How to Start a Window Cleaning Business
Starting a window cleaning business can be a great way to get into entrepreneurship, especially if you have limited start-up funds and aren’t afraid to get your hands wet. After all, buildings will always need their windows cleaned, often on a regular basis, and most building owners would be happy to hire someone else to do the job. Window cleaners have no shortage of customers, and the potential for growth is high. With some hard work and smart business moves, you can make a decent return on your upfront investment in a window washing business and enjoy the freedom of being your own boss.
Ready to dive into the window cleaning business, but not sure how you make your entrepreneurship dreams come true? Getting your business off the ground and keeping it afloat requires research and planning, as well as an investment in branding and marketing to stay current and grow your client list. Never fear, we’ve compiled a step by step guide to help make your window cleaning business dream a reality.
Is a window cleaning business right for you?
Before you jump into entrepreneurship, consider if the window cleaning business is a good fit for your schedule, your lifestyle, and your start-up budget. The benefits of a window washing business include a flexible schedule, where you set your hours based on your clients’ needs, and the ability to be mobile, as you will need to travel to your clients. Another plus is that you don’t need a lot of start-up capital to start a window cleaning business, especially if you plan to keep your tools and supplies pretty basic. Often, $1,000-$2,000 in start-up capital is enough for you to pay for your upfront costs and dive right in.
To do this job well, you should be reasonably fit and able to do physical work for several hours at a time. Window washing is a highly physical job that often requires hours of lifting, wiping, and standing. If you are doing high rise window cleaning, you will need to be comfortable working at heights and able to dangle in the air while you clean. As an entrepreneur, you likely won’t be able to hire employees right away, especially if you are trying to keep your start-up costs low, so you will need to be prepared to do a lot of the work yourself.
Because people need their windows cleaned year-round, you will also need to be prepared to work during all seasons and in all types of weather. If you live in an area that gets really cold or really hot, you will have to accept you will be working outdoors on a constant basis as a window cleaner. But if you love the outdoors and don’t mind adverse weather conditions, window washing may be a good fit for you!
To be successful as a window cleaner, you have to be self-motivated and disciplined, as you won’t have a manager or a boss to get you moving and connect you with clients. To grow your business during your first year of operation, you can’t be afraid to go out into your community, meet people, and market your services to raise your profile as a business owner.
You will need to demonstrate that you are hard-working, trustworthy, and detail-oriented, so you rise above your competitors and grow your client list. Leaving a watermark or missing a spot on a window won’t impress your clients or encourage potential clients to hire you. Being tidy, conscientious, and clean during each window cleaning job will lead to repeat clients and referrals.
Identify the target audience for your business
In the window cleaning business, there are two main target audiences:
- Domestic cleaning: These clients are homeowners or small business owners who require low rise window cleaning. This target audience is often easier to tap into than commercial cleaning, especially if you are not ready to invest in high rise window cleaning equipment and want to start small.
- Commercial cleaning: These clients are office building owners or managers who are looking for high rise window cleaning. This target audience includes larger jobs with many windows to clean, often for tall buildings or skyscrapers. This market can be quite lucrative, but it requires a higher upfront investment in equipment as well as experience in high rise cleaning and safety.
You may start by focusing on domestic cleaning, particularly if you have limited start-up funds and are a one-person operation. If you have experience with commercial cleaning, working for another company or someone else, you might be prepared to jump right into this market.
Regardless of which market you start with, always keep your target audience in mind when you brand and market your business. Focusing on the target audience for your business will ensure you are always connecting with current clients and encourage potential clients to pick your services.
Determine your window cleaning services and pricing
To determine your services, you first need to size up your competitors. Do a search for other window cleaning businesses in your area and contact them to see if they will answer questions about their pricing, their clients, and their services. You can also compare the services and prices advertised on their websites or on fliers in your area.
Once you’ve done some research on your competitors, note which services are the most common or popular in your area. For example, you may notice your competitors offer a window cleaning package for small business owners that includes regular cleaning for a set fee. Or you may note that your competitors often run a summer special for clients to increase their business.
Price your window cleaning services within the range of your competitors. Most window cleaners charge by the hour, starting from $12-$15 an hour for private homes or storefronts. High rise window cleaning prices start a bit higher, at $15-$25 an hour, due to the extra physical challenges of the job.
Some window cleaners prefer to charge by the number of window panes and the type of cleaning, such as inside and outside or inside only. The average price is $3-$5 per window pane and $2 per window screen. Consider lowering your price for customers who agree to regular cleaning for a set fee, as this can help you retain clients and create consistent revenue for your business.
Secure your cleaning supplies and transportation
Starting a window cleaning business doesn’t require a lot of supplies or overhead costs, especially if you’re starting small. Look up wholesale cleaning suppliers in your area and buy your cleaning supplies in bulk to save money. To do domestic cleaning for storefronts and private homes, you’ll need basic supplies like: cleaning solution, buckets, squeegees, scrubbers, an extension pole, microfibre cloths, and ladders. You may also want to invest in work boots and work overalls or clothing.
If you are focusing on commercial clients, where you’ll be cleaning high rises and tall buildings, make sure you invest in rope, a pulley, and rappelling equipment. You will also need to get a training license that shows clients you have been trained on how to safely clean high rise buildings.
