Productivity

I need to increase my productivity. Nearly all my work is high end and high up residential, done once or twice a year. Right now I’m doing all my work using a washer and squeegy. For solutions I’m using either Squeegy Off or Glisten. Challenges I regularly encounter include: artillary spore deposits, cocoons on surface of window, overspray from log home finishes, pine say and hard water stains. These are the things I run into most often that just seem to slow me waaaaaaay down. The other item that frustrates the snot out of me is smear along the edges. I’ve tried what I can think of to fix this and its still a problem.

I’ve thought about going with a wfp system, but will that work to help solve these challenges. It would be out of commission for a few months every year simply because I live in northern Wisconsin.

I know this is a lot for one post. Any help you can offer is much appreciated. I’m also going to be doing some intensive reading of past posts.

Eric

Are you using a scraper of any type?

WFP will not take some of that stuff off unless you use a prescrub and even then some of the stuff is not going to come off. If the homes have storm windows forget about the WFP. It will be a waste. I take it you have decided to include the hard water stain removal and over spray etc in your pricing. I would change that so that it’s not included. But that’s up to you. You could run into problems with that if not handled the correct way. If you inform your current customers you are raising your prices or not including the scrapping in the service you can lose some of your customers. I had to toss out one retirement community cause it was 25 minutes away and the when I first quoted the pricing last year it was fine. I was able to handle the work load and if the job took a little longer it was still ok for me. But in hindsight I realized I was spending way to much time in that community for very little profit. I sent all the customers a letter explaining the issue. I lost about 1/2 of them. Around 15 or so customers gone in a couple of months. I have found some of them calling me back this year though. But in my service it states on my estimates now what is and what is not included. It does help in cutting down the time. I do not have to remove large amounts of paint spray or any other construction over spray. Hard water No way, that’s a different service all together and there is a charge for it.
If the homes doe not have storm windows a WFP with a prescrub should do the trick. One thing I do on homes with mine, is when inside the home if I see stuff on the outside of the window I am currently cleaning. I will reach out and scrub it up really well. This way when the time comes for my WFP I know the hard to remove stuff will come off. Buckshot I have had a 50/50 with. Sometimes the WFP pulls it off after some scrubbing sometimes it does not. I think removing small things from your service will help. One other thing you might want to think about is your up sales. Can you make your time at the home more profitable by adding little easy services IE Changing hard to reach light bulbs, removal of cob webs, mirror cleaning. blind dusting/cleaning/detailing. You may need to bring on a helper but in some cases it’s the best way to deal with things.

Ooh - pine sap, my favourite! Quickest way for me is with a scraper. I almost always use a porcupine scrubber, but I am in testing with a micro-tiger & “blue devil” sleeve cover. The micro’ holds more water, but I’ve noticed the blue devil is getting a few holes - so its horses for courses really. I’ve also found that “squeegy-off” doesn’t have the cleaning power compared to GG4. “Squeegy-off” is for monthly accounts I reckon.
Get that varnish around the edges off with a small rubber coated blade by Unger - its easier on the hands & if you can run it parallel to the frame to get the smear off in one swoop for each side.

I’m using a scraper. Problem is it feels like I’m using that and/or sw (0000) way too much. That’s why I’m looking at the type of solution. I get the upsell piece, including tile work and carpet cleaning as well as the small stuff. It adds nicely. Part of this is epxerience in estimating and closing the sale. I’ve got to learn to slow down and take a closer look. Also, red flags take time to learn and get engrained. Example - log home means regular treatment of the exterior, look for overspary. Example - extensive landscaping and mulching means more likely artilary spore; look for the eveidence. Example - pine tree, you get it…Sometimes I just miss this stuff. (And you are all saying, "He misses pine trees?) I’m thinking being at this for two years some of this would be a bit more automatic. It’s not.

Unfortunetly it seems to me that $5.00 per window means just that to the customer regardless of the condition of the windows, accessibility, screens, etc. Customer eduction, a form of sales, takes time, experience and energy. None of which are always available.

On the windows I just finished if I could go back and do it again I would charge/estimate 1/2 again what I did initially. Just concerned that at some point I price myself out of the market regardless of how bad the windows may be. I was messing with large traps 25 feet up and some of these traps took 12 minutes, outside only. Plain old fashion tiring. Wet, scrape, wash, squeegy, - oh look, more sticky stuff - repeat two and three times. I finish this wonderful 3 - 4 hour job on Monday and I’ll have 8 hours into it. Comes out to about $33.00 hr.

In our small community your word still often serves as your contract. However, due to the variables talked about I may have to go back to a written and signed estimate. This time aroung I’ll be more clear about what is NOT included.

I’ll be looking for some of the supply suggestions.

Other toughts?

Eric

How long does it take you to clean a 3 ft by 3 ft window covered in pine sap & over-spray?

Don’t panic to quickly about these problems. If you stop and think about it you said you were making $33/hr. How much did you make at your last job? Plus as you begin to develop your skill level your time will go down and your hourly rate will go up. As you gain a reputation of excellent work and results on difficult jobs you will feel more secure in charging more and your hourly will go up again. This doesn’t take very long either. I am making 4 times more than just 2 years ago. The reasons are the ones I just gave you. Keep your chin up and keep asking questions.

I hate the log finish overspray worse than the pine sap. I have a discaimer right under the price quote on my brochure that states the price “does not include overspray and hard water removal”

i use a blade and wet steel wool. i also charge more if i need to use clean that sort of stuff up

I really think that WFP is only suitable for monthly or bi monthly cleans…

I don’t think that the WFP would give as true a clean as nose to glass especially for semi yearly or yearly cleans.

I don’t mean to sound brash but If this customer base really does not suit you, could you possibly try and gradually change your customer base and get into a different window cleaning sector?

That statement is not true across the board, but is true with some window cleaners.

I have customers that have gone 10 years without cleanings paying me $500+ for my services and singing praises to their neighbors and on Angie’s List. Not only have I had no complaints, but most of my customers have referred me to friends and family.

You must have proper technique, which takes dozens of cleans to acquire and you must take a few minutes after the water dries to clean up any drips. I’ve got about 100+ hours on my machine and I’m still figuring out better cleaning strategy.

You’ll have to try a lot harder before I call you brash. I don’t take experienced critcism and helpful questions as brash. I do like high end residential work. This one was particularly difficult having not been cleaned in years. Just trying to find the least physically demaning and highest productivity possible. ‘Another market’ may not be an option where I live. At least not to support a family. This is rural northern Wisconsin. There are over 1300 named lakes in my county alone and most of those lakes have at least a few big glass, lake front home on them. Last year we had snow on the ground for 5 months, sometimes making store front glass inaccessible or only from the top of a plow pile. At the same time, I have not done a serious market analysis of the commercial sector. Maybe its time for that.

Eric

What type of brush do you use on your wfp Brennon…?

Maybe you are right, but i still think that regardless of technique, scraper on glass first is best on jobs where windows have not been cleaned in a long time, if ever.

What about dirt that is literally stuck to the window…?