There are few things that get dirtier faster than windows—and no one likes to look through a window and see streaks, dirt, or mildew.
And because people want clean windows—but they don’t always have the time, energy, or desire to clean those windows themselves—starting a window washing business can be a lucrative opportunity for budding entrepreneurs who are looking to be their own boss (and don’t mind rolling up their sleeves and getting the job done).
But how, exactly, do you start a window cleaning business—and, more importantly, make sure that you’re starting a profitable window cleaning business?
Why You Should Consider Starting Your Own Window Cleaning Business
First things first—before we jump into how to start a window cleaning company, let’s quickly touch on why you should consider starting a window cleaning company to begin with.
Window cleaning is one of the most appealing service businesses for a variety of reasons, including:
- There is a low barrier to entry. Window cleaners don’t need any specific degree, license, or certification—and, even if you’re not an expert at window washing right now, you can ramp up and learn the basics with a few hours of research and practice.
- Startup costs are low. There are very few costs associated with starting a window cleaning company; the cleaning supplies and equipment you need to wash windows (like a squeegee, scrubber, scraper, and extension pole for those hard-to-reach window) will run you less than $150—and you can leverage free or low-cost marketing tactics (like posting on local social media sites or passing out flyers) to get the word out about your new business.
- Window washing can be (very) profitable. As mentioned, it doesn’t take a lot of money to get started in the window washing industry—and because you can charge anywhere from $35 to $50 per hour for your services (depending on your area and what type of window cleaning services you offer), you can very quickly turn a profit.
- There’s a ton of opportunity. Virtually every building—residential and commercial—has windows. And that means virtually every building in your area offers the perfect opportunity to sell your window cleaning services.
Clearly, starting a window washing company can be a solid (and profitable!) business idea to explore. But what are the steps you need to take to start your own window cleaning business, find new customers, and start booking window cleaning jobs?
Determine What Kind of Window Washing Services You’re Going to Offer
The first step in building a successful window washing business? Determining what kind of business you want to build—and, more specifically, what type of services your window washing company is going to offer.
As mentioned, because virtually every building has windows, there are a ton of opportunities—and if you want your emerging business to succeed, you need to figure out which of those opportunities you want to capitalize on.
For example, you might decide to build your business around residential window cleaning, offering your services to homeowners who want to keep their windows squeaky clean. Or maybe you decide to go after commercial clients, rotating between window washing jobs at local businesses. Or maybe you have a breadth of experience in the window washing industry and want to offer specialized services to your clients, like pressure washing or high-rise window cleaning.
The point is, there are a ton of different niches within the window washing industry—and before you dive too deep into building your window washing business, it’s important to decide which niche you’re going to pursue.
Commercial Window Cleaning vs. Residential Window Cleaning
As you’re choosing your niche, it’s also important to weigh the pros and cons of starting a commercial window washing business vs. a residential window cleaning business.
Residential Window Cleaning
If you’re just looking for a relatively low barrier to entry—which can help you ramp up your business quickly—you should definitely consider residential window cleaning.
With residential clients, there are fewer hoops to jump through; you can market your services (for example, through flyers or an ad in the paper), connect with a potential client, give them an estimate, and get started cleaning their windows the same day.
Another pro of residential window washing is that, from an hourly perspective, these jobs tend to pay more per hour; depending on where you’re launching your business, you should be able to land $40 to $50 per hour for residential window jobs. Many window cleaners also opt to charge by the pane, with the average cost per pane hovering between $4 to $8.
There are, however, a few downsides to launching a window washing business to residential clients. Generally, residential properties have fewer stories than commercial buildings (typically between one and three). That means fewer windows—so even though residential clients pay a higher hourly rate, you typically need a higher volume of clients to match the income potential of a commercial window washing business.
Residential clients may also utilize window washing services to supplement their own cleaning efforts—meaning that many clients may only want or need to hire your company on a sporadic basis.
Commercial Window Cleaning
Commercial window cleaning is a different ballgame; not only is the commercial market typically more competitive for window cleaners, but commercial clients expect a certain level of professionalism and experience from their service providers—so if you’re going after commercial clients, it’s extremely important to frame your business as a professional partner they can trust to get the job done.
Pitching and landing commercial clients can also prove challenging for new business owners. Unlike residential clients, there are usually multiple people you’ll need to speak to at the business before you connect with the ultimate decision-maker (this is especially true in larger or franchise businesses with multiple locations). In order to successfully build a window washing business in the commercial space, you need to feel comfortable walking into businesses, asking to speak to the person in charge, and cold pitching your services—which isn’t the right fit for everyone.
As mentioned, commercial window cleaning jobs often pay a lower hourly rate than residential (usually between $25 and $35 per hour). But because commercial buildings are larger and have more windows, they often take more time—which means you can make more money per client and need fewer clients in order to hit your revenue goals. Many window cleaning companies also opt to charge their commercial clients based on total square footage; for example, according to data from HomeGuide, commercial window washing services for a ~1000 square foot building typically run between $150 and $250—while buildings between 5000 and 9,999 square feet will generally bring in between $350 and $550.
