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Advice on starting up on my own


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Hi guys, hope everyone is well and all,

Quick intro 

im 25 and have two kids but both are in school part time so needed to become self employed to work around them finnishing at 12pm,

I only got into window cleaning around 1 month ago and set a goal to give it my all. 

I have got a small round 20 bungalows but thinking of giving them up as I under priced and didn’t know how long some of these first cleans can take -.-. 
 

there is a small crew of lads that kept undercutting that small bungalow village ( I charged £5 per bungalow) they went around and charged £3) as there are 3 of them. 
 

I am currently using a car - trying my best to find a roof rack (fiat punto 3door) but struggling. 
 

I have shopped around at other window cleaners prices in my area - way higher than mine) and I am just after some advice on best way to go for the following.

choosing an area to work?

prices?

decent equipment? (been recommended unger) 

How many clients I should aim to achieve by the end of this year?

some good tips 

also how to deal with payments? Like should I try and suggest new clients to set up a direct debit? Or collect on the day or at the end of week?

also I have spoken to an awesome successful window cleaner who is trying to give me some hours to help my situation and gain more exp. 

many advice would be grateful for starting out, thanks in advance guys.

jay

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JakdeDiamond
7 minutes ago, Jay95 said:

Hi guys, hope everyone is well and all,

Quick intro 

im 25 and have two kids but both are in school part time so needed to become self employed to work around them finnishing at 12pm,

I only got into window cleaning around 1 month ago and set a goal to give it my all. 

I have got a small round 20 bungalows but thinking of giving them up as I under priced and didn’t know how long some of these first cleans can take -.-. 
 

there is a small crew of lads that kept undercutting that small bungalow village ( I charged £5 per bungalow) they went around and charged £3) as there are 3 of them. 
 

I am currently using a car - trying my best to find a roof rack (fiat punto 3door) but struggling. 
 

I have shopped around at other window cleaners prices in my area - way higher than mine) and I am just after some advice on best way to go for the following.

choosing an area to work?

prices?

decent equipment? (been recommended unger) 

How many clients I should aim to achieve by the end of this year?

some good tips 

also how to deal with payments? Like should I try and suggest new clients to set up a direct debit? Or collect on the day or at the end of week?

also I have spoken to an awesome successful window cleaner who is trying to give me some hours to help my situation and gain more exp. 

many advice would be grateful for starting out, thanks in advance guys.

jay

Hey Jay, you're in a similar boat to me as I've not long started. 

Having gone out and gotten started I have found a few key bits of info that I didn't know that might help you, This is just my opinion of course so happy to discuss. 

I'm using a car, 3 door Reanault Clio - I managed to get a bolt on roof rack, cheap thing that literally goes between the doors frames and the doors themselves. Feels super solid and I'm sure there will be a variant out there for you mate. Expect around £100. 

Equipment - I'm assuming trad as we are out of cars. I have got some Moerman stuff and am getting the hang of it. Some people really like the liquidator and some people hate it. I think it comes down to personal preference but personally I would look at the quality brands - Unger, Moerman, Ettore, Facelift.

One thing I found WAY better than I thought it would be is a scrim that I bought. It was prewashed and is actually incredible on those *almost dry* smears. 

For area I would just go everywhere and anywhere you have time to go and knock the doors or leaflet. 

Prices vary from area to area, but do not underestimate a professional and friendly attitude and the effect it has on prices you can charge. These blokes charging £3 a bungalow will not be around for long, especially sharing between the 3 of them. Also as a customer I would feel like I'd prefer a solo guy coming to do my windows. You can go to the £5 car wash and have 6 guys all over your car or you can pay £20 for someone to come and do a good job on his own and take an hour on it. I know what I'd want. 

Saying that, £5 seems low but I don't know your area. I think minimum I'd be around £10 and for first clean more. 

Payments, I have SumUp card reader from eBay for a tenner to give custy the opportunity to pay by card, but most of them have just paid cash when I told them I'm done with the job. I think going collecting in the evening is a bit old fashioned and a waste of time nowaday to be honest. 

