I started too quickly

Hey guys, my name is Chris and I started a small window cleaning business that’s starting to grow. The only problem is that I don’t have much experience cleaning windows and everyday is a new challenge dealing with a variety of homes. I think of giving up regularly. I feel like I should’ve gotten a few years experience before I did this, now I have numerous clients and I feel totally incompetent as a window cleaner. Some days are good some are bad. Giving up doesn’t seem like an option because I have people who rely on me and I invested so much yet it’s depressing knowing I might mess up on a job. What should I do?

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You should practice straight pulls until you have mastered them. Elon Musk would call this first principals. That is to say you think you have understood something but the understanding was superficial.

The reason why some window cleaners are bad at their job - is they are too stupid to realize every job has a skill and have not bothered to understand the basics of the trade. The slow or smear leaving cleaners who I’ve worked with are not being tripped up by anything clever. They thought they could wing it or thought they would pick it up on the job. That takes too long unless you’re born into a trade.

Do a basic straight pull thousands of times. Same large window, over and over.

If your technique is fast and leaves no smears it gives you the time to deal with all other challenges in stride. Your only job then is to carry a notepad recording your other problems - we all have them, even long time operators - and tackle each problem one at a time.

The Window Cleanse has good advice on a lot of the basic ways to work - things that are overlooked by a lot of window cleaners. If I had a window cleaning academy he’d be the correct person to teach them.

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KISS=Keep It Simple Stupid.
Most of window cleaning is actually doing it…Yea, yea, I know - seems obvious enough to sound insulting - but it isn’t.
As anything that requires skill (whether you went into it believing so or not) practice makes perfect. Perception is “anyone can wash windows”, but fact is if you have ever cleaned windows after someone who cannot, you realize not anyone can clean windows, or has the desire to do a good quality job.
The fact that you are questioning your ability shows that you desire to do a good quality job. Don’t sweat it - if it takes you a bit longer to get each window cleaned as it should be then so be it - just do it right. Speed and efficiency will come in time no matter if you work at a leather factory, lawn business, chicken farming, or window cleaning. New is new and time tested experience rules the day. You will get there if you try and desire to. I still remember my first customer wouldn’t take my phone calls after the first clean LOL I use that as a “carrot” to never leave a job less than what I said I would do, and do what I said. Correct pricing and time estimates are what drives me to give each job the attention to detail and quality that it should. Some jobs back in the early days took twice as long as they do today, and since adding WFP in 2017 I can make some jobs so much quicker and easy; but it took me 9 years of doing it “traditional” to move up to WFP. I learned to clean windows first before I added WFP. I started with just a desire to clean windows for money. I discovered that I liked it and the money potential was great even with putting in limited hours of actual work.
I also didn’t fan windows for the longest time - they were frustrating while I was learning, but there are videos on Youtube to help, but first learn to clean windows, frames and tracks. There is more to it than people who do not clean windows know, and they often say “I could never get them that clean”. Often because they don’t put in the time and effort. The first 6,8,10 months aren’t going to be as good as once you reach 3 or 4 years of window cleaning every possible window style and obstacle. Actual technique will follow and you will morph into a very capable window cleaner. Practice-Practice-Practice, and every job is practice in order to be better than you were yesterday.

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What exactly is overwhelming you ? Is it the business aspect ? Answer phone emails text customer service ? Cleaning the window ? Taking the screen ? Or getting organized (which window are done first )

Also if you feel overwhelmed, leave a gap in your schedule ( like take a vacation ) maybe a week and study the window cleaning business. Learn the trade and maybe call another window cleaner in the area to learn the process .

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Also I notice you have 7 minutes of reading time on here. Please read and study the business

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I should say too - because my personality is prone to being critical - that giving up is most likely the wrong thing to do. It’s the people who don’t know they have a problem who need extra biting - I’m much happier with somebody who understands they need to reach more professionalism because those usually become the successful business people if they keep at it.

I like the Japanese idea - it’s a clique now but the idea of kaizen - or making large numbers of small improvements - because every day you think ’ I should have, ’ and the step that separates that negative from being a positive is only to keep note by habit or a notebook so it’s not forgotten.

Yeah I did a little window cleaning YEARS ago (at 25. I’m 29 now). I had all the newbie basics down. I later started a small business cleaning apartments for property management and transitioned into windows because the overhead is low. I did it as a side hustle but when Covid-19 hit I lost my 9-5 so I was forced to go full time with windows which is when things “got real”. I didn’t want to start off like this.

