Are you thinking about starting your own business? Cleaning windows for a living can be a lucrative career. But, a lot of legwork is involved in setting up and managing a successful venture. From the admin to the marketing stuff, we’ll show you how to start a window cleaning business.
Why starting a window cleaning business is a good idea
Like any other business, cleaning windows has its set of challenges but it can also be a great source of income for anyone willing to put in the work. If you are a bit on the fence, here are a couple of pointers to encourage you to go right ahead and start the business already:
- An aging population: In the US, the growth rate of those aged 65 and above is higher than that of the total population. This simply means the population is aging quite fast. As such, more and more people will need services such as house cleaning, which includes cleaning windows.
- Busier population: No one can deny that the pace of life is much faster now. With so much to do and seemingly little time, people are outsourcing tasks such as keeping their homes and businesses clean.
- Relatively low startup costs: Depending on your choice of equipment and other expenses such as training and certification, it is possible to launch your business with just a few hundred dollars and still see your income grow exponentially.
A step-by-step guide to starting a window cleaning business
Anyone can clean windows but only those with a solid plan succeed in this competitive niche. Take these steps to turn your dream of starting a cleaning business into reality:
Step 1: Decide on commercial or residential cleaning
Before you even register your business, you want to decide whether to go the commercial or residential route. Each option has its own advantages and disadvantages.
- Residential window cleaning: There are few barriers to entry in this area. Most homes are one or two storied so you do not require sophisticated equipment to get the job done
- Commercial window cleaning: Most newcomers start with storefront gigs, but these can be quite competitive. Large, established cleaning companies have also taken over much of high-rise cleaning. Consider building your client base starting with low-rise commercial buildings where the demand is quite large and the jobs are contractual, which means repeat business.
Step 2: Register your business
Next, set your business up as a legal entity. While you can register as a sole proprietor, it’s best to set your business up as a limited liability company (LLC) to minimize liability to yourself in the event of business debts and obligations. Go to your state’s website, check out the requirements, and follow the steps to register an LLC.
Also, find out about training and certification requirements. While you can start cleaning windows without any formal training in some states, some may require you to obtain certification and licensure for your new career.
Step 3: Obtain insurance
The right insurance policy not only gives your business a professional image; it also protects you immensely against liabilities that come with a business such as cleaning windows. Speak to your local agent to find out the most appropriate policy for your business. Policies you will certainly need are liability insurance and worker’s compensation, if you have employees.
Step 4: Invest in the right equipment
It is possible to start your window cleaning business with basic equipment but this might slow down your ability to scale. Advanced equipment will pay for itself in efficiency and excellent work, which means more customers.
For starters, you will need:
- Water-fed pole
- Cleaning buckets and detergents
- Soap application t-bar and micro-fiber cloths
- Professional grade ladder
It also helps to have a car to ferry your equipment to and from job sites. A van would be ideal but if all you have is a regular vehicle, start with that one. All this should be enough to get you started cleaning residential windows and storefronts.
Step 5: Set up your pricing and marketing plan
Many newbies in the business have a hard time pricing their services. Should you charge per job or hour? What is a competitive rate?
Find out the average industry rates in your area to avoid underpricing or overpricing your service. Ask a mentor or business owners in related services such as realtors and landscapers what the ballpark price range is for window cleaning services.
Pricing your services accurately will take a bit of time. That being said, most cleaners will charge per the number of pieces of glass that make up a window with prices ranging between $2 and $5 on average. Other factor such as specialty windows or the presence of window tint on the glass may also influence the price.
Be prepared to get the word out about your new venture. You do not have to hire an expensive agency when you are just beginning. Start with the basics by printing tons of flyers and distributing them to potential customers and posting them in strategic places.
In addition to this, you also need to be ready to do cold-calling and face-to-face marketing. Before you can build a solid client base, you probably have to visit homes, storefronts, and offices to let them know about your business.
Other steps you can take to publicize yourself include:
- Hire a web designer to create a simple but professional website for your business.
- List your business on Google My Business so that when people look up for ‘window cleaning services’ in your area, they’d find you easily.
- Promote your services on social media, especially on Facebook and Instagram. Consider outsourcing social media marketing to a part-time freelancer whom you can hire through a platform such as Upwork.
- Try paid advertising or pay-per-click advertising on major search engines such as Google and Bing to make your business more visible online
Step 6: Sort out the administrative aspects of the business
Doing a good job of cleaning windows is obviously important. However, not taking care of things like accounting, tax, and customer management can easily sink your venture.
Invest in an administrative starter pack that includes:
- Simple accounting software: This will automate processes such as invoicing, inventory, expenses, sales orders, payroll and more. Examples include Freshbooks, Quickbooks, Tipalti among others.
- CRM: Customer relationship management software helps with managing your bids, job scheduling, sending quotes, and managing clients’ information.
No matter how the economy looks, people will always want their windows cleaned. This makes a career in this niche quite lucrative if approached in the right way. The best part is that you can start right away with just the basics and scale your business as you go along.
Do you have any questions about starting a window cleaning business? Please leave your questions and comments below, we’d love to hear from you!