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So what can you make as a window cleaner?

07 March 2013

Julian Davies of Window Cleaning Warehouse does the maths

Julian Davies of Window Cleaning Warehouse does the maths

There is a tendency for people, especially people with salaries and company cars, living in 'executive homes' and taking annual holidays in places that impress their colleagues, to be just a shade disparaging about window cleaners.

Yet window cleaning can generate an excellent income for people who are prepared to work consistently and well and are disciplined about putting in the hours and looking for new customers.

Recommendation is a powerful sales tool for a reliable and effective window cleaner who is pleasant to everybody and smiles a lot.

So how much can a window cleaner earn? In these times of austerity, with thousands of public sector employees likely to be out of work, is window cleaning a sensible alternative to full-time employment?

Two alternative markets Window cleaners fall into two distinct groups, domestic window cleaners and commercial window cleaners. Commercial window cleaning needs a lot more investment at the outset than domestic window cleaning, but commercial window cleaners can charge a good bit more per hour, because their overheads - mainly the cost of their equipment - has to be covered. There is no reason why somebody with very little money should not start as a domestic window cleaner, do well enough at that to accumulate some capital and then move into the commercial market.

Domestic Let's start with domestic window cleaning. Most people in this sector need a small car or van, an aluminium A-frame ladder, and some smart workwear - overalls, several pairs of waterproof work gloves for cold days, maybe a cap or fleece hat for when the weather is showery or the wind is cold (or both). You will also need some really comfortable waterproof work shoes and fleece socks. You are going to be on your feet a lot! How you look is particularly important when you are knocking on doors to get customers.

When it comes to buying equipment, keep it simple at first. Spend as little as you can consistent with safety and the need to carry quite a lot of it around. The team at Window Cleaning Warehouse is used to fitting out new window cleaning businesses and will tell you what's important and what can wait until you have got quite a few customers. They will make sure you have the right kind of bucket, with a built-in sieve and squeegee holder, cloths and squeegees of different lengths, complete with spare rubbers, and a multi-tool belt.

Typically, the basic equipment (excluding a second-hand van) will cost about £300.

You will need to practise window cleaning technique a lot to get to be able to clean all the windows of an average 3-bed semi in 15 - 20 minutes, which is what experienced window cleaners do - some can do it in ten minutes.There is useful advice at: www.windowcleaningcoach.com and demonstration videos can be found on www.youtube.comCharging (say) £10 per house, which is pretty typical, that's a gross income of about £30 per hour. If you have (ideally) customers not far apart, to reduce travelling time and cost, and work from, say, 8.30am to 4 pm, with half an hour for lunch, you should be able, realistically, to clean the windows of 18 to 20 houses, and gross at least £180 per day - call it £900 per week. If you work 49 5-day weeks per year and assume that 4 weeks will be messed up by snow or other bad weather, that's an annual gross income of about £40,500, out of which you have to pay maybe £5,000 for running your van and perhaps £1,000 per year for consumables like squeegees, microfibre cloths and detergents. It is not unreasonable to project nett income before tax of £34,500 per year.

Commercial It is broadly true that,because of the Working at Height regulations, commercial window cleaning can no longer be carried out using a ladder, although an extending aluminium ladder is unavoidably necessary for odd occasions. So, for commercial work, you need at least one extendable water-fed pole, some attachments to enable the pole to get a brush or squeegee around obstacles (take a close look at the superlative Unger gooseneck system) and a source of purified water.

Usually best in the early stages of building up a commercial business is one or more mobile pure water trolleys, like the various models of the Hydrocart pure water system from Window Cleaning Warehouse.

The equipment for setting up in commercial window cleaning will cost a minimum of £4,000,and more realistically, £5,000,excluding a larger van. This assumes that you are that you are equipping a singleoperator business.

On the other hand,hourly rates in commercial work are upwards of £40 per hour and typically about £50 per hour,because of the higher set-up and equipment costs,so there is the potential for substantially greater earnings and for expansion by reinvesting earnings in more operators.