"The world of an entrepreneur is very unique," says Dan Rubenstein. "When you're starting out and have limited capital resources, you must rely on your own skill set as well as leverage the relationships and partnerships that you have built over the years to help get it off the ground. You have to do whatever is required if you want to succeed. However, it's just as important that your work be enjoyable and that you do not get overwhelmed. Maintaining a good work/life balance is just as essential as building the business."
He speaks from experience. Building on the good will and success of highly successful ventures in both the New York and Chicago areas, Rubenstein decided to try something different. A business proposal led him to South Florida, where "I saw a real opportunity for growth in a new industry."
In his new role as managing partner for Zipworks, Rubenstein and his associates provide operational and technological expertise to professionals in the swimming pool service industry via a franchising model. "As a south Florida resident, like many people, I enjoy swimming in my pool. I know what it would take to be satisfied with my pool service," says Rubenstein. "Zipworks is here to change the status quo and provide franchisees with tools that help them create tremendous value for their customers and, in turn, themselves."
Combining expertise in business and technology, ZipWorks aims to have franchisees operating at maximum efficiency. Their suite of services includes operations, technology, marketing, and customer service. "There must be a value to the service you are delivering. Our goal is to help create long-term value for our franchisees, thus changing the more traditional and currently accepted quick hit approach," he explains. "We are trying to help them realize that the customers they acquire are goodwill and one of the essential building blocks of their company and should not just be frivolously sold off for a small short term gain."
Rubenstein (M.S. '97) came to NSU for its health service administration program. At the time, his stepfather Roman Fisher, a fellow NSU alumnus and someone he considers a "mentor and role model," was managing the largest diagnostic center in south Florida. Fisher encouraged Rubenstein to apply to NSU to advance his career while he was managing a small diagnostic center in Tamarac.
"At NSU, I learned the value of building relationships. It's important to make connections with as many people as possible. There is a good possibility that if you take a genuine interest in learning about someone, that you will have an opportunity to do business with them or someone they know." Referencing his former business in the pet retail and service industry, he continues, "In business, if you have the intense drive of a pit bull, but the soft delivery of a toy poodle, people will want to help you. An unrelenting drive and a kind demeanor are a strong combination."
With an entrepreneurial spirit that is matched only by his desire to help others, Rubenstein describes his management style as "fair and equitable. I want everyone to feel like they are part of a team. I also make sure to listen more than I speak." His philosophy for dealing with people related to his business is to "approach it like a marriage. You need flexibility, humility, trust, and understanding."
Uncompromising in everything he does, at present, the future of the pool industry seems only limited by Rubenstein's imagination.