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How to start your own successful window washing service
HOW TO START YOUR OWN SUCCESSFUL WINDOW WASHING SERVICE
(As told by someone with "firsthand" experience in this business.)
Here's a business that, almost more than any other with equal
potential for real wealth, meets the most stringent requirements of
just about any skeptic. In fact, there's so much in favor of the
"little guy" with this business, it's a real mystery why more people
don't choose this one as the vehicle for their ultimate independence
and financial security.
This is a business that can make you rich very quickly... It's a
kind of service business that can very profitably be operated by one
person - male or female... The basic knowledge needed for success
is simple and easy to learn... Very little monetary investment is
needed for equipment - usually less than $100... There are
virtually no storage space requirements... You can operate out of
your home for virtually as long as you like, and yet, there's a real
demand for this type of business everywhere...
The success potential for window washing services is present in the
smallest of towns as well as the largest metropolitan areas. Your
risks will be minimal, while your rewards can far surpass even your
wildest dreams. Generally, a one man operation in a city of 50,000
can expect to gross $4,000 or more per month after just 90 days.
Operating expenses for one person operations grossing this amount
should be less than $1,000 per month.
Ideally, your plan should be to solicit new accounts, do the work
yourself and establish a regular customer route. Once you've
established such a service route, and you're beginning to realize a
good profit, you should hire part-time help to do the work while you
solicit new accounts and establish more regular customer routes,
You should concentrate on providing regular window washing services
for all the one and two story office buildings and storefronts in
your area, start with those closest to your home and expand your
efforts outward. Choose a busy thoroughfare leading into your
city's downtown area. Select the one closest to your home and begin
calling on business owners and store managers all along this street
into the downtown area.
Usually, you won't have to do much more than introduce yourself,
briefly explain your services, and leave your business card. We did
this regularly on a once-a-week basis, and after 6 weeks, we had
enough business to keep one man busy - 6 hours a day, 5 days a week.
Until you become well-established, don't even bother soliciting work
on windows higher than the second story. However, it's best to call
on every business, one after the other as you make your way to the
downtown area. Later on, you can call upon churches, private
schools, businesses located on side streets branching off the main
thoroughfares, and even homes if you'd like to try that market.
Generally though, you'll find the residential market too
time-consuming to make your efforts really profitable, plus the fact
that you simply won't be able to charge enough to make it worthwhile
in comparison to your commercial customers. Apartment houses and
condominiums are quite a different story however, particularly when
you can land several customers in the same building,
As mentioned earlier, you can headquarter in and operate completely
out of your home. You can store your cleaning equipment and
supplies in a corner of your garage. Your bookkeeping and other
paperwork can be taken care of at your kitchen table, with whatever
office supplies you need, easily stored in a dresser drawer.
Speaking of office supplies, you should have a supply of business
cards - and an adequate supply of billing statements with your
business name and address, plus mailing envelopes and return reply
envelopes. You can get away with rubber-stamping your business name
and address on your statements and envelopes, but your business will
grow faster - you'll probably also save time and money as well - by
going with printed supplies from the beginning.
There are no "real reasons" not to list your home address as your
business address, but listing a post office box number - if you
prefer - will not really harm your image. The important thing is
personal contact - someone from your company regularly calling upon
your prospective customers.
Talk with them. Listen to them. Get to know them. Find out who's
currently doing their windows for them, if they have any complaints
and how you can offer them a better deal. When you've actually
investigated the service they're already contracted for, and you're
certain you can offer them a better deal, put your ideas into the
form of a written proposal and give it to them. Don't be afraid to
submit a proposal for a better deal, but remember when you do, your
proposal should offer more than just a price break. Under-cutting a
competitor's price usually means less profit for you, and an overall
deterioration of your reputation. It may temporarily result in more
work for you, but you're in business to attain wealth - not work
yourself into an early grave...
If your spouse is home during the day, she can answer the phone for
you and generally set up appointments for you, while you're out
making sales calls. She can also type out your monthly statements,
see that they're sent out on time, and pretty much handle your
bookkeeping for you. Should it not be feasible, or for some reason,
inconvenient for your wife to handle your incoming calls for you,
look around until you find a good, dependable Telephone Answering
Service. Many of these telephone answering services also handle
typing jobs as well, so if you're lacking someone to handle these
chores for you, chances are you can find all the services you need
without too much of a search.
