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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.

The Dangers of Window Cleaning

“Window Cleaning makes my whole house feel cleaner.” That is what I have heard women say for years. Clean windows can look like a sparkling diamond…beautiful. But window cleaning can also be dangerous for the people doing the window cleaning. At Diamond Window Cleaning, Inc. that fact never leaves the forefront of our minds. We have three priorities at Diamond: Safety, Quality and Speed. Safety is number one for a reason. We drill it into our workers. We teach them everything imaginable that can go wrong and instruct them how to deal with each instance. We also have the very best insurance both for damages to the clients’ property (we have never had a claim in 37 years) and worker’s comp for our workers. This way those of us at Diamond Window Cleaning, Inc. and all of our clients can rest assured that the financial dangers of window cleaning are accounted for in advance. Our workers and our safety meetings will continue working to prevent the pain of any injuries to Diamond’s staff.

Rain, Rain Go Away

When it comes to window cleaning in Omaha our clients hate the rain.  We at Diamond Window Cleaning are not fond of it either but not for the same reasons.  Window cleaning consumers think that it is a waste of time to clean windows just before it rains.  If I had a dollar for every time somebody got upset that we cleaned their windows just before a rain I’d have a nice stash of cash.  I suppose this comes from the idea that rain is not good for a recently cleaned car, which is true of course because the rain mixes with the dirt in the streets and splashes up on clean cars and they aren’t so clean anymore.  Maybe people in Arkansas are driving their homes in the streets, but up hear in Omaha that just isn’t done.   Are you saying that rain does not make windows dirty?  No, not at all, that would be absurd.  I’m saying that rain actually cleans windows.  If the wind would cooperate more with the rain then window cleaning companies would be unnecessary.  At Diamond Window Cleaning we purchased a water-fed pole system that allows us to clean really high windows without ever leaving the ground.  These systems have four filters that basically turn tap water into rain water.  I like to call it my rain maker.  If the rain came with a brush on the end of a pole like our rain maker, then we would be out of a job.  Please do not run outside with a long aluminum pole and a scrub brush during the next thunderstorm, but if you did–and survived to talk about it–you could tell people what a fine job you did cleaning your windows with the help of the rain.  So please stop whining about the rain.  The rain is YOUR friend.  I am the one who should be doing all the whining because the rain ruins our schedules and it cleans your windows.  One last note: tap water is not rain water.  Tap water has calcium, lime and rust that will ruin just about any surface you put them on especially glass, so don’t think that you have your own rain maker in the form of a garden hose.  You’d be better off with a long metal pole in a thunderstorm.

Being Loyal to My Window Cleaning Company

After 35 years of owning a window cleaning business in Omaha Nebraska I have learned many valuable lessons.  One such lesson is that people are very loyal once they have chosen a service provider.  As a window cleaning service provider this makes me very happy, but I have noticed a downside for the consumer.  My wife and I run our office, and we were on vacation last week.  As business owners you never get to leave your business when you go on vacation, so we took calls and answered e-mails whenever our schedule allowed.  One prospect fell between the cracks and ended up with one of our competitors because “we did not follow up in a timely a fashion”.  In essence she was dumping us for our shortcomings, but sadly it is her and not us that will be most injured.  Sure we lost a prospective client, but she secured a relationship with a window cleaning company that is assuredly greatly inferior to Diamond, and if she is as loyal to that company as the average consumer, then she will spend many frustrating years paying more money than she would have paid us for a fraction of the quality service that Diamond would have provider her.  Loyalty is a virtue much like faith, hope and love, and we all want to strive to be virtuous, but I once learned that having hope when you are in a hopeless situation is actually a vice.  Loving evil is in fact evil.  Believing in someone who regularly and reliably hurts you is foolish.  So what have I learned about loyalty?  We must never cheapen our loyalty–it is suppose to be a reward for honesty, hard work, fairness, excellence and pleasantness.  Do not give your loyalty to just anyone–make people earn it and your life will be so much easier.  In fact, that is Diamond’s motto: “We Exist to Make Our Client’s Lives Easier”.  Diamond greatly appreciates your loyalty and we promise to continue to earn it.

Do you want an eagle, a lizard or a giraff to clean your windows.