Thanks really good that you're getting some help from a local windy, the more we can do for each other the better! 

Welcome and good luck mate. 

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1 hour ago, JakdeDiamond said:

Hey Jay, you're in a similar boat to me as I've not long started. 

Having gone out and gotten started I have found a few key bits of info that I didn't know that might help you, This is just my opinion of course so happy to discuss. 

I'm using a car, 3 door Reanault Clio - I managed to get a bolt on roof rack, cheap thing that literally goes between the doors frames and the doors themselves. Feels super solid and I'm sure there will be a variant out there for you mate. Expect around £100. 

Equipment - I'm assuming trad as we are out of cars. I have got some Moerman stuff and am getting the hang of it. Some people really like the liquidator and some people hate it. I think it comes down to personal preference but personally I would look at the quality brands - Unger, Moerman, Ettore, Facelift.

One thing I found WAY better than I thought it would be is a scrim that I bought. It was prewashed and is actually incredible on those *almost dry* smears. 

For area I would just go everywhere and anywhere you have time to go and knock the doors or leaflet. 

Prices vary from area to area, but do not underestimate a professional and friendly attitude and the effect it has on prices you can charge. These blokes charging £3 a bungalow will not be around for long, especially sharing between the 3 of them. Also as a customer I would feel like I'd prefer a solo guy coming to do my windows. You can go to the £5 car wash and have 6 guys all over your car or you can pay £20 for someone to come and do a good job on his own and take an hour on it. I know what I'd want. 

Saying that, £5 seems low but I don't know your area. I think minimum I'd be around £10 and for first clean more. 

Payments, I have SumUp card reader from eBay for a tenner to give custy the opportunity to pay by card, but most of them have just paid cash when I told them I'm done with the job. I think going collecting in the evening is a bit old fashioned and a waste of time nowaday to be honest. 

Thanks really good that you're getting some help from a local windy, the more we can do for each other the better! 

Welcome and good luck mate. 

Hey jake, thanks for the advice, 

yeah I have been looking for a roof rack but euro parts, Halfords say they don’t have one to fit:/ but the local windy says he started out the same and may have some in his garage (he started with the same car) so I hope to hear from him this weekend.

as for the £5 per bungalow yeah I thought it was a bit low as there are a lot of windows, mostly leaded aswell on these bungalows so the prewar he’s scrim is perfect. I just asked them what there previous window cleaner charged ( as he just stopped doing it) I think he did the same as me and under charged. 
 

And I feel the same way about the 3 guys doing it, just gutted me abit as I canvassed that area all day, had 4 neighbours booked in then that group of lads went asked what I charged then did it half price, so I just cut my losses with the clients, I’m sure they will regret it.

also yeah I’ve heard unger and moarman are supposed to be really good, so I will look at what I can afford and what feels better, ( local windy store, let’s you try them on glass in side 🙂 before purchase ) 

yeah I figured that about the card payment machine, what do I do if I Finnish the job and a few of the clients are not in at said time, just remind them via message for next time, or call back later in the day? 
 

also yeah I tried I few other window cleaners but they wanted me start at 7am then leave to take my daughter school at 9 then go back to them, then go back to pick my daughters up at 12 then back to him, I appreciated his offer just seemed abit of a mess around for him and me,

 but this other windy guy is really sound like, he messages me for updates on how I’m getting on equipment I have or need, always trying to fit me in when he’s local ( he uses wfp ) and I’ve never used it so he’s trying to set me up with a few hours to try it out, cool guy. 
 

