Starting a window cleaning business - Equipment you need, suppliers to use and trade organisations to join, etc.
Posted by JohnM1 (JohnM1), 11 December 2003Hi guy's
Can you help? six months ago I started my own small window cleaning round and have now build up around 35 customers, and love it. By the feedback that I get from my customers they are very pleased with the service I give.. I am friendly, polite and reasonably priced. I am not it for a fast buck, far from it, I am fully insured and even considering joining the National Federation of Window Cleaners.
The prblem is, I would like to go full time and to do this I need to increase the number of customers that I have. I leaflet drop reguarly, and if I don't get any response, assume that another window cleaner is working that area and I back off. Can anyone suggest any thing else? would it be too cheaky for me to phone other window cleaners and ask them if they have any spare work they could put my way? Do window cleaners still sell off their unwanted rounds? I live in Cheltenham, is their anyone on here that could help?,, come on lads, we all had to start somewhere!!!!!
Posted by sham33 (sham33), 11 December 2003Nothing beats knocking on doors and just asking if they need a WC. Trust me nothing gives u results quicker. I'm thinking of getting more customers in the new year but I'm going to leaflet drop, cba knocking on doors anymore
Posted by scwindowcleaning (scwindowcleaning), 11 December 2003Dont worry if there are other w/c in the area, there are always houses that they will miss out or customers aren't happy with their service.
Today a women asked if I could clean her house after I had done her neighbours, she told me she hadn't been able to get a good w/c for love nor money.
It was only the night before I had knocked on every house on that street. I only got 3 customers because most of the others already had w/c, so why she couldn't get one I don't know.
Always follow up leaflet drops with door knocking, unless you cba
Posted by pdhanson (Silly Philly), 11 December 2003Yes, as good as leaflets are, only a certain type of person will respond to them. Canvassing is by far the best way.
After a while you get an eye for houses that are dirty, simply knock and ask. Choose posh areas so you can charge more, and also someone is more likely to be at home.
Other window cleaners do sometimes sell work, and this can be very good. However, you never really know what you're getting, so make sure you see a fair sample of it before you hand over any cash. Also, make sure its up-to-date. If it isnt, maybe another window cleaner will already have moved in.
I'm not sure I would necessarily call up other window cleaners, but there are often rounds advertised in free papers and classifieds. These usually sell for about 2 or 3 times their monthly value.
Remember though - work you canvass yourself will always be your best work. You can set the prices and choose the area. And best of all, it costs nothing!
Posted by scwindowcleaning (scwindowcleaning), 11 December 2003Choosing posh areas so you can charge more doesn't always work.
I have customers in big houses that begrudge paying £4 for a fortnightly clean, and customers in smaller houses, just off one of the worst streets in town, that pay £5 out of choice.
Posted by pdhanson (Silly Philly), 11 December 2003Yes, that is true. But if you do council areas, there are added costs as follows:
Ladders stolen from outside a house : £225
Street mugging for window money: £60
Week off work following beating up by youths because you have a job and they don't : £350
Car radio Stolen : £30
Missed payments due to it not being Giro day : £35
Missed payment due to customer being in prison : £12
Missed payments due to customer unexpectantly becamming single parent: £20
And so it goes on...
Posted by scwindowcleaning (scwindowcleaning), 11 December 2003True, and the other problem with council estates is scruffy yards. I hate going in yards that are full of crap, especially dog crap!
You can easily waste an hour if you stand in dog crap and get it all over your ladder rungs.
Posted by Neil (wylie), 11 December 2003WOW were do you live Silly? The BRONX!!!!!!!
Posted by denzle (denzle), 12 December 2003John,
I know i harp on about this subject but image is everything in this line of work. Portray a trustable image and customers will love you, talk to their neighbours about you and hang on to your service, even when you increase prices.
My suggestion is be a pro, get your vehicle sign written then always leave it in the most promenent place in the street your working in, wear some kind of uniform, i.e black combat trousers and fleece top with your company name embroidered on it, leave business cards everywhere you can, especially through the letter boxes of the houses next to the ones you already do.
The guys that go round in hooded tops looking like burglars will be regarded with suspicion no matter how nice they are.
All other advice about flyers and door knocking is well documented on this forum by guys that know the business inside out.
I hope this helps
Posted by sham33 (sham33), 12 December 2003I took it for granted that no window cleaner would be silly enough to clean council estates †
Actually when i first started i did a few and some 1 tried to barter the price of £3.50 against a cup of coffee. If i make u a cup of coffee can u knock 50P off the price. Unbelievable.
Posted by shinnyshinner (shinnyshinner), 12 December 2003I do quite a bit of council estate work and the majority are down right down to earth people.
Good payers and do a lot of extra work for them. No trouble at all, but donít think the comments you make are fair to be honest, my customers range from people who sign on to business owners and my estate work give me the least trouble off all, donít know about stepping in dog S**t but there is a definite smell of bull s**t on this thread.
