2009... Year of the lowballer?

Tony in my area alot of guys get into the commercial side in the spring. Winter here though is job security its funny they dont seem to last past November. :smiley:

I hear you Mike! I am replacing the commercial I used to have w/ a monthly house route. I have about 20 and when I get to 40-50 I’ll be happy. That way I can have some income thru the winter and avoid dealing w/ the lowballers.

Hey Tony, I have been thinking aboute getting a route type thing going for my residentials myself. Are you offering a really good deal for these type clients to be a monthly service? I was thinking on the lines of large foyer and great room windows. Some would not opt for basic window cleaning just may do the big ones because they cant cover them. We have a handful of residentials that are monthly. Would just like to get more.
Steve

I had success with this too… sadly I did not push it enough.

I had printed material I handed to every customer explaining monthly/bi-monthly exterior cleanings. Some would sign up on the spot and others would call later. It cost nothing to advertise since I already paid for the customer and I am standing there anyway.

I will push it ULTRA hard this year and see what happens. If anyone tries this make sure the information you hand them looks nice. Make sure it looks like something that is valuable.

Make sure the offer seems good

You would be amazed with what an hour of layout and $10 worth of stationary can do for your business.

My per pane price on the monthly is about half of normal. I find they jump at it and often have the ins done more often as well because they have clean outs.

I have decided to go up in price not down. When I met StreakFreeSD on the street one day dropping cards he said to me that he would rather work a job that pays more than working several jobs that add up to the one job. That makes allot of sense because you make the same amount with the one job and you save time. Time to promote your business more and you build a customer base at a price you really want.

Window Cleaning is not Walmart. I have noticed that my customers are not hurting for cash. Even in this economy the wealthy are still wealthy. I have noticed that I do not get calls for window cleaning from poorer areas of town. No offense to the poorer people, I am one of them who is trying to be more wealthy.

So charge what you feel you are worth, there will always be people who have the cash to get their windows cleaned at the price you want.

I think I’ve had this conversation w/ another Cali wcer. Here in the Midwest we have a bad winter. If we want to have income in those months we can either develop a commercial route or a monthly house route. Either of these routes (due to their repetition) means we will make less money more often. It’s a bit of a trade off but if it keeps me in food and fuel thru the slow time then it’s worth it.

The guy who taught me to clean windows was from Salt Lake and it gets freezing cold their in the winter. He did windows year round. He said that they cleaned windows with window washing fluid for cars, during the winter months because it had a lower freezing point. Do you clean in the winter months?

Also allot of window washers hang Christmas lights during the winter months and make more money doing that then they do washing windows.

I guess you could always add snow blowing and ice removal to your services.

I would assume that now that the gas prices are down, so should your operating costs…not just for thevehicles but also for the pressure washer too. So you should be able to maintain prices and actually make more this year provided your customer base stays the same. As for the winter…i use washer fluid myself. I like dish soap and will use it with washer fluid if its not too cold out. I tried the gleam stuff and didnt really like it…i felt it wasnt scrubbing anything…just getting it wet so to speak. As for the guy who said he likes resi…i do too…i can make more with resi then commercial im just better and faster at it…not hard to pull down 7-900 a day doing resi, and less chance of a guy low balling me…all this i speak of when i was working for a company…im trying to get mine up and going…another month i should be good to go.

I most likely wont raise my rates this year vs last year. My guys are perfectly fine with the whole deal ( employees are strictly commission only). I have most of my accounts up to par when it comes to price for now. I made the mistake years ago of not raising my rates over a period of about 4-5 years. Talk about sticker shock for them. Most understood and quite a few didnt understand why I hadnt done it for so many years. It was hell playing catch up.
I may look at things this summer to gauge how we are doing. If gas stays reasonible in 2009- I will most likely leave prices alone. I will be spending a crazy amount for marketing this year versus any other year though.

Steve

I plan to move forward as usuall. I will raise my prices 2% as usuall, and I will offer discounts for new customers. I always give my oldest customers freebies tho, like an interior window cleaning with the exterior, or pressure washing the back patio…it only takes a few minutes and I will schedule it on a day when I can be there a few minutes longer. Every year at the end of the year, almost all of my customers get gift cards for starbucks or hometown buffet.

We ARE IN A DEPRESSION…add services…but if you cut prices its real hard to justify getting them back up when things are better.

Wow! Thats one heck of a freebie! I Hope they dont get too used to that one! Unless you are talking on the storefront side of things. I could never do that in residential.

Steve

Well its not like it would be in a 5000 square foot house either! Something small. In a 5000 square foot home they are already paying upwards of 600 bucks, I dont mind pressure washing the front walkway, or maybe a sidewalk at the side of the house that I noticed or even repair a screen (A screen not 4 or 5) if I seen one that bothered me…you know…little stuf like that. They just need to know that its a freebie…I have never had someone get used to it…although one of my commercial accounts wanted about 3 hours worth of pressure washing when I offered only about 20 minutes!!! That was alittle awkward…and I ended up doing it too. Yeah, I know. I heard it from the wife too.

Still working on that one.

I get cha. Nothin wrong with that. Little perks will get you coming back. I remember one time I was doing a residential and my office girl forgot to put that the chandelier was supposed to be cleaned. Finished up the job with little time to spare to make it to the next job. The lady said" you didnt clean my chandelier did you?" I said no ma’am, it wasnt on the job order. She got upset so I told her I was pressed for time and that I would dust it off for her free of charge. This thing had about 40-50 beveled plates going around it (probably an hour to an hour 1/2 job to do it right). I used a feather duster and did a decent job in about 10 minutes. She was happy about the freebie and I was happy to get outta there. Now, everytime I go back to that job, she always brings that chandelier up. “all it really needs is a dusting- you did that for free the last time. How about this time?” I had to explain to her that I did it as a favor last time because I was short on time. She didnt like that answer too well. She expected me to do it for free on every visit. Jeesh!

I think many companies are reacting to the doom and gloom they hear on TV. So far this year, with the season not even beginning, most of the mobile cleaners, pressure washers, window guys etc have reported that their phones are ringing.

The only indicator that you are priced too high is a dramatic falloff on your closure rate. Even then, lowering prices is a slippery slope. There is always a guy behind you willing to work for less. For my service business I prefer to cater to clientele that wants hassle free, high end work. If my numbers fall off, I would rather invest in additional marketing for 10% of the additional gross revenue than I would drop my prices 10%. Once you drop your prices, its hard to raise them back. In addition, the referrals you get may also be people buying on price. That’s a rough customer base. They shop you for a nickel and have little loyalty.

Ken,
I totally agree. My prices spiked last year due to fuel costs. No one really complained. I have asked new clients if they got other quotes and how ours compared with them. MOST will tell me that I was a little higher than the other guys but they felt more comfortable with the quote and how it was presented to them. People (especially high end home owners) are skeptical to getting a lower bid. If you come across as the authority in window cleaning, its easy for them to choose you over “write the price on the back of a business card window cleaner”. Presentation and delivering 100% guaranteed results is huge!

One thing that we all have to remember this year is that (Im speaking for the residential market) our clients want clean windows! They arent going out buying extravagant cars or homes. They do love to keep what they have in pristine condition. What we charge is a drop in the bucket compared to other material things they want/desire. The weather here is in the 70’s and my phone is ringing steady.

I hope that to be true. People are barely going out to eat dinner now so it will be interesting to see how we are effected.

Spending is down across the board and we will take a hit, how much is what I am wondering…