Fish Window Cleaning recently opened a franchise in my area. I have some knowledge of how they operate and have learned a few things just through experience of them being in the area. A lot of my clients have held strong but a few have bolted as Fish has underbid my pricing by as much as 50 percent. I was wondering if underbidding is a tactic that Fish uses in all franchises they open or if this is a tactic used by this particular franchisee. I was also wondering if they go after commercial or residential accounts or if that is decided by the franchisee. Basically, I am asking from your guys experience what has been the strategy of Fish when they came into your area? Any light on the subject would be greatly appreciated.
yeah they are based on getting numbers over price.
According to the larger Fish franchise companies, seriously undercutting the price in the area isn’t suggested. However each company determines their own pricing structure. I have run across a few Fish franchisees that were well below area prices and found they had no wcing experience prior to buying the franchise. They just thought it would be an easy business to run (their words not mine).
My favorite subject. Yep, they low ball all over. Some say they don’t, but in my experience, yes they do. I just got a call 2 weeks ago from one of my storefronts that I charge 40 bucks for (outsides only) and told me his DM told him to use Fish because they would do it for 20 bucks. The guy wanted to keep me because he has used them before and was not happy, but it was out of his hands…so I met that price and still have the account which is on the way to wherever I go on my daily routine…so no big deal.
Yes they do residential, but since they suck they don’t have much resi work. Mainly store fronts and low rise commercial. Low rise commercial is using them less and less because they suck. Storefronts usually don’t care and just wanna pay 5 bucks.
Don’t worry too much about them. Recognize that you have a strong competitor that cares nothing about nothing, and go to war accordingly. Fish aint even in my league. Don’t sweat it too much, but its a good wake up call to stay on your toes and constantly refine what you do and your image right?
Make the relationships you have with your clients solid. Create loyalty. Be the absolute best, and your clients wont see red. You can smell rotton fish when you pass them up, just roll up your windows and speed up.
Come on, you’re kind of generalizing don’t you think?? Each franchise is different and each owner is different. That may be the case in your neck of the woods, but it isn’t true throughout from my experience. I worked for them for over 2 years and we did very good work, both residential and commercial. So I take a bit of offense although just a bit;)
Sure I’m starting my own biz because Fish couldn’t provide me with much of a future, but I don’t have much bad to say about them. I would say this to the original poster. Often times when they start, they are bidding low to get a piece of the market, usually storefronts. Then, subsequently they will raise prices over time.
They will not stay in business long if they are undercutting and generally it is not advantageous to do so. They have lots of overhead so they need to cover it to be competitive. I wouldn’t worry though. Give your customers good quality, reliability, affordability, and presentation and you will keep them. The ones undercutting simply won’t stay long and if a customer is looking for rock bottom prices period, then perhaps they aren’t going to be good customers anyway.
Ride this one out and give your customers every reason to stay with you. Here I am giving advice having only been in business 2 weeks, but I’ve seen a lot working for the Red!!
Merrick says he’s never had a window cleaner leave FISH because of the money he makes.
LOWBALLERS will always open up in an market where they perceive it being overpriced. The days of $1 per pane per side are gone. Continuing to fret over not getting $2.50 per pane per side is a waste of time.
Now, it looks like you’ve got to just get to the glass, wash it down fast, squeegee fast, and marginally dry off the sills - forget the frames and detailing. That’s what the $1 is all about.
Don’t mean to offend at all, so I apologize if I did. Sorry.
I am not generalizing tho, I did say “in my experience”, maybe I should have said the 2 franchises that are in San Diego suck, and do lousy work and lowball. That shouldn’t offend you, its a fact. Like I said, Fish aint even in my league. I could not care less what they do or don’t do. The guy who owns the original franchise is a freaken genious (yeah my spelling is bad:o) and I would love to learn from him.
I am speaking about how to stand out from them since they are trying to break in the market and take this guy’s accounts. Its not like he owns them or anything, its all fair game. But if you make it as simple as buying the same exact car, same options…for half the price, anyone would take that in a new york minute!
Now if that car was dialed in with gps and a nav system, 22" wheels and machine gun headlights with a oil slick button and afterburners…beat that!
No offense taken, sort of a knee jerk reaction, sorry. I really don’t have a lot to compare either except a few and they have a pretty large take on the city. But I know the level of quality is super important here and their prices are actually quite high. I’m sure the franchise varies greatly from place to place. I think when a competitor is moving in trying to get accounts it is the intangible things that may keep them.
