Rik Nonelle, President of Window Genie, discusses how the brand’s acquisition by the Dwyer Group is positively impacting it as well as what makes it stand out from its competition.
Listen to the full interview here or download the mp3 version.
Did you know? Rik Nonelle is one of Franchise Business Review's Top Franchise Leaders of 2017!
Learn more about the Window Genie franchise opportunity at windowgeniefranchise.com.
What services does Window Genie provide?
Window Genie, is a home services provider. What we call our big three services are window cleaning, window tinting, and pressure washing. It’s the majority of what we do. We also provide ancillary related services like gutter clean outs, chandelier cleaning, replacing light bulbs, other things like that around the home.
What is the marketplace like for your services?
We exist because we do things around the home, that people don't know how to do, don't have time to do, or are afraid to do. You shouldn't send the breadwinner of the home up on a 30‑foot ladder to clean out the gutters, and you shouldn't lean out the windows to try to clean the exterior of those windows. That's where Window Genie comes in. It's much safer for the homeowner and saves them a lot of time when they let Window Genie do things for them. In addition to helping homeowners safe, we enable them to maintain their property, which provides them with better resale value when it's time to sell their home.
Because you offer so many services, your franchisees have multiple revenue streams. Do most also upsell accounts?
Absolutely. We're not a single‑stop shop, but there's a lot of things that we can do.
We started out 22 years ago as just a window cleaning company and evolved into the other services that we do today. The reason was, when you provide professional ownership with skilled trained technicians that are nice and pleasant, and you're still around the next year, what customers typically tend to do is say, "You guys are great, what else can you do?" That's how we moved beyond just being a window cleaning company.
We don't cut the grass. We don't paint the house. We don't spray for bugs. We do certain things, and do those well. For our owners and franchise partners, it's a great opportunity to provide more than one service to help take care of the customer, because nobody likes to call and shop for services, and wait for estimates, and hope that that company ultimately shows up.
In addition to offering multiple services, what other things give Window Genie a competitive edge?
I think any home service can be viewed as a commodity if you don't put extra special attention into how you separate. No matter what the service, price just becomes a price if you don't add to it. We're aware of that fact. We spent a lot of years building the inventory of things that can help make us different.
It starts with a name, and the look, and the feel of the logo. Homeowners that have never seen us in a market before, recognize our branding, so that's a great start. I think we automatically start winning the battle because we have very professional ownership.
We also believe in our customers’ safety. Our wrapped genie mobiles enable our customers to identify us when they look out the window. We run background checks on all employees. Our employees have a photo ID badge so customers can identify them. We're insured in bond and we have Worker's Comp. Based on certain states, there's some crazy laws that if there's issues and injuries on the customer's property that those expenses can fall into the hands of the homeowner. Our goal is to make sure anything like that that happens, it falls back on us. Whether we break something, whether we have an injury, Window Genie's bearing those costs. It does help us stand out from the competition.
Many of these things may sound simple, but together they are impactful. The majority of our competition doesn't do them because they don't want to spend the money.
What kind of support do you provide franchisees with?
Without support, you can fall flat. We've always stressed and built the system around our support for the owners. It runs the gamut. We start with the five days in Cincinnati training. We have five days for a grand opening. Then for brand new owners in the first six months, we have weekly calls with the support team that are designed and dedicated to help that owner get out of the chute.
The first six months are the most critical in ownership, where you've come from a completely different background. It doesn't matter if it's window cleaning, or making subs, or helping seniors, you have to understand the business, acclimate yourself, and know what makes that model tick. We spend a lot of time nurturing the owners through that process.
We have what we call weekly calls, so all owners within the first 12 months hop on a weekly call and share stories. It's a help desk and all things rolled into one. We do have an annual conference where we bring in trainers, coaches, and speakers, and help owners interact with other owners.
We have operations manuals. We have training videos. The list goes on and on, but everything's designed to help the owner understand the business, to become a good Window Genie owner, and then how to learn how to scale their business. Ultimately, they didn't join Window Genie to clean windows, they joined it to ramp and scale a business. To create income and equity. It’s where the coaching comes in after day one.
What kind of support do your franchisees receive from fellow franchisees?
We feel we make it pretty easy for franchisees to support and learn from each other. Everybody knows how to contact all the other owners in the system. We don't hide it. We have a couple of things that are done online including interactive forums that are extremely beneficial for owners.
Do you offer any franchise discounts to someone who's considering your brand?
We're pretty passionate in working with the veterans since we feel they provide a great level of leadership due to their background. We give a discount of 15,000 households at no cost to our franchisees who are veterans as a way to thank them for their service.
What are some of the things that you hear from the owners about their experience with their Window Genie franchise?
One of the first things that jumped out, and the reason I started the business, was more of a lifestyle control. I worked a lot of long hours; days, nights, weekends, you name it. I wanted a business that provided more control over lifestyle, a work‑life balance. I believe Window Genie does this. We're all trying to work harder to grow our business, but we always kiddingly say, "There's no emergency window cleaning." Owners have control of when they're working and when their technicians are working.
Our customers are also really excited to get their windows cleaned for the first time, or have somebody that's coming in and pressure washing their patio deck or their pool, or someone that's finally relieving their husband from getting on the roof and cleaning out the gutters. It's a feel‑good process, all the way through. They're not feeling they're getting stuck and this is an unwanted bill. We're elective service. They don't need anything that we're doing ‑‑ it's a want ‑‑ so they're usually a happy customer at the other side of that.
What is your vision for the brand?
We're not stopping where we are or resting on our laurels. Window Genie was sold to the Dwyer Group in November of 2016. The Dwyer Group is probably the largest franchise service company in the country. They operate almost 2,800 franchise locations that are all home service focused including Molly Maid, Mr. Handyman, Mr. Rooter, Aire Serv, Mr. Appliance, and many others. The power and strength of being part of a large company means we have a deeper level of support and a lot more access to products and services that are discounted that we didn't have before.
The Dwyer Group has created a new umbrella brand created called Neighborly that all 12 of its service brands, including Window Genie, reside under. It gives consumers easy direct access to the franchise services within the Dwyer Group. It also helps all of the Dwyer Group’s franchise partners to access other franchise owners within the Dwyer Group and share customers as well as access customers via some sources that we wouldn't have had before. There's about three million home visits per year within the Neighborly group right now. That's a lot of customers who perhaps have never used Window Genie before that our owners will now have access to.
Window Genie operates in about 120 markets and is looking to add more locations. I think with the Dwyer Group behind us and Neighborly ahead of us, it's a great opportunity for our owners.