Cleaning windows sounds silly but its a great low cost business with the potential to help you buck the rat race and can be a great first business to build.
Before you do anything make a list of competitors in your area. Call them all and ask 100 questions. Ask how they price. Ask how many crews they have. Pretend to be a concerned customer. When can they come out and give you a quote?
If the calls go unanswered or they are too busy to clean your windows in a timely manner that is a good sign. If the main companies don’t have websites that is a good sign. If they don’t have videos on youtube that is a good sign. If they don’t take credit card and don’t have a payment portal online that is a good sign.
Proceed onward if the competition is weak and you think you can carve out a piece of the pie. Remember you don’t have to be the only show in town. There are a lot of customers. You just need a few of them. Don’t let one or two decent companies scare you off. Competition is a good thing. That means there is a market here that is thriving.
Buy a domain name and hosting for $1.99 per month. Build a website on WordPress. Make a logo and some other materials on Canva. Order 2,500 business cards and 2,500 door hangers. You’re going to need all of them.
Send a Google My Business (GMB) postcard to your home and build your profile. Upload photos. Create posts weekly. Get a Google Voice number to communicate with customers and get your domain email address forwarded to GMail so you can use the tools there. Check out this list of tools to use in the early days.
Not sure what to charge? No problem. You already called your competitors and did a the best market research you could ever do. Note all of the companies and make an excel spreadsheet of how they charge both businesses and residential jobs. Do they charge more for 2nd story windows? What about screens? Record it all.
Decide where you are going to price. Don’t be the cheapest. If you want to get early customers by dropping your price thats fine but long term you don’t want to be the cheapest. More on that later.
Time to go find customers.
Wake up at 7am on Saturday and put the 2500 door hangers in a backpack. Go to the nicest neighborhood in town and put a hanger on every door. Then the second nicest neighborhood. Then the third. Then the houses that are all pretty close together downtown. Spend the entire day hanging these things on doors. You’re going to be WORN OUT by the end of the day.
On Sunday wake up and get in the car with the 2500 business cards. The retail stores are open. Walk in every single one in town and ask for the manager. Introduce yourself and tell them you’d love to clean all of their windows for free to show them what you could do and work to earn the contract to clean them on a contractual basis. Give them your business card but more importantly TAKE THEIR CARD. When you have their card you can follow up with them and send them an email once a month. Don’t stop sending them emails.
If you can get a little time off during the week go see the non retail businesses. Do the same thing as above to the dentist offices and the service companies and anyone else with a store front. The realtors are the target here because they could possibly recommend you business. When someone is trying to sell a home or commercial property it shows much better with clean windows. Walk in and introduce yourself. Give them a card. Take their card and add them to your lead book and follow up with them often.
The people you meet and have good conversations with consider sending them a hand written thank you note. Put a rating system on the back of the cards so you can remember who you had good conversations with. The note will blow them away.
If you feel like getting extra gritty let’s do some sidewalk chalk marketing. Next time there is an event in your town like a fair or a parade wake up at 6am and head downtown with a box of chalk. Write on the ground (
Notice anything about finding customers? It’s HARD WORK. It’s uncomfortable. You have to SELL your services. Introverted? Too bad. Take an acting class. Turn it on. You HAVE to do it.
Let’s talk about online presence. Ignore social media. If you have the budget for Google Adwords that is a great option but if you have no budget no problem. Let’s focus on small business content marketing. The goal here is to get a ton of valuable content on your website, YouTube and your Google My Business listing.
Remember that this stuff takes TIME to come together. You can’t just build a website and the next day show up on the first page of Google. This will take 6 months minimum. If you can do this online stuff 6 months prior to launching your marketing efforts thats a good idea.
Build a nice looking WordPress website with some cool features like this. Write an article on your website titled the ultimate guide to window cleaning in [your city]. Make it 2,000 words or longer with photos and a video as well. Make it extremely useful showing people how to clean windows, what soap to use, what equipment to use, how to clean windows from the inside and more.
Make YouTube videos with [your town] Window Cleaning in the title. It can be a 2 minute video of just yourself introducing your company and talking about what you do. Make a lot of videos with different little clips about your company and with keywords in the title. Put the videos on your website and link to your website and GMB from the videos.
Nurture your GMB listing. Get reviews from happy customers. Ask them to upload photos on the reviews. Complete the listing 100% with videos, pictures, specials, hours, website links and more. Post on it DAILY early on.
Customers will start to call you. If you can’t answer the call because you are at work thats no problem. Set up a VERY professional voicemail greeting telling them you’d LOVE to earn their business. Call them back at your earliest convenience.
Book all of your early jobs on weekends.
Friday after work walk in Lowe’s and buy some dawn dish soap and some vinegar. Also pick up a 5 gal bucket, an 8 ft pole, scrubber, squeegee, scraper and sponge. Thats it. $50 worth of supplies. With the hosting and business cards you’re still probably less than $200 in.
Start to get out and work in your free time. Get a feel for it. Take care of customers. Learn as you go.
Buy some yard signs and ask customers if you can put them in their lawn for a week after the service. That will help spread the word.
Exude eager professionalism when you communicate and service customers. Genuine excitement for the opportunity to help them. Smiles. Firm handshakes. Laughter. Put on a show of how passionate you are about cleaning windows. This isn’t your style? Figure out how to make it your style.
Write handwritten THANK YOU letters to anyone who uses your service. Word of mouth will be your best marketing. If you blow your customers away and are a like-able person you will get referrals and they will come over time. Business is about momentum. It takes consistent hard work over time.
When you start to get some momentum get a CRM like Jobber. Do your billing online. Set up notifications and invoices to be auto delivered when you complete a service. Set up an awesome quote request form on your website. Your competitors aren’t doing this.
Soon you will be busy and it will be time to hire some help. Recruiting employees is much like earning business. You need to go find people who would make good employees and convince them to work for you. Taking applications on Indeed or Craigslist isn’t going to cut it. Keep business cards in your pocket at all times and introduce yourself to anyone who is clean cut and looks like they would make a decent employee. The trick is to not ask them if they want a job but if they know anyone who wants a job.
To grow and scale the business you must charge more than your competitors. If customers want rock bottom prices and flakey companies they can go elsewhere. If they are willing to pay for a reliable company who does quality work and they can trust in their homes they call you.
Don’t get emotional about getting every customer. It’s a numbers game. The ones who beat you up on price aren’t the ones for you.
If you charge a higher price you can afford to pay better employees. You can get nicer equipment. You can invest in the company. You can scale it easier and work less if you have more money to delegate things.
And thats all I got. Does it get any lower risk than that? Get out there and give it a shot!