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How to Start a Window Cleaning Business in 10 Steps

May 10, 2024 12 min. read
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Starting a window cleaning business is an attractive venture in almost every sense: you get to be your own boss, there’s no lengthy or expensive training, overhead costs are low, and there’s tons of opportunity to grow.

Still, there is some legwork required to get started, from building a business plan, to getting window washing insurance, to getting the right tools for the trade, and learning how to price jobs.

To take the guesswork out of it all, follow this guide and the advice from three window cleaning experts to learn how to start a window washing business.

1. Find a mentor

Learn from other window cleaning professionals to set yourself up for success.

Both David Moerman of Revive Washing and Stephen Richardson of 20/20 Window Cleaning say their top advice for new window cleaners is to find someone who has done what you want to do, and reach out to them.

“You can shortcut your way to success by learning from other people who’ve done it before,” says David. “I give a lot of credit to another Jobber user, who runs A+ Window Cleaners in Kamloops. The amount I’ve learned I have to give him credit for, and we’ve become friends through window cleaning.”

The beauty of starting a window washing business today is that you can learn a ton from window cleaning influencers online.

2. Brush up on your customer service

Window cleaning is a service business – emphasis on service. Anyone can wash windows. It’s your professionalism, customer service skills, and dedication to your clients that will set you apart and keep customers coming back.

Before starting your window cleaning business, brush up on a few service basics:

Appearance: Your vehicle, tools, uniforms, and documents need to be clean and presentable at all times. Little things, like wearing shoe covers when you go indoors, can go a long way. Remember, you’ll be entering people’s homes and businesses, so take pride in your work and always look the part.

Communication: Whether it’s sending appointment reminders, texting quotes, or sending impeccable window cleaning invoices, there are lots of ways to impress clients and set yourself apart.

“When someone is looking for an exterior cleaning company, they are looking for professionalism, communication, responsiveness and then following that will be your price and things of that nature,” says Christine Hodge of Clearview Washing. “But to run a successful business, you have to be professional.”

Efficiency: Your customer’s time is valuable—and so is yours. The more efficient you can be, the more you’ll impress customers and be able to fit work into your schedule. Things like online booking and electronic payments speed up daily activities so everyone can get on with their day.

Get to know your clients on a more fun level than just doing the service you provide and collecting payment. Being personable is huge in the service business. It can make a huge difference when someone is deciding between two companies for the same service.

HVAC work order template (annotated)
Stephen Richardson 20/20 Window Cleaning

3. Write a business plan

Creating a plan for your window cleaning business helps you figure out your day-to-day operations, prepare you for the future, and secure a loan if you need some start-up money. 

Your plan should include:

  • Cover page: Include your business name and the date.
  • Table of contents: List the different sections of the business plan.
  • Executive summary: Give a quick recap of the entire document.
  • Business overview: Provide a description of your window cleaning business and explain the services you’ll offer to customers.
  • Services list: Show the residential or commercial window cleaning services you’ll provide.
  • Pricing strategy: Set pricing for your services.
  • Market analysis: Show what area you’ll serve and what customers are there.
  • Competitive analysis: Compare your business to other window cleaning businesses in your area.
  • Marketing plan: Outline how you’ll reach ideal customers and win new work.
  • Employee planning: Decide what roles you’ll need and make a hiring timeline.
  • Financial projections: Plan income, expenses, and salary for your first year of business.

You can learn more about making a plan from the Small Business Administration.

4. Establish your business and get business insurance

It’s time to make your business vision a bonafide, legal entity. Here’s how:

  • Choose a window cleaning business name to register your business under and let people know who you are and what you offer. Even if you’re flying solo and using your own name to represent your business, it goes a long way in helping customers remember you.
  • Pick a business structure. In the U.S., that’s usually a sole proprietor, partnership, or limited liability company (LLC), or limited liability partnership (LLP). You can also choose to incorporate your business.

“Incorporating is more expensive, but it creates a legal shield between yourself and your company,” says Dave. “It’s better from a liability standpoint, and it’s the proper thing to do if you’re going to grow and hire employees.”

  • Get a business permit to make sure you can legally offer services in the area of your choice. Your local Chamber of Commerce will be able to help you understand the type of license you need and the requirements for your area.
  • Apply for an employer identification number (EIN) if you plan to grow your window cleaning business and eventually hire some help. This also helps when filing taxes with the Internal Revenue Service.
  • Open a business bank account and sign up for accounting software to keep your bookkeeping crystal clean. QuickBooks is a popular option for small businesses to record expenses, track accounts receivable, and document all forms of income.

