How to Start a Window Cleaning Business

There will always be a demand for a window cleaning business. Window cleaning is just not a popular chore for busy home or business owners. It’s a very good business for getting a start as an entrepreneur. The start-up costs are low; you can use profits to pay for better equipment. In fact, established window cleaning businesses may not be seeking the “smaller” jobs, opening the door – or windows – to entrepreneurs.

A dedicated sole proprietor can make from $30,000 to $70,000 a year. Read on for a full guide about how to start a window cleaning business.

The Window Cleaning Industry

The window cleaning industry has seen steady demand due to the constant need for clean windows in residential and commercial buildings.

One of the biggest growing services in the window cleaning industry is the cleaning of solar panels, both residential and commercial. The large commercial arrays can become dirty and dusty, which affects their ability to process sunlight. d

Additionally, the growth in the construction industry, especially with high-rise buildings and large commercial complexes, has expanded opportunities.

Trends include adopting eco-friendly cleaning solutions, water-fed pole systems, and using drones for window cleaning inspections.

What is a Window Cleaning Business?

The types of services offered can be specific or include all of the following:

  • Basic window cleaning (interior and exterior)
  • Screen cleaning
  • Track and sill cleaning
  • Hard water stain removal
  • Skylight and mirror cleaning
  • High-rise window cleaning

Why Window Cleaning Services Are in Demand

There are many reasons why window cleaning services are needed.

First, window cleaning is good for the windows! Regular cleaning prevents buildups that can damage windows.

Regular window cleaning in interior spaces will help reduce mold and dust.

When the windows are clean, the overall appearance of a building improves. Also, the mood of the people in the building can improve, as clean windows improve natural light penetration, enhancing people’s moods and energy efficiency.

Steps to Start Your Window Cleaning Business

If you’re ready to jump into your own window-washing venture, there are some important business steps to take first. Below is a full guide on how to start a business in the window cleaning industry.

Residential Window Cleaning vs. Commercial Window Cleaning Customers

how to start a window cleaning business

Your first step is to decide your area of focus -residential or commercial. Many entrepreneurs in the window cleaning business get their start on the residential side. But both residential and commercial window cleaning businesses have their own pros and cons:

  • Residential Pros: Typically easier to start with, lower entry costs, less equipment required, and frequent repeat business.
  • Residential Cons: Can be seasonal, price sensitivity, more travel between jobs.
  • Commercial Pros: Larger contracts, consistent work, higher revenue per job.
  • Commercial Cons: Requires more specialized equipment, increased liability, and more competition.
AspectResidential Window WashingCommercial Window Washing
Pros- Typically easier to start with.
- Lower entry costs.
- Less equipment required.
- Frequent repeat business.
- Larger contracts.
- Consistent work.
- Higher revenue per job.
Cons- Can be seasonal.
- Price sensitivity.
- More travel between jobs.
- Requires more specialized equipment.
- Increased liability.
- More competition.
Target ClientsHomeowners, landlords, real estate agencies.Business owners, property managers, corporations, government agencies.
Job SizeTypically smaller; might involve cleaning windows of a house or apartment.Larger scale; can range from small storefronts to large skyscrapers.
FrequencyJobs might be more sporadic, with seasonal peaks.More steady, especially with contractual agreements for regular maintenance.
Pricing ModelOften priced per window or by the hour.Typically priced based on square footage, complexity, or contract basis.

Drafting a Window Cleaning Business Plan

how to start a window cleaning business

Creating a business plan tailored specifically for a window cleaning business means focusing on aspects unique to the industry while also including all the foundational elements of a comprehensive business plan. Here’s a guide to help you tailor a business plan for a window cleaning business:

