Have you ever thought of starting a window cleaning business and have been wondering just what it would take? Here’s our guide on how to start a window cleaning business.
WELL, WINDOW CLEANING IS NOT ALL ABOUT STEP LADDERS, SUDS, AND BUCKETS. BUT IF YOU ARE REASONABLY FIT OR CAN HIRE REASONABLY FIT PEOPLE, HAVE GOOD ATTENTION TO DETAIL, ARE SELF MOTIVATED AND HAVE GOOD COMMUNICATION SKILLS, WINDOW CLEANING CAN BE QUITE A LUCRATIVE BUSINESS. THE STARTUP COSTS FOR WINDOW CLEANERS ARE LOW AND WITH A LITTLE BIT OF COMMITMENT, YOU CAN MAKE IT WORK.
If you decide after reading this and any other info you find that you want to become a window cleaner, you will need to register yourself as self-employed this is the UK form you need
Given its previous bad reputation as a dangerous occupation, you may be forgiven for taking your time before taking the plunge. However, it has been shown that the modern window cleaning professional comes from all walks of life. You can find almost anyone from former hedge fund managers, wife and husband teams, and persons bred in the country and those from the city among many others. Like most easy to start and inexpensive small businesses, the success of your window cleaning business will only be limited by how much passion and commitment you have for the job.
Here is How to start a window cleaning business
Understand the Startup Costs
The good thing about starting a window cleaning business is that the startup costs are low. While there are some essentials you will need, such as training and insurance for staff, you could get by with bare minimums until you land some good contracts or find funding from somewhere.
You will still have to pay for equipment and essentials such as vehicles to transport your crew to work sites. Other critical things you will need for your startup may include marketing, branding, logo design, website design, and public liability insurance.
Before you go any further you need to think about creating a business plan. Having a business plan can really help ensure your business goes where you want it to in the future. Many a small business skip business planning but do so at your own peril.
Investing for your startup may cost a pretty penny, especially for an under-funded startup company. However, you need to buy modern equipment and invest in marketing and training if you want to be taken seriously by potential clients.
It is always better to find some financial backing so you can invest in branding, search engine optimisation, buying of vehicles, and modern equipment, all of which are necessary to set the business on a firm footing.
One of the best ways to get visibility is by creating an online presence through having an impressive search engine optimised website. A website does not cost that much, and by having that online presence, you can significantly ramp up your visibility. We highly recommend ThriveWP
Since many window cleaners rarely optimise their websites, you can get your website to rank on top of Google. By ranking on the first page of the search engines, you can significantly reduce your marketing budget as you will be getting targeted and highly converting clients for free from the search engines.
The marketing costs, in the beginning, are likely to be very high as you will be relatively unknown. However, patience pays, and if you keep at it, you should get back your initial investment in one to two years.
Once you have an established name, you will not need to actively market the business as most clients will come directly to you and all you have to do is provide a quote.
Here are a few other things you can do besides getting a website up and running
- Canvassing/Knocking people’s doors and asking them if they want to use your service, couple this with dropping leaflets with them and those that don’t answer then follow those up a day or two later.
- Ask your neighbours, friends and family if they want their windows done, if they don’t they may know someone else who does.
- Put an advert in a shop window
- Use the Free listings on the internet like Yell.com, Touchlocal, window cleaner directory, my local and many others out there you can put a listing on for nothing
- Sign written van/car even if it has Window cleaner Phone 07xxxxxxxx people who need a window cleaner may see it in a supermarket car park or when you are round back
- Get yourself on social media. Join local groups and start promoting your window cleaning service. Make sure you also have your own business social media accounts.
The type of equipment that you need will depend on the kind of window cleaning you are going to be doing: whether it be residential or commercial window cleaning. It will also depend on your budget.
The traditional window cleaning kit typically includes blades, scrapers, squeegees, sponges, and buckets.
Domestic Window Cleaning
If you are going to be doing domestic window cleaning, you will need:
- Vehicles to transport your equipment
- A water purifier and
- A reach and wash system (typically comes with a filtration system and water fed pole)
You could also use the equipment for commercial clients too. Some that you could use the equipment on include, small offices and high street shops. When you are starting out, you will more likely than not have a mixed client base of commercial contracts and domestic customers.
Commercial Window Cleaning
If you are targeting commercial premises, you will have to purchase more expensive equipment that may include:
- Abseiling equipment (used by trained and specialist workers)
- Cherry pickers and
- Vehicles with high water carry capacity
Traditional VS Water Fed Pole
If you are going down the traditional route (Cheapest) then this is what you will need
- Ladder (3.5m)
- A bucket from B&Q or similar
- Applicator and squeegee (10 inch is good)
- Scrim or microfiber clothes
- Bottle of fairy
- Pouch to put your cloths and other bits in to keep your hands free
- Bucket belt is really handy
In addition to the basics above, you may want to look at these below also.
