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Andy Hill

3 months in - sharing my experience...so far!

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Andy Hill

Guys,

I’m fairly new to this business, I did take quite bit of notice of the forum going back a few months and did post a little hello. I got a great welcome, well wishes and some cracking advice/direction. Just not been on much at all for the past 3 months since starting up purely because of time. But a while ago I saw somebody post about their experience since starting up and thought I’d do similar. If I can help other guys thinking of getting started or those who’ve started and need a bit of reassurance, encouragement or whatever then great.

The really bit of great of advice a few of you guys gave me before I started was to focus on getting a solid round of windows going. In my welcome post I spoke of wanting to offer a variety of external property cleaning/maintenance services. And the sensible and logical advice I got did exactly that – it helped me focus. I was and still am in a slightly different position to most starting out – in that I’ve got a decent, well paid job and work continental 4 on 4 off shifts. Which gives me 4 day blocks, a lot of it in the week, to be able to build up my business. Plus the safety net, that after 24 years with the company, most of it as a manager, that they have to make me redundant in September. My department is closing but others are opening. So, although I’ve focused on the windows, when I’ve been asked to clear gutters, clean fascias, soffits or whatever, I’ve not said no.

The meat and potatoes of what I want to get over is this. Starting up was daunting, it was different, it was unknown and after working most of my life at the same place, in the same extremely secure job I was so unsure how things would play out. I had a plan, some targets and an idea of where I was heading. It was fairly ambitious. Not because I’m greedy. But because I felt I had to be ambitious, to try and ensure as best as I could that things for my family didn’t change now or in the future. That I could swap one good secure income for another with as little problems as possible. And I’m glad to say I’m on the way. I’ve got my 100th customer on Friday after just over 3 months in the business. A lovely lady popped over the road as I was finishing a job and wanted a window cleaner as her last one ‘disappeared’! A common theme I’ve found! I haven’t actively tried myself to find new customers for over 3 weeks now. Purely because the way it’s growing there’s no way I can make it until September and sustain the windows and a full time job. In the last 3 weeks I’ve acquired 25 new customers. In the first 2 months I’d done some door knocking but not advertised anywhere. No social media and no internet presence either. Part of my plan was to be old fashioned in my approach and have a reputation based on word of mouth and that it would spread. And it has!

2 things that stand out.

Firstly and I really don’t mean this in an arrogant or cocky way. Getting customers, making them happy customers, retaining them and have them recommend you is, in my opinion, so unbelievably easy I can scarcely believe it! And most of it doesn’t cost a penny! Being professional, polite, communicative, reliable, trustworthy, honest and complete the service your customers are paying you for. All of those things come quite naturally to me and all I feel all I’ve done is be me. I don’t want to say anything disparaging about the competition and I won’t. Other than I’m picking up work that they very easily could too. I truly hope none of the guys are struggling to make a living at this because they really shouldn’t be! Two things that have come up in various conversations with customers that I’ve stressed I’m not prepared to do. Undercut or try and steal away other window cleaners business. So politely declined a few times to quote when somebody has stated they already have a window cleaner and they’re trying to lure me by also telling me what they currently pay. Or if they tell me they have a window cleaner I wish them a good day and leave it there. I really wish all the other guys the best and welcome the competition. Particularly if it drives up standards and customer service.

Secondly. The way I feel about what I’ve created is difficult to put in to words! In a good way! I’ve had 24 years working for what was once a great people company. They’ve grown substantially in that time but it’s no longer a people company, it’s a numbers company. So when I decided to start a window cleaning business I wanted create something I wanted and something that would give me a whole range of things including happiness. To have great, warm, amicable relationships with the people I was working for. I also wanted to be my own boss, to work outside, in a more physical job, not stuck behind a monitor in a badly air conditioned office! I wanted to have more flexibility in when I worked and have a better work life balance so I could have a lot more quality time with my 2 little ones. Window cleaning is giving me all of that. And much more. Cups of tea are flying at me, biscuits, pieces of cake and a warmness that I’d hoped for but wasn’t sure existed. It’s been truly amazing what’s happened so far. If I was a pessimistic person I’d maybe feel it could only go one way now! And I’m sure there will be bumps in the road. There’s already been a few!

