Chris Fisher | Pandemic Franchise Opportunities

Chris Fisher, founder and CEO of Shine Franchise Group, had a successful window cleaning company… but wasn’t sure how to grow it sustainably beyond a certain level.

That’s when he stumbled across the concept of franchising and figured out he had the perfect type of business to make that model work. So they started taking on franchisees… and were off to the races.

Chris says his niche, which caters mostly to residential customers and operates Monday through Friday is perfect for those entrepreneurs who want a stable schedule that has plenty of room for family time, which was one of the initial goals when starting the company.

We talk about the other benefits of franchising, as well as the #1 reason to invest in a franchise – and it’s not about the money.

Tune in to find out…

  • How they find new business opportunities that customers love
  • What keeps Chris going in tough times
  • The 3 things you must think about before starting any business
  • How he and his franchisees are handling the pandemic – and their post-crisis plans
  • And more

Listen now…

Mentioned in this episode:


Giuseppe Grammatico: Welcome to the Franchise Freedom Podcast. I’m your host Giuseppe Grammatico, your franchise guide, and today we have a very special guest. Today we are speaking with Chris Fisher. Chris is the CEO of Shine. Chris washed his first window back in 1999 with a gas station squeegee and had no idea that window cleaning would lead to millions of windows being washed with the help of amazing people in the world’s greatest industry in the world in franchising.

Today, Chris leads a growing franchise system of passionate leaders committed to their mission of being a light by growing profitable businesses that care about their employees and the communities where they serve. Chris, I wanted to welcome you to the show today.

Chris Fisher: Giuseppe, Thanks for having me. I was looking forward to this. Appreciate it.

Giuseppe: Yeah. Very excited. I know we’ve been talking about this for a while. So awesome. So I appreciate your time. So, Chris, I know we spoke a little bit before the show, but I always, for the audience, if you could just fill us in a little bit on your background. You know, how did you get into this business and what does that journey look like?

Chris’ Entrepreneurial Journey

Chris: Well, I gotta admit, when I was a youngster, I didn’t dream about being in the window cleaning industry or the franchising industry. My dreams were to play basketball or play football or something like that. But I did start a paper route and that was kind of the beginning of understanding entrepreneurship and working and making, I guess, customer service. It all started with a paper out way back when. And it’s just progressed from there to when I was in college, studying, I bounced around, Giuseppe, from different majors and ended up in psychology in business, which I still had no idea we’d be in window cleaning. But from there

Giuseppe: I was gonna say it’s crazy where life brings you, right?

Chris: Oh, It is. But at that point, we had gotten married and we had to pick a career and I was looking in sales or starting a business. And we chose the start a business route. And it’s been exciting and it’s been fun to watch it grow. And the passion I have now for home services and franchises has just grown from there. So very fortunate.

Giuseppe: That’s great. And that’s the American dream as we talked about with everyone. You know, you had started shine started with window cleaning. And I know from our conversations and working with you, there’s obviously multiple revenue streams, other services that you offer. So before we get into that and learning a little bit more about Shine, I like to always ask why did you choose franchising as your avenue, as your business model? And what are some of the benefits of franchising?

Chris: Yeah, good question. I knew nothing about franchising, like I said, even when I got into window cleaning, but we were focused on growing that business and taking care of each customer. And because of that, we started growing pretty rapidly. So then it was kind of how do we do this? How do we manage these people?

And that, halfway into my career, we stumbled upon franchising by reading a book by Michael Gerber called the E Myth and really talked about systems. And so we turned that into our business and decided to really develop the systems and franchise it. Even if we weren’t gonna franchise it, we wanted to be able to, and pretty quickly found out that we had something that could be franchised. So we shared it with a few people, they loved it, and been going strong ever since.

Giuseppe: That’s great. And a great book as well. I was introduced to that book, probably about 15, 16 years ago. It’s been around forever. There was a, I believe it was E Myth and then there was the E Myth Revisited. I think that’s the version, that’s the second version of what I have. So great book to anyone listening in and we’ll include that in the show notes as well. So tell us a little bit about Shine. I know you started with window cleaning, but there’s also Christmas tree lighting, power washing. Can you talk a little bit about the services you offer, you know, at Shine?