Posted by sham33 (sham33), 12 December 2003Just going by what i've experienced. Im no snob i live on a council estate myslef but the amount of hassle i've had from these place's and peoples attitude i dont consider them worth doing.
Posted by pdhanson (Silly Philly), 12 December 2003Far be it for me to diss anyone's round. If you have council estates that are worth your while, then that's all that matters.
However, I know for a fact that in this city, they would not pay the going rate. Also, I'd much rather work in leafy suburbs than in terraced rows with gangs hanging around. But hey, that's just me.
One advantage might be that people are at home during the day to open the gates, and of course pay.
Also, customers in posher areas do tend to view you as servile, and inferior (Not that I care, as long as they pay up). Some are just a pain in the backside. Guess that if the people are more down to earth, you might get on better with them.
Posted by shinnyshinner (shinnyshinner), 12 December 2003You canít discriminate someone by where they live and by being down to earth, doesnít make that person a different class to you and easy to get on with I would say it was better to be like that then to trying to paint an impression of something your not.
In the 16yrs I have been cleaning my cliental ranges from Council estates as you call it and a lot of the residents that live in these houses are elderly, some war veterans people who work and unemployed, I also cover work on a commercial level to regular cleaning for the duchy and one thing I would never have is for someone to look down on me just take the money as you say, you cant value yourself much if you have that opinion and it does not paint a profession picture for your company.
Posted by gibbouk (gibbouk), 13 December 2003oh god philly's post reminded me of past times when i did some houses on the worst estate near me. knocking on the door for ages while they all decided they had no money, so lets ignore it telly is on people moving about yet no one answering the door. best move i ever did was gettting rid of them. very few window cleaners will even go on there.
Posted by JohnM1 (JohnM1), 13 December 2003Guy's
This is getting into a bit of a debate about wether or not you should clean windows on council estates, and not really helping me
Posted by shinnyshinner (shinnyshinner), 13 December 2003Hi JonM1
I think the thing to do is canvass an area and the work you get out of it sieve through it and ones you want keep the others dump there is good and bad in all I once had a customer who lived in a 300k house nice car own business and she believe it or not tried to tell me she was going to pay me month in areas £20. Thought none of that, another of my customers work a normal 8-4 week and pays me between 10-20 per month for windows and extra jobs like wash down doors stuff like that so as you can see its trial and error then after say 6months -year you should have a good round with the ones you decided to keep.
Thatís my opinion
Hope this helps
Posted by Neil (wylie), 13 December 2003Hi JohnM1
I only started fulltime myself a short while ago and I find work comes in from all sorts of directions,
As for talking to other wc I would say dont waste your time unless they are a good friend. Over the last few months I have spoken to loads of other blokes and always say if youve got any work you want to sell or get rid off give me a ring but they never do.
They see you as a threat and not someone who can help them.
Work sought and quoted by you is going to be better quality anyway!
With the exception of one mate locally ALL my help has come from our mates on this forum!!!!
And can I take this opportunity to say Thank you to all of them.
Posted by Majestic (Majestic), 13 December 2003Hi John,
No matter what area you pick to clean you will still get bad payers >:At the end of the day they most people realy do need a window cleaner, and there are more windows to clean than there are window cleaners to clean them. I tried door knocking but did not get a good responce , so I tried leaflets and that worked ok. If you do a double sided leaflet , one side do you need a window cleaner , the other side ,yes please clean my windows , please put this slip in your window .A couple of days later go around the area you posted and see how many have put the slip in the window .
Posted by scwindowcleaning (steveC), 13 December 2003I have started off like wylie, with advice and help from a local w/c, I think the best help he gave me was this forum (and lending me everything I needed, and 40 customers). Have you read all the previous posts on this forum?
Another piece of advice he gave me was not to price myself to cheaply. I ignored this as I was desperate for new customers so only quoted £4 house. I have just taken some customers on at £5.50/house and am kickin myself for not being brave enough to try and charge more with other new customers. It'll be so hard to try and put my prices up on the houses that I only charge £4.
By not being cheap it helps to make you look more professional (and as denzle says 'image is everything)and people will think you know what your doing (even if, like me, you don't).
I dont know if this is a good idea or not (what does everybody else think?). It might help if in one area you offer a cheap service in the hope that you'll get lots of work, and in another area try being expensive, hopefully you'll expand in the expensive area.
If you don't build up in the expensive area you've always got the cheap area to fall back.
Posted by Londoner (Londoner), 21 December 2003Denzle's advise was very sound. Image is important in any business and this one is no different.
I found a long time ago that the way you look when you go canvassing makes a lot if difference.
The customer doesn't know you and if you look dodgy they are likely to say no even if they need a cleaner.
I wear overalls, apart from anything else its cheaper than ruining your clothes.
Hoods and pratt hats etc make you look like a crook.
The other piece of advise I would give you is canvass, canvass, canvass
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