Starting a window-cleaning business is strategic for several reasons: you get to work outdoors; the startup costs are low; it doesn’t take a large amount of your time to learn how to do it; you can grow at a fast pace (or slow if you prefer to go by your speed).
Payscale.com put the median hourly wage for a window washer from $14-$27 an hour. That equates to roughly $29,000 to $52,500 a year. This depends on how and how much you charge for window cleaning jobs, as well as the number of jobs you complete annually.
Before you can begin the process of becoming a professional window washer, you first need to know how the business works.
1. Finding a Mentor
The bottom line is you owe it to yourself to start on the best possible foot in any business. If you have a teacher to show you the ropes, you can side-step mistakes many business owners make in their first few years of servicing right out of the gate.
Is this business that you can learn from yourself? Absolutely, but it may benefit you to find someone you trust that can streamline the process.
2. Improve Your Customer Service Skills
The window-cleaning industry is competitive, so you need to bring something to the table your competitors can’t. That’s where customer service comes in. Before you even think about supplies, you should focus on improving in these areas.
Since you’re the face of your company, it’s important to look professional. Keep your tools clean, your service truck spotless, and yourself or your workers looking presentable to potential clients. Simple things like asking the customer if they would prefer you to wear shoe coverings or face masks will set you a tier above the rest.
You want the client to have a clear understanding of how much the job is estimated, when the cleaning will be done, and how much it will actually cost to complete by the end. This necessitates clear and concise communication on estimates, invoices, and time frame expectations. Good communication will make you more reliable to your customers. Treating your client as a person and getting professionally familiar with them also helps in building your rapport.
Most customers don’t want to drag out the process. They want the job done as quickly as possible with as few errors as possible. The software will play a big role in making this a reality, whether for scheduling, pricing, or managing your window-cleaning business.
3. Becoming an Established Business
You’ve learned from the best, you’ve gotten all the necessary equipment, and you’ve polished both your and your soft skills to shine. Now it’s time to become a legitimate, legal service entity in your area.
You will want to register your business. Either as a Sole Proprietorship or an LLC. An LLC license may cost more, but it better insulates you and separates you personally from the company. If you intend to expand the business to include more employees than just yourself, it’s the best route from a legal standpoint.
Next, you will want to open a bank account for your business and register for accounting software that’s reliable to record business costs, track open accounts still awaiting payment, and record your already received business income.
4. Insuring your Window-Washing Business
Accidents can happen at any job site, even when you’re careful. Since a window-washing business often requires climbing ladders and using extension poles, you might be more at risk of being injured while on the job. This is where insurance has your back, as well as your employees and the company’s. Besides, being insured greatly increases your legal standing before your clients’ eyes.
Here are a few essentials to consider:
Let’s say you are working in a home, and you accidentally drop a tool on the client’s vehicle. Liability makes sure you are covered, and you don’t have to pay out of pocket/out of business.
- Worker’s Compensation Insurance
No matter where you are located, this is mandatory if you have additional workers. Your local area will have something called a workplace compensation board. They will take a portion of your business income to pay out to your employee/s in case of workplace-related injury, whatever that may be while on the job.
- High Rise Window-Cleaning Insurance
You’ll need added liability insurance workers’ compensation because the stakes for doing high rises are, well, higher. Some states might also require you and your employees to be certified, be trained in safe job practices, and use specialized equipment for these jobs.
5. Budgeting for A Window-Cleaning Business
The overhead of starting a window-washing business is relatively low when you compare it to other labor jobs, but it is still there. The good news is the startup cost can run as low as under $1,000 if you choose the right tools and software.
That’s not to say to use sub-par tools and software simply because they are more cost-effective. You want to make sure the work you leave behind is equal to, if not better than, your local competitors to generate repeat business.
The average starter kit for window cleaning should have:
- At least one squeegee
- Microfiber cloths and towels
- An extension pole
- Cleaning solution and buckets
- A ladder
- Bidding and invoicing system
6. Deciding on Pricing Strategies
For your window-cleaning business plan, you must decide on how to price your window-cleaning jobs.
If you intend to work on office buildings, you may want to pursue charging by the square foot. For these jobs, per-window-cleaning estimating is time-consuming and inefficient. On the other hand, if you are working on a private, smaller home, it might be in your best interest to charge per window because there aren’t that many to service.
You may want to set up pricing based on pane-to-pane for medium homes, usually at a range from $2 to $6. Whereas with large houses, you will more likely want to go the hourly route for the sake of efficiency.
If you are winning the bids for every job, it’s a sign you aren’t competing, but rather you are undercutting the competition. Adjust accordingly to match the market in your area. Be sure to ask your potential clients what the competition is offering so you can know how much to bid on future jobs. Never leave money on the table.
7. Finding New Clients
Getting your first clients isn’t an easy feat if you don’t know the tricks. Luckily for you, we have compiled a list of things you might want to try to boost the process.
Canvassing is when you visit homes and businesses in the area and ask potential clients if they need any work done. It is hands down the most direct and fastest way of gaining new clients.
You might be nervous at first, approaching people at random and asking for business, but once the jobs begin to pile up, the gains will outweigh the nerves. However, as we said earlier, make sure you are dressed for the part and prepared to sell yourself as a smart and competent window cleaner.
Yes, you’re just learning how to start a window-washing business. But they won’t know the difference between you, the novice, and a more experienced washer if you present yourself as a professional with a plan.
While canvassing is about going out and finding clients, marketing is about having them come to you. You may find it useful to invest the money saved on supplies on hiring a marketing professional to get your business’ name out there.
- Build a website for customers to find out more about you and book servicing.
- Create posts and listings in local Facebook groups and marketplaces.
- Make a business page on Google (we’ve all gone to the review to a business searched on Google at least once for insights)
- Do free work for people you trust.
- Request that they return the favor by rating your work’s quality and leaving a comment to build your online reviews.
- Write a blog. Explain tips and techniques to help others become window-washing professionals and plug your business somewhere in each post.
8. Hiring Employees
This isn’t the go-to action to take for new business. However, after you’re going about with your business for a while, it’s eventually necessary for you to scale it up.
When you decide to bring in a few new faces, make sure to keep the number manageable at first. Spend some time observing how they work together and how much exactly you can all accomplish. Only then can you think about adding some more employees.
You would be surprised what a handful of 4 or 5 workers can do when they’re well-trained and focused. Besides, you can keep that overhead down, which means more money for the business to continue growing down the road.