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franchising_concept_bullseye(MCT)—Chris Souk’s road to entrepreneurship took him from the U.S. Army to carpet cleaning.

Along the way he went to college, became a broker managing millions of dollars and got his master’s degree. Five years ago, he switched gears once again to become the owner of three Oxi Fresh carpet-cleaning franchises.

Souk’s varied experience has helped him perform quite well at his new gig. In 2013, the Charlotte, N.C., resident was the company’s top-grossing franchisee of about 250 franchises nationwide.

Souk, 40, heard about Oxi Fresh when he visited his brother in Denver, where the company is based. His brother had bought the company’s sixth franchise.

Souk accompanied his brother on a couple of jobs and was impressed with the green technology, which he says requires only two gallons of water versus the 40 to 50 gallons used by the average carpet cleaner. That makes the dry time about an hour.

Souk bought his own franchise in June 2009. He’s since bought two more, and now has the exclusive right to all Oxi Fresh jobs in the greater Charlotte area.

The Charlotte Observer spoke with Souk to discuss how he made his way to the top. And the winner of his company’s “Fresh Idea” award shared some of the unconventional principles he runs his business by:

1. Start early. Really early.

When Souk started his business, he encountered a problem: traffic. He was typically scheduling his first appointment of the day at 8:30 or 9 a.m., when roads were at their most clogged. “I’m thinking, ‘I’m wasting so much time in the car,’ ” Souk says.

His solution: Get to the job before the traffic starts.

Now, customers can schedule their appointments as early as 7 a.m., which is a popular option for people who work, Souk says. Plus, it naturally made for more business.

“If four of my six guys have 7 a.m. jobs, that’s another 24 (jobs) a week, another 100 jobs a month,” Souk says. “That’s a no-brainer.”

He’s also boosted efficiency by using Oxi Fresh’s tracking software to segment his territory. Now an employee doing a 7 a.m. appointment in south Charlotte will do his next job of the day in the same vicinity.

Again, less time spent on the road means more jobs every day.