When Jeff Biegel rang in the new year, he wasn’t just celebrating the start of 2014. Biegel toasted to the 10-year anniversary of his Northfield based business, Fish Window Cleaning.
“This has worked because I surround myself with amazing people who care, and who are trusted by our clients, who feel comfortable letting them in their homes,” said Biegel, who bought the St. Louis based franchise in 2004.
Biegel, who lives in Highland Park with his wife, Monica is no stranger to owning a business. In 1977, he bought Irving’s in Niles, a restaurant he had for nine years, which he said taught him the value of hiring good employees and keeping them happy.
“I learned the importance of customer service and pleasing people, and that starts with the people who work for you,” he said.
Biegel sold Irving’s in 1986 and spent the next 17 years as a commodities trader. In 2004, he decided to leave the business and search for a franchise to buy.
“I got involved with a franchise broker who showed me a bunch of different companies,” Biegel said. “This seemed perfect for me because it involved my natural born skills — being a people person and selling.”
With 15 employees, Fish Window Cleaning services both residential and commercial properties that are three stories or below. The company also provides gutter cleaning, and cleans light fixtures, skylights, and chandeliers.
Biegel said he spent the first five years pounding the pavement to establish a client base that has been very loyal, thanks to his employees.
“Five of my employees have been with me for over seven years,” he said. “I keep them by paying them well, and I think we are successful because of that. It’s worth it to me to pay extra in order to keep great people who have built great relationships with customers, and who are loyal because they make great money.”
Biegel said his company, which is fully bonded and insured gives free estimates, and they don’t have written contracts.
“Our contracts are verbal,” he said. “Our clients just tell us the frequency they want and we honor that, and if they need to change it, that’s fine, too.”
Patty Silver of Deerfield has been a client of Biegel’s for five years.
“In the past when I’ve used window washers, they’re evasive,” she said. “I would use them twice and then the number wouldn’t work anymore. Fish is a very solid operation and the guys who come here are truly gentlemen. They respect your home.”
“They are dependable, always on time and very thorough,” said Bunny Mesirow, who is the owner of Highland Park’s Ravinia BBQ & Grill. “When our windows are clean, it just makes our whole place look so much better.”
Fish Window Cleaning, which has been in business since 1978 started franchising in 1998. There are approximately 250 franchises, making the company the largest window cleaning franchise in the country.
Last year, the company awarded Biegel “Franchisee of the year.”
“It’s determined by growth, volume, new accounts, consistency and being a team player,” Biegel said.
“To them, the customer always comes first,” said Silver. “They’re on top of everything to really make a customer feel satisfied and proud of the way their windows look.”