Diverse Home Services

Chris: Yeah, our services have evolved, Giuseppe. It started with window cleaning. And the type of business we wanted to build was one that we could run while we were being a family. So I wanted a business that I could be home to make sure I caught my kids’ ballgames as we grew our family and could be home on the weekends.

And so the services that we picked, have been able to do that. We’re highly residential, basically eight to five during the week. So as we were washing windows, we had people asking us to do other things around their home. And a couple of those were services that we felt we could do and, just to help our customers, and those were pressure washing and gutter cleaning. So we were doing that for several years and became very efficient at that. And then we started our business up in the north. So in Michigan, we had a little seasonality to our business.

And that’s where Christmas lights came in. So some of our customers asked us about that. And we kind of, for a few years, just said, I don’t know about Christmas lights. I love Christmas, but eventually, we tried it. And it was a hit. Our customers loved it. Our staff loves doing it. It’s kind of a change of pace. So we hang the lights during the Christmas season, take them down to the beginning of the winter, January, February, and then we’re back into March. So that really worked out well for us.

Giuseppe: That’s great. So yeah, so no Clark Griswold here, right? I know every year I put them up and even with the LEDs and half of them are working and not. So that, I’m sure that’s a headache people can do without. So that’s, I definitely see that as a growing business.

Chris: Giuseppe, there’s always a place for Clark. We love Clark. We love that look. We had a little different look, but we always love Clark.

Giuseppe: That’s great. That’s awesome. So a lot of services, obviously, there’s a huge demand for that. And I love how there’s that purpose, right? It’s to, you built it around what was most important to you and that’s what we talk with our candidates, anyone listening in, we always start with what’s most important. It’s not about what makes the most money, it’s what’s the most important to get you to where you want to be. And this is a great business and, you know, that we’ve definitely had a lot of people inquire about.

So, you know, a lot, a lot going on here with COVID-19 pandemic, and obviously, all businesses that have been affected. Some people, some companies have pivoted, some companies have made changes either in how they do business and/or product offerings. Any change on Shine, then as far as dealing with the pandemic, as far as just pivoting or any types of changes?

From Chess to Tennis

Chris: It’s been one constant pivot as far as change goes. I’ve heard it say business kind of move from checkers to chess, Giuseppe, and now it’s kind of moved from chess to tennis, where the ball is moving quickly back and forth across the net. So we’re trying to stay in the game and with the game. We’ve had several pivots, but first and foremost has been communication with our franchisee owners and for them with their customers.

Just letting everybody know we’re all human, we’re all in this together, and we’re gonna help each other. And that’s been, I guess, one of the biggest blessings for our team out of this is we have owners calls through Zoom twice a week with everybody. And half that call is just checking in and how you doing, and we’ve got several locations that are operating and then we have some states like Michigan that they are operating right now looking to operate soon.

So it’s, that’s been one of the biggest pivots. We’ve also added some services to help our customers again listening to what they need. And right now, we have the ability to disinfect outside the home while we’re washing windows or pressure washing, just to give the homeowner that feeling of being safe and having any kind of germs and those things removed from their environment.

Giuseppe: Right, that’s a great idea that I’ve seen the, some of the advertisements on that. And it’s a great value add, especially since you’re already there. You’re at the homeowners’ property. So it’s a great additional service to offer. So, you know, what else, we talked about pivots and franchising and things like that, with everything going on, what’s exciting? You know, what’s new and exciting at Shine? I know that there’s obviously the new service offerings, but, you know, what else is exciting as far as expansion or, you know, anything you could talk about as far as the direction of Shine?

Chris: Yeah, I guess I would go right to something that is really becoming more and more important through the times that we’re going through. And that’s our mission, which is, gives us our meaning. And you brought up in the opening about being light and that’s what we’re all committed to. And right now, more than ever, people are looking for that. So even this phone call with you, I just, I love talking.

