Sort of an Emergency... Lost my job

Hi everyone, so I have an “emergency” here.

I’ve been thinking about starting a window cleaning business. long story short, I left one job to do another job (took a paycut). Then, the new job decided they couldn’t afford me, and dropped me to minimum wage (another bigger paycut). At that wage, I CAN NOT afford to pay my bills, so I took the plunge (quit) and just decided to hit the streets hard and fast with the window biz.

Luckily, I already have two window cleaning jobs scheduled (two people from HR at my first job admired my determination to start a business and wanted me to clean their windows). one account is $180 job (another company bid already but she wants me to do it). so I didn’t have to bid lol.

I live where it gets relatively cold (around 30-45 degrees) but the sun is always SHINING BRIGHT.

I have no idea how to bid, how long it takes to clean an average window, or varying window sizes. (does it make a big difference?)

I’m wondering where to start? I know there is less money in Storefronts, but if I’m desperate should I start there considering it’s winter, and all that? and… about how long does it take to clean a window? does it make much of a difference if the windows are huge vs medium sized windows? I was looking at this insurance company’s windows, and they seem pretty big to me, compared to a residential bedroom window.

any tips would be greatly appreciated. I’d rather not have to get another crappy job, and I’m much happier and willing to handle the stress of running a business prior to being fully prepared.

Another thing to mention, is i’m not too concerned since I don’t have responsibilities to a family, kids or anything like that. I’m just an almost broke 21 year old aspiring entrepreneur living on my own in an apartment :slight_smile:

I personally would suggest a few things you can do right away that can help you and they are all FREE.

  1. Make the search engine on WCR your best friend
  2. Get a library card and get some books on business to help you get off to a good start (search “books” for an idea)
  3. Start networking like you already have and let people know what you are doing

These three will help you. And if you fall in some money here is a list of things you need for about $1000

  1. Buy Kevin D. book 600/hr. $120 w/ discount
  2. Get a nice website. $450, this is a low number but I have seen great sites for under this.
  3. Business Cards/Flyers. $100 Not cheap ones either
  4. Join WCRA. $350 and take advantage of being a member

Wish you the best

WCR archives is a great place to search topics. Check out window cleaning videos here and Google.Thgere is no average speed for windows to be cleaned. You are new and need practice, practice, practice. Do friends windows, relatives windows. Brush dirt and debris from the windows first, then wet and squeegee. Horse hair paint brushes in a couple of different sizes will aid in this besides a bigger hand held brush. You will encounter very dirty windows. No use in trying to clean mud made from your cleaning solution. You’ll need ladders to reach the intended windows. Target single story homes first. Starting out brand new, with limited equipment I imagine, and hearing a lot of no; no thank you; we pay a guy $4 to do 5 windows, etc. is disheartening. Make up professional looking flyers and deliver them to good neighborhoods. If you can’t make them on your own then ask the Graphics Art instructor at a vocational school if he would like a project for his students. :wink: Save money my brother. Get free small business advice here. Free Small Business Advice | How-to Resources | Tools | Templates | SCORE
Best of luck to you.

You can do it. Here’s a link to a story about when I first started. Hope it’s encouraging.

Cheap flyers made on your computer will get you started. Made a couple hundred and start handing them out door to door in areas with nicer homes. Hopefully before you get them all handed out you will get a few jobs. Just keep doing that until you have money for a website and better marketing bi started 2 years ago with flyers I made and had printed at Staples for .8 cents each. Go door to door in shopping centers for storefronts. You will make mistakes and you will make money. The rest will come in time. I admire your determination.

And John(?), make sure you dress for the occasion- either in what will be your work gear ready to work or a more dressy set of attire if you’re merely canvassing. Remember, first impressions are strong.

Wow, Thank you so much everyone, I really appreciate your help, everyone. Unfortunately, I was about 20 minutes late to purchase the $600/hr! that freakin sucks, but oh well. ha.

I am honestly VERY excited about getting “fired” sort of. haha. I was horribly miserable at my J-O-B’s and I think the fact that I don’t have a choice anymore is what I need. Thanks again everyone. And Michael, Very encouraging story, thank you.


Congrats on becoming self-employed. If you work hard, will soon find that working for yourself is much better than getting paid a wage while someone else profits off YOUR labor.

My piece of advice is this- even if you’re anxious to get some work while you are starting out, DO NOT underprice your services. What will quickly happen is that you will become bogged down with low-paying jobs and have no time for the good-paying work.

So, like the others said, be prepared, work hard, spend time out there canvassing. Other than that, just be honest, reliable and hard-working and everything will fall into place.

Don’t give up!

That is actually what I am most worried about, is underpricing my services. How do I determine what my market is charging? Obviously I need to keep working and going out there and asking, but I’ve been seeing stuff about $1/window lol. How do I figure out what is the going rate? I live in an apartment, so I can’t ask window cleaners to bid my apartment, although I could burden a friend to have window cleaners quote their home, but only if I really have to, i don’t want to burden them with that if its not necessary.