Finally, you’ll need to purchase window cleaning insurance.

5. Buy your window cleaning supplies

The right tools will help you get the job done right. Luckily, traditional window cleaning tools are affordable and widely available.

Add these items to your shopping list:

  • A squeegee
  • Microfiber cloths and towels
  • An extension pole
  • T-bar and sleeve
  • A scraper
  • Cleaning solution and buckets(regular dish soap works great)
  • A ladder
  • A bidding and invoicing system

These tools and supplies can be purchased for a few hundred dollars if sourced well. Once you’ve gotten your business off the ground, you can invest in more advanced tools, like a water purification system and water-fed pole.

6. Decide how much you’ll charge

Unless you’ve worked in the window cleaning industry before, learning how to price and bid window cleaning jobs may take some practice.

Most window cleaners don’t charge by the hour. Instead, they charge by the number of window panes (each individual piece of glass) and the type of cleaning (construction, inside and outside, or inside only).

Average prices are $3 to $5 per window pane and $2 per screen. You will need to charge more for construction cleans and less for high-frequency clients (you’ll make up the profits in the long-run). You can also charge for cleaning window tracks and window sills.

The more you bid, the more you’ll learn. If you win 100% of your bids, you might be charging too little. If you’re losing out, don’t be afraid to ask what your competitor offered so you can begin to understand the market.

READ MORE: Learn more about pricing strategies for service businesses.

7. Find and attract new customers

Promoting your window cleaning business will help you find your first customers and grow. You don’t need to hire an expensive agency or spend lots of money to get started.

Here are a few inexpensive ways to market a window cleaning business:

  • Go door-to-door in your service area to introduce your services to potential residential or commercial clients. Window cleaning canvassing can be nerve-wrecking, but it works!
  • Build a professional home service website that lists your services and gives prospects an easy way to book work
  • List yourself in local business directories and online marketplaces
  • Create a Google Business listing and start collecting reviews
  • Network with local service businesses, such as landscapers, remodellers, and realtors. You can offer a two-way referral system to grow each other’s client base.

Once you’ve started to build your book of clients, you can include remarketing strategies, like following up with existing customers, email and postcard marketing, and creating a referral program.

Around 30% of our new leads come from Google search. We have the most and highest reviewed company of the Lower Mainland. We’re really proud of that and tell all our clients.

Image of a handyman work order example
Dave Moerman Revive Washing

8. Hire a team

This step may or may not be a top priority when you start out, but is necessary as you grow and scale the business.

Revive Washing has seen their revenue increase with every new crew they’ve added. 

“We did $89,000 (CAD) in our first year, and $155,000 in our second with double the crews,” explains David. “Where the big jump happened was this year, I was able to hire a production manager to basically help me run the crews and so this year our teams were 5 crews: that’s 10 guys plus a manager, and myself.”

When you’re unbelievably busy, or are looking to expand into a new territory, it’s probably time to hire your first employee.

If you’re just starting out, keep your team close knit so you can train them well and ensure consistent quality and service:

“We have found that with four well-trained employees, you can do a lot of work. You can make it extremely efficient. With 4-5 people, our overhead is pretty small so we can make a very good living,” says Stephen.

Team of window cleaning employees standing in front of work vans with their arms linked around each others shoulders in a circle.

A lot of service business owners think they are the best and have to do all the work. This is a very limiting mindset and will cap the growth and size of your business. Hire people who are better at certain tasks and activities than you are.

Image of a handyman work order example
Dave Moerman Revive Washing

9. Expand your service offering

Adding services to your window cleaning business will open up opportunities for more work and greater profits, but whether or not to offer additional services will depend on your region, business goals, and customer demand.

Revive Washing started out by just offering window cleaning, but soon customers were asking for gutter cleaning, soft washing, and pressure washing. Adding these services has increased their revenue and allowed them to work all year round.

“If we just did window cleaning, we’d really see a slow winter. Because we do gutter cleaning and house washing, it slows down. But at least it’s not like going off a cliff,” says David.

Ideas for additional window cleaning services to offer include:

  • Gutter cleaning
  • Pressure washing
  • Soft washing
  • Screen repair
  • Christmas light installation

You can either advertise these services or only offer them on request.

