How to get residential customers for your new window cleaning business

How to Start A new Window Cleaning Business and Get Residential Customers - Full Guide

Anyone who has started as window cleaning business knows that it isn’t that difficult.  But for anyone who has never started

a window cleaning business, there must be lots of things that everyone else seems to knows how to do but you don’t. 

This usually results in the person never getting started.  Shame really because the only thing that is stopping them is the missing piece of the jigsaw.  So here I am aiming to cover as much as possible to help you to get started.  If you still have questions then please ask in the comments box below.



Article Index

Setting Up A company
VAT On Cleaning Services
Window Cleaning Business Plan
Window Cleaning Business Earnings
How to get residential window cleaning customers
Window Cleaning Marketing Ideas
Window Cleaning Business Start up kit
Invoicing an Round Management.

How to set up a window cleaning business in the uk

In the UK you have a choice of how to set up your new business.  At this point I must point out that whilst I have been in business myself for many years, I am not a qualified accountant or lawyer.  I am not advising you and I do not except responsibility should you choose to act on any information that you read in this article as it is based on nothing more than my own experience.  Sorry, had to get that in!  So as I was saying you can set up a limited company or act as a sole trader or partnership.  As a limited company the company is a bit like a person in its own right.  As well as having its own name, the company can have its own bank account , build up its own no claims bonus with insurance  companies and even own things like vehicles and equipment just like a real person.  If you set your business up as a limited company then you can be employed by the company and take dividends, these are payments of profit.  A limited company can be set up by anyone however you may like to ask an accountant to do this for you.  At the time of writing an accountant will charge a few hundred pounds including fees he will have to pay to companies house.

 If you are a sole trader, then you are the business.  So if you set up a bank account for the business then it will be something like ‘Bob Jones T/A (trading as) Aqua Window Cleaning.  Bob Jones would be responsible for the money at the bank.  Bob Jones would own any assets of the business and personally insure vehicles.  There is a good explanation of the difference between the two ways of setting ups a business here.

VAT on cleaning services.

Another point to make is about VAT.  At the time of writing, you only have to be VAT registered if you are turning over £85,000 or more in sales, that’s a lot of windows.  You can choose to be VAT registered if you are below this level.   Most window cleaning businesses dealing with residential customers in the UK are not VAT registered, so if you are a house that you want to charge £15.00 for you will now need to charge £18.00. to make the same money.  This can make you expensive to the residential customer.  If you deal only with commercial customers then they can off set the VAT against their own bill so this fine.  It would then become an advantage to you as you could claim back and VAT that you have to pay out of the business on purchases.  It all sounds a bit complicated so again talk to your accountant to find out what is best for you.


Window Cleaning Business Plan

Do you need a business plan before you start?  If so how do you do one?

You should only be required to put together a formal business plan if you intend to borrow money from the bank to start your new business.  If you do then the business advisor at the bank will tell you what needs to be in the business plan and they will check it over for you before they send it away of a decision.

If you don’t intend to borrow money, then in theory you don’t need a formal business plan, however you should do an informal business plan.  Don’t worry about getting this wrong as it is only for yourself.  It is best to get an A4 pad or some A4 paper, just to get clear in your own mind what you are doing.  You don’t need to get coloured pens and make it all fancy.  Just wright down what you intend to do in your business.  Some things you may want to write down are

Who are your customers going to be.
 Don’t just answer “everyone” or  “people with windows” as this won’t help you at all.  Decide if your customer are going to be residential  or business, then are you going to target estate agents for end of tenancy window cleans etc.  

Window Cleaning Business Earnings


How much money are you going to make? When I started I cleaned my own windows and found that it took just under twenty minutes.  At the time I know that window cleaners in my area charged about £10 for houses of my size.  I knew that I could make £30 per hour.  I took off a bit for travelling and chatting and thought that £20 to £25 per hour was a good target.  A bit of simple maths using how many hours and days I would work soon reviled a target for how much I could make a month before costs and tax.

A business plan can really help you to come up with good ideas and get clear in your own mind.  Some people use something called SWOT analysis.  You can read about it here.


How to get residential window cleaning customers

There are several proven ways to get new customers.  Choosing what works best for you can be judged by ROI or Return On Investment.    So the first thing that you need to know is how much it costs to get a new customer.  In terms of advertising this would be the price of the advert.  You then divide this number by the number of new customers that you get from the advert. If you choose to knock door to door then this would be your hourly rate divided by the number of customers that you get.  If you run a website then this would be the price of the website and the time that you invest in it divided by the number of customers.

