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Starting a Window Cleaning Business

By: Bobby Wells. This manual will provide you with helpful information on the following:SCHEDULING SERVICESSUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENTCHEMICALSTOOLSA CLEANING SYSTEM THAT WORKSESTIMATES FOR FEES AND SERVICESPRICING GUIDELINESSALES AND MARKETINGStarting a window cleaning business can be highly profitable. With low overhead and a seemingly unlimited potential client base, you can turn a minimal investment – as much as a bucket, squeegee, sponge, towels, and cleaner cost, and turn it into a business with open-ended earning potential. IF IT HAS WINDOWS OR GLASS, IT IS A POTENTIAL CUSTOMER.With regards to licensing of a business enterprise or any other legal, accounting or tax matters, the publisher and author strongly suggest that the reader seek, when necessary, the services of appropriate licensed professionals and comply with the local licensing requirements of the community in which the reader resides, or conducts business.SCHEDULING SERVICESThe following scheduling times will help you track customers, and keep a cleaning schedule that produces return business, which creates your customer base.Weekly: Windows are cleaned every seven days. The accounts you need to target for these types of cleanings should be: Retail Stores Restaurants Fitness Centers Video Stores Businesses in a downtown area Any business with significant customer trafficBi-monthly: This term is a misnomer, serving more as a sales tool, as these windows are cleaned every other week rather than twice a month. In most months, windows receive two cleanings, but occasionally there will be months where windows will have three cleanings. This is a good cycle for all the above businesses, especially those looking to save money.Monthly: Windows are cleaned once a month. Client for these are: hotels, motels, small office buildings, and houses. Quarterly: Every three months (four times a year)Bi-annually: Twice-a-year. Three story buildings, apartment complexes, county courthouses, and such can be cleaned on a quarterly or bi-annual basis.Annually: Once a year. Quarterly, Bi-annual, and Annual accounts form the core of residential work. Houses should be cleaned a least bi-annually, but three times a year is best. The more time that elapses between cleanings, the greater the dirt and crud buildup is and more work has to be done. If possible, avoid taking on an annual cleaning account. As stated before, windows get quite dirty in a year, and you may not be able to price a job that is profitable and still attractive to the client. When speaking with a potential client point out why more frequent cleaning is better and less expensive in the end.Try to develop a schedule that incorporates as many of the cleaning routines as possible. In addition to creating a full and balanced schedule, you reduce boredom by rotating through different clients. Also allow a day every week to ten days to make sales calls.SUPPLIES AND EQUIPMENTCHEMICALSThis is probably one of the most important areas in this manual. Choose your chemicals carefully, and be precise with your measurements.CAUTION: Read the mixing directions carefully. If choose chemicals and do not understand how they work and how they are supposed to be mixed, you will probably get unfavorable results.Some cleaning chemicals are known to cause bleed back or create a film if not used properly. Since glass is porous, simply using the squeegee may not be enough. Understand all instructions from the manufacturer.Stick to environmentally safe chemicals whenever possible. Besides being safe to use, it is an excellent selling point. In addition, applications requiring the use of acids and other harsh chemicals, can cause physical damage of the proper precautions are not followed, and may require additional equipment.One of the best and least expensive cleaning products is ordinary kitchen soap, especially a product that says it prevents spotting. Always put the water in the bucket first, and then add the soap. If you add water to soap, you get a bunch of wasted suds.Soap helps the water adhere to the glass, increasing its crud dissolving capabilities and helping the work go faster.Late Spring, Summer, and early Fall – In a five-gallon bucket of water, add three big squirts of the soap.Late Fall, Winter, Early Spring – At this time of year, you may need something to keep the water from freezing, depending on where you live. Windshield washer fluids that contain methyl alcohol work quite well, and will keep your liquid from freezing in temperatures down to forty below, depending on the ratio.TOOLSTo get started in the window cleaning business, you will need the following: Scrubbers – assorted sizes 18″ for beginners Squeegees – assorted sizes 6″, 10″, 18″ Buckets – your pref. Something with a lid Poles – 6′ wooden 12′ telescopic 24′ telescopic Ladders – assorted heights 12′ , 24′ , 32′ Huck towels – these are lint free towels ( BUY used ) Scrub pads – white only. Use caution. They are excellent for tough to remove stains, but can also scratch glass.. Razor blade scrapersYou will also need belts, squeegee holders, bucket on a belt, and other items that you will discover as your business expands.A good utility belt is indispensible. It will hold all your squeegee, towels, scrubbers bucket on a belt, and scraper.There are many window cleaning supply companies throughout the country offering good prices and service. Check