“…seeing stuff about $1/window lol. …”

A $1.00 window would be quite small, or possibly from a set of store fronts. For comparison - I do high end residential mostly with a few businesses. The homes on average I get $4.00 per window (double hung), $5.00/$6.00 per panel of sliders, and 75¢ per pane for French doors or windows. (Depending on the job it may go higher, but on average that’s it.) I do a grocery store that has 53 windows - each side I charge $1.15. This is a weekly gig that I maintain. Another small business just down the road from them I do every 6 weeks. It has two French doors with a sidelight each. Each of those panes of course I charge 75¢ for, the other windows are larger and I get $2.00 each. So $1.00? Not so much. It is tough starting out and being hungry. Hang in there and put a value on your service and look and act the part of a professional.

I’m getting $9 per window and double that for storm windows. Depends of the income in your area. If you qualify, I would apply for unemployment to help you till the business can support you. There may be different opinions on that but that’s what I would do.

Please don’t…

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If he quit he can’t get unemployment. Only if he is fired. At least that is how it works here in Florida.

In an effort to try and be to the point in regards to your questions. As mentioned here, the pricing depends on your area. In Jersey $10 per window $2 per screen. That’s for a double hung, inside and out, frames, tracks, sill and sash. I calculate out 10 minutes per window (MAX) for an extremely dirty window w/screen. So for simple math 6 windows should take you 1 hour and gross you $72. It’s just a simple way for me to figure out how long it should take my employee/employees to complete a home. It’s a baseline for me. Of course other factors come into play IE windows may not be very dirty, tech may have experience thus can clean faster with little or no touch ups. But again it’s a good baseline for me in pricing. Your $$ will be based on your location as already mentioned. The very first house I cleaned with a friend helping took all day (8 hours) had only 25 windows. We had no idea what we were doing and were tripping over each other. But you learn as you go, what’s going to increase your time. As an example. When it’ comes to tracks and sills I only use a painters 3 in 1 tool with a rag wrapped around it to get into the hard reach places with a spray bottle on stream. A good bottle will provide enough power to break up all to dirt, the tool will get into the corners and you can spray again to get everything out. Use as much spray as needed to (Flow) all the junk out, then wipe clean. When done right, you can blast through sills and tracks quickly. Another trick I will use, is clean the outside first. I take off all the screens, grab the customers garden hose and hose out all the tracks. I make sure the windows are locked so nothing can spray inside. I then clean the windows. Outside you do not have to be as careful with drips cause it’s outside. I also like this way as when I go inside I can see any drips or issues that might show up on the outside. You will figure out what works for you and how to speed things up. Just remember this, quality is the key thing. If you make sure every window is super clean your customers will have you back. Cleaning a window is a luxury service and not needed in most cases. People can do it themselves. Can they do it as well as a pro, no. But again, they can do it. So you need to make sure you show them the value in hiring you. In most cases, it’s the time it takes you and the end result. If the job is done so well that in the end the customer instantly knows they would never have done as good a job and the price is right. They will call you back. Good luck to you. BTW you can clean in those temps no problem.

Don’t have another WC company give a quote to your friend unless you can imagine in a couple of years spending your time giving the next new guy a meaningless quote on [B][I]his[/I][/B] friends house trying to figure out what [I][B]you[/B][/I] charge and being happy about it when you figure out what he’s up to. “Do unto others…”

Don’t try to re-invent the wheel, learn from others’ mistakes!

Get down to your local Economic Development Council or Community College and enroll in a “How to Write a Business Plan” course. These courses will force you to open your eyes and take a really clear, good look at what it takes to start a business, the legals involved (licenses, taxes etc.) and you will be forced to put a marketing plan together. These people will help you make smart, clear-minded decisions about the realities and hard work involved in starting a business.

Also SCORE, Service Corp of Retired Executives, is a good resource too.

City of Reno : Economic Development Resources

and here

Business Plan

Good luck! I remember when I first got started.

This entire thread is great and full of info.

Yes it is, hopefully anyone who reads it will utilize the available resources provided.


I admire your tenacity to succeed. I am so sorry to hear of the situation that forced you into entrepreneurship, and yet as you recognize it can certainly be a blessing in disguise. I wanted to contribute to the list of resources that are being shared with you.

Curt Kempton [MENTION=429]5star[/MENTION] has developed Customer Service Factory to share his experience and secrets to success from 5 Star Window Care.

It’s an amazing resource to better understand how to be more successful in your business and I know that it will help you as you are trying to get started. Both Curt and I are much like you, being entrepreneurs at heart we want to see you succeed in achieving your dreams.

Enjoy these videos:

Getting started creating your website: Building A WordPress Site 101

Succeeding In Your Sales: Sales Funnels For Service Businesses

Starting Small: Embracing Being Small

Growing your cliental through your reputation: Reputation Economy

Those are a few just to get you started. Together we stand on the shoulders of giants!