Planning Success for
Independent Business Owners

Case Study of Top Hat Chimney Sweeps


Company Profile:

Top Hat is a 30 year old business, started in 1986. Originally run solely by the founders of the company, Jeff and Denise Simmons. Denise did all of scheduling and the books from their home. Jeff ran the business primarily out of his service van. In 1997 they opened a small retail hearth store. In 2001 they were able to purchase a building in downtown Opelika AL, they currently operate from this location.


Trent, Jeff and Denise Simmons' son, grew up helping his dad on jobs but did not know the inner workings of the business. He joined the company full time in 2006. He earned his certifications and became a certified chimney sweep within a very short period of time - the youngest certified sweep in the USA at the time. It was not until 2012 that Trent approached his parents saying that he would like the opportunity to continue on with their vision and eventually run and grow the company. JRM was brought in to assist in achieving this goal.

Why we were called:

  • To assist the company with growth from comprising of 5 employees.
  • Transition the company`s day to day operations to their son, Trent.
  • To keep the business in the family when Jeff and Denise retire.

What we accomplished:

  • We have installed usable financials and dashboards to follow the flow of business.
  • We have added processes and procedures designed to get the company on the road toward growth.
  • Trent leads the charge with growth in mind.
  • We assisted in developing a professional training plan for new technicians.

The results:

  • Trent is now an equal partner in the business and holds the title of CEO, transitioning into running the company.
  • Jeff's job is less strenuous. As founder and company President, he is still the primary spokesperson for the company.
  • Denise is the CFO overseeing the finacial end of the business.
  • They have begun to think about retirement, but that is still at least 5 years away.
  • Financials are in place. Everyone closely follows the business and sees where the money is going.
  • Everyone in the organization has a job description tailored to their individual jobs. All associates are regularly evaluated.
  • Communication is better than ever.
  • Trent and Jeff are the primary trainers with the oldest technician training the newest recruits:
    • - 2 chimney sweep trainees were hired in 2014. Both were fully certified within a year.
    • - A third technician was hired in 2015. He is in the process of getting all of his certifications.
    • - An additional office staffer was hired and is also CSIA certified.
    • - Top Hat now has 4 to 5 trucks on the road, 5 days a week. The business is growing.
  • Pro-formas are used to justify additional expenses before any decisions are made.
  • If the project or expense is approved, goals are reset. Adjustments are made to future budgets to account for the expense while still insuring profitability.
  • We meet as a team 10 days a year to make sure that everyone is communicating.
  • In between visits we communicate via telephone, text and email.

Because of a lot of hard work and with the full cooperation of Jeff, Denise, and Trent; we have been very successful in implementing the changes of ownership and with growing the company. The staff is now at 9 people and sales have doubled.


What is the next step for you?


Give us a call at 678-574-0937 or email us at info@jrmsales-mgmt.com.  It costs nothing to set up a time and talk with one of our highly experienced professionals.  We'll discuss your business and find out if a Business Analysis is right for you.


Want more information on the Business Analysis, the first setp of our engagement process?  Check out our Getting Started page for more information and a video from CEO, Joe Milevsky, discussing the Business Analysis process in more detail.