Sorry for rambling on jake, but Thankyou for the advice I will take it all on board, 

oh quick question, how many clients should I aim to get on a monthly basis? 
I think I keep going till I’m able to get 10-15 clients a day for 4 days a week? Not sure 

as for pricing I’ve recently looked at a few online in my area and they charge a good fee and it’s a good guideline, always feel cheeky when i think about charging similar as I don’t have the nice van or equipment, or exp to accommodate it, anyone new feel like that when starting out? 
 

mrs says I’m to nice and stuff but still haha... thanks guys 

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23 minutes ago, Jay95 said:

oh quick question, how many clients should I aim to get on a monthly basis? 
I think I keep going till I’m able to get 10-15 clients a day for 4 days a week? Not sure 

as for pricing I’ve recently looked at a few online in my area and they charge a good fee and it’s a good guideline, always feel cheeky when i think about charging similar as I don’t have the nice van or equipment, or exp to accommodate it, anyone new feel like that when starting out? 
 

mrs says I’m to nice and stuff but still haha... thanks guys 

OK so as a very basic guide with water fed pole you should be easily able to do 3 houses an hour, maybe not when you first start but you will build up speed. Also first cleans will take 2 maybe even 3 times longer than maintenance cleans. Some people charge more for first cleans but if you are just starting I would say charge your maintenance clean price to gain customers and experience, that way you are getting paid to learn. Above all do a very good job, be polite and present a professional image. An embroidered polo shirt is less than £10 and gives a better impression that you are serious about your business. 

As for how many customers you need then that really is up to you, how much money do you need? You will find it slow to get customers but be persistent and try everything - from leaflet dropping to door knocking, facebook, cards in shop windows, parish magazine etc.

Payment wise bank transfers are good as they don't cost you anything (well shouldn't unless you don't have free business banking), give custys your bank details on the invoice/bill and ask them to pay that way with their name/street as payment reference.  

As for pricing, if you do as good a job why do you deserve to be paid less??? If you start out charging peanuts you will have difficulty raising the prices when you realise you are doing yourself out of money on those houses and resenting doing them on the cheap. OK so you don't have a van but it's not like the customer gets a better service just because someone has a van (please no one start the hot water debate). You have to present yourself as confident in the job - practice on your own, family, friends windows as much as you can even if they don't need cleaning!!! Have a pricing 'system' so you are as consistent as you can be, remember neighbours talk, so you need a method to justify your prices if challenged. 

If you are going to be working of ladders then make 100% sure you know how to properly & safely use them!!!! It only takes an over reach, uneven ground, or slippery surface to make you have a fall!!!!! Falls can be fatal! 

As for roof racks for a fiat punto 3 door have a look at this https://ebay.us/G9qcJS or https://amzn.to/3eoJirA seems like there are lots about. 

As for equipment look at the decent specialist window cleaning suppliers and see what they sell, don't go to b&q etc as they will sell 'domestic' grade stuff that isn't worth using as it will do a poor job or just not last. Have a look at YouTube for people like AE Mackintosh or Trad Man (bit biased towards Unger). 

Lastly, use the top right search button on this forum as there will be almost everything you need to know right here and for the odd bit you can't find or doesn't make sense ask a new question 🙂

Hope that has given you things to think about?

Oh and welcome 🙂 

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Part Timer
2 hours ago, Jay95 said:

as for pricing I’ve recently looked at a few online in my area and they charge a good fee and it’s a good guideline, always feel cheeky when i think about charging similar as I don’t have the nice van or equipment, or exp to accommodate it, anyone new feel like that when starting out? 

All the customer wants is clean windows, the vast majority don't give a damn how you got them clean. The vast majority also don't care if you're an experienced windy or still wet behind your ears, as long as the windows are clean.

We had more dodgy comments when we put our new van on the road then we ever did about our less then immaculate old van and I'm 99% certain they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a budget pole and a top of the range one.

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High-tower

Sounds like you need to keep it simple!

areas- you need to canvas from your home and just work your way outwards, also maybe from your children’s school. 
 

prices- you’ve been wise to research the going rate in your area, so charge the same!
 

kit- I always liked Unger gear for trad work, simple and reliable! Look out for a point ladder, much more versatile than a regular one! A double 3.5m will handle most stuff. 
 