It's important with this type of business that you have a "live"
voice answering your calls. Selecting the right people to handle
your calls, and spending the extra time necessary to train them
according to your desires - even paying a little more to have things
done the way you want them done - is almost always well worth the
time and added expense. Remember, this is a service business with
your growth dependent upon the personal contact you and your
representatives have with prospective clients. Work on it, develop
it, and cultivate your personal contact transactions.
As the size of your company increases and you hire crews of people
to handle work assignments, you can usually get your answering
service to take on the added duties of job assignment notification
or dispatcher. All of this simply points up the possibilities of
operating your business out of your home indefinitely, should you
choose to do so.
If somewhere along the line you decide to set up an office in a
location other than your home, you might want to make an offer or
otherwise induce one or two of the people from your telephone
answering service. Regardless of how large your work force becomes,
it's always best if you supply the window washing equipment and
Employees should be allowed to take the equipment home with them,
and required to use their own vehicles for transportation to each
job site. By all means, spend the extra money to supply your
workers with uniforms. Matching shirt and trousers with a big patch
on the back of the shirts, listing your company name and phone
number, is not only impressive in projecting a professional image,
it is also one of your cheapest and best advertising methods.
Once you have hired people to do the actual window washing for you,
get a couple of magnetic signs showing your company name and
telephone number. Be sure to "wear" these signs on your car as you
make your sales calls and spot check on the progress of your work
crews. Later on, you can get similar signs for your crew chiefs.
If you should opt for company-owned vehicles, you'll find vans to be
the most convenient and serve your needs the most efficiently. Be
sure to have your company name, phone number and logo printed on
each side of these vehicles - and allow your crew chiefs to drive
them home at night - all of which benefits you with practically free
The kind of equipment you'll need to professionally wash windows is
relatively simple... A 12 or 18 inch window brush, aluminum
telescopic brush handle... 6 inch, 10 inch and 18 inch squeegees
with replacement rubber blades... A couple of plastic or galvanized
water pails, one 2 gallon and the other 5 gallons. And an 8 foot
step ladder, plus maybe a 6 foot straight ladder...
Your start-up supplies should include 5 gallons of liquid soap...
a good supply of clean rags, towels and chamois... And a sharp
razor blade scraper...
This entire list of equipment and supplies should total no more than
$250 in cost. You will need to add to your equipment only as your
business grows and you have the need to hire more personnel...
Some professional window washers are proclaiming an alternative or
"better method" than with the use of window brushes and squeegees.
They're advocating the use of "strip washers." These are 3/4 inch
pieces of aluminum pipe covered with a nylon sleeve that fits the
pipe. These are similar in appearance to the handy do-it-yourself
paint rollers, and are used in much the same manner. These strip
washers reportedly work very well on all but the dirtiest of
Another alternative is an extension pole and brush device. Water is
pumped through the handle and out the brush in a rinse-wash-rinse
cycle. Most professionals claim this device is ideal for second
story windows, but for best quality workmanship, they still prefer
the basic brush and squeegee approach.
Still another alternative is a hose-water-fed brush that utilizes
deionized water where ladders aren't feasible. Deionized water is a
kind of water from which all minerals and foreign elements have been
removed. Using this kind of water assures the window washer an
easier and faster job with no worries about streaking or water
Your prices should range between $20 and $25 per hour. Pay for
hired help should start at $5 per hour. It's important that you do
some homework on the various glass treatments in vogue these days.
Many of these coatings or coverings require special treatment such
as the use of soft towels instead of brushes that might scratch the
surface of the window coating.
The professional technique for washing windows cleanly and in the
least amount of time is as follows: A few drops of cleaning
solution in your bucket of water. Remember, too many soap suds are
detrimental to quality work. Wet your brush from the bucket and
then scrub the window. Take your squeegee and make one wiping pass
across the top of the window. Be sure to keep the end of the
squeegee pressed firmly against the molding or top sill of the
window frame. Wipe the squeegee, and then do the same thing down
each side of the window. From this point on, it's just a matter of
wiping the window clean with one continuous stroke. You do this by
arching and looping your wiping strokes across the window pane, back
and forth, never stopping or lifting the squeegee blade from the
glass. With this method, you can wipe even the largest window clean
in just a matter of seconds. Practice at home on your own windows
and those of your neighbors. You will quickly develop a knack for
this method and wonder why you never discovered it before, when
you've finished with the squeegee, take a chamois and carefully
"blot-wipe" any excess water that may not have been picked up along
the sides and bottom of the window frame. In reality, that's all
there is to it.
You'll find the spring and summer months to be your busiest, but
because of the increasing popularity of painting holiday scenes and
special sale announcements on business windows, be alert for year
round opportunities along these lines as well. Keep plugging away
and offering your services to businesses throughout your area,
particularly along those busy thoroughfares where moving traffic
contributes to the build-up of dirt & grime on windows.
