Getting commercial window cleaning work
Most window cleaners start off window cleaning by building up a domestic window cleaning round. Once established the natural progression is to look for commercial customers. This is especially true if you reach the point of being VAT registered. Domestic customers will not take kindly to paying 20% extra to the tax man for having their windows cleaned.
Realistically, finding domestic work is easier than finding commercial work. One reason is that commercial work tends to be more sought after and another reason is that a more professional approach is needed. When canvassing for domestic work you are likely to meet the decision maker or ‘manager’ of the property immediately and will receive a decision ‘yes’ or ‘no’ there on the spot. When canvassing for commercial work you will likely have to make repeated calls in order to speak to the decision maker or manager of the commercial premises.
Tips on getting commercial work:
- Dress in a presentable uniform or even in a shirt and tie if you wish. Managers of commercial properties do not want to be messed about. Sell the image that you take your business seriously and they are more likely to take you seriously.
- The receptionists job is to filter calls to the busy decision maker. You can increase your chances of success by simply asking, “Could you tell me please who it is that I would need to speak to regarding the window cleaning arrangements.” You could then ask if that person is available to speak to there and then. Likely they will be busy, so be content to leave a card, take a contact name and number and ask when would be a good time to catch them ask or make an appointment.
- Follow up these leads. Once you have names and numbers then you can work from home over the phone. Your call may go something like this, “Hello, it’s Chris from Crystal Window Cleaning could you put me through to Mr.Decisionmaker please.” Have a notebook and pen handy to take notes of the conversation. Once you are speaking with the decision maker your next job is to find out whether the company are satisfied with their present window cleaning arrangements (if they have any in place.) If they are satisfied then you do well to thank them for their time and request that they keep your information on file should they ever require your services in the future.
- It could be that there is a contract which comes up for tender every couple of years or so. Ask when the contract is due to go for tender and jot in your diary a month or so prior to the tender date a reminder to call again and request information on how to go about tendering for the window cleaning contract due for renewal.
- Unlike domestic customers, commercial accounts will often (but not always) expect to see well written written risk assessments, method statements and proof of adequate insurance. Even if they do not ask to see such documents it is to your advantage to include them when you are at the stage of quoting for the job. (To avoid making too much work for yourself you could give a tentative quote and make it known that if they are interested in the price, then you can then go ahead and produce a risk assessment and method statement etc. before they make a final decision.)
- The lowest price does not always win the job. Do not try to find out what they are currently paying with the intention of undercutting. Instead, sell the strengths of your business such as health and safety aspects, training, professionalism etc. and price it up as you would normally. (Pricing commercial work will be the subject of a future newsletter.)
- A good way of getting your foot in the door early is by doing the ‘builders clean.’ In other words by approaching the building company to carry out the window cleaning subcontracted to them. Construction clean ups pay well if priced up correctly and you could well get to meet or to be put in touch with the decision maker of the new premises. Even if you don’t meet them, you can mention on the quote that you carried out the construction clean of the windows and this will go in your favour if you did a good job. Having carried out the work once you will have a good idea of the time, access methods and costs involved in doing the regular clean which again an advantage when sending a quote in.