Jon Mittleman purchased his Fish Window Cleaning franchise in Alpharetta, GA in July 2007. The location had been open and operating prior to his doing so. He shares his franchising experience with Franchise Business Review.
What was it about Fish Window Cleaning’s model that led you to purchase it? I knew I wanted to go into business for myself, but was fearful of the risk it entailed. The idea of a proven model and support that would assist me if things got difficult was reassuring. I had a business-to-business background, so liked that I’d be able to sell business-to-business as well as business-to-consumer and not have to wait for someone to come into my location/store. Finally, and probably most importantly, I had two small children and felt the business would allow me to spend nights and weekends with them.
What advice would you share with people considering purchasing a franchise before they sign the dotted line and once they own it? Do a lot of validation calls before deciding to buy into a franchise. Then, be sure to be capitalized well enough. Even if you think you don’t need the money, it is better to be prepared and be overfunded than underfunded. I have seen too many people take a salary in year one because they need the income to live their existing lifestyle. If you are taking the money from a company that is not profitable enough yet to support your doing so, it will quickly catch up to you. Second, be ready to follow a system. Many of us come from previous careers where we were taught that being innovative was a sure fire way to increase your value in the business world. I would never want to stifle someone’s creativity, but it should be done within the context and framework of the system you PAID for.
What is your work/life balance today? Excellent! I coach both of my children’s sports teams most seasons and recently took on a new role with Fish Window Cleaning corporate. I am able to do both because I have people in place who run my day-to-day business. I typically work about 20 hours on my business and 20 hours as a franchise development manager for Fish Window Cleaning corporate. If I did not take on the new role, I would be working no more than 25 to 30 hours max. When I first started, I was working full-time. I felt I needed to in order to get my income to where I wanted it to be as quickly as possible. I rarely took a vacation because I was worried about things falling apart since I was managing the day-to-day. Now that I have the right people in place, I take a lot of long weekends and focus more on long-term business objectives.
What is it that you like best about owning your franchise from a business perspective and from a personal perspective? From the business side, I like knowing I am in charge of my own destiny. I am motivated every day to perform and am never bored since there are many aspects of the business I can work on. I used to be miserable when I would arrive home from my job working for others and would not be fun to be around for the rest of my family. Despite there being good and bad days in my franchise business, I know I am where I should be. I bring this feeling of well being home with me.
What is the most challenging aspect of being a franchisee? I no longer have a paycheck I can rely on like I did when I held corporate jobs. I also understand that every decision I make has an impact on my business and profit, which is empowering.
How did you find your franchise? Via a franchise consultant who helped me focus on businesses that met my financial and lifestyle criteria.
What type of experience have you found particularly helpful when it comes to successfully running your franchise? I have an undergrad degree in finance and an MBA in marketing, both of which have helped me drive new business and manage my business. I also leverage the sales, marketing, and management experience I gained while working for companies including ADP (Automatic Data Processing), GE Capital, and Delta Airlines.
What kind of support did you most appreciate from your franchisor when you started and what do you most appreciate now? Early on it was definitely the sales, training and operations support. Now, it is knowing that the corporate team is available and helpful regarding whatever questions I have.
What kind of support do you get from fellow franchisees? They are always helpful and speak the truth – positively or negatively – whenever I need a dose of reality. Also, knowing that others have the same issues, concerns and sometimes answers that I do makes me feel more at ease.
To see how Fish Window Cleaning franchisees, including Jon, rate it in a variety of crucial areas such as leadership, culture, training and support, financial outlook, and franchisee community, click here.
If you are interested in learning what it takes to invest in a franchise and how to do so wisely, visit FBR’s Franchise Buyer’s Toolkit.
To learn more about purchasing an existing franchise like Jon did verses opening a new location, read Should You Buy an Existing or Open a New Franchise Location?
To see more franchises that are ranked highly by their franchisees click here.