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Starting up from scratch


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Hi, I'm looking to start a business from scratch. Any help or advice regarding how to set up would be appreciated. I have been office based for 25 Years so this is all new to me. I intend to set up a local round in the Ng17 area within a +- 5 Mile radius. I have taken a break from work for approx. 1 Year and I am looking to start towards the end of this Year. I have an interview with Job Seekers in a few Weeks, any help or advice would be appreciated.

Are there courses that I can attend?

Are there subsidies available from the government?

What van to go for? Is it better to get a van then have a system fitted.

Who can you recommend to fit a system?

What pole system and size tank?

Hot or cold?

Insurances, TAX, NI, ETC..

I've got a fairly decent business head on my shoulders but I'm sure it isn't that straight forward And there are many pitfalls to avoid.

Many thanks in advance,

 

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6 hours ago, Pgh said:

Hi, I'm looking to start a business from scratch. Any help or advice regarding how to set up would be appreciated. I have been office based for 25 Years so this is all new to me. I intend to set up a local round in the Ng17 area within a +- 5 Mile radius. I have taken a break from work for approx. 1 Year and I am looking to start towards the end of this Year. I have an interview with Job Seekers in a few Weeks, any help or advice would be appreciated.

Are there courses that I can attend?

Are there subsidies available from the government?

What van to go for? Is it better to get a van then have a system fitted.

Who can you recommend to fit a system?

What pole system and size tank?

Hot or cold?

Insurances, TAX, NI, ETC..

I've got a fairly decent business head on my shoulders but I'm sure it isn't that straight forward And there are many pitfalls to avoid.

Many thanks in advance,

 

All these questions have been answered numerous times on here.

Use the search bar to find loads of useful information, and if your lucky, you might even come across some of my hilarious, side splitting gags 👍🙂👨🏼‍🦰

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I wouldn't wait until the end of the year, unless you have to. Nows the time, it goes a bit quiet November to February. Canvassing is best way to get business, leaflet drops bring in work, but door knocking brings it in quicker. I'm not prejudiced who my customers are, but middle class work is the best IMO. Gardiners slx 18' and 25' are good starter poles. I've still got mine after 5 years! You could save a lot of money by fitting your own system as a start up. You'll probably need an ro setup inthe midlands. You've a lot to do!, but it's worth it......

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1 hour ago, spruce said:

@Pgh The buzz word for anything window cleaning related is investment.

This isn't a cheap way into self-employment any more. At one time the equipment outlay wasn't very much as most cleaners started cleaning traditionally. We see new starters in our area often. We see them a couple of times and then we never see them again. They pick up an odd house here and there and generally they are the ones other established window cleaners have dumped for a variety of reasons.

I don't wish to sound negative but window cleaning isn't for everyone. I don't know you or your physical condition but being office bound for 25 years would suggest you have passed your physical prime. It isn't easy starting a new career that requires manual labour coming from an office environment. Trust me, I was in an office environment for longer than you (33 years) before I was 'forced' in self-employment.

The first few years were fine, but everything started to go downhill health wise in my late 50s early 60s after a prostate op. Age catches up with us all at some point. I can tell you that generating the motivation to get out and clean windows in the cold weather becomes more difficult for me every month. It's not fun any more.

This is a job that requires constant attention. It's not like paid employment where you can leave your problems behind in the office in the evening. It could be that the business you are working for employs an accountant, a buyer, sales representatives, warehouse staff, etc. Being a self-employed window cleaner means you do all those jobs. You also have to maintain your equipment as well as working at your core business. You have no sick pay, no holiday allowance or any other benefits such as pension. If you can't work you don't eat.

Judging by your first post and the questions you are asking tells me that you haven't done much research into what you need to start a window cleaning business. Please don't take offence, but you are looking for others to tell you what you need. It's not as simple as that. You need to conduct your own 'due diligence' study to ascertain if this is something you can do and if your area needs this service. In other words, is the area saturated with window cleaners. 

Many windies find it impossible to go out and knock doors. That was the only way we grew our business. Some seem to believe a good webpage and advertising on Facebook is enough. It's worked for some but isn't a guarantee for finding good work. In many cases new customers need to be sifted to get rid of the dross we all picked up when we started.

The first few years starting out means you have to eat, sleep and play window cleaning. You need to be making the best use of networking by asking existing customers for local referrals. You can't afford the time for idle chatter. If you are driving down the road and see someone cleaning their own windows you have to stop the van and ask if they need your services.

