I worked for a WC company up until last May, they were unorganized, underpriced and had a gross amount of turnover(hiring really anyone who walked through the door) resulting in sloppy work. Now I am not one to bash anyone but as time went by, the more I saw and the more I watched, I noticed a few things. Customers were cancelling service and the company was not going out and replacing them. Fast forward to May of 2010… My wife and I decided that if they can run a business, so can I. I started with literally nothing but the knowledge to do route work. I went door to door and business to business. Wanting my first sale so badly, I sold one that first day out… a single hand level window and an eye popping $5, done weekly. Over the next few weeks, I picked up maybe 25-30 smaller mom and pop type accounts. I was making it but barely. Even so, I fell into a lazy funk where I just kind of stopped going out looking for new stops, then winter came along and I had an excuse (or so I thought), its cold in Wisconsin in winter. So, this March, I got a job… The business wasnt taking off, I did 8 total houses last year and was just dealing with my few route stops. I worked one day at said sales job, hated it. I knew I should have been out selling myself and not someone else’s product. So, I discussed it with the wife. We decided that if I give this another go, I will be out there, I will take it seriously. Well, last year, I made roughly $8000 from the business (yup, thats it). In the last 2 months alone, I made more than that. And… I just picked up a chain of convenience stores (17 in total, done every other week). An hour of work, 6-8 hours of sales, everyday! I started from zero, roughly a year ago to $1500 a week on average now with a bunch of laziness in the middle there. I haven’t done a house yet this year and I may not do one. I am at about 30 hours on an average week and not looking to hire anyone. For the time being, I will maintain my route size and still leave enough room in my week available in case a house, office building or the like comes along.
Moral of the story, you can make it go with $100 worth of equipment and some willpower. Cut throat industry? You bet but there is plenty of glass to go around and lots of it is dirty. $50 an hour from the time I leave the house till the time I pull back in the driveway is not a bad wage if you ask me… Oh, and since the wife supported me through all of this, she is quitting her job in the fall and going back to school. Cool! Lots of glass for all of us and like has been said countless times, you get out of it what you put in.
I have seen so many posts asking “can you really make a living at this?” The answer in a word, ABSOLUTELY! Now go get em!
Nice story Flywatersmallie, thanks for sharing. I’m pure residential right now, and I believe in it, but worry a little about what I’ll do in winter. Maybe I’ll be giving storefronts another hammering later in the year, with your story on my mind. Thanks again!
Sounds like u got a great route going for ya! I started out doing both res. and commercial. I seemed to make more doing residential homes
though. For some reason I focused way too much trying on the commercial storefronts. I guess I liked having a steady stream of income and how quickly you can knock out jobs. I did alot better my second year and even bought a nice full size pickup because I was getting alot of calls for residential.
I wish I didn’t walk away from it all and move out west. I could of made it grow even better. I just thought I could start a family business. Didn’t work out the way I wanted it to here in Vegas. 2 partners … maybe but 3 … hell no. Drove out 2600 miles for nothing. Needless to say I’m returning to being a sole proprietor.
Awesome!! If you get into more residential work that 50 an houur will quickly go up. Congrat on your wife going back to school. Mine just finished here nursing degree and window cleaning is what put here through college. Good luck!
That’s for sure! Up here, resi is a 6 month a year business at best. It’s definitely true that I could more than double my hourly rate on houses… Problem is that I can only do so many before the snow flies. I wouldn’t mind doing more and I will never turn a house down. There is something about waiting for months for my next pay day that was a little troubling to me. Now, it sucks in the winter when its 0 degrees outside but at least I am eating. I don’t have a slow period and to me, that alone is worth the less dollars per hour.
This is exactly what I’m debating here right now. I have plenty of business cards. I also have some carbon copy half sheets that just look better and more “official”. I’m wondering if I should continue to write estimates on the back or if I should spend a little more money for better looking estimates. For some storefronts I think the card is fine. But other storefronts will fax the quote to corporate or wherever or perhaps even file it for later if needed. Mostly I just use the biz cards, but I wonder if I’m missing out on business because of perception.
Maybe I’ll just have to do an experiment and see what returns the most. I’ve been lazy and complacent with my marketing this year but I’d like to add some more commercial accounts.
There are a limited number of storefronts. In some areas one serious window cleaner could serve the whole area.
If that one man is up on it, one man more can make it very competitive. It doesn’t take much.