This means that what works for me, may now work for you. For example if you have lots of time in available in the evening and maybe even a friend or partner that can help, then door knocking may be best for you.  However if you only have time available where you could be cleaning windows then any time spent door knocking would be costing you. Or if you have a particular ability with the internet then this would save you paying expensive experts, but only if the work doesn’t divert you from cleaning windows.

Window Cleaning Marketing Ideas


Below is a list of ways that you may be able to find residential customers to window clean.

Internet

A  website is a great way to promote your business. Do consider though that the website is only good if the customers can find it.  Pay per click advertising can be expensive if you don’t know what you are doing, SEO specialists can charge even more. There are also many charlatans in the online industry ready to take your cash.

Social media

Social media can work well but again you need to know how it works best for business. Fortunately there are lots of online tutorials that can guide you.  Worth checking even if you think that you know what you doing.

Test the effectiveness of local newspaper advertising

Some day a thing of the past, however if you can get it at the right price then you may find that you have very low competition. Try using a  discount code to help manage response and measure the return on investment.

Advertising In Parish Magazines

I used to live in a small village.  One day a small magazine came through my door, actually magazine may be a bit of an exaggeration.  It was 8 sheets of A4 paper folded and stapled in the middle to form a 16 page news sheet.  It was put together by the local church.  I phoned the number for advertising and found that there was a waiting list to advertise which I joined.  They called me back a few months later and told me that there was a space and that it would be £30 for a year, that’s 4 issues so £7.50 per issue but the lady told me that it had to be paid in one lump sum.  I paid my money and sent them an advert.  I knew when the next issue was published as I got about five phone calls per day for a week and every call turned into a new customer.  that’s about 25 customers for £7.50.  Some would overlook a publication like this but from my short story here you can see that there can be value in publications like this.

Directories

Directories like Yell and Thompson Local can be quite expensive.  Most offer a free listing, but if you want to be at the top of the pile then you need to pay.  I once paid for a sponsored listing.  It was about £800 back in about 2009.  I have to say though that the return on investment was good mainly due to the lifetime value of some of the customers that found my business using this listing, some are still using my business new, ten years on and have as a result spent tens of thousands of pounds.


Window Cleaning Business Start up kit

BucketView This Product On Amazon
Squeegee View This Product On Amazon
Applicator View This Product On Amazon
Scraper View This Product On Amazon
Microfibre Cloths View This Product On Amazon
Belt View This Product On Amazon
Bucket On Belt View This Product On Amazon
Steps View our article - Best Window Cleaning Ladders
Window Cleaning Laddert View our article - View This Product On Amazon


I have noticed a big change over the years in window cleaners investing in equipment.  Some are spending thousands of pounds.  This may be due to competition with the increase of businesses selling window cleaning equipment.  I have put together a short list of the equipment that I feel you need to start.  This equipment should cost you under £2000 for everything you need.

Traditional


Water Fed Pole System (to make water at home and transfer to the vehicle)

Filter System & DI
Tank
Sub Pump
Water Butt
TDS Metre

For in the Van

Baffled Tank
Pump
Controller
Strainer
Hose Reel
22ft Pole and brush
window cleaners Ladder

Invoicing And Round Management


Tracking and invoicing customers can be a time consuming process.  All that you need to start out is a folder and an invoice/receipt book.  As your business grows then you may want to invest in a round management system.  This will keep track of your customers, make a note of who has and hasn’t paid and also prompt you to go and clean them next week/month/quarter or what ever it may be.  Most of these systems are online these days and you can pay monthly to use the system.  Most are also available via a smart phone app so you can update the system whilst you are out and about.  Some of the tools themselves have build in invoicing, however you can also find some very good invoicing tools that are smart phone compatible if you want your invoice programme to stand alone from the round management system.

The advantages of these systems are mostly time saving and will pay for themselves a they will enable you to spend your time cleaning windows instead of doing paperwork.  It also looks professional when you clean windows at a commercial company and before you leave the car park you invoice arrives in the email in box of the accounts office whilst the window is still wet.

Frequently asked questions

If you have any questions then please add them to the comments section and I will update this article to share the question and answer.