Advice on challenging customers

So last year I got my WFP, I have a love hate relationship with. It cleans dust off nicely but not so much stuck on material…besides the point.

I made a deal with customer A last year to WFP their new small bungalow 3 times a summer as they are particular on clean windows… no big deal. I said I was thinking about trying Resi route and I could do it for $100- shouldn’t take more than an hour especially that often.

Customers B and C call who are neighbors of customer A looking for the same deal.

Great, 3 small bungalows side by side shouldn’t take more than a morning for $300 3 times a year. Seems great to me.

First clean:

Customer B first- they have a large sunroom addition on the back yay. Then “this pure water system is not working for us it’s leaving a film. Customer A is not going to be happy with this quality, this won’t fly with that house” Finally for finish and move on.

In between cleans some random neighbour in a telsa shows up and grills me as to what I’m doing and why I’m drinking a beer ( it was a coke) and quizzes me as to who the occupants are. He rudely moves on after I answer him.

Customer C - no issues, they aren’t home.

Customer A- no issues other than apparently I missed a window.

Fast forward to the next cleaning.

Customer B- “we don’t want that pure water this time”. I double the price. “Ok we can try it again”

Customer C- “we already did ours sorry”

Customer A- “no problem but can I just pay you the next time you come clean”

I have never had any issues with customers before but this street has been very challenging for me.

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Seems some details are missing. We can’t assess your pricing, you need to dial that in to know if you are leaving money on the table or not.

WFP isn’t always good for first cleans, and have no idea what “left a film” means. Did you scrub real well, then rinse the whole window real well? Stuck on debris likely means nose to glass to get it cleaned properly. $100 first clean sight unseen? How many windows and screens did you count to get that price?

No work is performed unless payment is discussed. If they need a month to get the money together then offer to do it then, payment due at time of service.

Arrogant neighbor in a Tesla - excuse yourself, you have work to do.

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The houses are pretty new bungalows, not very many windows shouldn’t take more than an hour. There was no film, it was inside the house but they insisted their Norwex clothes cleaned flawlessly. No screens, just glass. Customer A insists on pure water while customer B says it leaves a film lol. Apparently things did not end well with their last window cleaner which was a bit of a red flag. Apparently it was a quality issue that ended in a heated conversation.

It’s just communication. If they say there is a film, meet with them and show them the film is on the inside. Problem solved there.

If you are new to the business you may feel less confident but you need to push through that. You are the professional. You have made an agreement to clean the outside of the windows and whatever method you choose is really up to you as long as the windows are clean after.

If they aren’t home when you clean just schedule a walk through that evening to go through whatever problems they have. Ask them to get a punch list of “unacceptables” and address each one. I have generally found it’s a lack of knowledge on the customer side. i.e. broken seals, thinking the insides don’t need to be cleaned, hard water stains etc. After an explanation addressing each of their punch list items you can decide if they are worth it.

I don’t ever want to be in a situation with a customer where I feel like I owe them something, it’s always a 2 way street. I provide a service for a price that I am comfortable with. I complete the service and they pay the price. Negotiations are very rare to non-existent in my business. The only two I can remember are jobs that were at my “minimum” and I took $10-20 off. Both customers were small homes and seniors. Other than that, the price is the price.

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Route is only worth doing if you can bang them out one after another, over and over again, reliably, with fast collection and zero headaches.

If these people are not that, then dump them and go do a house for twice the price

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The only thing I’d contribute is: never charge a different price for different techniques. I charge my customers the same price whether I go trad or WFP - they’re paying for clean windows, not for how I get them clean. When I take my van to the shop, they don’t give me different prices based on whether they use the lift or get on their back to look under my vehicle.

Just my 2 cents, but it helps me a lot to remain consistent in my pricing. In my opinion, that kind of got you in a difficult position where you then had to price adjust for needing to go trad.

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I agree in principle, however, if you told your mechanic that you didn’t want him to use his lift, he’s either going to tell you to go somewhere else, or charge you more for his trouble and inconvenience.

They are telling him what tools to use, it’s not like he gave them 2 options with 2 different prices, from what I understand.

That being said, I do whatever it takes to get a job done right, sometimes it’s all WFP sometimes it’s a mix of both, sometimes it’s all Trad, my price doesn’t change.