  1. Executive Summary:
    • Business Concept: Describe the core idea behind your window cleaning business. Is it a solo operation, a franchise, a partnership?
    • Mission Statement: Explain why your window cleaning service stands out. Focus on aspects like eco-friendly products, customer service, or specialized offerings.
  2. Business Objectives:
    • List short-term and long-term goals, such as acquiring a specific number of clients in the first year or expanding into commercial cleaning within five years.
  3. Industry Analysis:
    • Detail the current state of the window cleaning industry. Highlight trends, growth rates, and any niche areas like high-rise window cleaning or historical building maintenance.
  4. Target Market:
    • Identify your primary customer segments. Are you targeting residential homeowners, commercial properties, or specialized sectors like hotels or historic buildings?
    • Describe the demographics and needs of your target clients.
  5. Services Offered:
    • List all services you’ll provide interior/exterior window cleaning, screen cleaning, high-rise services, etc.
    • Mention any add-on or premium services.
  6. Pricing Strategy:
    • Detail your pricing structure, taking into account competitor rates, your costs, and the perceived value of your service.
    • Discuss any discounts or loyalty programs.
  7. Marketing and Sales Strategy:
    • Describe how you’ll attract clients. This can range from door-to-door marketing, local ads, online marketing, or partnerships with local businesses.
    • Emphasize any unique selling points (USPs) specific to your business.
  8. Operational Plan:
    • Detail daily operations, from client acquisition to the actual cleaning process.
    • Describe any equipment and window washing tools needed, including any plans for future upgrades.
    • Discuss any software or systems you’ll use for scheduling, invoicing, or CRM.
  9. Management and Organization:
    • If you have a team, detail the structure.
    • Describe roles and responsibilities, emphasizing any industry-specific roles like high-rise specialists.
  10. Licenses, Permits, and Regulations:
  • List any specific licenses or permits needed for a window cleaning business in your area.
  • Discuss industry-specific regulations, like safety protocols for high-rise cleaning.
  1. Risk Management:
  • Highlight potential risks in the window cleaning industry, such as weather-related disruptions or safety concerns.
  • Detail how you plan to mitigate these risks through insurance, safety training, etc.
  1. Financial Projections:
  • Create detailed financial forecasts, emphasizing equipment costs, recurring expenses (cleaning solutions, fuel, etc.), and projected income.
  • If seeking funding, provide clear ROI projections.
  1. Appendix:
  • Include any supplementary material like market research data, competitor price analyses, sample marketing materials, or detailed equipment lists.

By tailoring each section to the specifics of the window cleaning industry and your unique business approach, you’ll create a business plan that not only guides your venture but also attracts potential investors or partners.

Choosing the Right Equipment for Window Cleaning

how to start a window cleaning business

There are basic items you’ll need for both residential and commercial cleaning. It’s important to use top-notch equipment – if you skimp on equipment, you’ll pay more in the long run, because substandard equipment will make the job take longer.

  • Squeegees – make sure these are high-quality to eliminate any streaking.
  • Buckets
  • Scrubbers – Different windows, and also different businesses, may require different types of scrubbers. A downtown office building may require a soft scrubber, but a busy industrial park warehouse may need a stronger-bristled scrubber to remove dust and grime.
  • Cleaning solutions
  • Ladders and water-fed poles – Good ladders are key for safety reasons. Water-fed poles are a relatively newer piece of equipment, pricey but time-saving.
  • Safety harnesses and ropes (for high-rise) – Follow OSHA guidelines when purchasing this equipment.
  • Drone – to do inspections, especially on high rises. You should know, however, that if a drone is used for business purposes, you’ll need a commercial pilot’s license specifically for drones.
SqueegeesUsed for wiping off the cleaning solution from windows to ensure a streak-free finish.- Opt for high-quality to prevent streaking.
- Consider different sizes for various window dimensions.
BucketsContainers to hold and transport cleaning solution.- Durable with a sturdy handle.
- Should be of a size that's easy to carry but big enough to dip a scrubber.
ScrubbersUsed for applying the cleaning solution and scrubbing the window surface.- Soft-bristled scrubbers for delicate windows or office buildings.
- Strong-bristled scrubbers for industrial areas or warehouses with more grime.
Cleaning SolutionsLiquids or solvents used to clean the windows.- Environmentally friendly options.
- Effective in removing dirt, grease, and grime.
- Safe for different window types.
Ladders & Water-Fed PolesLadders provide access to higher windows. Water-fed poles allow cleaning of high windows from the ground.- Sturdy and stable ladders for safety.
- Water-fed poles, though costly, can save time and improve safety as they reduce the need to climb.
Safety Harnesses and RopesSafety equipment for workers cleaning windows on high-rise buildings.- Must adhere to OSHA guidelines.
- Regular inspections for wear and tear.
- Ensure workers are trained in their use.
DronesUsed for inspecting windows, especially on high-rises, before cleaning.- Requires a commercial pilot's license for drones when used for business.
- Ensure it has a good camera quality for detailed inspections.
- Be aware of local regulations about drone flying in urban areas.

