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.
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:SqueegeesSpongesBrushesRazor bladesExtension polesPailsChamoisDish soap for detergent (use as little as possible to prevent spotting)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 “swirling”.
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 cleaning service.
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 ladderAdd the words “window cleaning” to your lettered trucksClean 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 labor rate.
Window cleaners only charge $25-$40 an hour, but you can still make a nice profit.
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 your employees one-third of the job and pay your contractors one-half.
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.