I didn’t start out as a businessman. My passion is environmental science with a concentration in potable water. Applied science makes a difference in people’s lives so I studied all there was to know about the technologies for removing sludge and contaminants from the water supply. This included learning about the various kinds of pumps, fluid mechanics, and pipe fitting. While still in college, I was working in an environmental laboratory performing wet chemistry procedures. I also enjoyed carpentry, masonry, and the other trades associated with building maintenance earning a state certificate as an electrician. After passing the Michigan Builders exam. I responded to a “request for proposal” to clean West Shore Bank and so I put in an estimate and won that contract.
The truth is that I didn’t get the job that I initially wanted which was to be working directly under a world-renowned polymath in the water treatment industry, I instead found humility and to coin a phrase, “to love the job I had”. It wasn’t an easy journey, to be honest. Afterall, there was even less prestige in the cleaning and restoration industry twenty-five years ago then there is today. Like many people at that age, I longed to be recognized for my true talents. Being pragmatic, bringing a professional skillset and a serious work ethic to the space, gave me a considerable edge over my competition.
I soon discovered a niche repairing fire and water damaged homes. The key was leaving the homes looking and smelling better than they had before the damage occurred. I travelled all over the country earning every relevant certification in building restoration and of course restoring many homes. While the technical aspects of that space offered enough challenge to keep me interested and engaged, it was really distressing work meeting customers only after some disaster had struck. Eventually I saw the opportunity to focus on the maintenance and prevention side of building and home services. Since my business was located in Mason County at the time, to make ends meet (between hurricanes), I developed programs for cleaning carpet, furniture, hard floors, and exteriors. We also did a lion’s share of window cleaning all along the Lakeshore. In 2016 my beautiful wife Cherie and I purchased Brad’s Window Cleaning and Power Washing based in Rockford and shortly afterword’s, we bought a home smack in the City of Grand Rapids.
Operating in the much larger metropolitan area we then began to implement our plan to build the Happy Window Cleaning Franchise. This had actually been in the works for six years. By this time Cherie, who had built a career as a Juris Doctor and legal researcher, had joined me in my relentless business venture. Together we researched every single facet of the industry and I published a book in the space. In preparation, I also took online classes at Christian Leaders College to earn a degree in Christian leadership with a minor concentration in business. We took the appropriate time to study and get to know the twelve leading national franchise systems as we focused on building an indomitable guiding structure for the Happy Window Cleaning Franchise. This of all occurred before we took on our first customer, (aside from the concept testing phase of our plan at the very beginning).
Examining online data provided by my competitor’s former employees, we learned that while people enjoy working in the window and exterior cleaning space, very few of them saw much opportunity to advance their careers with those employers. Although we had already produced a great training program by this time, (The “Happytude” comic series) including topics of methodology in operating our business, employing people would be a futile exercise unless we could earn real buy in from staff. So, in addition to technical training on the various surfaces and the variables encountered cleaning them, we worked a culture of education into our company. This includes business leadership lessons and standard operating procedures for everything from basic operations out in the field, to effectively communicating our transparent “Open Book Management” program (Concepts learned from Jack Stack’s books, A Stake in The Outcome, and The Great Game of Business).
We distilled and measure individual and collective progress and we share a set of key performance indicators with all of our stakeholders. Compensation at Happy Window Cleaning begins with teaching them financial literacy, providing a living wage, health insurance and a third party administered 401K program. The cornerstone for building a well-funded retirement for our people is our performance based profit-sharing program which we call “Harvest Sharing
In sum, while our specialty is protecting the longevity of exterior surfaces, Happy Window Cleaning is just as invested in meeting people where they are and by following Biblical principles, we are providing concrete paths for people to mind their own trade, and not be dependent on others. Happy Window Cleaning is a place where people move forward in their careers. Vocation is not an accident. It is God’s design for people to learn to take ownership of their jobs. At Happy Window Cleaning we just took this to its natural conclusion. We even have a program in place to prepare and award our employees with their own franchise territory. (Ownership in my worldview, is a more widely understood synonym for stewardship). This is the true meaning of our tagline; “Happy Customer’s have the best views”. Because it really is the support of our customers that makes all of the rest possible.