While I agree we should be paid for clean windows not how we do it I just find it’s not realistic. I have jobs that traditionally could take 4 hours I’m not going to charge them $400 if I can do it in an hour with a water fed pole and they’re not going to hire me if my competitors charge a hundred bucks. Are you going to go do a large commercial property and charge them as if you needed to rent a boom lift and drive the lift around when you’re just going to bang it out on the ground from the waterfed pole

To be fair, boom lifts are almost always an expense that’s passed on to the client.

To each their own - I’m just sharing how I approach my business, and it works for me. Might not work for everyone, and that’s totally fine!

Are you doing the initial clean on a single story home with WFP?

If so, it it because of French panes? Or because it’s quick?

This is why I don’t really like doing external only.
I do very few external only jobs, the few that I have done most of them have called back later complaining about smears or smudges, I laugh at this since my technique cannot cause smears or smudges, but I convey to them if I arrive to touch up and the error is on the inside then its gonna cost them for them being a TIGHT ASS to begin with.

For the most part where I live the inside windows can become far dirtier than outside windows due to humidity.

I remember years ago I did 2 window cleans on houses side by side 1 was in and out 1 was out only, the out only person called back twice, first time I went out recleaned the windows they were complaining about. Then they rang back complaining about the SAME windows I had recleaned. This time I basically pushed my way into the house to show them that what they were complaining about was not what I was payed to do.

90% of people who attempt to clean windows without any training will leave the windows looking worse than when they started.

Boom lift the customer pays for in addition to windows being cleaned. Usually they are delivered by the rental company. No need to tag anything else pertaining to that on the invoice.
Just to grab numbers out of the air - $100 window cleaning + $250 lift rental = total $350.

If I have a building I can bang out in 3 hours with a water fed pole I’m not going to charge the customer for a 14 hour day traditional cleaning with with lift rental. Also someone with a water fed pole can competitively smash your quotes and still make a killing.

I have a $1,500 college dorm me and another guy do in about 4 hours. If someone quotes this traditional nose to glass despite knowing they’re going to do it with a waterfed pole they will lose the job and I’ll walk away with $190 hr per guy.

I just thought wfp pole would be faster, I figured doing it more often would make it faster. Also newer houses seem to clean faster/better. Unfortunately they are my most demanding customers that I charge the least. Experiment failed.

This is always the case, raise your prices and get better customers.

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Agreed.

And stop charging for a method and charge for the cleaning service, choose how you do it, some times you have to touch shit up which might require you to trad some stuff if you already packed up your filter and hoses. At the end of the day the customers would prefer clean windows than a selected process however that is achieved.

I do not always tell my customers how I will be cleaning their windows I just do it, if they ask and some do I explain how a 4 stage water filtration system works and explain how the droplets of water on the glass will dry clear and yes I WFP single story … main reason is because it does a better job than traditional, and its easier and for the windows I have to clean daily it is the best option.

80+% of my customers are repeat 6-12 months

That being said I have really easy windows to clean, newish all powder coated frames. So I rarely deal with oxidization on frames, and very few wooden frames.

These days with rinse bars, swivel heads, and interchangeable scrub pads WFP has like levelled up, no rinse off the glass phase anymore… its literally so simple, I have had customers who have been in the cleaning industry for decades who are astonished by the new ways in window cleaning.

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Ok so they call about smears or smudges . If it’s on the inside it’s not your problem. You were asked to clean the outside.
This should be common sense , to the person who asked you to just do the outsides. Someone has to clean the insides and it wasnt you. Tell them to clean the insides and call you in the morning.

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I agree. I don’t tell my client how I’m cleaning unless they ask about some weird angel window off a 40’ retaining wall. Then they are amazed and get me more work because we can do what even the contractors avoided. I need to install my new sprayers that I got 6 months ago :joy:

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Don’t understand these guys who just can’t handle a whiny customer who wants to give you hard time about your process. Get rid of them. See ya :wave: .
I get it if they didn’t do a good job with the a WFP which could happen . Jus Rilke you could do a shit job with a squeegees

Your post is spot on. You should never have to explain about how your going to do it or charge differently from traditional tools. A boom lift is totally different story.

Like you said if they ask just give them a brief synopsis, an let them know when we’re done your going to have clean windows thats the most important thing . I also tell them I have a van load of tools every tool you could imagine to clean your windows. If one doesn’t work I’ll use the other.

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