You probably do not know that three completely different businesses all exist under the name “Window Cleaning”.  They use different equipment, different vehicles to transport their equipment, they have way different insurance costs, and perhaps most importantly they have very different employees.  So what are these three different businesses?  Quite simply you have High Rise Window Cleaners, you have window cleaners who do Route Work, and finally you have Residential Window Cleaners.  So, you might be thinking, why are the employees so different–I mean they are all slinging a squeegee–right?  Yes, however that is pretty much where the similarities end.

High Rise window cleaners are more like construction works (perhaps Iron Workers) than anything else.  These guys are crazy.  They are manly dudes who ain’t gonna take off their shoes to walk on your carpets (they might but this helps paint the picture).  They all have Brooklyn or Jersey accents when they talk, they’re not afraid of notten.

Then you have your Route Work boys.  These are the dirty little step-sons of the High Rise men.  They ain’t too clean, too smart or too concerned about much of anything.  If High Rise Window Cleaners soar like eagles, then Route Work guys slither on the ground like lizards.  They do everything that can be reached with a four foot ladder or a five foot stick.  They clean all the restaurants, grocery stores, dentist, and doctors offices, and all the old ugly strip malls–anything with plate glass windows in all the one story buildings.  Back in 1979 when I joined the ranks of the window cleaners I did not even consider doing any Route Work because the city’s drunks controlled the market like a little mafia.  They expected to get paid in cash and they only had first names.  They were dirty, smelly men who charged next to nothing but you had to wait for them to show up because they did not have a phone.  They operated on their own schedule, but the only real alternative was to do the windows yourself.

Finally Diamond Window Cleaning, Inc. became Omaha’s first exclusively residential Window Cleaning company (I say exclusively because some of the Route Workers would occasionally do a house if somebody asked).  My Best friend bought me a manual titled “How to Start a Window Cleaning Company” and the first page started out by saying, “Do not do houses because there is no money in it.”  Well I had already started doing houses, so I stayed with it anyway.  If High Rise Window Cleaners are the eagles and Route Work Window Cleaners are the lizards, then Residential Window Cleaners are the giraffes of window cleaning.  They are much more elegant and clean than their counterparts.  They are greatly concerned about beauty and details.  You might be thinking this is just favoritism toward Residential Window Cleaners, but it really isn’t.  Think about it.  Who is going to work harder at cleaning a window perfectly: the guy who is doing tens of thousands of windows on a sky scrapper or the guy who is doing the window above the kitchen sink?  The guy who is doing a corner shop window, or the guy doing the window above the front door?  Residential window cleaners are the only window cleaners that are house broken.  Every once in a while you buy a dog that just refuses to stop peeing in the house; well that is what it is like bringing eagles and lizards into your home.

So why this article?  To let all you homeowners know that since the advent of the Residential Window Cleaner the Route Work boys have decided they too would like a little piece of the Residential pie.  They usually charge more than the true Residential experts (because houses are harder and the clients are more demanding), and you will need to stock up on some cans of pet stain carpet cleaner because these boys cannot be house broke.

35 Years of Window Cleaning in Omaha

Thirty-five years ago you could not just type “Window Cleaning, Omaha” into your computer and find a qualified (one can always hope) professional window cleaner.  In part because of the obvious: people did not have personal computers and typewriters did not have Google.  But a more obscure reason why you could not have found a professional window cleaner in Omaha in 1979 was that professional window cleaning in Omaha was just like personal computers in Omaha–non existent, or at least the profession of window cleaning for residential properties did not exist.  Wealthy people in those days had “a man” who did all the things the homeowners could not do.  “The man” was usually a retired fireman or carpenter who liked doing a little work in his retirement years.  Today “the man” keeps busy preventing minorities from succeeding (or so we are told), and if he still has energy to burn then he greets people at Wal-Mart.  Oh how the years have changed.  Well, THIS man was too stupid to know that residential window cleaning did not have a future (I was young and being stupid is a privilege of the young), so I started the first window cleaning company in Omaha and it turned out that the people who said Window Cleaning for houses was a bad idea were dead wrong.  Those people also failed to buy stock in some upstart company called Microsoft.  And if you don’t know what a typewriter is just Google it.