More and more people want to be the boss of their own company. In the UK, starting a window cleaning business is the way which many people choose to do it.
Because it may have had a reputation as a dangerous job in the past. But these days, window cleaning is safe, relatively simple and – best of all – you don’t even need to be climbing about on ladders any more.
Yet there are quite a few questions prospective window cleaning entrepreneurs need to ask themselves:
Is there a demand for window cleaners in your area? What’s your initial investment going to look like? How will you attract customers?
If you’re wondering how to start a window cleaning business in the UK, this article has all the answers you need.
Let’s start with perhaps the most important question – is window cleaning profitable?
The short answer is “yes”. The slightly longer one is that it depends, of course, on which part of the country you’re going to be based in and the type of services which you deliver. There’s a difference between delivering traditional ladder-and-squeegee window cleaning and modern water-fed pole methods, for example.
Some average figures tell us that it’s not uncommon for a window cleaner to earn £200 per day or £25 per hour.
But to achieve this, you will need to invest in the right equipment. A lot of the money in window cleaning is in commercial clients too. Proper equipment is vital if you want to get some of these.
Is there a demand for window cleaners?
Yes. Window cleaning is one of those businesses which never goes out of style and for which there is always demand.
In fact, it’s one of those businesses types which people often turn to when they change career or lose their other job during something like a recession.
This is precisely because it’s the sort of industry where there will always be customers.
Do window cleaners work in the rain?
It sounds like a silly question. But in the UK, this can be a major concern! Joking aside, while you might get wet, there’s no reason window cleaners can’t work in the rain.
It’s usually wind that’s more of a problem. Windy conditions can make it difficult to control your water-fed pole and result in poorer quality cleaning as well as being potentially dangerous.
But overall, you won’t find that there are many days when the weather will stop you from delivering your services. Even in the UK!
Do I need a licence to clean windows?
If you are planning to open a window cleaning business in Scotland, you will need to apply to your local council for a specific license and have a criminal records check. You can do this through the government’s website at https://www.gov.uk/window-cleaners-licence-scotland.
If you’re anywhere else in the UK, you don’t need a license to clean windows. However, if you want to make yourself appear as professional as possible, it might be worth considering getting some sort of accreditation or approval. You might consider:
- The Federation of Window Cleaners (it’s a good idea to join this group right at the start as they can provide you with help and advice) https://www.f-w-c.co.uk/
- The Institute of Occupational Safety and Health http://www.iosh.co.uk/default.aspx
- The Health and Safety Executive http://www.hse.gov.uk/
- The British Window Cleaning Academy (their Clear Choice accreditation program can help you find clients) http://www.bwca.co.uk/
Do I need insurance?
It’s not a requirement, but it’s certainly a very good idea – even if it’s only for your own peace of mind!
Not only will this mean that you’re financially protected as much as possible, but it’s also a great way to advertise your safety and reliability to new clients. You might want to consider:
- Public liability insurance (you should get this at a minimum)
- Employer’s liability insurance (if you have staff, you’re legally required to have this)
- Personal accident insurance
- Business equipment insurance (if you have expensive tools)
What equipment do I need to start a window cleaning business?
There are essentially three different equipment routes you can go down if you’re intending to start a window cleaning business:
1) The absolute basics
If you’re really limited in funds and you still want to start a business, you can get a basic window cleaning kit together without too much cost.
You can offer some limited commercial window cleaning with this set-up. But it will be of the general internal type and this will limit you in the commercial clients you can take on.
You will need:
- A ladder
- A bucket
- An applicator, squeegee and scraper
- Scrim or microfibre cloths
- Some sort of cleaning detergent
- A belt pouch for holding cloths and other items while aloft
- A bucket belt
- A first aid kit
2) A modern professional window cleaner’s kit
Commonly called a “water-fed pole” or a “reach and wash” system, a modern window cleaner’s kit keeps your feet squarely on the ground while purified water is jetted onto even elevated windows through a pole. This is far safer and much more effective than an old-school ladder and squeegee.
