Window Genie Franchise Review: Dragan Malesevic, Jacksonville, Fla.
Entrepreneurship was inevitable for this Window Genie franchise owner
Dragan Malesevic, 50, followed a long path to Window Genie. Dragan is from Bosnia. The son of an professional photographer emigrated to the United States with his wife Roberta during the Bosnian civil war in 1996. After resettling in North Carolina, he ran a photography studio, but he saw the business changing, and in 2012 he took the opportunity to grab a severance package during a company reorganization and start over doing something new. “I was looking to start something, and I thought, ‘franchising sounds good.’ You have a model to follow but you’re still your own boss,” says Dragan. “I was 49 at the time, and I didn’t want to start something out of nothing.” Now a franchisee in Jacksonville, Florida, Dragan likes to spend his spare time at the beach with Roberta and their two children, Andrea, 21, and Anthony, 10. He also plays guitar in a traditional Bosnian music band. Dragan shared his Window Genie experience with us.
How long have you been a franchisee? Since October. I’m really brand new. By December I already had 40 customers. Those people are already repeat customers. It fits me. In my last job, I had a lot of sales, and I always loved it. I love talking to people. I like to go out and see what personality does that person have and how do I approach this person and that person. Talking to my customers — it’s natural to me.
What were you doing before you owned a Window Genie franchise? I was a photographer and my father was a photographer. I was working for School Pix. In the end I was managing two states and 400 employees. I worked there 16 years. Unfortunately, the photography business is changing. With cell phones having cameras and cameras being cheap, business is going away. I had access to more and more data, and we calculated how long that small photography business would last. It’s like ice at the turn of the century — it was very lucrative until refrigeration came along. On top of that it was an employee-owned company. There was some restructuring going on and we had an opportunity to take a severance package, and that’s what I did.
How did you find out about Window Genie? I found Window Genie online. I signed up for a service through a franchise portal. They send you messages. I was looking at the top 500 brands and cross-referencing these against each other. I wanted to move away from photography, but I still wanted to do something in service. That’s where my background was. I wanted something that would capitalize on our nation becoming older. I was thinking of some way to offer services to people. People, as they’re getting older, they’re going to clean their own windows less and less. Also, I wanted something scaleable. I had been managing 400 people, and I wanted something more evolved, more hands-on. I started talking to different people in Window Genie. The culture is something that really sealed the deal. I talked to different owners, and they were very down-to-earth and honest. I realized I could show up and wow my customers and do my business and take care of them. There’s not too much thinking involved and not too many moving parts. You go and get customers and do good estimates, do a great job and follow up with them and move on.
What services do you offer? Window cleaning, window films, pressure washing, gutter cleaning and also tile and grout cleaning.
How important is it to have window-cleaning or other home services experience before joining Window Genie? I didn’t have any. I didn’t know what double-hung windows meant. If you’re not afraid to learn, you’ll do great. I never even thought in the back of my mind, how will I do this? It’s repetitive — once you start doing it 10 times, you can do it.
How did you end up in Jacksonville? I had lots of friends in Jacksonville. Both me and my wife, Roberta, had lost our jobs. We always wanted to live close to the water, and then we knew it would be good for the business side of this franchise. Winter here is very short.
What do you like about being a franchise owner? You have a system that works. On the other hand, you are independent and you are welcome to polish and fine-tune your decisions so you can be more successful. If you want to push to do certain things, you can. You are your own boss. I grew up working in a family business, so being a business owner comes naturally to me.
What sets Window Genie apart? The culture. It’s a close-knit community of owners, and we help each other and talk. They have integrity. They lay it out: This is what we have to do, this is how we have to do it. There is no cutting corners. To me, that’s really appealing.
How large is the opportunity to grow with Window Genie? I would say the sky is the limit. It’s up to you how aggressively you want to grow. I was looking at 3-4 months to break even, but I’m breaking even in six weeks. It’s working. I’m not doing anything special, just following what (CEO and founder) Rik (Nonelle) says. I didn’t start fine-tuning a lot yet because I’m swamped and the learning curve is still there. I’m still learning a lot about the different parts. When that becomes second nature, it’s going to be a cakewalk.
Who are your target/ideal customers? It is mostly residential. I recently booked my first commercial customer — a hotel. I just came from giving an estimate for a $3 million home with 70 windows. Five miles away, I gave an estimate on a little home with nine windows. One estimate is $90, the other is $670. My territory is three counties: Clay, St. Johns, Duval. There are 46,000 households. I’m already scheduled next week and the week after that.
How are you marketing your business? I’m running an ad in a home magazine, doing a Valpak promotion, doing Google ads, I signed up for a home and patio show in the spring, and I do advertising in the country club magazine.
How does Window Genie compete with independent contractors? I have really good competition. One is Window Gang, a national franchise, and the other is a Home Pros, a really well established local business. I’m competing by being professional. I’m following the sales system down to a T, exactly how I was told by [Vice President of Operations] Ken [Fisk] and Rik. With the van, we have a very good appearance, very clean. Our technician will go the extra mile to make the customer happy. It’s consistently staying in touch, communicating with my customer and my technician. If a lady says she doesn’t want all the screens on her windows and she says, “Hey, can we take them down?”, then yes, we can take them and help the customer and sell the screens for scrap for $50. You’re establishing a relationship. Most of my customers are elderly retired people. Sometimes they have a little something extra they need. If it only takes five minutes to do it, then yes, we’ll do it.
What attracts customers to Window Genie rather than its competitors? I’m trying to win people over with professionalism and good service at a competitive price.
What does your typical day look like? I will get up and check emails and check to see if there’s any online quotes that came in and get in touch with my technician and see what he’s doing. I will do estimates. I go to the office in the afternoon to organize jobs and talk to people and ask how did things go and did they like the service. I will ask if they want to schedule a recurring job. It takes 8-9 hours. Twice a week I do banking and paperwork. I’ll work weekends, go with my technician to do a 2-day job. I help if something wasn’t installed properly. There’s always something to do.
What kind of person do you think would enjoy owning a Window Genie franchise? It’s a people business. First of all, you need to be an entrepreneur, somebody who likes to run and take care of a business. A lot of people in the corporate world see everything as a burden instead of something to learn and a challenge. Those are not people who would be good at this. Once you put everything in place, there’s nothing better than a job well done. You need entrepreneurial spirit. You need to be self-disciplined. You can easily fall behind if you don’t take care of things that need to be taken care of. You need to be an independent thinker. It’s your business, and if you don’t make it happen, it won’t happen. You also need to be fairly good with numbers. You need to know what you’re spending and what you’re making. You need some general knowledge of profit and loss.
What does franchise ownership allow you to do in your personal life that you couldn’t before? Ownership lets you steer the business where you want. It lets you make a business as big or as small as you see fit. If you are in the corporate world, you don’t have control over how much you to handle. I guess that’s the greatest benefit of it. If I want to work 16 hours a day, I work 16 hours a day. If I want to work seven hours a day, I can work seven and still be successful. Another advantage is you can make it a family business. Most of our franchisees are husband-and-wife teams. I’m planning to pull my daughter into it, too, and make her a full-time salesperson, and my wife will do operations, and it could be a nice family business.
Learn more about Window Genie
Window Genie franchisees need a net worth of $150,000 and liquid assets of $40,000. Our 20 years of experience have helped us carve a solid lead in the home services market, and we have few national competitors. We added 50 units last year, bringing us to a total of 196 Window Genie franchises across the country.
If you’re interested in learning more about our simple, scaleable business model, please fill out the form at right. We’d love to start a conversation with you!