When you're ready to hire helpers or people to do the work for you,
a simple ad in your local newspaper's "Help Wanted" column should
bring you more applicants than you will ever use. After you have
hired the one or the ones you want, keep a record of the ones you
liked but did not hire, and check with them when you want to add
onto your crew of workers again.
Bulletin Board notices will also bring in a surprising number of
applicants. Another good idea is to spread the word that you're
looking for part-time help, amongst your local firemen, policemen
and teachers. Depending on your area's pay scales, you can also do
pretty well by contacting the temporary help services in your area.
About the only regular advertising you'll need to do is a medium to
large display ad in the yellow pages. This is a must because once
you're established, you'll find at least 50% of your business coming
from having seen your ad in the yellow pages. An "insider's" trick
to advertising in the yellow pages - Try to name your business with
the very first letter of your business name beginning with A-B or
X-Y-Z. Statistics and surveys tend to prove that when people look
for a service in the yellow pages, they invariably pick from either
the top or the bottom of the alphabet.
Aside from the yellow pages, your next best advertising will be the
"reminder" kind, such as note pads with your company name imprinted
on them, special calendars or holders, special date or appointment
books, and/or sports caps with your company name/emblem on them.
However, as this kind of advertising is quite expensive, it's good
to keep it in mind, but best to hold off on it until you can well
Any radio, television, newspaper and/or direct mail advertising
efforts will cost you much more than any business you receive from
it, so don't even consider this type of advertising. However, do
think about, and submit "press release" material to these media as
often as you can, because any publicity coverage they give you will
surely be well worthwhile.
Telephone soliciting for business works very well, but you should
have a list of businesses and their telephone numbers, plotted out
according to new routes you are trying to build. Time spent
travelling between jobs will cost you money, just as time spent
looking up telephone numbers along a certain planned route will
seemingly take forever. If and when you do decide to drum up new
business by phone, you'll have much greater success if you can offer
some sort of promotional gimmick to get them to try your service.
We had great success one time by offering to do the windows for free
if they'd let us put a sign in the window - These windows cleaned by
AAA Window Cleaning Service - 666-5824... Another time, we did the
windows for half price as an introductory offer... And still
another time, we joined with our telephone answering service - on a
combined promotion... half price on three months of telephone
answering service just for trying our window washing service... The
ideas, gimmicks and promotions you can use are limited only by your
Later on, we hire some good-looking college girls - on a commission
basis - to call on businesses along the new routes we were trying to
develop. They just introduced themselves as representatives of our
firm, explained our services and offered a half price introductory
service. They ended up selling better than 60% of the businesses
they called upon.
During one summer, we even tried a crew of these young ladies as
window washers - they weren't the best... We dressed them in snappy
red & white suspender-type short-shorts and drew quite a crowd on
each job. It was good advertising for us - we got free newspaper
and television coverage, and an untold number of new business leads
- but the glamour of the whole thing grew old very quickly. But it
was a gimmick that brought in new business, caused a lot of people
to recognize that we were in the window cleaning business, and made
our selling job easier.
Truly, this is an easy business to start... and with just a little
bit of imagination on your part, as well as persistence and quality
workmanship, you can easily become as financially secure as you
want... All it takes is action on your part, so reach for it and
may you always enjoy the fruits of a bountiful success.
OTHER SOURCES FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:
International Sanitary Supply Association 5330 North Elston Avenue
Chicago, IL 60630
BUILDING SERVICE CONTRACTORS, International Association 301 Tower, Suite
525 Vienna, VA 22180
American Institute of Maintenance 1120 Chevy Chase Drive Glendale, CA
BUILDING SERVICE CONTRACTING Economic Development Administrators
Department of Commerce Washington, DC 20001
Tucker Manufacturing PO Box 848 Cedar Rapids, IA 52406
UNGAR (Strip-washer Distributor) 254 West Lincoln Avenue Mt Vernon, NY
Von Schrader Company 9112 Place Racine, WI 53403
NATIONWIDE LEAD SERVICE PO Box 2712 Appleton, WI 5493
Barra Chemical Corporation 8851 N. 21st Phoenix, AZ 85015
SERVICEMASTER INDUSTRIES 2300 Warrenville Road Downers Grove, IL 60515
ARMTRONG BUILDING MAINTENANCE COMPANY Franchise Division 5308 Cole, SE
Albuquerque, NM 87108
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