Payments- offer either cash on the day, left in a safe place if they are out. Or bank transfer, you can leave a simple slip through the door, or send them a text message with your details.

 

 

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6 hours ago, Jay95 said:

Hi guys, hope everyone is well and all,

Quick intro 

im 25 and have two kids but both are in school part time so needed to become self employed to work around them finnishing at 12pm,

I only got into window cleaning around 1 month ago and set a goal to give it my all. 

I have got a small round 20 bungalows but thinking of giving them up as I under priced and didn’t know how long some of these first cleans can take -.-. 
 

there is a small crew of lads that kept undercutting that small bungalow village ( I charged £5 per bungalow) they went around and charged £3) as there are 3 of them. 
 

I am currently using a car - trying my best to find a roof rack (fiat punto 3door) but struggling. 
 

I have shopped around at other window cleaners prices in my area - way higher than mine) and I am just after some advice on best way to go for the following.

choosing an area to work?

prices?

decent equipment? (been recommended unger) 

How many clients I should aim to achieve by the end of this year?

some good tips 

also how to deal with payments? Like should I try and suggest new clients to set up a direct debit? Or collect on the day or at the end of week?

also I have spoken to an awesome successful window cleaner who is trying to give me some hours to help my situation and gain more exp. 

many advice would be grateful for starting out, thanks in advance guys.

 

There are many makes of roof bar kits available from generic paddy Hopkirk to Thule, also machine mart also sell whats called a rally cage which gives you a basket frame.

 

Have you tried Halfords, Euro car parts or the online scumbags? 

I'm certain you can get roof bar and feet kits from £65 what year is it?

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2 minutes ago, Apw1210 said:

There are many makes of roof bar kits available from generic paddy Hopkirk to Thule, also machine mart also sell whats called a rally cage which gives you a basket frame.

 

Have you tried Halfords, Euro car parts or the online scumbags? 

I'm certain you can get roof bar and feet kits from £65 what year is it?

Also business insurance is a must along with PLI

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Wow thanks for all the feedback and support guys, more info than ever lol,

I did try Halfords, machine mart, euro parts, but they all say they don’t have one comparable, i did try the “online scumbags” (this made me laugh)most of them are for 5 doors, I will try and drive to Halfords and see if they can dig one out that would fit,

also the keeping the money in a safe place if they are not in is a good idea, and bank transfer does sound good but my housing area is full of more older people (50’s+) so I’m guessing most prefer to pay cash,

Where can I buy some pre made invoices? Like where I just fill it in, or is it easier to email? Or both?

I am looking at some T-shirt’s and polos 

not sure what name to give my service 

 

I will have to look at the YouTube vids for some information and how to work on my technique for trad,

and I want enough clients so I am busy I am still young and want to put in as much effort as I can so I can benefit from it as I age, 

I might be getting ahead of myself but I want to give it my all, enough clients so I can save and pay for a van and eventually a wfp system to accommodate hopefully bigger clients. Like my local windy ( he has around 700 clients with two part timers) if I manage to grow to 1/3 of his I’d be more than happy with myself.

£3 bungalows I was shocked too that shire comment had me in stitches,they literally went everywhere I went that day and undercut me on that entire part of the village, a few I managed to get stayed with me due to knowing my nan so winner there (thanks nan) haha 

I have just gotten liability insurance but the minimum think it covers £1mil thanks for checking btw.

I would like to start on my area, but I have seen a few older windys on my neighbours houses and I’m going to assume they have most of this area, don’t want tread on toes at the same time. 
 

As for pricing I know no one really talks about it but what the hell, most of them charge around £7 for just the front and £13 for front and back anything else has it’s own extra like conservatory or extensions I’m in stoke on trent area so I’m going to assume that’s a fair price (4 local windys websites is where I got the average from) let me know what you guys think,

if anyone is from the stoke area and has any jobs that are awkward and want to let me learn from them feel free to let me know. 
 

I know ladders can be dangerous, I have some exp from my previous job (aircon) but it’s been a while and I’m 6”2 so I’m not the most steady legged up high but I’m hoping it will go with experience hahaha. 
 