Pricing Your Window Cleaning Services

how to start a window cleaning business

Pricing your window cleaning services correctly is crucial to the success of your business. Here are some tips to help you set the right prices:

  1. Market Research:
    • Research what competitors in your area are charging. This will give you a baseline. While you don’t have to match their prices exactly, being aware of the market rate can help you remain competitive.
  2. Cost Calculation:
    • Before setting a price, calculate all your expenses, including equipment, supplies, transportation, insurance, marketing, and labor. Make sure your price covers these costs and leaves room for a reasonable profit.
  3. Pricing Models:
    • Per Pane: Charging per window pane is common. This model can be simple for customers to understand.
    • Hourly Rate: Some opt for charging by the hour, especially for complex jobs. However, this can be problematic if you work unusually fast or slow.
    • Flat Rate: Offer a flat rate for houses or businesses of a certain size. This can be easier for marketing and for customers to understand.
    • Tiered Pricing: Offer different pricing levels based on the complexity or scope of the job. For example, ground floor vs. high-rise or basic clean vs. deep clean.
  4. Consider Value-Added Services:
    • If you’re offering additional services, such as screen cleaning or track cleaning, consider whether these will be part of the base price or if they’ll incur additional charges.
  5. Factor in Travel Time:
    • If you’re covering a large area, consider charging a bit more for clients that are further away to account for travel time and costs.
  6. Discounts and Promotions:
    • Offering discounts for first-time customers, recurring contracts, or referrals can help you attract more business. However, ensure these discounts won’t put you in a loss.
  7. Be Transparent:
    • Whatever your pricing structure, be clear and transparent with your clients. Unexpected charges can lead to unhappy customers.
  8. Regularly Review Your Pricing:
    • As your experience grows, your efficiency might increase. Similarly, your costs might rise over time due to inflation or increased expenses. Regularly review and adjust your prices as necessary.
  9. Consultation and Quotes:
    • Offering free consultations or quotes can be a good approach. This allows you to assess the job firsthand and provide a more accurate estimate, reducing the risk of underpricing.
  10. Factor in Seasonality:
  • If window cleaning demand in your area is seasonal, consider how this will impact your pricing. You might charge slightly more during peak seasons or offer off-season discounts.
  1. Build Value:
  • Instead of being the cheapest, focus on offering great value. This can include superior service, longer-lasting results, or added benefits. Customers are often willing to pay a bit more for noticeably better quality.

Remember, the key is to find a balance where your prices are competitive, cover your costs, and allow for profit, while also reflecting the quality and value of the service you provide.

Marketing and Branding Your Own Window Cleaning Business

how to start a window cleaning business

If you’re wondering, “what is marketing for a window washing business?” here’s a guide. A well-designed website and an active social media presence are keys to any business marketing plan.

For window cleaners, one of the best ways to advertise your business is while on the job. Make sure you provide signage (of course, with the customer’s permission) that includes your logo, the name of the company and contact information. This information should also be on your vehicle.

Passers-by will see that a window washing business is on the job, and it will be easy for them to find out what company is performing the work.

Also, think of unique ways to promote your business. For example, can you provide a free cleaning service at the local library, animal shelter (those nose prints!) or non-profit? Although you won’t be paid for the work, you’ll get invaluable word-of-mouth advertising and a public relations boost.

Licenses, Permits, and Insurance for a Window Cleaner

how to start a window cleaning business

Here are the basics for what you’ll need, from a general business license to small business insurance:

  • Business License
  • Permits vary by location (some cities require permits for sidewalk or street obstruction)
  • General liability insurance
  • Business Owners Policy (BOP) – You can save money by bundling. A BOP may bundle your general liability insurance with commercial vehicle insurance.
  • Worker’s compensation insurance (if you have employees)
  • Vehicle insurance (if you use a business vehicle)

Hiring and Training Your Window Cleaner Team

how to start a window cleaning business

The optimal time to hire for your window cleaning business is when the demand for your services surpasses your capacity to deliver timely and quality service. This could manifest as consistently booked schedules, turning away potential clients, or feeling rushed during jobs. Hiring when there’s evident demand ensures that the new personnel will be immediately productive and helps in optimizing your ROI.

Look for candidates who have a mix of the right attitude and some relevant experience. While window cleaning techniques can be taught, attributes such as punctuality, attention to detail, and a good work ethic are inherent. Prior experience in window cleaning or similar fields can be beneficial, but it’s equally important to prioritize those who can communicate well with clients, handle equipment responsibly, and work safely at heights. Remember, the right person not only represents your work quality but also your brand reputation.

