Franchise Success Requires Having a Competitive Spirit in your DNA

Rik Nonelle and Truck

Twenty years of growing a successful franchise brand is something to celebrate, and this is exactly what Rik Nonelle, CEO and founder of Window Genie, is doing in 2014. Passion, focus, integrity, and a highly competitive spirit have led Rik to 20 years of achievement, and he just got started.  His vision is one of making Window Genie THE brand name for window cleaning in the US and international markets, with high unit sales and the strongest system in the industry.

“I was 29 years old, eight years out of college and not a very enthusiastic employee. I knew I had to do something different; I knew I had to control my future and find something I could be passionate about –a job just wasn’t it,” Rik shares.

And if you, like Rik, are an extremely competitive person who strives to be the best at whatever life brings, you know that being an employee is simply too limiting. Rik knew he wanted a lifestyle business, a home service that didn’t involve dealing with emergencies in the evenings, or during weekends or holidays. He wanted to bring technology into a repeat business, low-tech trade. From the beginning he knew he wanted something big. He had his eyes set on franchising; he wanted a team. He just had to find the right idea and he did. “There is no emergency window cleaning during weekends or in the middle of dinner. This is a 9 to 5, 5-days-a-week business that allows you to control your time and your life,” Rik adds.

Because of its low-tech nature, window cleaning is a particularly competitive occupation with many independents everywhere. In order to succeed, you’ve got to know how to compete; and, competition is where Rik excels. “A competitive spirit is a trait I look for in franchise candidates. You have to want it bad enough to do what it takes to succeed. You have to have a strategy and plan in place; and, you have to implement it. You have to get up every day ready to tear it up!” Rik’s passion overflows.

For Rik, being the best has meant gathering and studying the data, asking questions, and engaging outside organizations such as Franchise Business Review to find out what his company is doing well and where they need improvement.  “We want to do more of the former and do better where we need to. If we are going to be the best, there is always room for improvement. Being the best is not a static target; it keeps moving and we are always ready to keep going towards it,” Rik adds.

Some people equate being competitive to being ruthless and that is certainly not the case with Rik who was described to me by many people in the world of franchising as someone “who truly cares about the success of his franchisees and who is willing to do anything to get them where they need to be.” Rik may not be too big on losing, but he is a man of ethics, integrity, and fairness, a man for whom relationships are important. In franchising, being the best also includes having a state-of-the-art training and support system, honest and useful communications with your franchise owners, and a great, accessible, and supportive culture.

It is not surprising that Rik’s greatest challenge is finding the right people to join his team; this is a challenge shared by most franchisors. “It is not about finding the people who have the most money to invest; it is about searching for and identifying those folks who will work hard, who are self-motivated, and who match our culture,” Rik says. “In the last 20 years we have tried it all, starting with printed ads, franchise brokers and coaching organizations such as The Entrepreneur’s Source and The You Network, online portals, and lately we have been focusing on our company’s website as we further understand how franchise prospects are searching for the right opportunities in today’s market,” Rik shares. “Once we have the prospects, we evaluate them in-depth to ensure they have the desired traits and personality. Let’s put it this way, we don’t bring people into the system we wouldn’t want to talk with when they call the office with questions. They have to fit our culture, and we’ve got to like them personally,” Rik adds.

Rik believes that “franchise success becomes replicable only once you have a proven system. When you have a financially sustainable business and have achieved financial results in several markets, then franchising starts to make sense. And, of course, the business has to be simple enough that you can teach others how to achieve similar ROI,” he adds.

Rik gained a deeper level of franchise success when he realized the difference between being a technician and being a manager after reading Michael Gerber’s best seller, The E-Myth. “I finally understood why some franchisees were successful while others weren’t,” Rik says. This new understanding led him to modify Window Genie’s business model to ensure the success and growth of every franchisee. “So now our owners don’t fall in the trap of working in instead of on the business. We now promote and support an executive model and our franchise owners are managing a team of employees and multiple stream of income. So, if I had to do it all over again with what I know today, I would have started with this business model because it assures quicker growth and keeps franchisees focused on the targets and the right activities,” Rik shares.

Rik’s tips for those considering franchising their businesses include:

  • “Make sure you have a vision;
  • Make your own mistakes, solve them and document the solutions; do this until you know you have a handle on the business in different situations and markets;
  • Make sure you have a compelling financial return; don’t think of franchising a pipe-dream–you will fail;
  • Learn as fast as you can what makes the best franchise owner and be selective; sell the front end with integrity; and
  • Strive to be the very best.”

There are many things I have learned about franchising throughout my career, one in particular comes to mind after talking with Rik: A winner’s mindset is needed to achieve success in franchising. Those who have it, succeed; and, those who don’t, fail. Rik is a proven winner and an outstanding testament to this principle.

To learn more about Window Genie go to or request a copy of the independent survey conducted by Franchise Business Review.