From outside perception window cleaning may look like a 'walk in the park.' It isn't.

 

 

 

Sound advice. I have plenty of ideas and some money behind me after a divorce settlement. I'm in no rush to start. Many thanks for your time. 

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4 minutes ago, Pgh said:

Sound advice. I have plenty of ideas and some money behind me after a divorce settlement. I'm in no rush to start. Many thanks for your time. 

While you might not be in a rush to get started spring and summer are the easy times of the year. So if you start then you will have built a bit of experience and some custys so surviving the bad weather will be easier - I don't mean financially just physically your body will be stronger and you will be more used to working outdoors and motivating yourself.

I would say start with budget but quality kit say a gardiners clx 22 pole and one of their backpacks. Get some barrels and ideally buy some pure water. Then start cleaning your own windows to learn how to clean windows. Your own are a great starting point as you can do indoors and check the quality of your work. Once you have mastered your own, offer to do friends and family. This will give you great experience. Plus if you don't like the work then you wont have lost much as clx and backpack will sell on ebay for reasonable money. 

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The physical aspect shouldn't be underestimated, this is a very physical job and as you get older it gets harder, on the other hand if you can stay fit and healthy it's not a bad way to earn a living.

 

  • Agree 2
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2 hours ago, Pgh said:

I have plenty of ideas and some money behind me after a divorce settlement.

This is good to hear, cos chances are you'll be needing it. Not only for the initial investment, but to sustain you while you build your round up. I'm sure a lot of the lads on here will tell you you only get out of it what you put into it. The work isn't gonna come knocking on ya door you need to get out and make it happen! Good luck!

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I've posted on here today an update of my first year to give you some information. I got lots of knowledge and advice from this forum, tutorials on you tube and also spent some time with a guy who was my wfp window cleaner and a local business owner who fits wfp Van's out before I made the jump. It's not as glamorous as it looks when you can't feel your hands in Winter. There is loads to do when you arrive home, sorting van out, accounts, chasing payments, sorting diary etc. Whatever you decide good luck to you and all the best 👍

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15 hours ago, Pgh said:

Hi, I'm looking to start a business from scratch. Any help or advice regarding how to set up would be appreciated. I have been office based for 25 Years so this is all new to me. I intend to set up a local round in the Ng17 area within a +- 5 Mile radius. I have taken a break from work for approx. 1 Year and I am looking to start towards the end of this Year. I have an interview with Job Seekers in a few Weeks, any help or advice would be appreciated.

Are there courses that I can attend?

Are there subsidies available from the government?

What van to go for? Is it better to get a van then have a system fitted.

Who can you recommend to fit a system?

What pole system and size tank?

Hot or cold?

Insurances, TAX, NI, ETC..

I've got a fairly decent business head on my shoulders but I'm sure it isn't that straight forward And there are many pitfalls to avoid.

Many thanks in advance,

 

You've come to the right place, it's like a fountain on knowledge here, seek and thee shall find

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I spent 6 months with another window cleaner before setting up on my own.

It was valuable experience and would recommend this if possible. 

I was paid peanuts but it wasn't about the money. He wanted some extra help and I wanted some experience. 

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9 hours ago, spruce said:

 

This is a job that requires constant attention. It's not like paid employment where you can leave your problems behind in the office in the evening. It could be that the business you are working for employs an accountant, a buyer, sales representatives, warehouse staff, etc. Being a self-employed window cleaner means you do all those jobs. You also have to maintain your equipment as well as working at your core business. You have no sick pay, no holiday allowance or any other benefits such as pension. If you can't work you don't eat.


Having gone from 3-4 days a week employed, to window cleaning I can confirm this is very true! I work on windows 4-5 days a week, which in real terms, means working 6-7 days a week including admin, maintainence and everything else involved!

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2 hours ago, Robt100 said:


Having gone from 3-4 days a week employed, to window cleaning I can confirm this is very true! I work on windows 4-5 days a week, which in real terms, means working 6-7 days a week including admin, maintainence and everything else involved!

When it's your business you continually worry about the weather and the economy. The other source of concern is the current Covid-19 Virus. As older persons we are more vulnerable than younger ones are and still have a higher risk of not surviving the virus if we catch it even after receiving the first jab.

At one time @Pgh there was a company offering an NVQ qualification in window cleaning. It was on the back of an eduction grant given to South Thames College (incorporating Merton College) London. It was run by the Impact Training Group.  We were the last group of students to receive this training and an NVQ 8 years ago.

