On the face of it a window cleaning business is a very attractive proposition to first time entrepreneurs; the start up costs are low and it’s a service which is seemingly always in demand.
Why start a window cleaning business?
Pretty much everyone has used the services of a window cleaner at some point in their lives. It is an essential service used regularly by millions of consumers and businesses.
Typically a window cleaning business can be set up with very little cost, however there’s slightly more to it than buying a chamois leather and a ladder. In many areas the competition is high and you’ll find that many of the most profitable areas of towns and cities are already part of someone else’s window cleaning round. It is also hard work, especially during the cold winter months, however thanks to advances in equipment, window cleaning isn’t the dangerous job it once was. You can use equipment, for example, which allows you to clean high windows without the use of a step ladder. In order to succeed you’ll need to establish a strong client base and then keep your customers loyal by providing a high standard of cleaning and a reliable service.
What skills will I need?
If you’re planning to do the window cleaning yourself you’ll need to be reasonably fit and have a good attention to detail; after all your clients will only keep using you if your cleaning is of a good standard. You’ll also need to be self-motivated and have good communication skills for interacting with your customers. In a window cleaning business gaining new clients means being highly visible to your target customers, so you’ll need to be focused on branding and marketing.
Start-up costs for a window cleaning business are fairly low, however it is worth investing more than the bear minimum if you want to allow your business to grow. You will need to lease or buy a reliable vehicle to travel around in, purchase good quality cleaning equipment, buy insurance against accidents or theft of equipment and invest in training. Perhaps your biggest cost will be marketing and branding your services. As a minimum this would include developing a company logo, painting your vehicle and creating, printing and distributing promotional materials such as flyers. You might also want to consider investing in a good company website and spending some money on marketing your services through the internet as this can provide a good way of generating new leads.
Insurance, compliance and training
Health and safety should never be far from the mind of a window cleaner as it can be a hazardous and dangerous business. You will need to study health and safety very carefully and it is important to take training such as those courses provided by the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health and the Federation of Window Cleaners. It is also worth noting that if you are operating in Scotland you will need to obtain a window-cleaning license from your local council.
Insurance for window cleaning companies can be expensive, however, obtaining relevant training and qualifications and then maintaining a clean health and safety record can help to bring your premiums down a little. Buying insurance through a specialist insurance broker can also help to reduce premiums as they can often negotiate better prices with insurance companies.
Should I consider a franchise?
Franchising provides the benefit of buying into a ready-made business model, an established brand and receiving help with lead generation and marketing. There is usually more chance of a new franchise business succeeding in comparison to a traditional start-up, however many franchises require significantly higher up-front investment and some people find them to be quite restrictive. There is no shortage of window cleaning franchise opportunities, however what is included within the franchise package and the level of investment required varies massively from franchise to franchise, so make sure you take the time to investigate each opportunity thoroughly and seek out the right one for you.
Your first step
Market research is a good place to begin. Identify areas where you think there will be a high demand for window cleaners and find out if there are window-cleaning companies already operating in those areas. If there is a gap in the market then contact potential clients in those areas and gauge their potential interest in your services.