Window Genie Franchise Review: Jason Hatch, Des Moines, Iowa
This franchisee knew buying a Window Genie was the right move
Jason Hatch wanted to be an architect but ended up in business management. He worked in telesales, then moved into retail management. He dabbled in outside sales, going door-to-door. The lesson he learned: “When you’re self-employed and you’ve got the gift of gab, you can sell anything.” Jason eventually tired of corporate jobs, and decided to do something that was less exhausting, mentally and physically. He decided to try his hand at window cleaning.
“They looked at my credentials and said, ‘You are way overqualified to be a window cleaner; we don’t think you’re going to be happy here.’ I said, ‘Let me give it a shot.’”
They did, and Jason was happy as a window cleaner. When the business changed hands two year later, he took over running the business for the new owner. Then, five and a half year later, opportunity came knocking again.
“The day after my youngest was born, the owner was on the phone and said, ‘I’m looking for another venture; do you want to buy Window Genie?’ I said, ‘Do you want the check today or tomorrow?’ ”
As an owner, he admits he had a “rough start” the first three years. In year four, he doubled his revenues. Now in his sixth full year, “we’re on track to double again next year,” Jason says. He shared his experience with us recently.
What do you find satisfying about being a franchise business owner? I’m in business for myself, not by myself. I’ve got a lot of close friends in the Window Genie family, and I do consider it a family. If I’m having a down day, I can call them and they’ll say, “Here, try this or try this.”
How long have you been a franchisee? Six years.
Do you perform any of the services yourself? Not a lot anymore. Right now we’re slammed, so I jumped back into the truck just to get things done. I didn’t have anyone to allocate on film, so I said, “Okay, I’ll jump in the truck. I’ll get it done.” We have a verbal commitment on an extremely large film job — $150,000 to $200,000, depending on what film they decide on.
How many employees do you have? Three full-time, two part-time and myself and my wife. I’ll probably pick up two more part-time in the spring.
How important is it to have window cleaning or other home services experience before joining Window Genie? You don’t have to. That’s the reason I bought the franchise. When I decide to sell, the person I sell to doesn’t have to know jack squat. You learn it all through the system. I’m an owner-operator. Steve Sarafin is the largest Window Genie owner in the system. His franchises started four days after this one. Neither of us knew how to clean a window, but now, neither he nor I are afraid to jump in a truck and get the work done when push comes to shove. The work has to get done no matter what, plus it helps with morale with the guys. I tell them, I’m not going to put you in a situation where I wouldn’t do something myself. If I fire someone, which I have, I say to the new guy, “grab your stuff and I’ll go with you.”
What do you like about being a franchise owner? I started out working for McDonald’s at 14 or 15. I like the structure and the consistency of a franchise system. I knew someday I would own a business. I put most of my chips on the franchise side of things. If you’ve got Bob’s Burgers and McDonald’s and both are doing $1 million in sales every year, Bob’s Burgers is going to sell for a lot less than McDonald’s. They can command 2-3 times their gross revenue vs. Bob’s Burgers. At McDonald’s, they’re going to stick around and teach you everything they know. A franchise system has a committed relationship with you. They’ll tell you to do A, B and C, and don’t do D or E.
What sets Window Genie apart? I think the integrity and consistency and standard of excellence. I’m known as the most accessible window cleaner in Des Moines. That’s the way that I roll. I’m going to be higher-priced than everybody else, but they know they can rely on me and that consistency. I still get calls.
How large is the opportunity to grow with Window Genie? Huge. We have 300,000 households in four counties: Story, Polk, Warren and Dallas counties.
How do you market your business effectively? You can spend yourself silly; you can’t cover that much territory and be as efficient as I am. I’ve got two trucks that roll every day. You’re 55 minutes from the far northern part of my territory to the far south. From the far west to the east, it’s 50 minutes. That’s not city driving, that’s bare-knuckles interstate driving at 70 mph. If I’ve got to drive 45 minutes to do windows because somebody calls me out there, I make it price-effective.
Who are your target/ideal customers? Right now, residential. I’m trying to break into commercial. Right now most of my customer base is residential customers between 28 and 55 years of age. The older market is a good market, but most of them are on a fixed income and don’t have a lot of disposable income.
How does Window Genie compete with independent contractors? I don’t consider it competition. I call it Bob and a bucket. We have 36 window cleaners in Des Moines. I only consider two of them to be competition. One is a $3 million business, and he does commercial and high-rise. The other one buys up smaller companies and doesn’t know what he’s doing. Everybody knows the consistency that comes out of my shop. Most of my business is through referrals. I’ve gotten several reviews on Angie’s List that say things like, “They were only here an hour and my windows have never looked better.”
What does your typical day look like? Depends on the season. The spring and fall months, I don’t have a typical day. I wake up, make sure the paperwork is at the shop and make sure the guys get out. If we have overflow, I jump in the truck and go do it, or I do estimates or go socialize with high-end clients and grease the wheels with people who haven’t jumped over the fence to my service. I socialize with the glass companies, bring them a cheesecake, things like that. I do lots of quality control. If the work’s not consistent, I want to nip it in the bud right away instead of waiting.
Is there a lot of turnover in your business? My standards personally are very high. I am not as much of a micro-manager as I used to be because it was hard to keep people employed here. I want it to be perfect every time. You have to shoot for the stars and, worst-case scenario, you land on the moon.
What kind of person do you think would enjoy owning a Window Genie franchise? I would venture to say someone who’s an entrepreneur at heart. It doesn’t take a lot of capital, so it would be good for somebody who’s got a lot of personal drive and doesn’t need to be jump-started every morning. I’m building an asset. I’m a workaholic by nature, so it’s not beyond me to work a 15-hour to 18-hour day. I’m willing to work extremely hard for a short period of time so I don’t have to in my older years.
What does franchise ownership allow you to do in your personal life that you couldn’t before? I’m building my own asset versus building someone’s else’s asset. It’s job security. You’ve got to be a pretty big moron if you fire yourself. You set your own schedule, you set your own destiny. I can wake up when I want, go to bed when I want, go on vacation when I want. Granted, you can’t do that when you first start out. You set your own salary. If I can make a half million in a year, I’m not satisfied. I know I can make a million.
Would you recommend a Window Genie franchise to someone else? Once you learn it and you’ve done it, it’s very simple because it’s so repetitive. I can clean a window in my sleep. It’s a simple 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!