If I missed anyone I’m sorry and a massive Thankyou to everyone’s advice it really is appreciated and I hope to check in every now and then to let you all know how I’m getting on, your all awesome, have a good weekend people. 

 

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12 minutes ago, Jay95 said:

Wow thanks for all the feedback and support guys, more info than ever lol,

I did try Halfords, machine mart, euro parts, but they all say they don’t have one comparable, i did try the “online scumbags” (this made me laugh)most of them are for 5 doors, I will try and drive to Halfords and see if they can dig one out that would fit,

also the keeping the money in a safe place if they are not in is a good idea, and bank transfer does sound good but my housing area is full of more older people (50’s+) so I’m guessing most prefer to pay cash,

Where can I buy some pre made invoices? Like where I just fill it in, or is it easier to email? Or both?

I am looking at some T-shirt’s and polos 

not sure what name to give my service 

 

I will have to look at the YouTube vids for some information and how to work on my technique for trad,

and I want enough clients so I am busy I am still young and want to put in as much effort as I can so I can benefit from it as I age, 

I might be getting ahead of myself but I want to give it my all, enough clients so I can save and pay for a van and eventually a wfp system to accommodate hopefully bigger clients. Like my local windy ( he has around 700 clients with two part timers) if I manage to grow to 1/3 of his I’d be more than happy with myself.

£3 bungalows I was shocked too that shire comment had me in stitches,they literally went everywhere I went that day and undercut me on that entire part of the village, a few I managed to get stayed with me due to knowing my nan so winner there (thanks nan) haha 

I have just gotten liability insurance but the minimum think it covers £1mil thanks for checking btw.

I would like to start on my area, but I have seen a few older windys on my neighbours houses and I’m going to assume they have most of this area, don’t want tread on toes at the same time. 
 

As for pricing I know no one really talks about it but what the hell, most of them charge around £7 for just the front and £13 for front and back anything else has it’s own extra like conservatory or extensions I’m in stoke on trent area so I’m going to assume that’s a fair price (4 local windys websites is where I got the average from) let me know what you guys think,

if anyone is from the stoke area and has any jobs that are awkward and want to let me learn from them feel free to let me know. 
 

I know ladders can be dangerous, I have some exp from my previous job (aircon) but it’s been a while and I’m 6”2 so I’m not the most steady legged up high but I’m hoping it will go with experience hahaha. 
 

If I missed anyone I’m sorry and a massive Thankyou to everyone’s advice it really is appreciated and I hope to check in every now and then to let you all know how I’m getting on, your all awesome, have a good weekend people. 

 

If you have a laptop with Microsoft Office, Windows or publisher make your own invoice template.

 

Your business name

Address on the footer 

Contact details 

Description of service 

Total 

Date

The more you do yourself the cheaper it is 

 

Forgot the t shirts & polo shirts. A uniform won't sell your business as well as you can verbally, in my opinion it's a waste of time exercise so many new starters make before they've established their business.

If you just do wfp, no ladders no chemicals, no roofs no pressure washing it's around a one off payment of £42.00 with Alexander Swan. 

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Posted (edited)

Try Mick's Garage for your roof bars. I got mine from them for a Merc Vito. The quality is superb and the price, though I don't remember what it was, I do remember I thought it very reasonable at the time.

I would wear a uniform with a good logo. I would have a proper think before deciding on a professional name and logo. There was no way I was going to call my business, Dave's Window Cleaning.

There is only one chance to make a first impression. The only time we can make that first impression is on the first meeting of every potential customer, before we're established and when we're established.
A uniform and logo is a form of identification. This means that you're less likely to be a rogue trader. People will get used to seeing you around and you will find that as neighbours and the general public get used to seeing you, walk up enquiries will steadily increase.

