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Window Cleaning Issues - Canvassing, pole systems, pricing, problems, etc.

Work like a Professional

Posted by Silly_Philly (Philip Hanson  [Silly Philly]), 22 February 2004
Many people are attracted to window cleaning because it seems like easy work, with not much equipment to buy.  

Hours to suit, and of course, cash in hand! (The tax man doesn't need to know about that surely! Nor, really does the benefits agency!)

And there is a shortage of window cleaners, so no problem making a few quid here and there, how hard can it be?  An old domestic ladder from down the market, scrim, bucket, and away you go!  (Hey , you dont even need to SHAVE before you go out on the morning- great eh?)

It doesnt even matter about that nasty business with the police a few months ago, because after all, who's going to know about that?

If this describes you, then please take note:

You are letting ALL of us window cleaners down, and giving the whole business a bad name.  Also, more importantly for you, you are not doing as well as you could be.  

Here's some tips to bring you up to pro standard:

1)Insurance. Window cleaning involves working with people's property, and for this you should be insured. Householders are becomming more aware of this issue.  (from us pros).  It costs around £150 a year.  Take a deep breath, pay it and forget about it.

2) Cheating the benefit system is both immoral and illegal.  DSS now has several teams who comb different areas actively looking for cash-in-hand workers and randomly checking them.  (I myself have been checked)  Breaking the law in this way could mean a prison sentance.  

Come on, fair's fair.  You don't want a criminal record, and if you do it properly you'll sleep better at night.  If you need advice as to how to establish your business legally and properly, just ask (here in the forum).  Even if you have been operating a little bit shadily, its easy to come clean and not to be handed a big penalty.

3) Getting the correct equipment will not only make your job far easier (and therefore more profitable) but also safer, and more professional looking.  Okay, it does take time to learn to use a squeegee instead of just a scrim, but this pays dividends in the long run.  Again help is at hand if you need it.

The correct equipment need not cost you a fortune, and boy, will you notice the difference, (and so will your customers)

4) SHAVE EVERY DAY!!  Its a small thing that makes a great difference!  It takes 5 minutes, and you go from looking like a scruff to looking like a serious tradesman.

5) Dont smoke on the job.  It really gives a bad impression.  Go back to the van if you have to, but don't light up while working.

6) Watch your language.  However commonplace swearing is to you, it offends, distances and intimidates people.  This might be a challenge, but nobody is impressed by foul language.

7) Get Up Early.  Making an early start will really increase your daily rate.  Aim to start for 9 and finish at 5, just like a normal job.  The sense of satisfaction after a proper day's work is well worth the sacrifice of a sleep-in

So come on, lets all clean up our act.  And here's a strange thing: if you do you'll feel better about yourself, your job, your life.

OUT with the COWBOY, IN with the PRO

Posted by BeeClean (BeeClean), 22 February 2004
on 02/22/04 at 23:00:05, Philip Hanson  [Silly Philly] wrote:
OUT with the COWBOY, IN with the PRO

well said that man Cool

Posted by WavieDavie (WavieDavie), 23 February 2004
Well said Phil!

Only one thing to pull you up on . . . 7) Get Up Early.  Making an early start will really increase your daily rate.  Aim to start for 9 and finish at 5, just like a normal job.

That's the middle of the afternoon, man! We start at 7.30am and finish at 1.30pm cos I think six hours of giving it batter in a hard physical job should be enough for anyone. If we're running late because of weather, or someone being off, we can pull out a few stops and work on for a bit, but all work and no play makes Davie a dull boy, believe me.

Having said that, I'm off to bed - see you later.
Posted by denzle (Denzle), 23 February 2004
With work ethics like that you will have more work than you can shake a stick at.
Image is everything, look Pro, behave Pro and get paid accordingly.
Well said that man.
Posted by Terry_Burrows (Terry_Burrows), 23 February 2004
Winkwork fast Grin finish fast, Cheesythats me motto! Grin Roll Eyes
Posted by Slatercleaners (Slatercleaners), 23 February 2004
Are you referring to Public Liability Insurance?
I'm just stating and have been quoted £108 for £2m cover
Posted by sw_windows (sw_windows), 24 February 2004
Unfortunatley the type of cowboys you re talking about probaly cant be bothered to read this website and are to busy getting stoned every night, not unlike some i ve come across.
the majority  of people who come on here i expect are quite motivated anyway and try to act as professionaly as possible, if people are prepared to come on here out of works hours it seems to me that there looking for advice and to better themselves.
there, thats my twopence worth!
Posted by gibbouk (gibbouk), 24 February 2004
well said. its a theme that has crept up again and again. i feel that we should sell these things to the customers. i wish all i needed was a bucket and a chamios. my estate car is full up i need that van now not next month.
Posted by lester (lester), 25 February 2004
Phill could you give more ideas were can i get cheaper liability insurance
Posted by Silly_Philly (Philip Hanson  [Silly Philly]), 25 February 2004
Hi Lester, and welcome to the Forum