your Yellow Pages, or go on-line to find them.A CLEANING SYSTEM THAT WORKSThis window cleaning system is the most important thing you need to learn from this manual. You need to take your time to learn this technique. Practice prefect makes performance perfect. You will be slow at this for a short time but as you practice, your speed will increase.First you need to find a good window to learn on. Find a business with windows that are about 4 feet wide and 4 feet high. Approach the business owner or managerand tell them you are starting a window cleaning company. Ask the owner if you can practice on their windows, adding that their windows will be cleaned free of charge. A good business practice is to always clean the windows of you training site for free as long as you are in business. It is good karma.The only tools you will need are a scrubber, squeegee, bucket, towels, soap, and water.STEP-BY-STEPThe steps to this system are for right-handed workers. Lefties need to reverse the procedures. As you progress in the business, learn to use both hands – it will speed things up, and prevent fatigue.STEP 1: Face the glass, dip the scrubber into the cleaning solution, place it on the glass, and cover entire surface with the solution.STEP 2: Pick up the squeegee and hold it out in front of you so that it forms the letter ‘T’ in your hand. Take the right side of the blade and put it in the top left corner of window, rotating your wrist counter-clockwise to achieve this position. You need to rotate your wrist counter clockwise to achieve this.STEP 3: Push the squeegee into corner and, rotating your wrist clockwise, drag the squeegee across the top edge of window, keeping the right side of blade ahead of the left side of blade. STEP 4: Keep rotating your wrist and run the squeegee into right corner of window.STEP 5: Pull down on the squeegee and rotate into the “T” position.If you look at the glass there will be a dry area and a wet area. STEP 6: You now need to change direction of your squeegee. Keep the left side of squeegee about an inch or two above the wet line, and rotate the squeegee so the right side is now on the bottom with this pass.STEP 7: Run the left side of squeegee into the bottom left corner of window, rotating your wrist so the squeegee is at a 90-degree angle with bottom window frame. Drag it across to the right corner of window. Watch your knuckles as frame edges can really hurt!STEP 8: Use a huck towel around the edges (remember it is lint-free). Place one finger in it and wipe, making sure a dry part of the towel is the only thing that touches the glass. Do Not wipe the glass with big motions – you will smear the glass and have to start over.This cleaning technique is for all glass that you can reach by hand. Pole WorkThis is an area where you can make good money because so many window cleaners will not take the time to learn to how to do pole work effectively. As you become more skilled, you can do pole work as high as 40 feet and not have to leave the ground. You can buy a wooden pole at your local hardware store. Make sure your squeegee handle fits properly and snugly on the pole and does not spin on it.Again, find a window to clean. This time make sure it is a 6×6 sheet of glass. Scrub with solution, making sure not to hit the top frame of the window with the solution, it will drip down glass after you are finished.Stroke one: Put the squeegee on a pole. Using the “T” position, place the squeegee in the top left corner of window and pull straight down. NOTE: set the angle of the left side of the squeegee blade to be lower than the right. This will cause the solution to defy gravity and run back towards the wet area.Stroke two: Wet Edge – Repeat same stroke, letting the left side of the blade extend into the dry area a couple of inches. This will keep the solution from streaking the glass.Repeat the strokes to finish the glass. Always work from the sheet of glass that is farthest left and work towards the right-hand sheet. This way moves quickly and helps build up speed. Lefthanders need to reverse the process.PrecautionsCleaning windows in direct sunlight is extremely difficult, particularly since chemicals will burn onto the glass. This does not damage the glass; it just makes the job harder than it has to be. When in doubt, dilute your solution more than normal. This usually helps.Clean up your job site. Let people know you were there because of the quality of your work, not the mess you left behind.No matter what size of glass you are cleaning, these two styles will work. Make it a habit to clean the same window the same way every time. ESTIMATES FOR FEES AND SERVICESThe following section is a general pricing. When setting your pricing policies, take into account the area where you live. Ask around to find out what others charge. When you give an estimate or price, keep the following in mind.Free estimates: Always give free estimates. It may seem like a waste at the time, but you will get more contracts with free estimates than by charging for them. In fact, if you charge for an estimate, you may not get the opportunity to submit one.Do not bargain. Either get the price you are asking or do not take the job. By bidding too low, you may drive down the market in your area, hurting both your fellow window washers and yourself. This does not mean you cannot offer rates that reflect long-term commitments or larger jobs, but do not let pricing be your means of getting work – let the quality of your work and your professionalism generate business.PRICING GUIDELINESCommercial accounts: Storefronts – 1 to 2 dollars per sheet of glassNew construction – 3 to 5 dollars per sheetResidential: Ranch houses, approx. 