I started six and a half years ago with a rusty old Mk 1 Vito with huge mileage on the clock. Before I started the business I spent two or three hundred pounds getting a basic tidy up and respray. Then I got it professionally sign-written to my design. It looked very vibrant and smart. Then I fitted it out myself and fitted out a purpose built shed for temporary processing at a friends house. Then I bought some logo'd uniform and started  the, to me, dreaded canvassing. I had hardly a clue. I was as apprehensive and nervous as anything😳 but I didn't half look professional 😁. I was determined and confident I would succeed once I got going. Luckily I got going fairly quickly and was soon able to stop canvassing. I've only ever done wfp. After a couple of years I bought a fresher Mk 2 Vito, updated the signwriting and moved the processing to my new home.

We are now very well established. We don't have a website. We don't get involved in FB. We don't get involved with Check a trade or Trust a Trader either. None of these is where I'd be looking for a tradesman. We keep it simple and old fashioned.

Don't get frightened about pricing. I aim to be near the top end of fair. I aim to thrive, not just to survive. The cheap guys will come and go. Though some will muddle along, treading water for years with no real prosperity. Stand your ground and strive to thrive. Pardon the unintentional, corny pun 😊.

All of our customers are notified the day before to remind them to please unlock the gates first thing in the morning and to leave the payment in a safe place chosen by us out the back, in a Ziploc sandwich bag provided by us. No invoices, the customer knows the price, knows we're coming and the Ziploc bag provided has one of our business cards in it with the price and frequency (mostly 6 weekly) written on the back. We don't give an Eta except on the few where we have to go through a garage. Everyone has their own way. That's how we do things. "Simples" 😁

Edited by Davy G
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One thing we learned early on is Not to take any advice from other local windies.Listen to what they have to say,yes,but then go and do the exact opposite is the best thing to do. For example if somebody says this is "their " road, thats the very road you should canvas and do it often . Anyone who says "im 3rd generation" is to be ignored not listened to 

  • Agree 2
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On 07/05/2021 at 18:53, Part Timer said:

All the customer wants is clean windows, the vast majority don't give a damn how you got them clean. The vast majority also don't care if you're an experienced windy or still wet behind your ears, as long as the windows are clean.

We had more dodgy comments when we put our new van on the road then we ever did about our less then immaculate old van and I'm 99% certain they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a budget pole and a top of the range one.

 

On 07/05/2021 at 18:53, Part Timer said:

All the customer wants is clean windows, the vast majority don't give a damn how you got them clean. The vast majority also don't care if you're an experienced windy or still wet behind your ears, as long as the windows are clean.

We had more dodgy comments when we put our new van on the road then we ever did about our less then immaculate old van and I'm 99% certain they wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a budget pole and a top of the range one.

 Top bloke @Part Timer always hits the nail on the head! 

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Iron Giant
13 hours ago, Apw1210 said:

Forgot the t shirts & polo shirts. A uniform won't sell your business as well as you can verbally, in my opinion it's a waste of time exercise so many new starters make before they've established their business.

I think a uniform helps set you apart from others and clearly defines who you are to custys and others, I was going a few years before I decide to have logoed workwear but I have had logoed workwear for over 15 years and still about the only one in my work area a couple of other firms from outside the area do now and the same with a signed van, 

If someone can set themselves apart from others in the area I feel it can make a big difference, over 15 years ago and people were surprised and some even laughed that I was wearing a uniform, same with a website, wfp, signed van and FB page, yet others have followed suit in someway. 

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High-tower
14 hours ago, Jay95 said:

I would like to start on my area, but I have seen a few older windys on my neighbours houses and I’m going to assume they have most of this area, don’t want tread on toes at the same time. 


there will be window cleaners on almost every street you knock! You can’t worry about treading on toes otherwise you’ll have no work. 
As long as you are charging around the going rate, not undercutting as you experienced, let the customer choose.

If the existing windies are doing a good job their customers will usually stay loyal. There will always be gaps on the streets for you to get established. You might need to be more flexible with schedules or general hassle in the beginning, but as long as you remain reliable you’ll build a good reputation.

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