Another major draw of commercial clients? Because they’re places of business, they want to keep the windows clean—but because the property doesn’t belong to them, they’re unlikely to do it themselves. That leads many commercial clients to sign contracts with window washing service providers—which will give you a steady and reliable source of income for the length of the contract.
Keep in mind that, depending on the size of the commercial buildings you target, you may need special equipment to clean all the windows (like a water-fed pole, which will allow you to wash windows at higher levels without the use of a ladder).
Bottom line? There are pros and cons to building both a residential and commercial window washing business—so before you decide which to pursue, make sure you weigh those pros and cons and move forward with a business model that feels like the best fit for you and your goals.
Create a Business Plan
Once you’ve locked in the type of window business you want to build, it’s time to draft your business plan.
Your business plan is like a roadmap for building a successful, profitable business; it lays out the steps you need to take to start your business from the ground up.
So, what does that look like? Your business plan should include:
- Business Name. What are you officially going to name your business?
- Target Market. What kind of customers are you planning to target?
- Competitor Analysis. Who are your competitors? What services are they providing? How are you going to differentiate your business from theirs—and convince your target customers to work with you over them?
- Startup Budget. As mentioned, window cleaning businesses have low startup costs—but you still need to know how much money you have and how you’re going to spend that money.
- Window Cleaning Services. What types of window cleaning/washing services are you going to offer your customers?
- Pricing Structure. How are you going to charge your customers for those services? For example, are you going to charge an hourly fee—or are you going to charge a flat rate based on the type of window cleaning job?
- Operational Strategy. How do you plan to run and operate your business on a daily basis?
- Staffing Needs. Are you going to hire additional window cleaners—and, if so, who do you need to hire (and how do you plan to pay them)?
- Marketing Strategy. How are you going to market your business and sell your window cleaning services?
- Customer Service Strategy. Customer service is always important—but it’s particularly important for service-based businesses. How are you going to create an elevated experience for your customers—and how will that experience exceed your competitors’ customer service?
- Revenue Target. What are your revenue goals for your business?
Taking the time to create a detailed business plan will help you get clear on how to start, manage, and grow your window cleaning operation—and will set you up for long-term success.
Take Care of the Business Side of Starting a Small Business
When you start any new business—including in the window cleaning industry—there are certain steps you need to take in order to legitimize your company. This includes:
- Registering your company. While you can choose to work as a sole proprietor, if you’re going to be officially launching a window cleaning company, you’ll need to register your business entity with the proper channels in your state.
- Opening a business bank account. It’s important to keep your personal finances and your business finances separate from the get-go—so before you start buying things for your business, make sure to open up a business bank account.
- Launching a website. Most customers will look you up online before they decide to work with you—so having a business website is a must. While there’s no need to design anything over the top, a single website with your business name, contact information, and a description of your services will help lend a sense of credibility to your business—and make it easier to book window cleaning jobs.
- Securing insurance. Accidents can happen when you’re washing windows; for example, you could slip and fall or you could break a window in the process of cleaning it. If that ever happens, you want to make sure you and your team are protected—which is why it’s so important to get any necessary window cleaning insurance (like liability insurance or workers’ compensation insurance).
Get Your Window Cleaning Supplies
Before you can start washing windows, you need to have any necessary equipment and cleaning supplies on hand.
Depending on what types of jobs you’re tackling, this might include:
- Cleaning Solution
- Extension Poles
- Water Fed Poles
When shopping for supplies and equipment, don’t get overzealous or buy things you don’t need; get the bare minimum you need to start tackling jobs—then, once you start bringing in more revenue, you can stock up on more supplies and equipment.
Start Marketing Your Business — and Landing Window Washing Jobs
You’ve sketched out your business plan. You’ve taken care of the legal and financial side of starting your business. You’ve secured your supplies and equipment. At this point, you’re ready to start marketing your window washing company and booking jobs.
There are a variety of ways you can market your new window washing operation, including:
- Social Media. Location-based social media apps like NextDoor—or local groups on Facebook—are a great way to get the word out about your business and connect with potential customers in your area.
- Advertising. Exploring different advertising mediums, both traditional (like flyers and ads in the local newspaper) and digital (like Facebook ads) can help get your business in front of your target customers.
- Cold Calling. If you’re trying to break into the commercial market—and aren’t afraid to pick up the phone—cold calling businesses in your area can be a good way to get your foot in the door.
- Word-Of-Mouth Marketing. Once you start booking jobs, your existing clients can be a huge help in marketing your business. Ask your new customers to leave a positive review on Yelp or Google, write a testimonial for your website, or send referrals (like family and friends in need of a window wash) your way.
Get Out There and Start Your Own Window Cleaning Business
Starting a window cleaning company can offer business owners the opportunity to build a thriving, sustainable and profitable business. And now that you know how to build a window washing business from the ground up, all that’s left to do? Get out there, launch your business, and start booking those window cleaning jobs!