This husband-and-wife team quit their corporate jobs to run a Fish Window Cleaning franchise and have zero regrets
Wisconsin residents Bridget and Chad Gilding left their jobs to run a Fish Window Cleaning franchise and have zero regrets. “The growth of the business has allowed us to live a more comfortable life than we could have ever imagined if we stayed in the corporate world,” Bridget says. “We have been able to generate enough profit from the business to more than double the income we were making at our corporate jobs, while still allowing the flexibility and freedom to live our non-business lives the way we want.”
The business launched Dec. 22, 2008, shortly after Bridget finished a two-week FISH training school; she previously worked as an allocation manager for a national footwear retailer. Chad left his engineering job in May 2011 to join the business, which operates as JEA Group LLC dba Fish Window Cleaning. Their territory is Dane County, Wisconsin, which includes Madison and surrounding communities.
The most positive thing our Fish Window Cleaning franchise has given us is time with our kids. We never miss anything with them — school, sports, whatever.Bridget and Chad Gilding
“We looked at many different options, but the main reasons we chose Fish Window Cleaning were the parent-friendly schedules, recurring weekly and monthly customers, and the ability to hit the streets and grow the business whenever you want,” Bridget says. “The most positive thing FISH has given us is time with our kids. We never miss anything with them — school, sports, whatever. We have so much more flexibility and free time.
“The first year was more difficult, but now we don’t work or take calls at night. We don’t work weekends or holidays. We are able to enjoy our family without work getting in the way.”
Early on, Bridget did cold calls to generate sales. Now the Gildings have salespeople, a strong internet presence, and a stream of customer referrals. They also land new business through passive advertising — when people see their uniformed employees and wrapped work vehicles.
Chad and Bridget generally split up a lot of Fish Window Cleaning tasks. Chad does the estimates, assigns technicians, does receivables, and manages the bank accounts and QuickBooks. Bridget handles billing and customer scheduling. They share the duties of hiring employees and answering phones; they employ five technicians and plan to hire more.
The Gildings have a small office, and FISH corporate provides a proprietary, internet-accessed database for running the business. They manage employee and customer schedules, create work orders, assign work orders to employees, check in completed work orders, bill customers, apply customer payments, and manage deposits all in one place. “FISH corporate handles our internet presence and online estimate requests,” Bridget says. “They also provide leads from national maintenance companies.”
In addition, FISH corporate is always on call. “During the first couple of years, I called the corporate office for help and advice much more frequently,” she says. “We know that we absolutely can still call anytime we need anything.”
Last year was challenging because of Covid-19, the Gildings say, with many customers deferring on cleanings. “This year has been much better with our commercial customers, and there has been a huge demand from our residential customers,” Bridget says.