Thanks, great advice from you guys. I had a full weeks worth of work out in Irvine California. It was 110 degrees which came with extreme obstacles. I really want to do a good job I swear when I do a good job I love window cleaning but when I get stuck re-mopping a window after a mistake, leaving tools in my truck and dealing with negative thoughts it can get discouraging. I’m the only person in my family to accomplish anything like this and because of that, not trying to be harsh but they can’t relate. I don’t want to give up. It’s my dream.

Thanks! The business part or sells came pretty easy actually. People say that I have a good problem but it feels like a nightmare because honestly, the part that overwhelms me is the unknown. What kind of job is it going to be tomorrow, will the screens be kind to me, will I have to balance on a ledge two stories up to reach one window, will I make the client happy, will I disappoint them, will I disappoint myself, am I a “go gett’r” or a hack, when is persistents noble and when is it foolish (crazy). These are the thoughts that overwhelm me daily.

Wow thanks! You’re pretty straight forward so for YOU to say that I (most likely) shouldn’t give up actually means a lot! My own mom said I should give up. Felt like a punch to the gut.

“the part that overwhelms me is the unknown”…Equals challenge, accept the challenge and make it work - next time won’t be such a challenge.

“What kind of job is it going to be tomorrow”…Doesn’t matter, each job is different, just do it.

“will the screens be kind to me, will I have to balance on a ledge two stories up to reach one window”…Screens can occasionally be a bear, have tools available to handle that - maybe a paint can opener, spatula knife, screwdriver, putty knife…Try to avoid this as much as possible, extension poles serve you well for long reaches.

“will I make the client happy”…Guarantee your work, if the customer sees something he doesn’t like take care of it without an issue. Happy is satisfy the customer.

Charge correctly for the job and you will be willing to do a great job every time; charge incorrectly and you will not be willing to do what you said you would do. If you charge correctly with pre-inspection of all of the windows, then it is just a matter of getting to work and seeing it through.

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Are you going to check out the property for a quote ? Or are you quoting by phone ? If you go before to check out the property you can have a game plan

Yeah I prefer to see the job and THEN give a quote but for the jobs I subcontract for they give me a work order for the week and just go. No paint or post construction clean up just clean the windows. Everything was actually good but then I ran into one house that put my self esteem back about two years lol

If at all possible try and do a drive by of the house before, that way you’re mentally ready for each Job and have a game plan . Also it helps if you get to each job 15 minutes early , take plenty of drinking water and pack a lunch . Also you don’t schedule a 2nd job after , because you don’t know how long you’re going to take . Just a couple of suggestions to make the day easier and less stressful

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What time did you start the job ? I’m in Vegas and today was 108 , we started at 7am

Also don’t work in direct sunlight , follow the shade as much as possible

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Ok that’s great advice. I subcontracted for a company that rushed everything so they threw sometimes four jobs at me in one day! I learned other techniques because I was forced as well as how to EFFECTIVELY use my ladder but I’m still shell-shocked from the experience

I started at 12pm. It was ridiculously hot! Everything was manageable though until I got to some two story windows that was positioned more inside, meaning they were just far away enough that I couldn’t reach them with a ladder. I had to climb my ladder and get on to a ledge and do the windows up close at the most awkward angle. THEN, do to the heat, my solution dried rapidly, THEN my mop didn’t have enough lubrication. I’m sweating, dying straight miserable and now I have to go all the way back down my ladder. I finally finished “off the skin of my teeth”. I get inside to do the interior and I see streaks EVERYWHERE! Apparently the same gloves that I used to move my ladder has a black rubber grip that decided to shed because of the heat. I was so niave. When I would detail the corners part of my glove would slide across the glass as well leaving a streak😱
I lost a little of myself that day.

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Been there done that . Gotta respect the heat . If you see the weather getting hotter . You have to adjust your schedule, and process

Ya bro. Honestly you put the carriage before the horse. How can you start a window cleaning business without knowing how to clean windows. :joy: that’s like starting a brewery with no beer. I worked for two years for a company seven days a week. That was the only way I got the window cleaning experience and the office/ back end knowledge. Window cleaning is all about the different challenging jobs. Figuring out how to clean them. The only way you’ll get your confidence up is to have a good teacher. I strongly recommend working for a company before you start you own. Ask questions, gain knowledge of the craft before you start on your own. Hope this helps. I’ll here for you too man. Email me or text me and I’ll try and answer any questions I can. You gotta get your 10,000 hours before you can be a window master. Good luck bro!

Best
JD 415.828.0913
Swcbay.com

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