Pushing franchise expansion with what executives say are the most “sexy” and profitable car washes in the world, Tommy’s Express takes the No. 1 spot after debuting at No. 2 on this ranking last year. System sales grew an incredible 881 percent from 2019 through 2021, and Tommy’s has its “foot on the gas,” says CEO Alex Lemmen, with a mature infrastructure ready to open 60 to 120 car washes a year. Read more from Lemmen and President Ryan Essenburg, and check out strategies from all 40 franchises in this exclusive research project that identifies sustainably growing brands.
#2 United Real Estate
Residential real estate brokers
Zooming to No. 2 on the Fast & Serious list from No. 49 the year before, CEO Dan Duffy marveled at the past three years. “2021, and really the latter half of 2020, and the first half of 2022, were literally the best real estate markets ever, in the history of the United States. The population is larger, life happens and people were on the move. They could work where they wanted to live,” he said. “All of those factors influenced people accelerating decisions about retirement, moving to where they wanted to live and maintaining their jobs. Sixty-eight percent of all job posts on Indeed offered some degree of flexible work. And prior to the pandemic, it was less than 6 percent. So that’s a massive societal shift that happened.” United Real Estate was perfectly placed. “We built a business model which is aligned with where the industry is going,” he said. “Brokerages were becoming more efficient, agents were becoming more efficient and wanted to keep more of what they earned. It’s more lucrative for an agent, and ergo why our brokerage is growing and some others aren’t.” Another factor is “interlopers” into the space, “they refer to themselves as disrupters, they have come and gone. iBuying is a perfect example,” in which Zillow, Redfin and Opendoor among others buy houses with cash using an algorithm and then flip them as fast as possible. “A lot of those interlopers and quote-unquote disruptive technology-forward companies, those business models were too much, too far, too fast.” While some of their theses were correct, “they didn’t execute properly.” His motto for growth? “Our business is almost five times the size that it was five years ago,” he said. “We got to the dance by being nimble and being curious, and making informed, fast decisions, and tacking. You can’t be fixed in your thinking.”