I have some experience cleaning windows with an exterior service company … it was a couple of years ago …to be honest , I learned more from you tube than I did from them .
I got geared up last fall ( trad only ) and started advertising in February of this year. I work full time , and generally do windows one or two days a week . So I’m booked out until almost June , but it’s like 6 jobs haha. And a few accounts . My main problem is I find every job is running way long . I have set up a system and strive for efficiency. I am a cabinetmaker , and am very organized and precise , and understand workflow and minimizing wasted motion etc…
I know I will get faster , but cleaning a weeks worth of days in 5 weeks , it’s been harder to get up to speed . I am also probably overdoing it on tracks etc .
I dont want to give up, but if I dont get faster, I feel I will not be making enough to keep at it .
Also right now I will not book more than one job a day because I’m constantly going over time .
I’m not sure what advice I’m after , other than how many panes are you guys averaging per hour/job/day etc.
I didn’t gauge my speed by per pane but by dollers per hour.
For houses I wanted to be somewhere between $100-150 per hour.
As for getting faster it’s all about the muscle memory. Focus on smooth technique and eventually smooth translates to speed.
Yes . I’ve been averaging $50 an hour haha. Sometimes more, and sometimes less…
Also I did a few jobs where I charged just for the glass , and not for screens and a few things because it was very early in the season, and I let them know it was an early booking discount etc…
I’ve been feeling better with every job so far.
I actually pushed off a large house a few weeks because I didn’t feel ready … I also told him it would take more than one day… it’s quite large .
so I got in some more practise .
My end result is very good … but I probably overdo it …
I seem to be spending 2/3 time inside and 1/3 time outside …
I will just keep striving to get better .
Slow is smooth & smooth is fast.
I’d bet you’re very meticulous and have an eye for detail. This may be eating up unnecessary time on each window. What we (WC’ers) see is not what the customer will see. The overall finished product (in it’s entirety) is what the custy sees…not the tiny individual details we are looking at per each window. I used to spend waaaaay too much time on windows (tracks, tiny spots on glass, excessive detailed frame cleaning, too much time on screens, access to window, blinds, moving nick-nacks/furniture, etc. Once I streamlined those factors, and could focus on overall big picture results…things moved quicker. WC’ers are creatures of habit. Fine tune your habits within the realm of realistic results. “See” what your customer will see at the end of the job, not just what YOU see inches from glass. Hope any of this helps!
Thanks SqueakyPete, I’m a newbie to window cleaning professionally and this is very helpful to hear!
I am very guilty of all these things .
I had the same problem when I started commercial cabinetmaking.
I came from a furniture background , and made everything like it was a grand piano… I learned to focus on what’s important , and what is still very good, but not perfect .
Thanks for the advice .
I’m in a similar boat to you (full-time job while doing windows on the side) and also feel like the cleanings take to long.
The advice you’ve gotten so far is good.
One thing I’d add is: consider setting clear expectations on things like tracks. In my estimates, I state that only a wipe or quick dry brush is included in standard cleanings.
Finally, I commend you for thinking about this as a craft. That is the attitude that will not only get you to clean faster, while also delivering quality.
Great advice here sir.
Good reminders to focus on the things the customer cares about and to establish good habits/process.
I generally do try to set expectations ( especially with tracks) but just starting out , sometimes you bid what you think they will say yea to, not quite what the job needs to be…
I have generally been pricing based on per pane / window /screens etc … and when I get up to speed, the pricing should be ok haha…
I don’t want to undercut myself, and any repeat customers will either be a loss for me next year/service , or the price will be too far increased for them .
So far everyone has been very satisfied , and I hope to keep it that way .
Stop discounting is my first tip.
If you’re trying to make as much money as possible in as little time as possible you should be the premium of premium.
Are you struggling with speed or are you losing time through waste? I’m a cabinet builder too, but I also lead 3 manufacturing departments (CNC, Assembly and Sanding), have certifications in Lean 6 Sigma and I balance the production flow through my 3 areas daily.
I would first look up the mnemonic acronym TIMWOODS; the 8 wastes in manufacturing.
(Respectively: transport, inventory, movement, waiting, over production, over processing, defects, and skills)
You sound like me where I have ‘overprocessed’ to prevent a ‘defect’, but a properly engineered process should allow for a good balance between the two. Let’s say you squeegee off your solution but miss a small spot at the top corner of a window. You could redo the window (over-processing) to get rid of a defect or you could suck it up and use your microfiber cloth to buff it out (just understand I cringe as I say this because I’m a perfectionist).
As an analogy, my 3 departments are both internal suppliers and internal customers. If my CNC operators (suppliers) provide defective parts to my assemblers (customer), the customer isn’t very happy, but - depending on the extent of the defect - the assemblers can usual make up for the CNCs’ error.
Similarly, you are both the supplier and the internal customer to your own processes. If the ‘squeegee-process guy’ doesn’t get all of the solution off of the window, the ‘detailing-process guy’ receives a product that is technically defective, but can generally be worked with instead of having to redoing the entire process. Its not optimal, but it works. Finding the balance is going to be crucial though if you ever intend to hire help.
Furthermore - revisiting the analogy - if my Sanding department finds a defect that has slipped past both CNC and Assembly, I have to make the call of whether or not it is worth having the Sanding department fix the issues they inherited from their predecessors or if its more economical to remake the cabinet.
Applying this to you, if the ‘scrubbing guy’ and the ‘squeegee guy’ both miss a spot of stubborn dirt, can the ‘detailing guy’ effectively remediate the issue by hitting it with 0000 steel wool or is it more economical to re-clean the entire window? Its subjective, but you will learn what is workable for you - and eventually any help you may hire - and what has to be redone. You have to learn what your internal customer is able to work with and what they cannot.
It use to irritate me when I would make a cabinet that wasn’t perfect, but I can spend all day building 1 perfect cabinet, or I can have my Sanding department spend 3 extra seconds and fix the issue. That is why they exist. If I could squeegee a window perfectly, I hypothetically wouldn’t need to detail it, but perfection is hard to accomplish. Its more time-effective to have a detailing step that makes up for my reasonable inadequacy and errors with a squeegee.
This obviously isn’t an exhaustive handbook on what to do, but rather a guiding principle. I hope you find it helpful.
Thank you for that very detailed explanation .
It is not my first choice, but I bugged out a few mistakes today … it was a huge house…. Almost 200 panes … I am feeling better in my process , in the last 2 days I cleaned 400 panes … it got faster …
To be honest I was quite concerned before starting this one, but I was upfront with the customer when I bid it .
I would say I am an advanced beginner/intermediate… and it will come together …
I remember back when I started woodworking … I’ve come a long way haha…
so I am happy to pay my dues , and put the time in to advance my craft .