Open the “window” of opportunity
Here’s how to get started in the fast-growing business of window cleaning on
a shoestring budget. By Taf Baig
From the August 2003 edition of Cleanfax magazine. Window cleaning has
become one of the hottest service businesses to get into. Entrepreneur magazine
named window washing one of “101 Service Businesses to Start Today.”
Carpet cleaners can easily tap into window cleaning with very little
investment –– because you already have a customer base you can target.
Well-equipped Unlike carpet cleaning and water restoration, window
cleaning requires very little equipment.
You can purchase most of the tools and equipment you need for less than $100
and easily fit them in a corner of your cleaning van.
Even grocery and hardware stores sell these tools, including:
Dish soap for detergent (use as little as possible to prevent
A sturdy ladder
“Fan” and “swirl” Window washing is more labor intensive than carpet
cleaning and restoration, so it’s important to use proper cleaning techniques.
The most popular and professional window cleaning methods are “fanning” and
Fanning, also known as “snaking,” gets its name from the movement of the
squeegee across the window. Experienced cleaners, who move the squeegee side to
side in what appears to be one single, graceful movement and rarely lift the
squeegee off the window, use this method more often.
Swirling is much faster and leaves fewer rubber marks than simple straight
down or straight across squeegeeing. Once cleaners know the swirl, they can just
slide the squeegee back and forth across the glass in one motion without taking
the squeegee off the glass.
Watch a professional window washer and you’ll easily pick up these movements.
Learn how to do these movements and you’ll cut down on labor drastically.
Many cleaning services have begun to offer window cleaning.
Rely on customers Your existing customer base is usually enough to
start this business without any cash outlay.
Leave a flyer behind with every job you do or mention to each client that you
now also clean windows. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to sell your window
Here are some other inexpensive ways to market this service:
Distribute business cards in all commercial buildings in your area
Visit them once a week and soon you’ll have enough business to keep one
person busy full-time.
Stay away from high rises in the beginning ––they’re more equipment intensive
and competition is greater.
Visit all grocery stores, schools, retail stores and all smaller
buildings in your area, such as apartments and churches, that can easily be
serviced with a ladder
Add the words “window cleaning” to your lettered trucks
Clean customers’ homes and offices for free in exchange for
putting your sign in their windows
Show me the money! Keep your employees on a commission basis and use
contractors who provide their own supplies, if possible.
Charge customers by the hour whenever possible. If you can’t, figure out how
long it would take you to clean a certain size window and convert that to the
Window cleaners only charge $25-$40 an hour, but you can still make a nice
And don’t forget, your working hours are entirely during daytime, and there’s
rarely any emergency work that will disturb your family life.
(Clean windows carefully. Read “Safety first” in the sidebar.)
Pay scale Pay your employees one-third of the job and pay your
Use a different rate for contractors because they can provide their own car
and equipment, and there are no employee benefits or employee taxes. If you
charge $40 an hour, give your contractors $20.
This is probably more money than they’d make cleaning carpets. The work also
is less tiring than carpet cleaning or water restoration because you don’t have
to move furniture.
With a population of 100,000 or more in your service area, you can keep one
employee busy for eight hours a day, five days a week while not spending any
extra money on marketing.
This adds up to a possible profit of $3,000 per month per person from spring
to fall –– and year round in some geographic areas.
Taf Baig is president of Magic Wand Company, a manufacturer and distributor
of carpet cleaning tools, equipment and supplies. He is also president of a very
successful carpet and furniture cleaning company. He owns patents to several
tools and pieces of equipment. To e-mail him, visit www.magicwandco.com.