Window cleaning is not rocket science. It requires a squeegee, a sponge and a bucket of soap and water. At least, that’s what I thought when my brother Kyle and I decided to start a window cleaning business in 2001.
I’ll never forget the first day. We were full of excitement with high expectations of many new clients, and the potential to become rich overnight! We put our equipment in the trunk of my Mazda 929, and hopped in the car in search of our first customer. Anticipation mounting.
As we went from business to business in various strip malls soliciting window cleaning jobs, it soon became evident that this was not going to be as easy as we thought. We felt looked down upon time and time again, and no one would give us the time of day no matter how inexpensive we offered our services.
At last! We had a businessman agree to our $6 estimate to clean his storefront windows. We were excited! We began to scrub the windows, and then squeegee them and... I could not believe how hard it was!! There were streaks everywhere! We scrubbed them again, and tried not to leave streaks. It was impossible! After an hour we finished cleaning the 2 large window panes. I’m not sure if they looked better before or after we got our hands on them, but the owner of the store was merciful, and gave us our $6.
Our excitement and egos took a hard hit. The following days and weeks were just as hard and at times disappointing. But, we didn’t quit. And this is how we established one of Arizona’s premiere window cleaning businesses from the ground up.
We began investigating how to clean windows. We made sure to get the equipment that professional window cleaners were using. We found out what type of solution they were using. And we didn’t even have YouTube! We relied on asking lots of questions to anyone with experience. And we didn’t always get good advice either. Nowadays, YouTube and online forums are your friends. There is so much technique and advice online, you’d be crazy not to check out resources such as:
I continue to research and keep up with the latest and greatest technologies that can help my business be more efficient, safe and profitable.
Once I got a handle on how to be a professional window cleaner, I had to start thinking of ways to market my business. Originally, I thought of ways to entice ME as a potential customer. It wasn’t until years later that I realized I was NOT my ideal customer!
I’m too cheap… and always looking for a deal.
Once I changed that thought process and identified who my ideal customers are, I started marketing to attract them. My customers are looking for quality service that’s convenient. They aren’t looking for the best deal in town. They’re looking for the best window cleaners, period. Once you pinpoint who your ideal customers are you can start marketing to them. For my window cleaning business, for instance, we target specific neighborhoods with flyers but we never offer coupons.
Here are some other resources to help market a window cleaning business:
Once you’ve started a window cleaning business, the next step is putting systems in place to help run it. Setting up systems has been one of the greatest investments I have made for my business. The more things that can be automated and systemized, the better off you will be.
Some of the software I use to help systemize my window cleaning business include:
Almost 20 years later, we now offer window cleaning services, sunscreen installation, dryer vent cleaning, gutter cleaning and solar panel cleaning. I’m grateful for the lessons I’ve learned, and will continue to learn as a small business owner. And I know, if I hadn’t gone through those difficult learnings, I wouldn’t be standing here as the owner of one of Arizona’s premiere window cleaning businesses.
For anyone reading this and considering starting a window cleaning business or any small business - remember - hard work, and a good attitude can make the difference. Don’t give up.
About the author: Ryan Olsen is the President of Olsen Brothers Window Cleaning and a passionate small business consultant. Ryan married his sweetheart and together they have 6 amazing children. He’s active in his community, serving on various boards and coaches high school football.