Whether you’re focused on domestic or commercial clients, your business will need access to transportation like a work truck or vehicle so you can drive to clients to clean their windows. You may decide to lease or rent a work vehicle for your business so you can be mobile with all your supplies. Or you may already own a truck or van you can repurpose for your business. Having a vehicle for your business is a must, as your clients will expect you to come to them.
Brand your window cleaning business
Set your business apart with a catchy or memorable name that’s easy to remember. Maybe you choose a name that shows how great you are as a company, such as “Clean and Fast,” “Premium Clean,” or “Top Choice.” Or you might decide to include your name in your company name to show it’s yours.
Once you decide on a business name, brand your work vehicle and supplies with a logo that features your name. You may also brand your uniform with your company name, so you’re easy to recognize and a free walking advertisement for your business.
Get business insurance and a business license
You will need to decide if you are going to operate your business as a sole proprietor or go for incorporation. Incorporating your business is a good protective measure when it comes to liability and will make it easier for you to hire employees down the line. It is also better for filing taxes as a business, especially as your revenue increases.
You will also need to apply for and obtain business insurance for window cleaning, which can be done through your existing insurance provider. Because you will be using ladders, working from heights, and handling equipment regularly, invest in liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance. You should also get high rise window cleaning insurance if you plan to offer this service.
Once you’ve branded your business, apply for a business license in your area with city hall or your local city administration office. Include your business name on the application form and submit it along with a vendor’s license application. A vendor’s license will allow you to charge sales tax for your services.
Open a business bank account and set up a home office
To make business finances easy, open a business bank account with your bank so you can process payments from clients and file business taxes every year. You should also invest in business software to make invoicing and payment a breeze. An easy to use, comprehensive software like Quickbooks will allow you to do your own bookkeeping and stay on top of your finances.
To keep your start-up costs low, establish an area in your home that you can operate the business out of. Having a home office will make it easy for you to do paperwork or handle client calls, and you can write off a portion of your home office as a business expense when you file your taxes.
Invest in marketing for your business
To connect with clients, you can tap into a few simple but effective marketing tools that won’t cost you too much upfront. Create a basic website for your window cleaning business using a website building platform, or hire a web designer to create a simple website for you. Your business website should include your services, your prices, your operating hours, and your branding. As you grow, include client testimonials to encourage potential clients to choose you.
Though social media can be an effective marketing tool, having a good website and good online reviews of your services may be a better fit for a window cleaning business. Most of your clients will find out about you by word of mouth, and directing them to a website or a Facebook business page may be more effective than an Instagram or Twitter account.
Create a My Business Google listing, so you come up as an option when potential clients are searching online for window cleaning services in their area. List your business in local business directories and online service boards. When you’re just starting out, focus on cost-friendly marketing that isn’t too time-consuming, as they will often yield more customers and a higher profile for your business.
Once you’ve built a good client list, create a referral program to reward current clients if they refer your services to someone else. This builds goodwill between you and your customers and helps to market your business to others.
Hit the pavement to find clients
Let people in your area know about your business using a tried and true method: hitting the pavement and going door to door. Visit residential areas and storefronts if you plan to focus on this clientele. Or focus on office buildings and skyscrapers if they are your target audience.
Introduce yourself and hand out fliers with your branding and business services to get the attention of potential clients. Post fliers on community boards and ask businesses if they would be willing to post your business card on their wall or keep a stack of your brochures for customers to take. Attend local events and hand out brochures to promote your business to the community.
You can also offer your window cleaning services to family and friends, and encourage them to refer you to others who might be interested in hiring you. Some window cleaners will reach out to local service businesses like landscapers, remodelers, and realtors to create a two-way referral program, where you both benefit from recommending one another.
Don’t be shy about telling others about your window cleaning business, and flexing your people skills to help your business grow. Getting the word out about how great your window cleaning services are may not come naturally, and you might feel awkward at times, especially if you aren’t typically comfortable with promoting your business. But the more you share and connect with the community, the more likely you are to find clients and raise your business profile.
Hire employees when you’re ready to expand
As your business grows, you may realize you are getting more work than you can handle on your own. This is often a sign it’s time to hire employees to keep up with the workload and increase your profit margins. Usually, one to two employees is more than enough for a small business to expand and grow, especially if you can keep your overhead costs down and service more clients. Choose employees you can trust and train them to uphold a high level of quality and service. Working closely with your employees will help your business flourish, allowing you to focus on providing your clients with a positive experience.
Add new services to your business
Getting your business off the ground is a challenge, but retaining your clients and gaining new ones is also just as important. Capitalize on the success of your window cleaning business by being open to adding additional services that you can offer your customers. Often, if customers trust you to clean their windows and are happy with your work, they will ask if you can do other services, such as gutter cleaning, pressure washing, and window screen repair.
If you and your team have the capacity, and the clientele, consider including new services to round out your business and give your customers options. This is a great way to boost your already thriving business and increase your profit margins.
Ready to start your business? Ownr has helped over 15,000+ entrepreneurs hit the ground running quickly – and affordably. If you have questions about how to register or incorporate your business, give us a call at 1-800-766-6302, Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm EST, or email us firstname.lastname@example.org
This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.