- 20-foot ladder
- wedges, ladder mats, ladder footer (for decking)
- ladder clamps
- 12″ squeegee (30 degree and 0 degree for pole work)
- 4″ squeegee
- 12″ applicator
- short handled extension
- small extension for shops
- ladder clamp for detailing pole work
- scrims (prewashed are better)
- microfibers (for frames)
- Spare squeegee rubbers
- Spare scraper blades
- FIRST AID KIT
If you are going down the Water Fed Pole (wfp) route then you will need:
- A baffled water tank.
- TDS Meter
- A pole and brush.
- Pump Controller
- Filter system, DI and Ro
- Leisure battery to power pump
- Metal hose reel
- 100m x 8mm Yellow ‘Microbore’ Hose
- Heavy Duty ‘Garden’ Hose to connect the tank to pump and pump to hose reel
- Connectors clips etc.
Commercial window cleaning typically includes four categories.
- Crane cleaning which requires the cherry picker and crane to reach the windows over the building.
- Abseiling which requires that you have specialist individuals.
- The reach and wash system In the exterior high levels.
- The squeegee, ladder, and bucket for general window cleaning.
If you intend to become a window cleaning professional that covers all four bases, you will need to make a significant investment right from the start. You can always rent the cranes as they tend to be very expensive to purchase or maintain.
Still, modern equipment always makes work easier as you can clean windows on the highest building without dangerous ladder climbing or cherry picking.
Overall, the domestic market requires fewer and less expensive equipment than commercial window cleaning. However, commercial cleaning typically pays significantly more than domestic and hence even if you start out doing domestic, you should plan on getting into commercial as soon as you can.
Buying equipment will be your biggest investment, but if you are in it for the long haul, you should get back your investment since the industry pays quite well. Most residential cleaning will pay an average of £25 an hour, which can work out to approximately £200 a day with a simple reach and wash system.
Moreover, the overheads are typically low, and once you have made the initial investment, you should break even fast depending on how many contracts you are able to score.
While window cleaning has cleaned up its reputation and is a relatively safe profession, you still need to ensure the health and safety of your employees.
Before you start marketing the business, you need to ensure that your employees are well trained on how to be safe. Read up on safety requirements and regulations and ensure that you are compliant.
Some resources to check out include the Health and Safety Executive, among others. These will provide information on the laws and regulations, the working conditions, protective equipment, and emergency and evacuation procedures for your employees.
Researching the industry and training yourself and employees is critical. It will not only keep your employees safe at work but will also provide the confidence you need to build your window cleaning business. Moreover, well-trained employees will do good work and build the reputation of your business.
You should enrol yourself and your employees in industry training courses, Some courses that you could consider the one day Cleaning Windows Safely course by the Federation of Window Cleaners and Institute of Occupational Safety and Health-accredited.
There are tons of other courses by the IOSH and the HSE on policy and risk assessment.
Training can be a costly investment, but ensuring that your employees have their qualifications and are proficient in their jobs will pay off in spades.
Investment in Insurance
If you intend to make a name for yourself in the window cleaning business, you need to have your insurance in order.
Insurance for the window cleaning business can be costly though you need it to establish your business as reliable and trustworthy.
Furthermore, you need insurance for peace of mind just in case anything goes wrong while you are going about your business of cleaning windows. Some of the insurance you need to take include:
- Public Liability Insurance – Provides cover in the instance of the members of the public or your clients getting injured by your business.
- Personal Accident Insurance – Provides cover and compensation in the instance of accidental death or injury.
- Business Equipment Insurance – Provides cover and compensation in the instance of damage, theft or loss of specialist window cleaning equipment.
- Employers’ Liability Insurance – Proves cover and compensation for your employees in case they are injured while performing their duties.
This is by no means an exhaustive list of the insurance covers you may need, and you should take as many as you feel comfortable with.
Insurance is expensive and will form a big part of your yearly overhead, which is why you need to provide training for your staff and ensure health and safety standards are adhered to at all times.
If you have good health and safety record, you should soon have your premiums go down.
Be Selective with the Customers You Take On
Most beginners in the service industry make the mistake of taking on every customer they can get.
This is not a very wise thing to do. You need to be very selective with who you take on and for the most part, only take the clients who will give you the least hassle.
For instance, pass on clients who take too long to pay or clients who do not appreciate your work. They will be a time suck and will take valuable time away from other more deserving clients that appreciate what you are doing. You should also take on clients who care about how their buildings look.
Never take on clients that need you to clean their windows once in a year. They may pay well for the one-off service, but since their windows will be dirty for most of the year, it will reflect poorly on your business. Businesses that clean regularly provide great advertisement for your business as they will be clean and neat, which could bring you more business.
Starting a window cleaning business can be one of the most satisfying things you could ever do. However, you need to have the passion and commitment to the business if it is to become a successful window cleaning company.
It is an easy business to start, as it does not require much financial investment. Nonetheless, you stand a better chance of making your business a success if you make the necessary investment in marketing, training, and equipment.
If you are consistent and provide great service, you should get to enjoy the business and could even make a good living out of it.