Equipment and Programs - What to Buy?
Spring! Window cleaners see it as more than flowers, bike rides, and sidewalk cafes. We see money. Our schedule fills up effortlessly and the payments start flowing in. It doesn’t take much of a window cleaner to build a business that’s busy four months a year, in the Spring and Fall. When lead referral brokers get past my defenses with their promises of countless customers, I ask for a guarantee of profitable leads in August and January, not in May and October. None have been willing to offer that guarantee.
With this influx of money comes an endless array of ways to spend the wealth: new equipment, new vehicles, marketing programs, business management systems, motivational courses, websites, SEO. For what is supposed to be a low overhead business, there sure is a lot of things on which to spend money. The question is, like always, what do you really need?
A few years back I knew a window cleaner who spent so much money on every innovation, program, and membership throughout the year that he was literally on the forums begging for gas money on New Years. Today he’s a marketing guru, selling advice to others.
Although I’m a natural cynic, I’m not going to tell you to buy nothing. There are things that will help you do your job and there are innovations you’ll want to buy and try. What I do want to discuss is how I make decisions on spending my money.
There are three categories for every new purchase, and I say new purchase becausewe all need to buy consumable supplies. Squeegee rubbers, handles, rags, applicators, filters, brushes. The things we use up or wear out need to be replaced and I recommend never going cheap on your supplies. Get the best because this is the bottom line of quality and you want to give yourself and your team the finest quality you’re capable of delivering.
Back to the decision categories:
I will buy items to keep my crews safer. I will test out new products to see if they deliver on that promise. Things to secure a ladder, level a ladder, and reinforce the back or knees are of immediate interest. Safety training is also something to look into. I once brought in a world-renowned expert in ultra-high reach waterfed pole work to teach my crew how to do the work with as little strain and damage to their backs, shoulders, and knees as possible.Money well spent.
I also talk to other cleaners in other states and countries to find out what they’ve been using to aid with roof work or muscle strain.Safety is always worth the money - if it works. That’s the key. If you want to try out a ladder mat, to prevent slipping on decks and tile floors, talk to someone who has it, read the reviews, and then order one and put it to the test. If you like it, if your team likes it, buy one for every truck. This applies to any and all safety gear. Narrow down your choices and then put them to the test.
Time is money and vice versa. I look for ways to save both time and money. For a new tool I always want to see a tangible saving in one or the other, or both. Does that new squeegee handle look cool, with it’s sleek design, racing stripes and lightning bolts? My question is: will I be able to clean windows faster with that than an old brass handle and channel? Guess what? In almost every single case I can sling the brass just as fast or faster than the shiny top of the line setup. And the bottom line there is that I don’t need it.
But if you can show me a time or money savings, then by all means, I’ll buy all of them. For example I was shown that a swivel handle squeegee used with a pole saves time and a lot of ladder work while producing high quality results. I instantly became a believer. In fact I just ordered another supply.
Keep in mind that uniformity is also a way to save time and money.When you have multiple crews that you’re outfitting, if everyone has their own favorite handle and channel and holster and t-bar, then you have to have so many different replacement pieces, parts, and whole shelves can end up being dedicated to everyone’s unique toys. That may be fun for them, but it can turn into a logistical nightmare. Across the board I train on one type of equipment in each category and I carry replacements and repair parts for that. It saves so much time.
Does a program, course, mentorship, or piece of equipment allow me to expand my service offering? Like Christmas lighting? We’re window cleaners, but with a little training we can put our ladders and roof climbing skills to work installing and removing Christmas lights. Remember it’s always easier to sell to people who are already your customer than it is to get new ones.
I recently purchased a soft wash system for that very reason. The initial cost is reasonable, but being able to add another product to our service portfolio more than makes up for the investment.
I remember a few years back when I was a dyed-in-the-wool traditional window cleaner and I scoffed at this new-fangled pole and brush that the kids were using. But then I applied my criteria for spending money with the thought of taking a look at this contraption. First, safety. This waterfed setup significantly reduced ladder time and let’s face it, the time on a ladder is one of the most dangerous things we do. Second, conservation. It does the job in some circumstances far faster than the traditional method, saving time. In fact, it’s so much faster and easier to learn that a rookie with a waterfed and a little bit of training can be on the exterior and keep up with a veteran doing interior windows. Basically it turns a trainee into a profit center. Third, capability. We have been able to significantly increase the number and types of jobs we can bid and perform since we adopted waterfed technology. Now it’s another tool in the toolbox, not appropriate for every single job but more than worth the investment.
Keep these things in mind and spend your Spring Window Cleaning Money wisely.
I’m here if you have questions.