With a career in the construction industry in his rearview mirror, Ryan Bates is trying something new.
Ryan Bates is placing his faith in a genie.
After a quarter century in the construction trade, he's entered the franchise game with a newly purchased Window Genie franchise.
Bates moved to the Sarasota area during the recession. He had closed his Colorado construction business known for doing heavy timber projects, and it was time for something different. He switched gears and got a job driving a limousine. The work taught him about service, he says, and the importance of making a client feel “pampered.”
He also went back to school and studied finance. That gave him a new depth of knowledge beyond his first degree in commercial illustration. “You have to keep learning,” he says.
Then Bates started thinking about his next move. “I guess I'm always considering starting a business,” he says. “I think it's something in you.”
This time around, though, he went the franchise route. “I wanted something organized, ready to hit the ground running, with proven methods,” he says.
Working with franchise consulting firm FranNet, he considered several options, such as a children's hair salon. But Bates says it was essentially an “absentee” opportunity, and that's not what he wanted.
“When you buy from a franchise, it's more about lifestyle,” he says. It's about the question, “What do you want your life to be?”
After reviewing different franchises, Window Genie came out on top. The company does residential window cleaning, window tinting, pressure washing and gutter cleaning. It's owned by Dwyer Group, a holding company based in Waco, Texas, that owns 11 service-based franchise organizations including Molly Maid, Mr. Rooter Plumbing and Mr. Electric.
Bates' Window Genie franchise serves Sarasota County, part of Manatee County and other nearby areas. He's been in business for about two months — the official first day was July 17.
The corporate help from Window Genie has made a big difference, Bates says. “They give you a head start on marketing,” helping place advertisements in mass mailers and getting the company's web presence up and running. “There's support from Window Genie, but we're all running our own shows,” he says.
It's not Bates' first shot at running a business, and he comes into his Window Genie venture with some confidence. “The nuts and bolts I've done before,” he says. “That's pretty easy.”
The challenging part, he says, is trying to learn new things, like how to process credit card transactions and manage social media platforms. Bates says he's picking away at learning those skills.
One thing he won't have to learn — how to interact with customers. He says after he meets with his crew of two in the morning and answers emails, he tries to save afternoons for going to potential clients' homes to do bids. He likes to go in person instead of talking to them over the phone. “It's good to meet people,” he says, and it's good for the clients to “see face to face who they're dealing with.”
Bates has found his new role as a franchise owner similar to his previous construction career. “There's a little bit of sales involved, a little bit of relationship building,” he says. “It's the same thing with construction.”
Despite his prior experience, operating Window Genie will present some new hurdles. Fall will mark the beginning of a potential uptick in activity. “All the snowbirds are coming back,” Bates says. “I want to be prepared for that. But it's hard — I've never done it before. Overcoming those challenges is the fun part.”