I know a lot of us are in a panic over our financial outlooks this year, which got me thinking about ideas we could share that would help help others in the window cleaning industry.
In 1996 I started as a sole proprietor, operating that way until 2007, when I fully incorporated at the recommendation of my accountant. In those first 9 years I worked a lot of weekends, evenings, and used vacation time to run my business. When I quit my full time job ($40K, insurance, pension) in 2007 I was probably pocketing around $20K in window cleaning. At that time I switched to another full-time job, began hiring some employees who were willing to work on the weekends (which quickly transitioned into them working during the week) and I was luckily no longer working weekends by 2012-2013.
In nearly 25 years of business, the most reliable customers have been all been from referrals and 99% of those were residential. Of those, the age demographic of my best clients are the 60-75 year olds, mostly small business owners (or retired), investment brokers, accountants, building contractors, and several doctors. Many of these clients are still with me and have outlasted many of the big market changes in 2003, 2009 and several ups and downs in oil and gas market. These are the kinds of people that save their money and ALWAYS have cash for luxuries like window cleaning (retired doctor was my first call to schedule last week). As for commercial accounts, I would only consider about 5 or 6 that would actually be reliable long term sources of income, the rest are low paying accounts that would cut services in a heart beat.
I think the next month will be a good time to think about where to re-direct your business and the demographics of your client base at the end of the year will be a good reflection.