OK, my personal experience with Fish (worked for a now defunct franchise 5 years ago)…
From what I’ve gathered, Fish Corporate makes a large chunk of their money from the $25K + franchising fee they charge. After that, they hack off another 40%, gross, for administrative costs. Factor in the employee’s 30% cut, insurance, gas reimbursement, office rental (no home offices for Fish), equipment and so on, and the franchisee is left making pennies on the dollar.
For Fish, it seems that their focus is on quantity. Figure low-end $2k a week from each franchise (guesstimate) x 50 franchises (again, guesstimate) and thats $100k. A franchise goes out of business, and from what Ive observed, they always do, Fish knows someone else will cough up $25K in a year or 2 to re-open. Its almost MLM in my opinion.
After I left Fish to start up my own thing, I kept in touch with my old boss there. Real nice guy, and I really felt bad for him because he did in fact lose a hell of a lot of money, and couldn’t keep employees for more than a week or 2. The business was there, but they undercut everyone so hard that they couldn’t keep up with their own expenses.
Moral of the story - don’t worry about that Fish franchise. Give them a year or 2 and you’ll be swimming in their former accounts
When I transplanted my business over here I approached a Fish franchisee with a proposal to doing some sub contract work for them to supplement my income. That didn’t work because we couldn’t get around the no compete clause. Plus he wanted me to do marketing for him which is a no brainer. Why would I look for work for him when I was looking for it myself?
A few months later another fish franchisee in my city approached me with the same proposal I had approached the first guy with and said he didn’t have a problem with me doing my own work as long as I didn’t steal his customers. No problem I thought until he told me I would still have to sign the no compete clause for [B][I]“administrative purposes”[/I][/B] He said we could operate a gentlemans agreement but that corporate policy required that I sign the clause.
I didn’t sign so that was the end of that.
None of the two were window cleaners themselves and spent most of their time in the office. A recipe for a quality control disaster in my opinion. The boss should always be hands on or at least have his employees aware that he can show up at any minute to inspect the work.
All good window cleaning companies are run by window cleaners.
Hey fish is hiring here in san diego. I’m not.
If your main client base is commercial, then you might be in some trouble. Fish has a strong marketing plan when they move into an area. I mainly do residential because that’s where the real money is in this business so I have never been effected by them. Offer great service and stand behind your prices.
I think it depends on the community. A lot of communities with privately owned storefronts like to keep business between community patrons and local business owners. In my town the big franchise owners do not win many votes in anything that they do. Even our local privately owned pizza shop fills up before Pizza The Hut or Little Sleezers.
well there really isn’t much figuring involved. I’m loaded with great wcers and they are loaded w/ hacks. probably a pretty high turnover rate wouldn’t you say.
Hey! My experience with fish is bidding on store fronts locally (East San Diego). I have talked to their guy (sorry, forget his name) and he told me the owner of his franchise isn’t a window cleaner and that they lowball every store front ($15). So why are they hiring? The guy I talked to did residential and was only working for fish for the slow season. He said that yes… the owner had other businesses where he made his money so that was why he was able to lowball.
Really Ruben? I have been trying to talk to him for a long time. What a trip. Makes sense now.
Here’s my two cents on Fish. Before moving here I owned an Office Cleaning and a Maid Service for 25 years. I used Fish on a regular basis. I loved them!
Whenever I got a new account, window cleaning was not part of the service price. (I could always get more money for it if I kept them separate) The very first time an account wanted to have their windows clean I would say I’m sorry but were booked right now and then tell about Fish. I would then call the guy at Fish and tell him I had another job for him. Because I gave him so much work he would always give my clients a good price. My clients HATED Fish. That was good for me. I would then agree with them but acknowledge that “yeah, but at least they were cheap!” They would never use Fish again and I could easily double the price and they were happy to pay! I never had to worry about Fish and I don’t plan to start.
In my area - Fish are dirty lowballers. They have been unsucessful with the few loyal customers that have reported back to me. They go in, ask what the company is currently paying, then say they can do it for a couple bucks cheaper. Again they haven’t had any luck with any of my accounts.
I usually stop and talk with all other window cleaners. I met the owner of Fish years ago doing this. After I found out what they were doing I called and asked him if he had a salesman. He said yes he did. I then went on to let him know the dirty classless tactics his salesguy was using (all along I had a good feeling it was him I was talking about). He backpeddled saying he would talk to his salesguy
LOL @ anyone paying a franchise fee. Running a window cleaning business isn’t rocket science.
Haha yeah, I started with maybe $50 - $100 4 months ago, and I’m doing just fine now