do business in other countries. membership

"For a small franchise that's not unusual," said Richard Duell, a franchise attorney in Birmingham, Ala., who met D'Imperio at a mid-'80s trade show. "The cost to be part of IFA is pretty substantial."

IFA spokesman Terry Hill said the association counts 800 franchise members among 1,500 U.S.-based franchises today. Another source, iefranchise.com, tallies 5,000 current franchises. IFA members pay annual dues from $5,000 to $20,000 depending on gross revenue, Hill said.

"The IFA is a good organization and a great way to hob-nob with the big boys in franchising, but right now I'm too busy building a company to socialize. I've contributed quite a lot to the IFA's projects in the past", said D'Imperio.

Duell called D'Imperio "a very knowledgeable lady. She stands behind what she sells." Recalling her energy, he added with a laugh: "I need to call her periodically to get pumped up myself."

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(Technical corrections by Color Your Carpet, Inc.)
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