What would you charge for an emergency clean?

Let’s take a hypothectical situation. A $10 storefront job is about to be visited by head office, they want their windows cleaned NOW. You aren’t going to be in the area that day, and lets say you have no other jobs planned today. But they want their windows cleaned right away. So you are going to go, even though you have nothing else to do.

The job is about 30 minutes away from your home.

How would you charge them? Would you just charge them $10 and figure that the goodwill you generate would pay off in the future? Or would you charge them for an hours work, or more, let’s say $50 or $60 bucks, which they may gladly pay because it’s an emergency?

How much would you charge them, your feedback is appreciated.



I always charge double the normal price for an emergency store front clean.

In the past, I’ve charged both 1) the same as a regular cleaning (customer with good, long-term relationship) and 2) double the established maintenance charge (immediate response still provides goodwill.)

Id have to say for me if it was a long standing client then I would do it for regular price. these emergencies dont happen too often.
But the fact you mention a 30 min drive…that may warrant at least double, and you can let them know this in advance.

Hi Mike,

Last September I got a call mid-afternoon on a Saturday from a restaurant that was having a grand opening later that evening. It was downtown on King St. (20 minutes from me). It was four 6’x6’ windows but they were high enough to warrant a ladder. I’d pole it but it was CCU and I wanted nose to the glass.

The owner told me he had another restaurant across the street (tons of windows there) and he’d probably get me to do both on a schedule.

So I charge $24 for the emergency clean. Still peanuts considering the situation but I was trying to invest in future business.

The owner was ecstatic that I could show up at such short notice and get the job done and done well. Paid me on the spot, shook hands, gave me his email and reminded me to contact him regarding bidding both places.

After viewing the other restaurant I gave him a package price for both. Never heard back from him again even after several phone messages and emails.

Bottom line, he used me.

Mike, if this is a regular customer, I’d charged double. If this is a new possible customer, get them to sign a contract on the spot for the year and only charge double at best for this first gig.

Mark: Sorry to hear about that situation.

I have run into that situation once or twice in the past. But now I don’t do any work until there is a verbal agreement of a schedule. If they are trying to use you they usually become evasive.

I almost always charge more for an initial clean. Although it’s usually less than my desired hourly rate.

If you try to get this guy again, go talk to him in person. Phone messages and emails don’t cut it sadly.

All: Anyway for new posters: This situation is for a regular customer not a construction clean or a new clean.

I appreciate the feedback so far, Thanks!

99% of the time issues that require service right away are due to the owners not being on the ball. I don’t think clean windows will warrant that store getting a fine from the health department. Well not a normal dirty window, if the window looks like it’s completely covered in junk that may be another issue. I’m pretty sure the health dept would over look something like that. But then again this is a make believe story so we can say they would. Either way my point is, when it comes to any work, res or com. Charge them for it. Charge them double plus your gas. I have found in my life that everytime you try to be a nice guy and do what you think would be a nice jester, it blows up in your face.
We have all been there. Example: Can you give me a better discount? I’m going to use your service again in 6 months.
Then they never call, or when you call them, they dont’ want to schedule. So now when I hear that from a customer, tell them. Sure I will give you the better discount when you call me the 2nd time.

It’s great to be a nice guy but the sad part is that age old saying is often true. Nice guys finish last. I find it business that is really double the case.

Mikep: the bigger answer is not to have any $10 clients!

(Im kidding…a little…)

ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS charge extra. Did I say “always” ?


I would charge $50 (or more) with the scenario you’ve mentioned.

$10 clients need to be reminded that they are not the center of the universe, and that you are far too BUSY and IN DEMAND to be able to drop everything for such a mickey-mouse job.

If you had a monthly $700+ client, then I would say do a touch up for free, or maybe dont considering charging extra for a full-blown emergency clean, but with a small client like this, absolutely yes, charge at least $50.

Communicate this on the phone though, first, before you start driving.

Hey Jugg.

My hypothetical situation is not that the health dept is coming, but rather the head office is coming. I’ve seen some franchises go crazy when the head office is coming and clean everything from top to bottom, including of course the windows.

Your right about being taken advantage of. If I did resi, I wouldn’t give the discount until they called again.

Your absolutely right about that.

I agree…

If this situation is, lets say, a weekly account, I would treat it as any other job. But if this is res. or any account done monthly or less, charge em out the wazoo! gas isnt cheap anymore. :mad:

I just had a car dealership that we’ve cleaned a couple of times call me yesteday and ask if I could clean their windows within the next 48hours (I think they had corporate heads coming). I told them if they signed up on a maint. contract (quarterly) I’d re-adjust my schedule to fit them in. They called back and agreed. We did it yesterday and I didn’t charge them any extra since they signed up (besides it’s a $350 job that takes under 4 man hours to complete).

Excellent tactic, Jason. Well done.

The ‘gentle’, strong-arm approach. Smart thinking on your feet.

If it is an established customer, I would come and take care of them for regular price plus a “When I ask you for a favor, you can’t refuse” handshake. If it was a new or recent customer, I would charge them a trip fee agreed upon before dispatch.

Any time I hear a customer tell me about how much business they are worth in the future, if I cover them today, I just laugh at them

Regardless of what your schedule is on that day, whether your busy or not, short notice emergency cleaning requires an extra charge, when I am contacted by a customer and they request our service asap I let them know there will be an extra charge for the immediate service. For a storefront that is $10, the fee would be $30. Most customers are happy to pay the extra amount to get the job done when they need it.

Brady Miller
Big Shiny Windows
Deep River, ON Canada