Elite Window Cleaning started in 2012 as a commercial high-rise window cleaning company because founder Chris Stoness knew he could do it better than the companies he had been working under for years. After becoming a business owner he started to look at the industry with fresh eyes and quickly realized how drastically under-serviced the residential market was and the potential that lay there. At the beginning of 2013 a new “low-rise” division was added to the company and Elite grew as a traditional window cleaning operation alongside the High-Rise division which had already been established.
“2013 was the first real expansion and 2015 was when we started setting big targets for our business”
In 2015, Chris Squires (best friend to Chris Stoness and fellow window cleaner) moved from Vancouver to Kingston to help expand Elite and push towards the goal of $1 million gross revenue, a target they both knew they had the drive and ability to reach.
It was also this year that Stoness watched Squires slip and almost fall from the top of a forty-foot ladder he was at the base of. Chris and Chris had both started families recently and realized the necessity for change. Even though they were both highly skilled window cleaners with more than 15 years in the industry they were lucky nobody got hurt and they realized the system of cleaning from a ladder was what needed to change.
“Watching your best friend slip 40 feet up really makes you reconsider what you do and why”
This led them to seriously consider water fed poles. Both Chris and Chris had used them in the past, but the set-up and take-down required for operating the system at every home makes them an inefficient way to work if you’re trying to go from house to house multiple times throughout the day, which was always the plan.
In 2017 Chris and Chris went to Phoenix, AZ, to the International Window Cleaning Association Convention to see if there was a way to get more out of the water fed pole systems available in the market to maximize speed and efficiency for crews while keeping everyone safe and planted on the ground. They also had some fun while they were there.
They purchased a slew of equipment from multiple manufacturers with the idea of putting together the perfect “Frankenstein” Water Fed Pole System. They were loading their rental car, a Toyota Yaris, to go to the airport and realized everything fit into the car! In that moment it was decided to build the system to fit entirely into a small car and the idea of the Job Pod was born.
The moment of truth: “Everything fit into the car”
As soon as they got home, they found an aerospace engineer who helped them turn their vision into something that was real and built to last. Two years and ten models later Elite has the Job Pod, the most technologically advanced and efficient window cleaning tool available on the planet!
Because the entire system is housed inside the vehicle, there is no need to unload anything other than the poles used to clean and a hose to attach to a water bib of the property. This quick and easy turnaround time really allows Elite to push the envelope when it comes to efficiency and (more important to clients) price. By increasing the efficiency of the technicians Elite passed the savings on to their clients and carved out space in a brand new market that didn’t know window cleaning was a service they could afford three times a year.
“Serving a market that didn’t know they could afford window cleaning gave us the opportunity to expand”
In 2017 the Chris’s started pushing the business to operate in multiple cities to see if what was working in Kingston would hold true elsewhere – it did. By 2018 Elite was operating in 8 Markets in Ontario and BC and finalizing the plan to franchise the system and business.
Window cleaning is no longer a luxury service, it’s something everyone can afford (and should do to maintain their most valuable asset). Tailoring the price to fit a broader market opened the doors of possibility and this past year Elite cleaned the windows for more than 4,000 jobs system-wide.
The Chris’s knew that by franchising the Elite system they had originally developed for themselves they could offer the economic freedom of entrepreneurship combined with the lifestyle freedom of a seasonal business to others like them who see the value in a great work/life balance.
“We loved the balance of earning great money and taking 17 weeks off in Winter”
One of the things both the Chris’s loved about the business was that they were able to make great money in the working season then take 17 weeks off in the winter to do whatever they wanted. They also knew that the best window cleaners they had worked with over the last decade were not accountants, receptionists, marketers or schedulers. With this in mind they wanted to design a system that handled all of that mess so their Franchisees could focus on the skills they’re best at, cleaning windows, growing their business and maintaining client relationships.
“We built a support system to handle all the details of the business we knew people would struggle with”
Enter the Elite Back-Office Support System. Elite’s corporate team takes care of the incoming calls, scheduling, route mapping, invoicing, collections, digital marketing and brand awareness so that the time invested by Franchisees is complemented by the business foundation Elite already has in place. It allows Franchisees to focus on their strengths and grow their business more quickly because they’re not getting bogged down by time consuming support activities that are ultimately still incredibly important for running a business.
The mantra of Elite has always been to empower people with the tools and technology to create their own success in life, that’s how it started.
Looking forward from where Elite is now, the bar has been raised from that $1 Million Gross Revenue target, but the drive and determination remains the same. Elite is now expanding its network to add ten new markets with ten new franchisees for the Spring 2019 season.
“100 Job Pods in North America, re-writing the game, these are targets we’re excited to go after”
Within 5 years the plan is to have 100 Job Pods across Canada and the continental United States. Elite is re-writing the book on service-based careers, opening doors, carving out futures and cementing itself as the gold standard cornerstone of the industry. There’s really only one question to leave you with, do you want a piece of the pie?
For more information on franchise opportunities click here.
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