It was a very good training course and gave us a much greater perspective into window cleaning at commercial level, fall arrest systems, securing a safe working environment where the public are as well as the drafting of Risk and Method Statements for both residential and commercial work, to name a few examples.

I have a bell ringing in the back of my mind that Ionics do a training course every now and again, but I'm not 100% sure of this. @Pjjwill possibly be able to confirm this either way.

What these training courses don't help you with is how to price a job up (this is very much area related anyway) or how to canvass for more customers. Their training course leant more to the Health and Safety side of the business and what precautions to take to minimize being sued for negligent practice.

However, we haven't needed to produce the NVQ certificate once to prove we can clean windows in the past 8 years. We used to do some window cleaning for the local council where we envisaged we would need to produce proof we were qualified to do the work. Unfortunately they have slowly but surely taken away all the work we have done in the past 12 years and put their own council paid teams in our place.

Thankfully I have always believed in not having all our proverbial eggs in one basket. I learnt in the early days that residential window cleaning carries less economic risk than a single large commercial job. I was very concerned that at one time 5% of our customers accounted for 35% of our annual turnover. I didn't actively go in search of commercial work - it just fell into our lap. The owners of our biggest commercial job went bankrupt. Thankfully I got paid out of one of the owner's pocket, but the loss of turnover had an adverse effect on our business for more than 12 months. Had we not been paid for the last job we did it would have been worse.

 

 

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18 minutes ago, spruce said:

When it's your business you continually worry about the weather and the economy. The other source of concern is the current Covid-19 Virus. As older persons we are more vulnerable than younger ones are and still have a higher risk of not surviving the virus if we catch it even after receiving the first jab.

At one time @Pgh there was a company offering an NVQ qualification in window cleaning. It was on the back of an eduction grant given to South Thames College (incorporating Merton College) London. It was run by the Impact Training Group.  We were the last group of students to receive this training and an NVQ 8 years ago.

It was a very good training course and gave us a much greater perspective into window cleaning at commercial level, fall arrest systems, securing a safe working environment where the public are as well as the drafting of Risk and Method Statements for both residential and commercial work, to name a few examples.

I have a bell ringing in the back of my mind that Ionics do a training course every now and again, but I'm not 100% sure of this. @Pjjwill possibly be able to confirm this either way.

What these training courses don't help you with is how to price a job up (this is very much area related anyway) or how to canvass for more customers. Their training course leant more to the Health and Safety side of the business and what precautions to take to minimize being sued for negligent practice.

However, we haven't needed to produce the NVQ certificate once to prove we can clean windows in the past 8 years. We used to do some window cleaning for the local council where we envisaged we would need to produce proof we were qualified to do the work. Unfortunately they have slowly but surely taken away all the work we have done in the past 12 years and put their own council paid teams in our place.

Thankfully I have always believed in not having all our proverbial eggs in one basket. I learnt in the early days that residential window cleaning carries less economic risk than a single large commercial job. I was very concerned that at one time 5% of our customers accounted for 35% of our annual turnover. I didn't actively go in search of commercial work - it just fell into our lap. The owners of our biggest commercial job went bankrupt. Thankfully I got paid out of one of the owner's pocket, but the loss of turnover had an adverse effect on our business for more than 12 months. Had we not been paid for the last job we did it would have been worse.

 

 

Yes ionics do BWCA courses in all kinds of subjects , marketing , H&S , how to clean windows etc only ever did one course with them whilst they fitted my van out that was 17 years ago !!!!!

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24 minutes ago, spruce said:

At one time @Pgh there was a company offering an NVQ qualification in window cleaning. It was on the back of an eduction grant given to South Thames College (incorporating Merton College) London. It was run by the Impact Training Group.  We were the last group of students to receive this training and an NVQ 8 years ago.

We've got one of them, did it before we'd even lifted a pole. Actually helps registering with big companies.

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10 hours ago, Part Timer said:

We've got one of them, did it before we'd even lifted a pole. Actually helps registering with big companies.

It didn't help us with the local council. To become a candidate to tender for council contracts we had to show public liability insurance for 5million (OK) and we had to show bank statements for 5 years with £1 million turnover included with our tender.

I did wonder if the 1 million was a 'mistake' but it cropped up with another tender I applied to quote for.

