Determining the Cost of Window Cleaning

Window Cleaning companies usually use one of two methods to determine their cost per window.

Method #1: Calculate Actual Costs

1) Human resource expenses that include wages, simple IRA match, workers compensation insurance, criminal background checks, driving record check, previous employer verification, safety training, quality training, customer service training.  2) Insurance that protects the clients in the event of injury on their property.  Insurance to repair or replace property in the event of damage or breakage.  This will include workers compensation, general liability and automobile insurance.  3) The necessary costs of providing the service such as trucks, ladders, equipment, etc..  4) Costs to attract and acquire customers such as website, yellow page advertising, marketing, signage, sales efforts, estimates, etc.

Method #2: Mirror the price of competitors

Base your charges off your previous employer’s prices or call the well established companies and get their prices and then match them.

SO WHY SHOULD THE CONSUMER CARE WHICH METHOD IS USED?  Because you will pay the same price either way, but you will not get the same service.

With Method #2 you will get your windows cleaned; hopefully well, but no guarantees of even that.

With Method #1 you will get clean windows, plus you will have peace-of-mind due to a fully insured organization, you can trust that background checks have been done on all employees, you will feel the satisfaction of knowing that all employees are paid a living wage and have an IRA match for their retirement, you will experience the joy of having service providers who are well trained in customer service and window cleaning excellence, you will get the convenience of your calls and emails being taken by an office staff, and finally, you will experience the ease of scheduling because an established company has many service trucks staffed with well trained employees.

Buying Criteria Determines Excellent or Poor Service

The expression “You get what you pay for” rings true more often than not, but one of the exceptions is in window cleaning. After almost forty years of owning Diamond Window Cleaning, Inc. I have found that both the best and worst window cleaners all charge roughly the same amount of money, which means that many home owners are paying for a new Audi and getting a used Fiat.  Why would savvy consumers make such a rookie mistake?  For the same reason people do anything wrong…they lack information (particularly industry specific information) or more simply stated, they lack a defined set of buying criteria.

So, since you are already paying for it, how can you get the Audi performance from your window cleaner? First and foremost, do not hire a commercial window cleaner to clean the windows in your house.  Going commercial in your home is so horribly wrong for three reasons: Poles, rags and ruts.  A quality window cleaner will always use a ladder and not a pole to clean your windows.  The reason why should be obvious.  Would you inspect your newly cleaned windows from 20 feet away or would you want to get right up next to the window to check the quality of the window cleaning?  The window cleaner cannot see the window well from twenty feet away either.  Could you clean a very high ceiling fan better with a pole or from scaffolding that allowed you to get right up on it?  Window cleaners cannot clean windows as well with poles as they can when right up next to the glass—no matter their experience.  If your window cleaner uses poles you are paying for an Audi and getting a Fiat.  If commercial window cleaners charged half the price that Diamond Window Cleaning, Inc. charges, then a very good argument exists to use commercial/residential window cleaners for your window cleaning, but they very often charge the same or more.

Secondly, high quality window cleaners never wipe the window with a rag after they use a squeegee (commercial window cleaners do not even understand this point). Rags are for the frame but should never be used to wipe the actual glass because they leave marks.  Commercial window cleaners always follow up with a rag on the glass and will even put a rag on the end of a pole and wipe the glass after they squeegee it.  Why?  Because that is how they do commercial windows and they are in the commercial window cleaning rut.

Finally, the old rut: In the days of dirt roads and horse drawn wagons the roads would have wagon ruts cut into them by the thousands of trips taken by passing wagons. Once those ruts were cut into a road it was pretty much impossible to travel that road without the wheels of your wagon following in those old warn ruts.  Gravity just took over and the wagon was forced into the low spot on the road.  People often get into ruts as well.  Commercial window cleaners cannot help themselves but to clean your windows the same way they do their commercial accounts.  Diamond Window Cleaning’s crews do 100% residential work and we stopped hiring window cleaners with experience because all the training in the world could not get them out of the rut of sloppy window cleaning the commercial way.

So why does any home owner continue to use these commercial/residential window cleaners? Because even a Fiat has four tires and gets you to your destination, but as a window cleaning consumer you need to ask yourself this question: Why would I pay for the superior quality of an Audi and then take possession of an inferior Fiat?  So what are the buying criteria for window cleaning?  No poles, no rags on the glass, and no window cleaners who do commercial window cleaning.

Residential Window Cleaning Is a Specialty That Requires a Specialist

After starting Diamond Window Cleaning in 1979 as an exclusively residential window cleaning company, my best friend, who was attending Cornell Law school in the early 80’s, sent me a multi-page pamphlet that he found on how to start your own window cleaning business.  One could not just Google the information because Al Gore had not yet invented the internet, so it was a thrill to see this information show up in my mailbox.  Up until that moment I was forced to learn everything by experience, which in the end turned out being the best instructor.  With great anticipation I opened the pamphlet to the first page only to read these words, “Whatever you do, do not clean residential windows because your business cannot be successful doing this kind of work.”  What I want you, the intelligent consumer of window cleaning, to understand is that high rise and route work window cleaning companies want your business, even though they lack entirely the skillset to do it well, because there is money to be made.  High rise window cleaners and route work window cleaners have existed for many, many decades, but genuine residential window cleaners are a new and to this day a rare breed.  Diamond Window Cleaning is the only window cleaner in Omaha that refuses to take commercial work…we turn it down everyday.  And we do so because doing commercial window cleaning literally diminishes the skills necessary for great residential window cleaners.  But if you don’t believe me, then your own negative experience of hiring commercial window cleaners will teach you the wisdom of my words.  Experience really is the best instructor.