“You alway want to be all inclusive,” Christine says. “You want to offer up front all the services you offer and you’re capable of cleaning and you alway want to make sure that you’re constantly educating the client so that they trust you as a business.”

10. Create processes to make your business more efficient

Administrative tasks aren’t the reason you started a window cleaning business. But neglecting them could be the reason you go out of business.

Letting client information slip through the cracks, missing appointments, and losing track of invoices will seriously damage your reputation and cash flow.

The earlier you take control of your business operations, the less financial loss and headache you’ll have down the road. Window cleaning software is your best bet to get organized and stay organized.

Most important features of window cleaning software include:

The request/quote/job system for entering new jobs has been a game changer for us! We were still old school and not sending bids through email for the most part so being able to have all the customer requests/quotes and the jobs we’ve done for clients saved in one place is a huge help to our company.

HVAC work order template (annotated)
Stephen Richardson 20/20 Window Cleaning

Now it’s time to take what you’ve learned and put together that business plan for your window cleaning business. It will take time, but with passion, patience and these helpful tips, you’ll be up and running in no time.

Frequently asked questions for starting a window cleaning business

How much does it cost to start a window cleaning business?

Starting a window cleaning business doesn’t require a huge amount of capital. You can get started for less than $1,000 if you’re working solo and already have a van or truck. Most of your upfront costs will go towards tools, clean uniforms, and the initial costs of establishing your business.

You can save money by operating out of your home and learning new techniques for free on YouTube.

After getting your insurance, establishing your business, and if you had a car already, you can do storefront and get started for between $1,000 to $5,000. Start with the traditional tools because the cost is low. Build a customer base with storefronts to get some regular, monthly routes. Once you get into pure water, the cost goes up for the initial buy in, but you’ll be able to go after bigger, more profitable residential jobs.

HVAC work order template (annotated)
Stephen Richardson 20/20 Window Cleaning

Is window cleaning a good career?

In short, yes, window cleaning can be a great career. It’s highly profitable, since you collect payment on the spot, revenue is recurring, and overhead costs are so low.

A typical day as a window cleaner includes canvassing, pricing jobs, scheduling visits, handling customer service, and day-to-day operations.

In order to excel at owning a window cleaning company, you need to excel at sales and customer service. You must also be physically fit and ready to handle some rejection, especially during your early days of cold calling and canvassing.

You can make a great living being a window cleaner. Being able to buy my own home and vehicle and turn this into a truly good career showed that this is something I could do for my whole life.

HVAC work order template (annotated)
Stephen Richardson 20/20 Window Cleaning

How much do window cleaners make?

The average window cleaning salary is $15-25 per hour, or $30,000-$50,000 per year, going up to $60,000 depending on your region. The average high rise window cleaning salary is higher, starting at $18 per hour. You can also think of your window cleaning salary in terms of jobs: the average residential window cleaning job is $180. If you complete 3 jobs a day, that’s $2,700 a week in revenue.

Is a window cleaning business profitable?

As a business owner, you can scale and earn more depending on the services you offer. For example, you can charge more for house cleaning packages or use water-fed poles and use Jobber’s routing feature to cut transit time and fit more jobs in the day.

Meet our industry experts:

Dave Moerman, Revive Washing

After spending 7 years building a successful house painting business, Dave launched Revive Washing, an exterior cleaning company that donates a portion of every job to support clean water projects across the globe. He’s got a knack for business, sales, and marketing, and has used it to scale his business from 2 to 10 employees in under 3 years. Follow his business journey for a real look at what it takes to run a business.

Stephen Richardson, aka SteveO the Window Cleaner, 20/20 Window Cleaning

Steve has been in the window cleaning business for nearly two decades. He’s now co-owner of Colorado’s 20/20 Window Cleaning—but if you’re one of his 15,000+ YouTube followers, you probably know him best as SteveO the Window Cleaner. A true master of his craft, Steve shares everything from window cleaning tool reviews to the sometimes harsh realities of owning a window cleaning business.

Christine Hodge, Clearview Washing

As the CEO of Clearview Washing, Christine Hodge has put the company on an aggressive growth trajectory, almost doubling the staff and increasing revenue by 200%. Christine is a tech-savvy systems integrator and excels at instilling a corporate culture of excellence and accountability. Her leadership at Clearview has seen the employee retention rate rise to nearly 100%, and she prides herself on building a company culture that’s the best of the best, with a strong team that represents the brand well.

Originally published in July 2019. Last updated on May 10, 2024.

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