Some guys in kilts want to help with the household chores—and they do windows. Yes, such a business is being built, and it hopes its kilt-clad lads will “stick out”—though of course not literally.
"That's what the premise of the kilt is,” Men In Kilts founder Nicholas Brand told CNBC. “It's to have fun with it, but also to stick out. If somebody stops and takes a picture with us, they won't forget about us."Rearview of the window washers
Brand and CEO Tressa Woods (she actually wears the pants in the company) believe the kilt is their secret weapon and hope to build an empire on it. CNBC gave them just 60 seconds to prove their case.
Is the kilt a cheesy gimmick or the ticket to a booming enterprise? Watch the video and see how the Power Pitch panel votes and decide for yourself.
Franchising the power of the plaid
The Men In Kilts business plan is pretty simple: The company offers to do household chores such as window and pressure washing, and gives clients something to gawk at, namely guys in skirts.
“We've had screaming—you know, we get a lot of pictures taken whether we're on a job site,” Brand said. “Sometimes you just get out of your truck and you open that door and people can't believe you’re in that kilt.”
The franchise operation serves residential and commercial clients, and the kilt cleaners will do buildings of up to four stories.
And Men in Kilts is tackling an industry that’s far from washed out. According to the International Window Cleaning Association window washing is a $7 billion industry.
"Our commercial business is 50 percent of our total revenue," Woods said. "I don't think the kilt appeals to the commercial market in the same way it does residentially, but the service is really how we compete."
Woods has experience with franchise businesses. Before joining Men In Kilts in 2010, she was vice president of operations at 1-800-Got-Junk. She told CNBC she was instrumental in growing the rubbish removal company from 40 franchises to 350 in three countries.
Since her arrival, Woods said, the company has focused on operations and preparing for growth.
"Right now we have nine franchises," Woods said. "We should be at about 15 by the end of this year, and we're hoping to sell about 20 to 30 next year. … From there, the sky's the limit."
The company is on target to achieve sales of $5.2 million this year, she added.
The Power Pitch panel included CNBC media and entertainment reporter Julia Boorstin, who’s also a homeowner who hates washing windows. She raised concerns about the kilts.
"When you Google (GOOG) window-washing, you don't necessarily think that you're going to be searching for someone wearing a kilt," Boorstin said.
Brand countered that with the importance of differentiating your business from the competition.
“If I started this company 11 years ago and named it Nick's Window Cleaning or AAA Window Cleaning or Bubbly Clean Window Cleaning, we wouldn't be talking today," he said.
Power Pitch panelist and real estate entrepreneur Don Peebles had reservations about how Men In Kilts would attract male workers willing to adhere to the unusual dress code.
"It's sort of a self-screening process,” Woods said. “Nobody applies for the job unless they have personality and confidence to wear the kilt."
While Power Pitch host Mandy Drury wondered if Men in Kilts hires women (Wo-Men in Kilts?).
"We've had some of our best employees actually be women, yeah, so absolutely no rejection of women at all," Brand said.
Woods and Brand envision their company in every major North American metropolitan area by 2017. But their goal doesn't end with window washers in traditional Scottish garb.
"The nature of the brand lends itself to different franchise services ... like carpet-cleaning, painting and lawn service—whatever is really in demand," said Woods.
Watch the video and see for yourself if Tressa Woods and Nicholas Brand's kilt-wearing, window-washing franchise has what it takes to become a household name. They faced Power Pitch panelists Don Peebles, chairman of Peebles; Julia Boorstin @JBoorstin, CNBC media and entertainment reporter; and Mandy Drury @mandycnbc, CNBC host.
--Additional reporting by Joanna Weinstein
—Comments, questions, suggestions? We'd love to hear from you. Follow us @CNBCPowerPitch, and join the #PowerPitch conversation on twitter, or post your comments below