So if you’re thinking of starting, have started but can’t get the traction or whatever stage you’re at keep going. There’s definitely more than enough work out there. And a successful business is only a good chunk of hard graft away. The one thing I will add, in case anyone is thinking this sounds easy! As explained I’ve got a full time job, I’ve got a wife and 2 young kids, god forbid a bit of a social life and there’s only so much time in a day! With the amount of work I’m getting through and in the thorough and professional way I’m going about it I am absolutely knackered. Bordering on exhausted. Which is another consideration for being careful how many customers I take on while I carry on at my other job. But it’s only for a little while longer. But yeah, a combination of using your brain and working your socks off clearly works!

As time becomes more prevalent later this year I hope to engage more with the forum. Because I will say that it’s full of smart cookies who know this business. It’s clearly also full of decent guys who want to help others when/where they can. Which I've certainly found useful and appreciate.

Good luck guys

Andy

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Chris34

Well done Andy, that's some achievement that, 100 customers.  I'd certainly echo what you've said.  On Thursday I had a big all day job and got 3 pieces of cake, endless tea and a bag of tomatoes : )

 

Very rare that you get so many people willing to share how to make serious money openly, usually in other businesses, people keep everything secret, on here it's the opposite, almost like everyone is begging you to become a window cleaner to take up some of the work load : )

 

Think the best for me so far was a first clean where the customers car had to be moved off the drive as it was in the way, she had a 14 week old baby in one of those chest baby carriers, she said 'can you just hold her for a minute while I move the car', ha ha, I was stood there holding this little baby, I'd only met the lady for a few minutes, I was stood there with this baby thinking to myself 'I didn't expect to be signed up to this', ha ha.  For somebody to be trusting like that though did make me feel good.

 

It is true though, there are windows everywhere, tonnes of opportunities.  Loads of added extras, so many conservatories.  The biggest problem is other cleaners charging too little, I stick to my price.  If you have a higher price then you need less customers to break even, that's less customers who cancel and less customers who you have to keep track of, this gives more time to offer a higher level of service.  For instance, I've been going 3 months, now got 17 regulars but this month I'm on target to turn over £1,000+ , it's the extra's that I've been making good money on, real hard graft but it's bringing in the money.  Each week I seem to be getting phone calls asking for extra's and I'm quoting high based on the sound advice I've been getting on here.  There was one job 2 weeks ago, £230, customer was so happy he gave me a £20 tip, 

 

For me this is life changing, I've spent all my life grafting on minimum wage cleaning work, trying to work up to 15 hours per day at times to try and earn enough, it's taken me time to be comfortable asking for £35 p/h windows and £50 p/h rates for extra's but I've just kept my head down and followed the advice on here.

 

It only seems onwards and upwards from here  : ) 

 

 

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Andy Hill

Nice work Chris! Great to read.

 

And I think you're right to stick to your price. It's a slippery slope if you start haggling or competing. It ends in lowest common denominator. The job is worth what you think it is. Based on covering your costs and making the kind of profit you think is fair and achievable.

 

Hope it keeps going well for you.

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Green Pro Clean Ltd
17 hours ago, Chris34 said:

people keep everything secret, on here it's the opposite,

 

That's because we realise no one is listening!  

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Hiace Nostalgia

thanks for your update @Andy Hill and @Chris34 when you've been window cleaning for a while, you can take it for granted so it's good to hear how much people are enjoying it after coming out of other industries.

my daughter has a "from farm to fork" topic at school, I asked a farming customer if she could ask some questions and take some photos and we ended up getting the whole tour in their pick-up  and juice and cake! taking a card and a bottle of wine over to say thank you today. not sure you could do that with many other jobs.

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AJ Fry

I find these posts just as valuable as all the great advice the more experienced guys post. Well done mate you've done incredibly well.

 

I too am running my existing business (bathroom installs) around the windows. Daunting, strange, different. I can relate with all of that even though I am used to running a business and dealing with customers etc. Ive given myself the deadline of September to be fully windows.

 

One thing I'd like to reiterate is that professionalism you mentioned. Whether I'm fitting a £10,000 wet room in an expensive house or cleaning a 2 bed semi for £15. My attitude to the customer is exactly the same. Be professional, polite, communicate well, exceed expectations. Guess what, your reputation soon grows. 

 

I see window cleaning as a luxury service. So from start to finish i try to offer a great service with a smile. 

 

There is plenty of work out there for those who treat this business seriously.

