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Kilt-wearing window-washing company looks to expand into Tampa

The exterior home services company is hoping to add 10 franchises to the area.


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  • | 4:00 p.m. March 6, 2023
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Men in Kilts has set a goal of expanding into Tampa with 11 units.
Men in Kilts has set a goal of expanding into Tampa with 11 units.
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Window cleaning in the Tampa Bay region is about to get a lot more interesting. 

Men in Kilts, a Boston-based exterior home cleaning service, seeks to add 10 franchises to the area, specifically in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater. The business model is exactly as it sounds: Workers showing up to clean gutters and wash windows dressed in kilts. 

Men in Kilts Franchise Development Manager Alison Lair says the Tampa area fits well with the brand. 

“Naturally, with our services, it’s a really good market,” she says. “It’s a good opportunity for franchisees because they (can offer) year-round services. 

“Our business is seasonal in the north. In the south, you don’t have to shut down in January or February.” 

Plus with the humidity and rainfall leading to algae and moss growth, the environment creates a demand for pressure washing. The year-round model also opens the door for subscription services where clients can schedule recurring appointments, Lair adds. 

Men in Kilts which operates under holding company Threshold Brands, is already in Florida, with locations in Fort Lauderdale and Miami as well as upcoming locations in Hollywood and Orlando. 

Threshold Brands acquired Men in Kilts in 2019 when the company had two U.S. franchises. Nearly four years later, the brand is up to 30 franchises in the U.S. 

“We’ve been growing at warp speed,” she says. “Building the plane as it flies.”

Lair credits the growth to the work Men in Kilts has put in over the last two years, during which the company has been implementing new standard operating procedures, bringing on agency partnerships, strengthening support and building its marketing support services. 

“We’ve seen revenue grow with all of the systems we’ve put into place,” she says. “With most franchisees being two years or younger, they’re still in infant stages. We are putting in support systems to make sure they’re well supported and in position to grow.”

Part of the future growth plans include increased commercial opportunities. Currently, the brand caters toward residential jobs. Lair says it isn’t unheard of for a commercial pressure washing job to bring in $16,000-$25,000. 

“So there are high revenue jobs that we want our franchisees to take advantage of,” she says. How to get those jobs and network with property managers is part of the support the company seeks to provide franchisees.  

Once Men in Kilts steps into the commercial arena, franchisees will need a tweaked version of equipment. 

Each franchisee has the potential of running it out of their home, as the only “office” needed is a truck filled with equipment to get the job done. Each truck is operated by one or two people. 

Each franchise requires an investment of $185,290 to $219,950, according to the company's franchise information on its website. That includes the $38,000 initial franchise fee and additional working capital. Men in Kilts speculates equipment for the franchise will cost around $14,000. Royalty fees are estimated to be between 5-8%, with marketing fees taking up 2%.

With commercial jobs added to the mix, Lair says each truck would have to be equipped with a large water tank and equipment for hoisting someone up higher if performing a window cleaning job. Currently, the company uses water onsite, but that’s not necessarily an option for commercial jobs, Lair says. 

According to the company’s website, Men in Kilts got its start in 2002. The novelty of the brand is the workers wear kilts — a practice that started in 2002 when Nicholas Brand, a Vancouver, Canada-based Scotsman, hand-sewed a kilt to spice up the window cleaning company.

The kilt remains big part of the brand. 

“The kilt produces a positive environment,” Lair says. “People love the kilts. Every time we show up for an estimate or a job, we’ll often get ‘oh my gosh, you guys actually wear kilts.’”

She adds that it promotes better employee retention rates as well since most of the time employees are greeted by clients with “smiles and pleasantries.” 

Lair, also a Men in Kilts franchisee, has had some memorable moments from the kilts. 

“People honk at us when they’re driving by,” she says. “I once had someone play Die Hard music out the window while we were cleaning the gutters.”

With a goal of occupying space in every Florida market, Men in Kilts isn’t sitting around waiting for the 11 units in Tampa to fill up before expanding into other areas.  

“We’re not going to stunt our growth by solely focusing on Tampa,” Lair says. “We definitely would love to open those markets with strong franchise partners. The more franchisees we bring on, the more resources we have to grow.” 

The brand gets funding from Threshold to continue to operate so Lair says it's not restricted to just royalties from franchises. But with more franchises the company encompasses more buying power to further support growth.  

“I anticipate that we’ll fill in Florida faster than other markets because we already have franchise units there so there’s a little bit more brand awareness and demand is really strong,” she says. “We have other franchise brands in Florida, so we know the market. We know the consumers. There’s a lot of potential.”

 

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