Newbie Alert

Hey guys I’m Ryan From Little Rock Arkansas. New here to the page and glad I found this place for some information.

My stepdad has had his business for about 4 years now and it’s grown a lot. To the point where he’s turning people away because of the work load. I’ve owned an automotive repair shop the past 5 years and I am currently selling the business to my manager and joining In with my stepdad full time on window cleaning. I started off helping him from time to time when he needed it. Then I started helping just to get away from the chaos of the shop so I could make some side money and relax listening to music or a podcast.

We are about 95% residential because Terry never wanted to be put on a net 30 pay with commercial. I see potential in commercial so I’m planning on growing that direction.

We have a single van stacked with poles and equipment. We started talking about hiring a worker so my stepdad can ease off a little and mainly work with customers. I can work with the new guy full time. We were trying to figure out how to pay an employee. Terry is a retired plumber and he said they had their own van and were 100% commission. How do you guys pay your employees? Do they bring their own van home? If so, are they responsible for cleaning and washing towels? If they don’t bring the van home, where do they meet every morning before heading out? How do you compensate for inclement weather where you’re rained out for a few days? Thanks!

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  • What do you consider “Commercial?” (I know to some, I sound like a broken record)
    Is stepdad, easing off to “work with customers?” or is he handing you the ball?
  • ‘rain days’ aren’t as often as you’d expect (at least from my Midwestern location) and I can usually find something for crew to do, if they are eager (most are cool with the day off)
  • I wash/clean/pay attention to how towels and dropcloths are cleaned… the last thing I want is for someone to do a full Fabric Softener wash on 100 towels and ruin them. lol
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I’ve worked with both kinds of companies. One where we had like 20 guys and 5 vans, the vans lived at the shop and we had to wash them every week but somehow they were still heinous. The other smaller company we had a Toyota Tacoma truck that had the company wrap on it but we could take it home and use it for whatever, those were remarkably kept much cleaner. I topped out at 16$ an hour for high rise and other commercial after 3 years with the company and, not to toot my own horn, but one of the better and more reliable workers, i.e. not strung out on pills or a functioning alcoholic. Also this was 10 years ago, IDK what guys are making now.

But I think if you trust the guy then give him the van, it’ll be kept nicer if he’s a reliable sort of person. Don’t give him dirty rags unless he has a washer and dryer in his house and he knows how to take care of them. Otherwise clean them your self. I’ve always had a washer and dryer at the shop, all the rags from the day go in, hopefully some hard charger wants to start the cycle and move the wet rags to the dryer at the end of every day. We always got them taken care of some how some way.

If you don’t have a shop, then find a donut/coffee place to meet at in the morning, buy him some brew and breakfast to get him motivated for the day, make him feel valued.

I pay my employee a % of each job. It goes up as the person gets better and takes initiative. We have a few different locations ie: airport, parking garage, Costco, where we meet and he leaves his car. Location depends on where the jobs are. I wash all the towels. There is no compensation for inclement weather, for me or for him/her.

As far as “commercial” I want to go after banks, some car dealerships. We have a connection with hotels. No more than 4 stories. Stepdad is wanting to go 50/50 to help grow it with employees and then we are aiming for us both to oversee day to day after a year or two.

The spring time in Arkansas suuucks. We can have days of rain from Late March into May.

Right now stepdad is washing all the towels and sleeves when we use them. I honestly don’t know what they use to wash, that would be a good question to ask!

I currently drive 30 minutes to my parents house and park my truck there. We leave from there. Sometimes we have jobs closer to my house so I will just drive from the job site. They live in a culde sac typical neighborhood so if we had 4 guys with 2 vans that’s why they would need to bring them home. I like the idea of making them clean it once a week. We were thinking about paying them $17-$20/hr for 6 months and then send them on a commission pay plan. Like 20% of what they do.

I also like the idea of all of us meeting for coffee in the morning to do a daily brief and give them new fresh rags and pick up their old ones. Restock cleaners and such. That’s a good idea too. I am working on getting a house with some land and a shop that we could all meet at. One day lol.