The components of a system such as this usually include:
- A baffled water tank
- TDS Meter
- A pole and brush
- Pump, pump controller and battery to power them
- Filter system
- Metal hose reel
- Microbore hose
- Standard hose to connect the tank to pump and pump to hose reel
- Various connectors
- A vehicle to carry it all
3) Specialist window cleaning
If you have the skills and training to offer abseil window cleaning or high-level cleaning using specialist equipment like a crane or cherry picker, you might go down the specialist route.
However, this has a large initial financial investment.
Window cleaner training
Unless you already have experience in the industry working for an existing window cleaning company, you will need to get yourself some training before you start your business.
Take a course to get the skills and knowledge you need to do the job right. Simply throwing some soapy water on a window and hoping you get results is never going to win you the all-important return customers you need to make a success of your business.
Check out the “Cleaning Windows Safely” course to start off with. It’s accredited by the Federation of Window Cleaners and the Institute of Occupational Safety and Health.
Find customers for your window cleaning business
Establishing a client base is another major step on the road to starting your own window cleaning company. To market your new company, you should consider:
- Making a website – many people these days will search for the window cleaning company they need online.
- Local advertising – in papers, community centres and shop windows.
- Leaflet drops and face-to-face – leaflets are a classic marketing strategy for a reason. Consider knocking on the door for a chat to establish that personal connection.
- Word of mouth – ask friends, family and everyone you know if they need window cleaners.
- Use your vehicle – proper signage and contact details on your vehicle are vital.
- Go social – various social media platforms have local groups and many other places you can advertise your new business.
As soon as you can, it’s a good idea to be a little picky about your clients. Ideally, you want regular customers – preferably commercial ones – who don’t quibble about payment and who are satisfied with the results you achieve.
Don’t be afraid not to keep working for clients who don’t pay for months or constantly complain about the quality you deliver. Also be aware of cleaning the windows of prominent buildings which remain dirty most of the year round. They are a poor advert for the quality your new business will deliver.
The benefits of buying a window cleaning franchise in the UK
Large numbers of people starting their own window cleaning company in recent years have decided to buy a window cleaning franchise instead.
Why? It seems like the window cleaning industry should be easy enough to enter on your own. After all, all you should need is your equipment and a willingness to clean.
But the modern marketplace for window cleaning services has changed. These days, people demand more from their window cleaners – things that being part of a franchise will help you deliver:
Being able to achieve high standards in window cleaning requires top-of-the-range equipment and attention to detail. This latter is often the result of proper training. A cloth and squeegee don’t cut it anymore.
Being part of a franchise ensures that you and every member of your team get the training they need. This means you deliver the kind of quality that your customers will want to use again.
Remember – it’s a competitive industry out there. If your customers want to find a different window cleaner, they won’t have to look far.
Most customers these days want to search for window cleaners and book online. For most smaller window cleaning companies, getting found online means putting themselves at the mercy of a big platform or marketplace website.
However, as part of a window cleaning franchise – at least, if it’s anything like Fantastic Services – you will have an online booking system operated on your behalf. Not to mention extensive marketing and customer-finding activities locating new clients for you.
Expanding your window cleaning business as a franchisee
If you start to become successful as a window cleaner, there are many growth and expansion options available. Unfortunately, many of them come with risks attached.
For instance, sub-contracting risks you bringing on a newcomer who has no incentive to deliver the quality of results you need to retain your clients. Employing a new team member means handling the legal requirements of employment on top of delivering training.
Finding a window cleaning franchise for sale lets you manage these expansion risks and more. Franchise opportunities like those Fantastic Services offers are designed to grow right from the start. They come with all of the training you and any new team member might need – as well as proven processes and strategies to help you grow your business to the level you want to achieve.
Unlike options like sub-contracting, which often exist in a kind of legal “grey area”, buying a window cleaning franchise in the UK is a proven and successful business model.
This post was written by Fantastic Services and posted on their website here. They are an exhibitor on the FranchiseShow247 Cleaning & Domestic Services floor and you can visit their FranchiseShow247 exhibition stand here.