 

 

  

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Andy Hill

Absolutely agree. I also view it as a luxury service. That people are paying good hard earned money for. It defo requires a level of professionalism.

 

Doesn't sound like you're going to struggle either with your attitude, desire and belief. Let us know how things look come September and beyond. 

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Tango
On 19/05/2019 at 13:57, Chris34 said:

Very rare that you get so many people willing to share how to make serious money openly, usually in other businesses, people keep everything secret, on here it's the opposite, almost like everyone is begging you to become a window cleaner 

 

I noticed that too. We've been using a windy for the last 3 years (still do too lol) and they twice mentioned (very gently) about making a living from window cleaning. First time i didn't really take the hint, the second time i asked more about it and the next thing i knew i was being shown the van, the gear, how to get in cheap with the Gardiner BP etc. Then i got all the perks explained to me - work for yourself, when you want, earn / charge what you want, drop customers you don't like, NO STRESS from a fire breathing boss and as a bonus you get to tinker with your own gear in a DIY sense - those latter two (no stress and the DIY) really appealed to me having worked for many sc*mbags in the past. So i said to our windy that i was convinced and that put an instant smile on their face. Like you said in any other line of business you'd be expecting the competition to be at your back with a knife but in the world of windys it seems like everyone has a common goal - to get every last window clean lol. I ran out of water a short while back and had problems with my local supplier - spoke to another windy who was at my front door delivering me 100L within 2.5hrs. Incredible!

 

Gotta admit i did fine it all very daunting to start with but now i've got the first few customers i'm starting to get the hang of it.

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steve garwood
6 hours ago, Tango said:

 

I noticed that too. We've been using a windy for the last 3 years (still do too lol) and they twice mentioned (very gently) about making a living from window cleaning. First time i didn't really take the hint, the second time i asked more about it and the next thing i knew i was being shown the van, the gear, how to get in cheap with the Gardiner BP etc. Then i got all the perks explained to me - work for yourself, when you want, earn / charge what you want, drop customers you don't like, NO STRESS from a fire breathing boss and as a bonus you get to tinker with your own gear in a DIY sense - those latter two (no stress and the DIY) really appealed to me having worked for many sc*mbags in the past. So i said to our windy that i was convinced and that put an instant smile on their face. Like you said in any other line of business you'd be expecting the competition to be at your back with a knife but in the world of windys it seems like everyone has a common goal - to get every last window clean lol. I ran out of water a short while back and had problems with my local supplier - spoke to another windy who was at my front door delivering me 100L within 2.5hrs. Incredible!

 

Gotta admit i did fine it all very daunting to start with but now i've got the first few customers i'm starting to get the hang of it.

Whoever told you there is NO stress in this job is talking pony.

Wait until a problem arises with your system, you get an injury, your van broken into, customers not paying etc.

I’m not saying it’s a stressful job, i’m saying it isn’t stress free.

Good luck with your building of customers, if it doesn’t work, my round is for sale in around 6-7 years 👍😆

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Tango
1 hour ago, steve garwood said:

Whoever told you there is NO stress in this job is talking pony.

Wait until a problem arises with your system, you get an injury, your van broken into, customers not paying etc.

I’m not saying it’s a stressful job, i’m saying it isn’t stress free.

Good luck with your building of customers, if it doesn’t work, my round is for sale in around 6-7 years 👍😆

 

I've always had a stressful life - that's just the way it is - but I've been through far worse than you could imagine window cleaning throwing at me. I can't say it made me stronger, it's repeatedly broken me however I've got used to the constant stream of negativity many moons ago so from my POV, WC'ing is actually very positive and a break from the norm and I find it quite relaxing earning money at a far better hourly rate for what is essentially the easiest thing i've ever done.

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Adman

The older I get, the more I realise stress is a state of mind

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Part Timer
21 minutes ago, Adman said:

The older I get, the more I realise stress is a state of mind

Stress only applies when you have to pay other peoples wages. 

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Iron Giant
Posted (edited)

@Andy Hill really good post and achievement, I think you may find as you move forward with your business that a website and social media might become more of a need than a want to or not as 100 clients and beyond you will need your business to grow at a greater rate more so as you near September and after, also it's going to be the collecting of money and the juggling of finances and that continual rolling client debt as cash collections and bacs payments relying on clients paying when they remember becomes more of an issue when the numbers are bigger. 😉

Edited by Iron Giant
grammar

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