Run a Window Cleaning Company!
Don’t be afraid to work with your hands! Many of you are not, but I have met some pastors that think this is below their dignity! Jesus and Paul both worked with their hands. Many find working with their hands a great therapy for the emotional and spiritual abuse they have experienced.
Start up costs:
Minimal compared to other businesses. Chances are you already own a ladder or two. You will need a bucket, a window mop, a good quality squeegee, a bottle of Dawn Dish Soap, some old rags, a window razor from Wal Mart, a medium stiff brush to use on screens. This will get you started. In time you will want different sizes of squeegees, extension poles, different sizes of window razors, a belt with a squeegee holder and a towel holder. If you are middle aged or older, you probably do not want to wash any windows higher than second story. Most of the time a 20 foot extension ladder will do. In a few cases you may need a 28 foot ladder. A six foot step ladder and a two step stool are also super helpful. If you already own an extension ladder your start up costs could be as little as $200.00 or less. I buy my supplies from www.squeegees.net
How much do I charge?
You will need to contact a few window cleaners in your state to see what the going rate is. When I ran our window company in Colorado Springs in 2002-3, the going rate was $1.30 per surface. I now live in one of the lowest cost of living areas in America and I only can charge about $1.10 a surface – in 2010! What do I mean by “per surface” – example – a sliding glass door. The door is glass with a mental frame around it. Each side of the door has one surface. One on the outside, one on the inside. Where I now live I charge $2.20 to wash that door, and it takes less than two minutes. If the door has a baked on film of grime and hasn’t been washed for ten years, then both sides of the door are wetted down, then scrapped every inch with a glass razor, then wetted down again with the window mop, and then squeegee off – ten minutes max, for $2.20. Now, French Doors are another story – from hell, ha, ha! All those tiny little squares of glass, each with a frame around it – Rrrrrrrr! I charge a minimum of $5.00 per door. If they are well maintained you can simply “wet rag, dry rag” them quickly, or you can use a tiny squeegee, but you will still have to rag around the window to get the water in those #*@ little corners. Charge $5 minimum and more if you can get it. Most French doors come in pares, so that’s $10 per set.
Remember, when we talk about surfaces we do not mean windows! We mean surfaces. Each piece of glass surrounded by a frame of some kind. Most windows have from two to twenty surfaces. Also, remember, if some of the surfaces are huge – like a feature window in a living room, count it as double.
The very first time you wash a house or business it will take you twice as long as your future washes. Any time you need to use your window razor the pace slows. I have some houses I wash every three months – never touch the razor, just mop and squeegee. On those houses I can average anywhere from $30 to $50 per hour, depending on the ladder work. The same house the first time I wash it may only work out to $20 per hour.
Older houses with storm windows can pay a lot because of double the surfaces, but you have the hassle of disassembling the window and re-assembling. Many window cleaners will not take customers with storm windows.
Where do I start?
Get the basic equipment, and practice on your own house – your wife will be in a state of shock! You don’t have to work fast, just efficiently. Learn the basic squeegee methods, and some of the tricks of the trade – like removing tar or bricklayer’s cement off the glass. Call me and ask if you can’t find a book on the subject.
Next go down to City hall and inquire if you need a license. Most cities do not require a license, especially if you specialize in residential homes. Business insurance for a one man window company is about $55. a month. And, get this, it does not cover broken windows – ha, ha! (And you thought the Mafia were the only ones involved in racketeering!) The insurance covers everything except the window. Since you are a window “expert” as a cleaner of windows, the insurance company puts that responsibility on you. I personally have never broken a window ever. If your ladder slides across the siding and does damage, the insurance will cover that – as well as all the blood you leave on the lawn where you fell off the ladder.
Next – get your name out there! The phone book is expensive, and it will not come out for several more months. Even newspaper ads can get expensive. I have built two successful window cleaning companies with fliers. If you can design your own flier and get it copied by a friends business or some other cheap way, then you can get out there in a very up-scale neighborhood. I have consistently obtained two or three customers for every 100 fliers I have delivered. Sometimes, more than that. But, remember this, once you have a customer, you re-schedule that customer for an exterior touch-up or a full inside/outside wash again in six months. Don’t be discouraged by response time to your fliers. I have been as close as three houses further down the block delivering fliers and had a lady call my cell and ask for an estimate. On the other hand, I have gone to wash homes where a three year old flier was sitting on the kitchen table. They kept all my info and they became steady customers after that, every six months like clock work!
Up-Scale neighborhoods – need I say this – target people with money! The middle class work hard for their money, and they have little to give to you. Many would rather live with windows so dirty they can’t see through them. People with money live in houses big enough they need house cleaners and window cleaners. They also have the money to pay and appreciate a good job! Kathy and I try to make a minimum of $200.00 a day. Some days it’s around a $100. And other days we make $300. to $375.00.
If you consider this form of employment, feel free to call Kim at 918-919-1490 and ask any questions you have. Window cleaning is a great business, and is needed. Even in cities that have many window cleaners, often there is room for more. Just think how many thousands of square miles of glass there are in a modern city! Glass everywhere, up and down every street, on every building, and somebody has to clean it!