I was speaking to a customer who deals with mobility aids for older customers last week. He mentioned that the local councils were deliberately excluding sole traders from tendering by asking £1 million pounds turnover and proof with 5 years of bank statements. So it's still a way of excluding us from tendering.

In his line of business these contracts were being awarded to a large national consortium and he firmly believes that backhanders are the part of the deals. The prices the tenders are awarded for are way above what he would tender for.

I still struggle to believe that the company who won the tender to clean the inside office and local council run children's centre has a turnover of 1 million. (I cleaned the exterior windows for that centre for 12 years until they cancelled my services.)

I also know that the painter and decorator who was working over each weekend redecorating the inside walls of that council building is a self-employed retired policeman  who certainly hasn't got a £1 million pound annual turnover. We clean his father's house's windows and his father tells me he hasn't 2 pennies to rub together. Its all about who you know.

However, we have definitely benefited from the NVQ training course and apply much of what we learnt in our day to day working procedures.

But having an NVQ in window cleaning isn't a necessity for a new starter focusing on residential window cleaning.

 

 

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2 minutes ago, spruce said:

It didn't help us with the local council. To become a candidate to tender for council contracts we had to show public liability insurance for 5million (OK) and we had to show bank statements for 5 years with £1 million turnover included with our tender.

I did wonder if the 1 million was a 'mistake' but it cropped up with another tender I applied to quote for.

I was speaking to a customer who deals with mobility aids for older customers last week. He mentioned that the local councils were deliberately excluding sole traders from tendering by asking £1 million pounds turnover and proof with 5 years of bank statements. So it's still a way of excluding us from tendering.

In his line of business these contracts were being awarded to a large national consortium and he firmly believes that backhanders are the part of the deals. The prices the tenders are awarded for are way above what he would tender for.

I still struggle to believe that the company who won the tender to clean the inside office and local council run children's centre has a turnover of 1 million. (I cleaned the exterior windows for that centre for 12 years until they cancelled my services.)

I also know that the painter and decorator who was working over each weekend redecorating the inside walls of that council building is a self-employed retired policeman  who certainly hasn't got a £1 million pound annual turnover. We clean his father's house's windows and his father tells me he hasn't 2 pennies to rub together. Its all about who you know.

However, we have definitely benefited from the NVQ training course and apply much of what we learnt in our day to day working procedures.

But having an NVQ in window cleaning isn't a necessity for a new starter focusing on residential window cleaning.

 

 

The Sunderland Councils "Buy Sunderland First" is an absolute joke. They have all of the window cleaning on one tender meaning you need IPAF etc to be able to do all of their work. When the Tender is sent out with the full spec of each property, what needs doing, internal / external, and the schedules they give you about 3 months to submit. Usually about a month before they'll change what needs doing and schedules. Then about 2 weeks later they'll change it all again. This is so those that already have the work, a company from outside of Sunderland, can easily change their quote whereas the small Sunderland companies would have to find time to revisit all of the sites to refresh their knowledge of the job and to work out their new price.

Years ago, 2 years into the contract I asked the Council for the value of it, they refused saying it was sensitive commercial information. When I replied I was a local Rates Payer and have every right to see it they refused. I even pointed out that under the Freedom Of Information Act they couldn't stop me from seeing it, they still refused.

Sunderland Council is, I believe, one of the most corrupt Councils in the country and very nepotistic. The amount of money they spend on gagging orders is unbelievable, between 2011 and 2016 they paid out £35 million, so nothing surprises me anymore. I don't even get asked to quote for any new work nowadays even though we have £5m Liability and Approved by a National H&S Company    

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31 minutes ago, spruce said:

Its all about who you know

Certainly is. We've just had a brand new big community centre built in my village. Tons of glass so it would be a nice little earner I thought. I clean the windows of one of the management/committee members so I enquired about cleaning the windows. She said she'd see, then later came back with 'its going up for tender'. Fair enough I thought no problem I would just like a fair shot at getting the job. A few months down the line I got talking with a windy in my village who's JUST started up. He told me he's got the job. I was fuming but didn't show it. I didn't ask him how he got it but there's no question he has good friends or family on the management team who made that decision to give him the job. That's life. 

Edited by Suhrly
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One thing I wish I’d considered when I was starting up was my buisness name and how it appeared on bills, my buisnes bank account is an acronym of my buisness name and my customers have been confused by this and cancelled payments subscription thinking their account was being scammed😂 I have too manny customers to change bank account name and Re subscribe so I put up with the odd confusion. 

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