This past year i began a small window washing business just to service 1400 , one-story homes in the retirement community where i live. I pride myself on providing an outstanding job within a price that’s affordable for the residents who are on fixed, limited incomes.
However, many units have 3 season, jalousie enclosed porches…6 sections of louvers, 16 panes per section. Most of these have not been cleaned in over 10 years so there is a lot of dirt and debris to remove before actually washing the louvers. Additionally, there are 5’ storm windows over each section
I initially charged a flat rate of $8 per window…double hung, screens, sills, exterior and interior. I know this is low but im making $150 per unit…usually finish a job in 5 hours…EXCEPT for the louvers…
One porch requires a minimum of 4 hours so at the $8 /window rate, im working for below minimum wage on an extremely labor intensive project.
Im struggling on how to price this fairly and i would like to hear your thoughts.
I realize that my rates are far below those of established window cleaners in the area, but if i charge too much neither of us will be making any money on this place.
Well, that’s nice of you, kind sir. As you recognize, you are indeed under cutting yourself quite a bit.
It sounds like you might be retired too, is that correct? May I ask what city or State you’re in? Maybe some nearby clearers could give you a clearer picture for local pricing.
It sounds like this neighborhood is not my target audience, so I could not give the best estimate. I would be so much higher in my pricing for those porch windows that I wouldn’t get hired in that neighborhood. (And I hate cleaning those)
In a way, you’ve got the key already since you know how many hours a porch area takes you.
You’re making $30 per hour on the entire house. So instead you might choose to price it by what you need per hour instead.
You might need to look into different neighborhoods in your city . Also look for easier work , get the low hanging fruit . Look into more affluent neighborhoods. Where do the professionals live at ? Doctors attorneys , accountants etc . .
Solo guys should be making $ 90 minimum per hour to have a sustainable business. At $30 per hour you can’t buy better tools , have good insurance, nice company shirts .
Thank you for your input…I’ve got 3 months before it’s spring cleaning time around here…I guess I’ll need to do some soul searching to find the win-win.
perhaps just do the 5 hour homes without including the porches/sunrooms/lanais?
perhaps break things up, just outsides or just the homes. when something has so many variables sometimes its just not worth doing, but if you could just do the portion that is worth it to do . . .
Wait, you’re only making $150 in five hours? I typically get $60-$75/hr by myself, you are severely underestimating the work involved.
I actually enjoy cleaning louvered windows these days as long as they are horizontally aligned so the water flows out side I use my trolley with another tool in the video below to clean them, I will link another video of the rinse process by another WC, I haven’t had the time to make one yet, I personally charge the louvers in a per bay being singular at: <6 $10 >6,<12 $20 >12 $30, I can normally get a bay of 12+ done in 1-2 mins
The 3rd video is the tool I made by Herman simple to make and slip a 18" sleve over it
Thank you for your advice… this is my first attempt and I was not sure what my customers would pay.
Since they are all on retirement income, I’m sure they cannot afford $300+ but I agree, I need to raise my fees.
I have an advantage…I have no overhead, commute is under 1/4 mile, and this is not my sole source of income…
I’ll repost in the spring and let everyone know the results of my price increase
Thank you. I had considered that option…and I think I’m going to take that approach…do the basic double hung, screens, sills at $8-10…these are generally quick. Then take the louvered porch as a separate job at a flat rate…I just need to come up with a price…they can take it or leave it
Most jalousie doors have about 17 jalousie panes. Charging $1.00 each is not unreasonable. Anybody would be happy paying less for a job, but you need to decide if it is a hobby or a business.
Running a business at $30 per hour isn’t really running a business.
Break down your income in these percentages:
? % owner pay
? % profit
? % taxes
? % payroll
? % marketing
? % Oper. expenses
? % Svgs
If you are pricing jobs as an “employee pay rate” instead of a “business pay rate” that you would pay an employee out of (which is you!), then you will burn yourself out for little to show for it.
You can do what you like, but life is short and then you die. Is your businesses time and effort worth $1.67 per minute? ($100 hr).
Jalousie windows are labor intensive. I’m sure your customers LOVE paying cheap labor.
Just being honest with you, not meant to be mean.
No…you are not mean, you are telling me like it is…I asked for input and I appreciate your thoughts.
Honestly, right now I’m more of a hobby than a business…id like to grow it within this community…all 1 floor, easy access to windows…no commute, I need to find the right price that makes it profitable for me and also affordable for retired people with a fixed income.
I see now that I came in way too low and I’ll make adjustments in the spring. I intend to price the louvers much higher…actually as a completely separate job…so I can still make a profit on the easy stuff…and if they don’t want to pay for the louvers, I’ll still get the work.
I appreciate your honesty!
Food for thought… we are getting $40-60 each for these. Thats +/- $100 in this picture.
I wouldn’t itemize the bill when you get jalousie windows, just give a price for the whole job - if you give two prices, let it be “inside and outside”, and “outside only”. (Don’t forget to charge for screens when needed too). Of course jalousie windows need to be in/out because water will trap between each plate of glass if you only do one side.
Thank you for your input. I’m in a tough spot here…I’ve got the potential for 1400 clients…but they are all on retirement income…and I know they won’t pay that much…and I don’t want to work for $10 an hr…
Based on feedback from others, I’m going to keep the louver porch as a separate job…I can still make a profit on the normal windows…and I’ll charge more for the porch job…it won’t be $60 /window…but I can still make it worth my time…
I appreciate your thoughts!
5 hours for $150 sounds brutal, back breaking, and worst of all soul crushing.
I guess my business is more of a hobby…I’m retired and it pays for guitar “stuff”, and beer. I don’t mind the double hung and screen…these take 5 minutes…but as you said, the jalousies take all the fun out of life.
Based on other input, I’m going to price a jalousie porch as a separate job and charge appropriately…some people won’t pay for that extra…but if i can keep the easy work…im ok.
Thank you for your input!
Just like any business when things require more labor the price goes up. You have to stop worrying about the type of income someone has , and just give the price. Sone will some won’t so what.
If they don’t do the Jalousie type windows it doesn’t mean they won’t have you clean the others. 1400 customers you don’t need all of them.
It sounds like your delivering with your quality work. Once that gets around this community most won’t mind paying your desired asking price.
Thank you…based on other’s input I agree with you
.here’s my price…it’s fair , affordable. and below commercial rates…take it or leave it…
Seriously, I give them a high quality job, cob webs, mud caked sills, several years of accumulated dirt, screens, and their windows sparkle.
Those jalousie windows are a mess and they will need to pay more!
You can land jobs within 20-30 minutes drive of you and make 2-3 times rate of pay that you are charging. It is nice to only commute 1/4 mile, but your time is more valuable than that.
Here’s Up Dated Version…
1/ What it Looks Like.