Window Genie is a nationally ranked franchise offering window tinting, window cleaning and other services to residential and commercial markets. Window Genie was founded in 1994 with corporate headquarters located in Cincinnati, Ohio. Window Genie employs trained, experienced professionals and uses only the finest equipment and supplies. All of their methods have been tested in the office and in the field, ensuring that both franchisees and customers benefit from a proven system that works.
Along with several other national rankings, Window Genie has recently been named the 41st fastest growing franchise in America for 2012 by Entrepreneur Magazine.
Rik Nonelle, CEO of Window Genie, is a graduate of The Ohio State University and has a background in marketing and finance. After spending eight years in the corporate world, he decided it was time to go into business for himself. He came to the window cleaning industry the same way many of their franchisees do.
“I just looked at all options,” he says. “I ruled out food and retail – those were of no interest to me based on the dollar commitment to start, and the time commitment as well. You’re working all morning to get your trucks unloaded, and 11 o’clock at night your restaurant is still open. That didn’t appeal to me.”
Nonelle settled on the service business, and discovered that window cleaning was “one of the last great service areas.” It was dominated by the independents, and when he started in 1994 there were no national competitors in the industry. Window cleaning, as a franchise concept, did not yet exist. From the beginning, Nonelle’s intent was to “start it, build it, and grow it.”
“We knew if we did it right, and got a little bit lucky, there would be an opportunity to franchise the concept,” he explains. “That was the goal from day one.” Today, they have over 100 locations in 22 states.
Behind Window Genie’s success is the quality of their franchise partners. Though they come from a diverse range of industry backgrounds, Nonelle says the uniting factor is they all “get” Window Genie and their mission in their market.
“They get that we have an opportunity to be the most recognized brand in the marketplace, and that we are growing rapidly and on track,” he says. “They want to be on board that train. They get it, they understand the lifestyle opportunity and they want to run it correctly.”
That quality of ownership helps set Window Genie apart with customers. “What you get with us, number one, is professional ownership. That differentiates us on the phone immediately.”
Window Genie also conducts background checks on all employees, something nobody else does. “If you trust us to come into your home, we have an obligation to make sure the people we bring in have been screened,” Nonelle says. “We let the customers know this and that every employee wears an ID badge that has their photo, corporate phone number and an ID number.”
For added protection and peace of mind, customers receive an email reminding them of their appointment as well providing a photo of the technician that is scheduled with them. Window Genie also has the photos of each employee on their personal profile page in the www.WindowGenie.com site. “We guarantee the person who is supposed to be at your home is the one that’s there,” explains Nonelle.
Window Genie technicians are not only trustworthy, they are also dedicated. “What we typically find is we have employees who are committed to helping their owners grow their business. They don’t treat it as a job. If you’re not motivated, energetic and self starting, you don’t last very long.”
Most importantly, Window Genie also has a “Streak-Free Guarantee” – everything they do is backed by a policy that says if a client is not satisfied, Window Genie will return to the job and make it right. “That sounds basic and obvious, but the stories about our competition never calling back, or not showing back up when they promised, or showing back up and creating even more problems – they could fill a room,” Nonelle says. “We have a true customer satisfaction policy. We fix what we do and stand behind it.”
That policy, combined with their professionalism, allows Window Genie to automatically rise above the crowd. “As long as our price is competitive, it should be a no-brainer for our customers to pick us.”
The complete package
Window Genie attracts owners for a number of reasons. At the top of that list is the fact that they have a proven program that works. Beyond that, they also have a low initial investment level; they are ranked as one of the top franchises under $100,000 – and have very limited competition. “Our owners are only limited in their growth by their ability to manage the business,” Nonelle says.
They also offer a complete package of support. Nonelle explains that they have a 7 percent royalty, and corporately their goal is to consistently earn it. They offer everything from training, grand openings, to underclassman calls. Underclassmen calls are phone calls conducted every two weeks, dedicated to helping new owners with their daily issues in growth, finance and strategy.
Once a month they also have best practice calls regarding the higher level issues everybody in the system can contribute and learn from. Nonelle says it’s important in general to make it easy for each owner to interact and learn from every other owner. “We are all on the same team, and look to help each other grow the business as a team”.
To that end, Window Genie also hosts a well attended annual convention in January at a “destination location.” Those conventions average an 80 percent participation, against industry averages of sub-50 percent.
Finally, one of the pillars of Window Genie’s business is Community Citizenship, and people are drawn to that. In 2010 the brand was a national sponsor for the Make-a-Wish Foundation and granted over 26 wishes. They brought those efforts in-house earlier this year, starting the Windows 4 Wishes program, a program that all owners participate in.
“We have a strong belief in giving back to the community through our owners,” Nonelle says. “Under the umbrella of Window 4 Wishes, owners can raise money to give to whomever they want in the local marketplace. If I’m into cystic fibrosis I can give that way, and if you’re into Alzheimer’s, you can give your way.”
“We also have other owners who don’t give money, but they give time,” he adds. “On a rainy day, rather than technicians sitting at home, they’ll go clean the windows at a school or nursing home or the local foundation of Make a Wish.”
The road to number one
According to Nonelle, Window Genie’s future is looking exceptionally positive. “As a system we’ve had the best two years in our history,” he says. “2010 and 2011 were record breaking years on all fronts.”
“On the retail side, the consumer is clearly back on track and ready to spend money on maintaining their home, and that’s what we look to do,” Nonelle adds. “Our goal is to help you, the homeowner, do all the things you can’t do or won’t do, and that the handyman, the maid service and the carpet cleaner doesn’t do. We are seeing very active spending on the part of the consumer.”
In the long term, Window Genie has no plans to slow down. Their ultimate goal is to establish over 500 locations, national branding, national advertising and a position as number one in the marketplace. Nonelle does not see anything standing in the way of that.