HOW TO START A WINDOW CLEANING ROUND IN THE UK?

Like any business plan, it is worth seeking advice before you start. Now this doesn’t need to be in the form of professional advice but if you so choose to go down that path then the likes of https://www.bgateway.com/ offer free advice, and many courses and start up stories to share. Alternatively, many window cleaners start up after informal discussions with others in the trade; in which case joining forums such as https://windowcleaningforums.co.uk/ can provide you with a one stop shop on equipment advice, advertising and pricing to name but a few aspects of this game.

EQUIPMENT

A cheap entry into this trade is usually via traditional window cleaning, and there are pros and cons to this approach. The positives are clearly a cheap start up, and the learning of skills that will help you for interior window cleaning and if you need to have a backup plan should your waterfed pole system break down occasionally.  The cons are mainly risk of injury, as we discussed in a blog we wrote for purple Elephant http://purpleelephant.co/safety-conscious-window-cleaners-in-chester/ where work related injuries from falls are an all too common occurrence.

If you do choose to start out traditionally here is a list of some of the essential equipment you may need

  • Ladder, preferably a two part and lightweight trade ladder made by someone such as Ramsey or Lyte.
  • A squeegee, and a good size to learn on is a ten inch one. I usually use a 14 squeegee for domestic jobs, and sometimes a 20 inch one for shop fronts.
  • An applicator, this is the t bar and pad that washes the window. There are a few varieties out there but having one that’s ideal for first cleans means looking at the likes of the ettore porcupine applicator sleeve because it is rough and will remove dirt easier. Facelift also make a good applicator sleeve that has a tag on the end for removing stubborn dirt.
  • A bucket, of which ettore and unger make good ones and some have lids. This lid is helpful in cold weather, where you can go out with hot water in the bucket and it will keep warm in winter mornings.
  • Cloths, and lots of them. Bear in mind you will be fixing more mistakes when you start. I use microfiber cloths for wiping frames and sills, and grade A pre washed scrims for glass detailing. Fish scale microfiber cloths are also very good, they have very good absorption and are lint free.
  • Cleaning liquid, of which there are many options. Many window cleaners still choose to use things like fairy platinum though, because its thickly concentrated.
  • Belt, unger offer pouches and belts. This is important, so you have somewhere to store your cloths and other essentials.
  • Scraper. These can be bought off ebay and such, but please be careful how you use them on glass. Always wet the surface first and do not pull back on the glass. This may cause trapped dirt to scratch the glass, so always lift off the glass after each forward motion.
  • Appropriate footwear, this is very important. You want something that has good tread and a non slip sole
  • Some kind of upvc restorer, and this can be very cheap if you shop around. Currently there is a brand called the pink stuff that many of us use, and this abrasive can clean marks on frames /doors/sills very easily.

If you choose to start window cleaning with the waterfed pole/reach and wash system then there are two main options left. Do you go to a professional installer such as https://www.daqua.co.uk/ to fit this for you, or do you instead have a DIY system built? There is much advice on the above mentioned forum on how to make a DIY system and the advantage is that when things go wrong you will have a better insight in how to fix this, although a professional system brings warranty cover and sometimes better options than a DIY system can offer such as split relay charging off the vans battery as mostly standard.

LEARNING TO WINDOW CLEAN

So you want to learn how to clean windows? Well there are youtube videos showing how to do so both traditionally and waterfed pole. Practice on your own house until you feel confident, and if going waterfed pole then try to clean a few different styles of windows; this will give you a feel for the different approach you may need to use for each.  Here is our own window cleaning page, if you want to look at a few photos and how we set up what we offer https://fifewindowcleaningservices.co.uk/window-cleaning/ . While one of our other blogs discusses how to clean windows waterfed pole, traditionally you can clean windows either with straight pull downs or in the fashion you may often see window cleaners use.

Straight pull downs are what I started with, and the advantage is that there are less risk of lines on the glass if you are new and unfamiliar with how to angle the squeegee. Personally, I wish I just started cleaning windows with the proper technique, which is shown here by Unger https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F4B6FGw0E4o

HOW DO I GET WINDOW CLEANING CUSTOMERS?

We all have our preferred ways of gaining work but here is what I would advise on doing even before advertising for work.  Having a social media presence is a massive advantage in current times, with so many people using the likes of facebook. Now down the line you may also add other accounts such as instagram and twitter for your business, but the MUST one is a facebook business  page.

I also had my website built before I started cleaning windows, but that’s optional of course. What this helped with was my focus, I was already committed and work does come in from websites I can promise you that how much so depends on the quality of the website designed so get advice and shop around (not for the cheapest but for the best), and expect to pay around 500 pounds for a good site.

The local buy and sell sites on facebook are golden, it is how many start getting their brand visible. I used to have a set message I would copy and paste onto all my local Facebook pages each week, day 1 I would advertise on page 1, 2, 4, 5 day 2 I would advertise on pages 6-10 and so on..

The final piece of advice I will offer is deciding on what mediums you will employ to gain customers in a more direct marketing fashion. I know of some large companies that spend massive amounts of money on flier campaigns, and this may provide around 0.2/0.4% returns per 100 fliers on average. The results of these flier drops depend on variables such as the flier quality, and is there a clear call to action on the flier and does it offer a clear and simple solution to a buyers needs? Thickness of fliers varies also, and I have had more success with card like double sided fliers than with 100gsm paper ones.

Door to door sales is possibly the best way to get work coming in fast (fliers can lead to a slow and constant supply of work-sometimes you may be called months later, after a flier drop) , at least it was for me. If this is something you choose to do, I suggest having a rough idea of what you will say and let the rest be natural, otherwise it is just a robotic pitch with no persona. Some tips here are to always smile, take business cards with you to offer those that may be interested, and know what price you are happy with for each house as you walk up that drive to chap the door.  Do not be put off with rejection, in fact embrace it. This is a numbers game and rejection and set backs are a part and parcel of building a successful run, so say thank you for your time and move onto the next door as fast as you can.

HOW WILL I GET PAID OFF MY CUSTOMERS

Originally we all cash collected, and many still do-sometimes on a set date each week. I feel this is counter-productive though, because we are doing a job and spending more time going back to collect. What if the customer is not home when we collect, or have no money on them? Trust me when I tell you that this is a regular occurrence.  So some also offer bank and paypal options on their cleaning tickets that they post through the customers door after the window clean is done, and this helps cash flow somewhat. The issue with this though, is again not everyone pays when they are supposed to. People are busy and it is an easy thing to forget but if you have all of your customers contact numbers, a text reminder can be useful for payments.

Now my full residential round is paid for via https://gocardless.com/ where on my websites ways to pay page is a link the customer can use to sign up to; this is a direct debit scheme and we debit the money after the window cleans are done. The cash is in our bank a week later, and we post a cleaning ticket through the letterbox to say we have been out to clean windows that day; however the customer also receives an email notification from gocardless to say what is coming out their bank and for whom. If you do not have a website you can still use this payment method, by sending a link to customers via text email or perhaps on your cleaning tickets.  https://fifewindowcleaningservices.co.uk/payments/ here is my own ways to pay page, and there is a blog on there that breaks down the advantages of gocardless.

 

I hope this blog has been of some use to you, and it is by no means a complete start up guide; but more of a help guide to get you on the right path.

 

Blog post written by Chris Fotheringham https://fifewindowcleaningservices.co.uk/

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