To guarantee uniformity in service quality:

  1. Standardized Training: Create a comprehensive training program that includes both theoretical and practical elements. This should cover safety protocols, equipment usage, cleaning techniques, and customer service standards. Pair new hires with experienced workers for on-the-job training.
  2. Quality Control Checks: Regularly inspect the work of your team, especially during their initial months. This ensures quality and reinforces the importance of maintaining high standards.
  3. Feedback Mechanism: Encourage clients to provide feedback and make it easy for them to do so. This could be through comment cards, online reviews, or direct conversations. Regularly review this feedback with your team, celebrating the positives and addressing areas of improvement.
  4. Continued Professional Development: The window cleaning industry, like any other, evolves over time. New equipment, cleaning solutions, and techniques may emerge. Ensure that your team is always up-to-date by investing in periodic workshops or training sessions.

By strategically hiring and consistently training your team, you’ll meet the increasing demands of your window cleaning business and ensure that every client receives the top-notch service they expect.

Safety Protocols for Window Cleaning

how to start a window cleaning business

Keep in mind that working in a wet environment is a part of a window cleaning business. You’ll be sponging, spraying, squeegeeing…….so workers should wear proper non-skid-sole footwear.

Always ensure that ladders are stable. The feet of the ladder must be secured and kept from sliding or twisting. Employees must be trained on the proper ways to use a ladder, especially extension ladders.

Fall prevention systems are required for high-rise jobs. Again, employees must be trained on applying proper safety precautions, especially for high-rise window cleaning.

Tips from Professionals: Ensuring Success in Your Window Washing Business

If you’re an entrepreneur starting with a few residential clients, Garry Jalowka from This Old House has a step-by-step guide for cleaning:

1. Fill bucket with clean water and add a small amount of your cleaning agent.

2. Wipe down the exterior window frame using a wet terrycloth rag.

3. Dip a window scrubber into the water bucket and then wring out the excess water.

4. Clean the glass with the scrubber to remove all dust and dirt.

5. Wipe the window glass dry with a rubber squeegee. Hold the edge of the squeegee at approximately 30 degrees to the glass, then make a horizontal pass across the window.

6. Use a terrycloth rag to wipe the squeegee dry after every pass.

7. If you’d prefer to wipe down vertically, start by using a dry cloth or the end of the squeegee to create a dry edge along the top of the window glass.

8. Next, place the squeegee on the dry edge and pull straight down, cleaning the glass.

9. Use a microfiber towel to wipe down the glass one last time.

10. To clean windows with divided lights (panes), use the scrubber first to wash the glass, and then squeegee the glass clean. Only this time, hold a terrycloth rag against the bottom end of the squeegee to catch water and protect the wood muntins.

11. When cleaning windows from inside the house, drape a canvas drop cloth on the floor to catch any water.

12. Pour cleaning solution (water mixed with liquid dishwashing detergent) into a plastic spray bottle, then spray the interior surfaces of the window.

13. Immediately after spraying, clean the glass with a terrycloth rag and a quick wipe down with the microfiber towel.

Once you’ve got the technique down pat, focus of the business end. Look for add-on services to provide, such as cleaning gutters outside or light fixtures such as chandeliers inside. Ask customers to provide a reference for your window washing business, and follow up with a note or text thanking them for the work.

FAQ: How to Start a Window Cleaning Business

Is the window washing business seasonal?

For exterior work, yes, it can be seasonal in many areas of the country. But there is always a need for interior work.

How much can a good window cleaner make?

Varies widely based on location, number of clients, and efficiency, but a dedicated sole proprietor can make between $30,000 to $70,000 or more annually, depending on these factors.

How profitable is a Window Cleaning Company?

A larger company with multiple employees and contracts can generate revenue into the hundreds of thousands or even millions annually, but this also comes with increased expenses and operational complexities.

How can window cleaning businesses expand their services?

An alert window cleaner can always see ways to make more money by adding additional services.

You’ve got the ladders and the equipment. When you’re doing an estimate, or when you’re on the job, see if you can add extra services such as gutter cleaning. skylight cleaning and solar panel cleaning.

On the interior of a buiiding, possible add on jobs could include light fixture and chandelier cleaning, for both commercial and residential clients.

Is specialized training needed for high-rise window cleaning?

Absolutely. This is a must, due to the extra element of danger due to the height of the work. Specialized training is needed to properly use the following special equipment:

  • Bosun’s chair
  • Rope ascent and descent systems
  • Powered platforms and scaffolds
  • Anchor systems
  • Safety harnesses and fall arrest devices

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Lisa Price Lisa Price is a staff writer for Small Business Trends and has been a member of the team for 4 years. She has a B.A. in English with a minor in journalism from Shippensburg State College (Pennsylvania). She is also a freelance writer and previously worked as a newspaper circulation district manager and radio station commercial writer. In 2019, Lisa received the (Pennsylvania) Keystone Award.