The cost of Public Liability insurance cover varies from area to area.  Probably the best bet is The National Federation of Master Window & General Cleaners  though you do need to be a member.

My premium last year was £127.35 from a local (Bristol)insurance agent.  [For £1million of cover] They are called Brunsdon & Co, and their phone number is 0117 942 6877.  You can arrange it over the phone, and they take Visa and Mastercard.

The policy is called the "Countrywide Solo-plus Gold" and is underwritten by Axa.  It is specifically designed for tradesmen. (This wasnt with the Fed, as I was not a member then)

It is possible to get it cheaper, as Gary of Slatercleaners says above, he was quoted £108 for £2m of cover.  A bit like car insurance, you sometimes have to shop around a little bit.  Personally, I went with the first quote under £150 because I needed it fast and didnt have time to look around.

Premiums go up and down every year, mostly up unfortunately.  But a few times this year I've had near-miss accidents.  Once I nearly dropped my ladders on a customers new Lexus.  Would I have been able to pay for that damage myself? No.  The result of an accident like that could easily mean bankruptcy if the victim was to sue.

And also, what if you injured someone accidentally?  If they sued and you went bankrupt, they'd get nothing.  Now that really is NOT fair.  

I read about a case where builder dropped a hammer from some scaffolding, and hit a passerby.  The girl was permanently brain-damaged.  The family sued, but the builder was not insured, and she got nothing.  The family had to care for her for the rest of her life with no financial assistance.  An insured settlement would have been approximately £600,000.  Not much compensation for the girl, but at least it would have helped with the cost of her care.

Its peace of mind, and its also the responsible thing to do.  If you need any advice that is more specific, just ask.

Posted by SteveTruman (SteveTruman), 25 February 2004
Just a quick one.... Re liability insurance. If i want to do any work for our local council or any of the big house builders they require 5 mill. cover minimum... Might be different down your way, but up in Yorkshire 5mill. is required.


Posted by Fox (Fox), 25 February 2004

I do work for our local authority in Warwickshire and 5 million is required.  

I also sub contract my window cleaning and whilst looking at renewing my insurance I have discovered that the firm I sub to has to have the same amount of public liability as me.  So to keep the work (which doesn't include local authority) he has had to up his insurance!  Luckily he was fine about it.

Posted by Diamond_Vision (Jeff Brimble), 26 February 2004
Yep same in Wales 5 million.
Posted by Reuben_Reynolds (Reuben_Reynolds), 28 February 2004

Good subject, the advice I include to window cleaners when I am on demonstrations is regarding their business card.
I see a lot of cards that does not have their address on it or have a land line number.
It reads like this

Joe Bloggs
JB Window Cleaning
Mobile number

What does that say about your business?

You don’t have a fixed address
A traceable phone number land line
You may not be a legitimate window cleaner

So if the client got burgled there would be no way of the police tracing the Window cleaner if the mobile phone was a pay as you go mobile phone.

If your business card reads like the one above, that is how your business is perceived.




Posted by williamx (williamx), 28 February 2004
What would happen if the thief got your business card with your home address and knew you are not there monday to fridays between 9 and 5 Kiss
Posted by Diamond_Vision (Jeff Brimble), 28 February 2004
I agree with Reuben too many travellers with mobiles some have found a way to get 0800 Nos The vvery least you should put on its the area or town you come from if you have to use only a mobile No
As to the 9-5   the governments got every body working 7 days a week to pay crazy taxes so its a fair bet that everybody is out. Thats why if I was a punter I would want to know exactly who I was employing and where he came from. There are instances round here of w/c travelling 30 miles- why ? there is plenty of work on your own doorstep, makes me suspicious, on the dole or on the rob ?

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