You’re always positive and upbeat. And that’s what we’re trying to bring our communities to continue to create those relationships and be light in the communities and help with that. So that’s number one. We’re also excited for the opportunity to employ people. There’s a lot of, the unemployment rates are huge. And in franchising, service businesses, we’ve got opportunities. So as different states start to open up more and more, we’re gonna have an opportunity to employ people and we’re excited about that.

Giuseppe: That’s great. And, you know, what would you, I guess, if you had one or two pieces of advice, so obviously with the helping, you know, employing people, you’re also helping many people across the country start their, in many cases, their first business. So with a large percentage of the audience listening in now, corporate executives, many of them, their first-time business, they’ve been exploring it. You know, what advice would you give to that corporate executive looking to make that career transition? Any kind of words of wisdom from the employment world to being a business owner?

Purpose Over Profit

Chris: Yeah, there’s several things to consider. And I guess number one is really understanding your why. You know, why are you doing what you’re doing? And does what you’re doing fit your why? Is it getting you where you want to go? Is it providing your family with not just the money, but is it providing them with you? Are you available for your family? And so I guess really evaluating your why. And then evaluating what it’s going to take to make that change and really, you know, putting the numbers together and understanding what that looks like for you and realizing that a big piece of this is the journey.

And that transition is, it’s a fun journey, but you have to make working whatever, that’s what you’re going to do. So those are a couple things to really consider. And finally is be prepared to grow. Leaving the corporate world coming into entrepreneurship, it’s constantly learning and you gotta want to do that. And as business changes and morphs, you’ve got to change and morph along with it. And going and learning is a big piece of it.

Giuseppe: Right. No, that’s great advice. We, when we talk to people, we always, you know, when they’ll ask about franchising, we’ll always take a step back and just explore business ownership. Is business ownership the right fit? And then kind of exploring franchise ownership versus non-franchise You know, one, when people ask which is better, I always say depends on kind of what, exactly what you said, what’s your why?

What’s most important to you? What are you looking for? So, we always like to take a step back and figure that part out. So, you know, it’s not the right match for, franchising isn’t the right match for everyone and in many cases, it is. So we like to kind of figure that part out before even exploring, you know, any franchises. So some really good advice.

Chris: And that’s, Giuseppe, that’s why we like working with you and others that are in that industry of those that are helping that question and starting with that question of the why. And once we get past the why, then being able to share some business concepts that might fit them once they understand their why. So I really appreciate what you do.

Giuseppe: Thank you. I appreciate it. And for everyone listening in when I do have these conversations, and if you’re why is to make a lot of money, that’s not really the strong enough why. We always question that and look for something else. So you could definitely make some good income as a business owner but that’s not good enough as I jokingly say. We like to dig a little bit deeper and figure out why, you know, why you’re exploring this vehicle to begin with. It’s a lot of work, franchise or non, it’s going to be a lot of work, especially the first year.

That why has to be strong. So if it is, as I hear quite a bit of time, it’s the time freedom, spending time with family. Although with what’s going on now people are running back to the office. So maybe spending more time with family may not be the current why. I say that jokingly. But it needs to be a really strong why. So I leave everyone with a little bit of homework. So after that first call, if we don’t nail that why, let’s, you know, spend some time, think about it, sleep on it. That’s something that you should really think about. And that’s essentially what’s going to drive you to owning and starting a business. So some really good advice there.

Chris: Of course, Giuseppe, we found that that helps in, you know, in month three and month six and month nine of getting your business launched, is, you know, when you come to some obstacles or challenges and overcome them, remembering your why is a big piece that fuels that ability to overcome challenges. So, yeah, again, not just when you start out but carrying that right on through the business.

Giuseppe: Right. For the first time business owner when they’re like, Why? Why did I do this? This is a lot of work. We go No, it’s why. What is your why? And we jokingly have those conversations because we like to stay in touch with people throughout the process and after. After they invest in their franchise, we like to kind of check in on them making sure everything is going smoothly and if they need anything from us. So, but yes, I definitely, I always write that down. It’s on the very first page, top of the page right next to their name.