15 double-hung windows, $25.00 to $30.00Bi-levels – $ 50.00 to $55.00Small two story – $65.00Large two story – $75.00 to $95.00Three-story buildings: Retirement centers, courthouses, etc. Your prices can have a wide swing on these projects. The best guideline is to consider the lowest price you would accept to do the job and double it for your bid.Four-stories and taller: At this point, pricing will depend on how much equipment you have and what you will have to acquire. It may be best to get the contract and sub-contract them to someone who specializes..These guidelines are for exterior work. If you are bidding on the interior as well, double your price.Consider your customers. You do not have to ask top dollar from some clients, such as senior citizens. Offer them a spring special or senior citizens’ discount, and they spread the word about your business. EXAMPLE You are submitting an estimate to clean the windows of the local shoe store on a weekly basis. The storefront consists of five 4×4 sheets, a door, and 3 8×8 sheets of glass, all at ground level. Since there window display has lots of shoes, you will only want to clean the exterior (climbing over and around stuff costs you time). They have eight sheets of glass that need cleaning on one side, and a door that needs cleaning on both sides. Submit your estimate at $7.00 per sheet. If they think price is too high, offer to clean interior side of door free. Inform them that when they change their display you will clean the interior side of the sheets for the same rate. If they are willing to commit to a six-month or annual contract, you can offer a ten percent discount for that.SALES AND MARKETINGWhen you can, look through the sales and marketing advice on this website. There is a lot of good advice to help you develop an effective, inexpensive sales and marketing plan that will help keep your business growing. In addition, the sales professionals will work with you to help you develop a program tailored to your specific needs. There are a few things universal to all sales methods.Qualify your customers: Make sure they are timely with their payments and pay the full amount billed. Keep record of every job, and have both parties sign a receipt every time. If you end up in the People’s Court, the first thing the judge will want to see is signed receipts.Do not quit when you hear NO: Come back another day. There are a number of reasons why they may say no the first couple of times, and none of them may have anything to do with you or having their windows cleaned.Be fair with people and they will be fair with you. Most people are willing to pay an honest wage for an honest day’s work. If they believe that both parties are benefitting from the business relationship, they will work with you regularly.Keep appointments and Be on time: This is a service business. All things being equal, those who get customers are those who meet their obligations and do good work. Keep to you agreed upon schedule -your customers will expect you. If you have to make a change, be sure to notify your customer in advance.Advertising Your best advertising will be your work and the word of mouth that it will generate. Keep business cards handy to give out to people who ask about your business, and to distribute to surrounding businesses and homes before and after you finish a job.Advertising in newspapers The important thing about advertising is it is a good tool for getting your name out. Studies show that an ad has to run three times in order for people to actually see it. Do not expect people to call about your ads, use them as a name awareness tool.Sample ads:SPRING FLING10% OFFALL WINDOW CLEANINGEXTERIOR SERVICES ONLYCALL: 555-4645OFFER expires XX/XX/XXXX The Window Cleaning Company is accepting reservations for Springtime Window CleaningFree EstimatesCall: 555-4645WINDOW CLEANINGINTERIOR AND EXTERIORFREE SCREEN CLEANING w/every COMPLETE HOUSE CLEANINGCALL: 555-4645FREE ESTIMATESStudies show that an ad needs to run at least three times before it generates a response. Small ads like this are relatively inexpensive, and their consistent appearance in a newspaper generates business. If you live in larger metropolitan areas, neighborhood newspapers are excellent advertising resources, and are much less expensive than the larger urban newspapers.Other means of inexpensive advertisingAmong the less expensive, but effective means of advertisement are restaurant placemats and menus, calendars, flyers, bulletin boards, signs, and newsletters. Do not forget business cards. Use the least expensive you can find and leave them everywhere. Another excellent advertising method is to invest in a magnetic sign for your vehicle. Besides the tax breaks that may be available, it generates a tremendous amount of business.There are countless places to advertise. The best advice is to be selective with how you spend your money, and be patient – give it a chance to work. Most important – Get out and clean glass! This is where you are most visible, and people can see the quality of work you offer. Moreover, because you are visible, always LOOK, ACT, AND BE PROFESSIONAL. This alone is a key to success.For Window Cleaning Products visit Window Cleaning Resources at

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