Carrying On

After my husband, Doug, was downsized from a corporate job in 2002, he used his severance money to open this cleaning franchise in Traverse City, Mich. My name was on the contract and I helped at the beginning, then backed away and used to joke that if anything happened to him, I wouldn’t know how to print out the next week’s work orders. One Thursday in 2008, Doug was driving to meet a cleaning team when he had a fatal heart attack. We closed that Friday, but I knew we had to open again on Monday because we had customer orders and the cleaners needed the income. After Doug’s funeral, a man from Window Genie stayed on to help me through that first week, and my Window GenieĀ manager, who was several hours away in Grand Rapids, drove over often to give me hands-on help. Because Doug’s business was a franchise, he had lots of systems in place and I could call headquarters in St. Louis with all my questions. I got a handle on the work pretty quickly, because I’ve grown the business and even been named Window GenieĀ of the Year for my size territory.

By Susan Smith