Washing windows is one of the best service businesses to start, because it requires no lengthy instruction, has low startup costs and is always in demand. Residential windows require cleaning every 3-4 months, commercial windows more routinely.
There are two main markets for a window washing service – residential and commercial. Most window washers focus on a particular niche market – storefronts, for example – and target potential customers and prospects in that niche. Others, mainly in smaller communities, can handle both commercial and residential work easily.
Before you jump into the window washing business, it’s essential that you look at it clearly, warts and all. It is still a low-tech business, although technology has had a big impact in some areas. As an example, a water-fed pole system allows an operator to clean two, three and even four story windows from the ground, saving the time and trouble of climbing up and down a ladder. Another innovation, the Tucker pole system, also allows one person, standing safely on the ground, to wash and rinse windows up to 45′ high.
Technology aside, washing windows is not a glamorous business, like writing apps for a iPad or working on Wall Street. It can get demanding when the weather turns nasty too. So when you reveal to your friends that you plan to start a window washing business, don’t expect a round of applause.
The upside is that you will have a very profitable business that will generate income very quickly – particularly when you consider that most residential and small commercial jobs are paid on the spot when you complete the work. Moreover, you can operate a window washing business on a part-time or full-time basis. This flexibility makes window washing an attractive business to a wide variety of people.
Do you have what it takes?
Window washing is a service business, so you’ll need a willingness to please customers and the desire to perform a thorough job so each window sparkles and customers call back for more.
The business skills needed to launch and run this business are quite basic. You’ll will need to be able to manage your time efficiently and have the ability to build relationships with your customers.
Most window washers are home-based businesses, which makes sense. After all, your customers have no reason to visit your shop, since all work is done at their location, not yours. Although operating out of your home makes perfect sense for most, your town may have regulations that control commercial activities in residential areas. So before you obtain a business license, determine what regulations govern home-based businesses and adjust your business operations to be in compliance.
Startup expenses for a window washing service are reasonable. You’ll need to purchase a window cleaning bucket, squeegees in several sizes, rags, cleaning solution and a basic ladder for two-story work.
To advertise your business around town, order a pair of magnetic signs for your vehicle. Magnetic signs can be easily removed if your vehicle is used for business and personal use. However, you’ll find many prospects will approach you when you’re “off-duty,” in a grocer’s parking lot, for example, so consider leaving your signage on at all times. There are hundreds of web-based businesses that make economical magnetic sighs for vehicles – just do a web search for “magnetic signs for vehicles.”
Pricing your window washing service could be a challenge initially, without experience. If your price is too low, you’re robbing yourself of income and profits that you ought to get. If you price too high, you may lose the job to someone else, or even to the customer, who may decide, “If it’s that expensive, I should do it myself.” To get a feel for pricing, practice washing windows for friends and neighbors at no charge.
Time yourself for each window and take notes. Is it a first or second story window, does it have multiple panes, and so on. Then, multiply the time per window by the hourly rate you expect to earn to reach a price. For example, if a window takes 6 minutes, and you expect to earn $ 50 an hour, then 60 minutes (one hour) divided by 6 equals $ 5. Make sure to add enough to cover your overhead costs, including vehicle costs, materials, administrative expenses such as bookkeeping, taxes, et cetera. After a few months, you’ll have it down.
How’s your image?
The image you project is an important marketing tool. Take into account how your look to others. Here are some areas to consider:
*Because your work is all done on site at the customer’s home or business, the appearance of your vehicle is very important. Your vehicle represents your company on wheels, which communicates to others a lot about your company. A clean, well-maintained vehicle, regardless of it’s years, tells others you take pride in your work.
* Are you neat and clean, wearing clothing that identifies your business, like a hat or golf shirt with your company name?
* Do your documents look professional? It costs next to nothing to have professional estimate and invoice forms printed, which will do wonders for your professional image.
Your customers also form an impression about your image, positive or negative, in how you do on the job and in following up. Here are some tips to help you enhance your business image so it sparkles as brightly as the windows you’ve washed:
* Show up on time. If you show up when you promised, your customers will appreciate it, especially if they have to be home so you can wash the interior windows.
* Be organized. Consider the most efficient way to handle each job so you don’t waste time. Carry extra squeegees and other items that wear so you will always have the right tool for every window. If you’re doing second story windows, make sure you have the right sized ladder with you.
* Return phone calls quickly. Most window washers find a business cellular phone is best for always being available, even while on the job. Make things easy for your customers to reach you – it’s expected in today’s connected world.
* Always say thanks. Thank your customers when the job is done and they hand you a check. Send a basic thank you card to customers after finishing a job, with a note mentioning that you’ve got them on the calendar for the next cleaning in XX days, and you’ll call to confirm about a week before it’s scheduled. A holiday card to each customer works the same way to build a relationship. Time the holiday card to arrive around the first of December – so your card will be distinct and be not forgotten. Always include a business card to make it easier for customers to reach you.
Anyone can wash windows. To turn it into a successful business requires much more than just a good squeegee technique. Professionalism will help you get there, so use the ideas within this article to polish your own image and build a legion of loyal customers for your new window washing business.