First Time Clean Timings

I know that I’m going to eventually speed up on residential jobs (3 months to get comfortable and see a few speed gains, 6 months to get a pretty good feel for what’s going on and get a substantial speed gain), but I did want to know what I should be expecting to put in on a first time window cleaning job. Not too worried about trying to get a better hourly rate, just trying to leave a good impression on the customer. I’m trying to avoid clients telling themselves, “Wow, this guy must be sleeping on the job if he’s taking this long!”

I was working on a house today that had some construction debris, not a lot, but enough to slow me down. 10 windows, 1 sliding door and a couple of screens. I timed myself at about 10 to 15 minutes per window with the following workflow:

  1. Pull Screen Out
  2. Dust Off, Scrub, Dry and Set Aside Screen
  3. Dust Off Frame, Tracks and Sill
  4. Wipe Down Frame with Damp Rag
  5. Clean Window
  6. Wipe Down Sill
  7. Detail
  8. Return Screen

As you can tell, that’s only the outside. Going with the upper-limit of “minutes per window”, or MPW, I took about 165 minutes to do the outside, or 2 hours and 45 minutes (10 windows + 1 sliding door x 15 minutes = 2 hours & 45 minutes). That’s obviously too long for even a new window cleaner. That’s my impression anyway, after having worked with a friend on a similar-sized house. My friend stated he could finish his customer’s house in about 1 hour and 30 minutes, on his own, inside and out - thing is, he has experience and regular cleanings on his side.

To complicate things, I live in an area that has dust storms that rival those from the Dust Bowl (you can’t see more than a few feet, or even inches, in front of you when you’re driving). A couple years of these storms and we get windows that have dust caked on the sill, rain stains, etc. As mentioned above, there’s also some construction debris (stucco & paint).

Some things that I picked up from the Order in how to do things thread are:

  • Do the inside first, this way the customer isn’t waiting on you (doing the outside requires no supervision by customer)
  • Pull all screens off in sequence, writing location/orientation on the top edge of the screens (using a Sharpie to write)
  • Clean all screens in one sitting
  • Return all screens

With my timings being so astronomically high, I needed help in figuring out:
A) What I’m Doing Wrong / What I’m Obsessing Over
B) What I Can Change
C) What I Can’t Change (As In, “That’s Just The Nature Of A First-Time Cleaning”)

Don’t worry about speed too much in the beginning. That will come. I have had 10 window jobs that take 45 minutes and some that take a couple hours. It’s not the same for each job. I did a house yesterday with 17 windows 4 of which were huge 6’ x 4’ storms. Very heavy 2 person storms. The ladies garage burned down a few months ago and there was soot, dirt, construction debris and hard water stains. It took 3 1/2 hours. On a normal house it would have been 1 1/2 hours. Don’t beat your self up. It’s the results that counts.

Thanks for the input. Just didn’t want to irritate the customers with my ugly mug hanging around their house all day :wink:

Since I’m still walking on baby legs, I guess I should avoid scheduling several jobs in one day?

Starting off I did usually 2 a day for a few months depending on the size. It takes time to learn to estimate time and price.

I just did a house very beautiful home. I had screens on all windows and fo-insert French things I also pressure washed the aluminum siding and whites the gutters. Needless to say I was there got 2 1/2 days. Ya that was alot of work! Lol

Sounds like a good baseline to start with. Thanks.

Wow. Well, it makes sense: if you look anything like your avatar, then your customer’s sure to tolerate you more than they would me :smiley:

Speed is “not” what you need to worry about Solomon, Now you need to focus on quality and technique. Speed will come to you quickly once you learn what technique works for you and always focus on quality of the work you do.

Some jobs are just more involved than others. Your procedure seems pretty good. Cleaning the bigger dirt first - cob webs, wasp nests, dirty tracks, etc. then the glass, frames, tracks, and screens. There is more than one element to a clean window. Maintenance cleans are easier and go faster than first time or yearly cleans. Try to sell your customer on that. I offer mine 20% off for having me back each quarter to maintain nice clean windows. It is less work for me, ties up less of their time, and saves them $$ per cleaning.

You have a system.
Don’t worry about speed. Work on your QUALITY and EFFICIENCY.
As your efficiency in your work flow, equipment set up, solution, EVERYTHING… Be as efficient as you can.
Before you realize your speed will increase…

Majority of my past employers found my biggest problem was that I focused too much on quality and not enough on speed. It’s often stated of me that I may have OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder), so I thought that this was another example to prove it. Thanks for re-emphasizing quality everyone.

So, I’m thinking that it’s all a matter of managing expectations? If that’s the case, I think I need to do a better job of using the estimating process to educate the customer about what to expect and what could potentially happen. Does that sound right? Is there anything else that goes with that?

If you think you have OCD just be aware of it and not let it control your workflow to the point of being too obsessive that it slows you down. Don’t skimp on quality either, but I think you know what I’m saying. It doesn’t hurt to lay out to the customer what is involved with the amount of work that you put into each window during the quote/bid process. Many of the homeowners out there have no idea what it really takes to do the job right, they just know they don’t do it. Also, do make your bids fair to you as a business owner - if your bid goes a little higher than the work actually demanded then you would probably get a loyal customer if you presented the bill at a lower price than originally quoted. :wink:

The only person that really cares how fast you go is you. If you’re making good money per hour, it doesn’t matter how fast you get the job done.

If you think that having OCD is bad consider what it would be like being burdened with CDO.

The beauty of being your own boss is you won’t get fired being too OCD. I might get hard on your wallet tho

Never had the money to even approach the burden of possessing a CDO, so I guess it’s a reverse blessing.

I guess the coming months will be really telling, as a client base is kind of like a collective boss and each individual is a fractional boss :smiley:

Sorry, didn’t mean to blindside you. CDO is the same as OCD, but the letters are in the right order! I nit pick my own work relentlessly, so I know how you feel.:slight_smile:

LOL. I thought you were talking about Collateralized Debt Obligations. Now that’s a funny disconnect. Thanks for clearing that up.

Keep on, keepin’ on. You have good intentions, a good work ethic, and you have given this much thought.
You will succeed.