Starting a window cleaning business: A franchise case study

In August 2018 Alan Jarvis and his partner Charlotte became the first franchisees for My Window Cleaner, launching their business in Canterbury to provide a range of services to the local community.

It was considering the future for their young family that inspired Alan Jarvis and his partner Charlotte to start up as window cleaning franchisees.

Alan had always wanted to have his own business. ‘I favoured window cleaning – but with a full range of services. I wanted to work outdoors and work for myself. The time was right for me to try something different, without putting myself at major risk. I’ve got three young kids, so it was important to find the right opportunity for me and my family.

I had to make a decision on whether the My Window Cleaner opportunity and the people behind it were right for me – I had to ask, do I franchise or do I go out on my own? As I’ve never run my own business, it made sense to go with the franchise to learn the ropes and gain experience with a support network that’s robust and efficient.

“This isn’t about someone showing you how to clean windows – it’s about having the systems, guidance and support to grow a substantial business for yourself. Anyone can start up as a window cleaner but with My Window Cleaner I have a proven model to expand into a really strong multi-van business. I’m ambitious and that really appealed to me.”

From supermarkets to super service

A long career in supermarket management may not seem the obvious proving ground for launching a window cleaning business, but Alan says the skills he’s honed over 30 years are ideal for the couple’s new venture.
“When I tell former colleagues what I’m doing now, they think I’m mad!” he laughs. “But they don’t understand the opportunity and they have a very stereotyped image of what a window cleaner looks and acts like.

“Reputation, trust, integrity in your work, these are key skills and I’ve always used them. When you’re turning up at someone’s house they need to know that you’re clean, presentable and respectful. You’re on someone’s property and possibly around their family, I take that responsibility seriously.

“I’m looking forward to building and developing the business, recruiting someone as the first member of our team, and then hopefully a second and a third person over time. In the future my time will be spent on training, winning new business and perhaps even taking on another territory. The potential is huge.”

Training wheels

When it comes to the training before launching their business, Alan describes it as “brilliant”. Combining practical learning with how to run the business, he feels well prepared to succeed.

He explains: “I’ve spent plenty of time in Enfield and Barnet working with the company’s best window cleaner, it’s quite challenging because it’s very busy and a vast range of different properties to clean and different customers.

“I’ve also spent several days with the directors, Karen, Dave and Ian, training locally, covering everything we need. Karen and Dave flew over from Spain to spend those days with us, which for me is a really strong statement of commitment and togetherness. It’s been really good.

“And if there’s anything I come across that I’m not sure about, I’ve got phone calls, Skype and webinars that mean I can quickly get hold of people should that eventuality occur. I do feel really prepared.”

Growing gains

Despite only just starting out, Alan’s plans for the business are already advanced – both in terms of profits and the local community.

He says: “It’s about building and growing steadily. One of the reasons Ian and myself get on so well is because I understand what customer experience is like, I understand what growing and developing a business is like, internal communications, networking, and looking at how we can support the community. We have the same approach.

“We’re looking at getting into school fetes next summer and also how we can link up with a local charity, which I don’t think is all that common in window cleaning. In my previous career I was always working with charities and the local community, and that’s really important to me. I’ve been involved in raising over £100,000 for a local hospice in the past and it’s important to me to help others in need. This business gives me a chance to do that.”

When it comes to customer service, that’s another area where Alan says he and My Window Cleaner are aligned. He says: “I believe in building up a reputation and engaging customers, bringing a professional approach to the services we offer. Ian, Karen and Dave believe very strongly in that and it was great to see that we share the same views on that aspect of doing business.

“We want to establish ourselves as being well-known for providing the most reliable, trustworthy and customer-centric service possible.”

One aspect that will be different than he’s used to is being outside in the good old British weather. And while the rain doesn’t prevent cleaning it holds no fears for Alan.

“I am a golfer and a fisherman so the weather certainly doesn’t faze me in doing anything!” he says. “I see this glorious summer as an omen – after I started discussions with My Window Cleaner we didn’t have rain for over two months, so that’s got to be a good sign!”

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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