I agree on the no compensation for inclement weather. That just needs to be an understanding in writing that they agree too. We were thinking about $17-$29/hr for 6 months and then move them to 20% of what they do. If we end up with 2 trucks and 4 guys than they work together as a team to get the day done and both walk away with their percentages. Giving them percentage raise increases with experience.

I cut my teeth learning to clean windows in Seattle. There was no such thing as an inclement weather day. It rains 30 weeks a year so we just work through it. Consider it a pre rinse lol. You just put on your rain gear and get after it. Only time we would stop is if there was lightning, since we were either on ropes or an aluminum ladder. We’d just wait out the bad parts of the storm in the van then get back to it. Nothing wrong with cleaning windows in the rain though.

How much money can 1 guy bring in, in a day.?

We will be shooting for each van to make $1000/day.

So… 20% of $1000 is only $200. I assume there’ll be 2 techs per van? Since you mentioned 2 vans/4 techs.

$100/day is only $12.50/hr. They’ll be doing better on hourly. Even moving them up to 30% commission (which is fairly typical for window cleaning) would only give them $18.75/hr.

This is (one of the reasons) why I don’t employ. Give up 30% of gross income to provide someone a wage that’s barely adequate.

If you can manage to get those production figures closer to $1,500/day/van, then you might be able to provide a more competitive commission-based wage without giving up too much of your profits.

Let me rephrase.

20% per tech at $1000/day+. That way they can make a livable wage at around 50k a year. That sufficient in Little Rock.

So overhead would be $400 per day per van. That’s just the minimum goal for comfort. I would really like to see $1200-$1500 per day which is why I want to scale out more towards commercial. The best day my stepdad and I have had residentially was about $1100 and that was a looong day.

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2 good guys can knock out $1500 easily, not sure what size homes you’re servicing.

Solo, I can do 2 $500 homes (25-30 windows) and be done by 3/4pm starting at 8am

We have a large clientele in a retirement community with 20,000 people living in it. We are growing and growing in that area. Those houses range from 1500sqft to 7-8000sqft. There is a very popular lake in that area that we service a lot of lake homes. The problem is that it’s 45mins to an hour away so you spend two hours in the car driving there and back which takes up time.

We have a 8,000sqft on the 28th that’s an in/out priced at $725. I think one of our biggest hold backs is my stepdad prices pretty cheap sometimes. I think we need to reevaluate the pricing some because we could be losing out on revenue. Even if we add an extra $25-$75 a job depending on what it is, with 4-5 houses a day that’s some good lost revenue.

Yes, most definitely start raising your prices before you hire.
Hiring staff and then raising your prices would definitely jeopardize the repeat business from the cheap customers that had a larger price increase.

You won’t land as much work, but you’ll enjoy showing up and doing the work when you know it’s priced the way it should.

I let all customers know they have a 3 year price guarantee from any increase if they book for 3 consecutive years. If they miss a year they a subject to the updated pricing.


Yeah we have some grandfathered in OG customers that are on a super cheap quarterly. I told Terry we need to bump the price up before anything major happens. If they balk at the price and leave, then those aren’t the people we want. Most people we have upped them on the price $25-$50 have hardly said anything. They almost expected it.

I really like the idea of the guarantee pricing if they commit on a schedule. I will need to let my stepdad know about that!

And how do you reprimand them if they don’t abide. Hey we need $700 back

Not sure what that even means…

For example, customers in 2018 skipped 2019 and booked in 2020 will have their prices raised to my current pricing structure (whatever that may be)

I was a little more forgiving with 2019 to 2021 residential service lapses, but most in/outs just got exteriors and added house washes or roof washes for 2020 to keep the social distance.

Residential & Large commercial is my fav. I stay at 100hr on residential all the time and I have some large commercial work that’s all most robbery. One that is 8 grand for me and I do it in 5 days with $500 of cost in boom lift, gas & resin. Getting $7,500 for 5 days is silly? I had one job pre Covid that was $1,400 for 3 hrs of work just a waterfed pole

I misunderstood!