So we always go back to that in the event a question comes up or things are, you know, going a little rough, especially in these times that, you know, we always like to reinforce that and remind all the franchisees. So, good point. So what else is, you know, we talked about purpose and we talked about Shine, donating time, volunteering. What else, can you talk a little bit more about that as far as what, you know, you’re doing as far as going over and beyond?

Going the Extra Mile for the Community

Chris: Yeah. A lot of our locations have taken it upon themselves to help out first responders in many different ways, from taking care of some of their needs at home, or just encouraging them, providing the services that they might need during this time and just showing the support. I love that way. We’re also as a company, kind of close to my heart personally, but our company also works with an organization that helps children in Africa. A country in Uganda. And right now, especially the needs are great as they’re going through lockdowns in that country as well.

Giuseppe: And that’s really important. And we get that question quite a bit. What is the company doing to kind of go over and beyond? And we’re hearing more and more of companies doing this, you know, giving back which is essentially one of the most important things you can do. So people definitely value that and that’s a, we start our conversation, we have that and that’s, I remember that conversation the first day we met going back over a year ago. So that is some really good stuff. And we applaud you for that. That is some awesome stuff. Anything else you’d like to talk about Shine? What’s going on? Anything for the listeners listening in?

Chris: Yeah, even, you know, with the circumstances we have, we’re really excited about what’s going on. We have several new franchises that are coming on board within the month and they’ll be getting out there and getting going. And so even in spite of all the circumstances, there’s a lot of hope out there. Not just for our industry but for a lot. And I kind of want to just grab hold of that and encourage your listeners that we gotta continue to fight. We got to continue to work and continue to grow.

Giuseppe: Yep, I cannot agree more. This is, unfortunately, things like this are going to come up and going back, it goes back to your why. Not to keep repeating ourselves, but why did you do this in the first place? And we’ll get through it. Obviously, we want to go about it in a safe and healthy way but we’ll get through it and there are going to be other things that come up, whether it be the Dow dropping, the SMP dropping. I started my business back in 2007 and 2008 when the economy was just dropping, right?

The stock market was dropping and we just kind of kept plugging away and we got through it. And this is the next, this, unfortunately, has been the next major chapter and we’ll get through it as well. You know, we’ve definitely learned a lot the first time around and we’re just having to make some tough decisions sometimes and but, you know, not forgetting the end game and why we’re doing this. So it’s unfortunate but it’s just it’s part of life.

Chris: Yeah, absolutely right.

Giuseppe: Yeah. This has been great and I hope the viewers, I tell, the listeners I should say picked up some really good advice here. Sometimes I do a few solo shows and I say let’s get a franchisor, let’s get some franchisees on the show and see if they say the exact same thing or agree with what I’m saying. So we’ve been pretty spot on. So I appreciate that with some of the advice we’ve been giving.

We are speaking with Chris Fisher here from, the CEO of Shine. Chris, if someone had a question for you or wanted to inquire about two things, both either the franchise or if they wanted to inquire about the services if they’re in an area that is currently doing business, what is the best way they can go about reaching you or getting ahold of somebody?

Chris: Three spots, Giuseppe. First, LinkedIn, Chris Fisher, find me on LinkedIn and I love talking to people out there. The other two ways, two websites one is if you’re interested in learning more about franchising, or if you’re interested in a service.

Giuseppe: That’s easy enough, and we’ll include that in the show notes. So we have the LinkedIn, we have, both websites will be on there. And any other questions or if it’s something you want to get ahold of Chris directly, you can either contact me, we can definitely send that information or those messages over to Chris. Chris, I wanted to thank you again, I know your time is valuable running a rather large company. I appreciate your time and giving some advice to the listeners and hope to talk to you soon.

Chris: That sounds good, Giuseppe. Thanks again for having me on. Appreciate it. And shine on.

Giuseppe: Thank you. Thank you.