Hands-on, Hands-off Or Someboy Else's Hands

An investment banker, a silent investor and a Royal Engineer prove there's more than one way to run a WindowGeeks franchise.

The latest WindowGeeks franchisees have little in common. One worked in the city, another runs a successful business and the third served for 24 years in the military. Like many of their fellow franchisees, they've had no previous industry experience, but while all three follow a franchise model that works – using proven marketing and approved products, and delivering the same money-saving window repair service – each has set his business up in a distinctly different way.

Ex-investment banker James Douglas had always wanted to own a tangible business, but as a white-collar professional he leaves the practical side of his WindowGeeks franchise to his more experienced employees. “I was getting at least two calls a day from my first advert, so recruiting a good fitter was a priority,” Douglas said. “At the moment we do the surveys together. It's a great way to learn. But I back away from the installations as my skills are better suited to marketing and sales.”

Douglas admited he had some doubts about franchising in general, but used his trader's instincts to assess his risk: “I wasn't a fan of franchising and felt it was franchisors that make most of the money,” he said. “However WindowGeeks is different. The investment is low, the returns are high and it's set up properly. Importantly, it has great consumer demand and is in the right place to grow.”

Cambridgeshire franchisee Simon Taylor could also see how quickly WindowGeeks would grow. Already running his own shopfitting company, he'd come across lots of windows in need of repair but nobody willing to take on the work. “Most window companies want to sell in volume and just aren't interested in the smaller jobs,” he said. “That's where WindowGeeks is different. We put things right with minimum fuss, and we don't charge a fortune to do it.”

With another business to run, Taylor oversees his WindowGeeks franchise from a distance. The daily operations are handled by one of his longest-serving managers, ex-window installer and service engineer, Paul Kember. “I meet up with Simon once a week, but at the moment I'm managing everything from marketing and sales right through to the surveys and installations,” says Kember. “This is a great opportunity for me and I'm enjoying every minute. We're busy too, getting three or four sales a day and have lots of glass on order.”

Like Kember, WindowGeeks' Lincolnshire franchisee John Foord looks after all aspects of the business. However, unlike the other two franchisees he's on his own. “I'll take on some fitters soon, but for the time being I want to immerse myself fully into the business,” he said. “I'm slower on the installations than a more experienced fitter will be, but I'm learning. Many of the skills I picked up as an engineer in the forces, and in my career in telecoms, are useful in this business.

“I'd looked at franchising for some time, but lots of them ask for high fees and have huge start-up costs,” added Foord. “But that's not the case with WindowGeeks. The investment and overheads are low, plus they only make their money when franchisees are successful. WindowGeeks has a vested interest in making each region work and the support provided is excellent.”

WindowGeeks was founded by Phill Pedley, a glazing industry veteran with almost 40 years' experience in windows. Pedley commented: “This franchise is ideal for anyone who has a strong work ethic and a desire to run their own business. It isn't complicated, and you don't need a degree in engineering. With James, Simon and John you can see how this business can be setup around individual circumstances and skills.”