Are you an independent window cleaner? Or are you a homeowner planning to clean your windows? Well, unless you own a big business, it’s likely that you won’t be able to afford expensive access equipment – so you’ll be using a good old-fashioned ladder But wait…don’t just jump on your ladder and start cleaning – There’s a whole host of ladder safety rules to consider.
Did you know that there are several falls from ladder related deaths every year as well as being a major cause of serious injuries? Don’t worry – our friends at Browns Ladders are here with some easy-to-follow rules to keep you safe while window cleaning using ladders.
Starting your own window cleaning business and becoming your own boss is an attractive and exciting prospect. However, getting a window cleaning businesses off the ground is not as easy as many think; there is a lot more involved than buying a bucket and chamois leather and knocking on a few doors.
The following guide outlines what it takes to build up your business from scratch and develop the reputation you need to succeed:
- Starting out
Starting the sales process is the hardest thing, you have no reputation, no contacts and no customers. The easiest way to win new customers immediately is by asking friends and families. This will allow you to build up a selection of jobs and get you out there, cleaning windows.
Begin by turning your van into an advertising medium by promoting your name, company and contact details; this gives you an identity even when you’re not on the job.
You will then need to start canvassing for new jobs; this is the most crucial part of the trade. Canvassing should be subtle and detailed, you want to work out if an area is currently covered by another cleaner and see if there are houses in the area not covered yet.
Start on a road, knock on a few doors and ask a few pertinent questions. If another cleaner has the entire road, move on to the next, you will soon find gaps emerging.
There will be a lot of competition out there. Undercutting the competition will create more enemies than customers, so please avoid doing this.
Dropping leaflets through doors will not win your business on its own; you need to go out there and talk to customers, wining sales through face-to-face contact.
Window cleaning is a something everyone needs without realising it. Explain the service; be friendly and charming. If somebody is not home or needs to think about it, drop in a leaflet and pop back.
- The Deal
Once you win a customer round, sealing the deal with a price is very important.
Judge the amount of time the job will take by looking around the property; don’t just accept the customer’s opinion.
First cleans will be more time consuming so you can potentially charge more, unless, of course, you are really keen for their business!
You will then need to discuss how frequently you will clean the property – suggest once a month and then negotiate from there. Be honest and find the right solution for the customer.
Get their name and contact number and then call them back to confirm the time and date you have arranged.
Most important to building a reputation is the quality of the job you provide. Too many jobs and not enough hours and you won’t do the job properly.
Word of mouth is key, so you need happy customers and good recommendations.
Plan your time effectively: estimate how long it will take to carry out each job and don’t take on more work than you can service.
In time you will become more efficient and take less time to do the same number of jobs well.
Equipment is also vital: do your research and find the right products. Unger window cleaning products sell a range of affordable, high quality equipment which will get the job done. For other equipment information visit cleaning supplies from Click Cleaning.
- Building your customer base
Soon you will generate business without having to do anything; customers will approach you or recommend you to friends and family.
This is now a good time to advertise; put an advert in the local paper or on Google ads and set up a website that gives you more exposure.
Social media is now also a popular method of advertising and is easy to set up and maintain at no extra cost. Create a Facebook profile, share it with your friends, post some attention grabbing news items and you will soon have a recognised local name.
With more work coming in you will need to manage your growth with new staff and more equipment; always plan ahead and keep an eye out for employees who will help you develop your trade.
Work hard, take pride in your work and your reputation will grow in no time!
Yes, it is possible to start using a cheap water fed pole system for less than £400.
Some window cleaners are still not sure that using a water fed pole system is a wise business choice. Some commonly held doubts are:
– Will my customers react favourably to a new method of cleaning their windows?
– Will I be able to achieve excellent results, cleaning the windows to the same standard or higher than using traditional methods?
– Is it a suitable method for the work I have?
– Will I really save time using a water fed pole system on my round?
– If so, will the extra money I am able to earn cover the running costs of the system?
The only way to resolve these questions is to try it out properly, using it on your round.
However if you are not fully convinced then likely you are reluctant to take the plunge and spend your hard earned money on an expensive system. Your best bet then is to just ‘test the water’ , excuse the pun, but yes , test the water fed pole system.
We at Full Clean Centre, also known as Bayersan , have recently introduced our new water fed pole trolley system. This trolley, named ‘Impressor 30’, has been introduced in response to the changing demands of the window cleaning sector. It is simple and ready to use, functional, easily serviceable and efficient.
The 80psi pump is powered by a 12v, 18ah battery and can be operated easily with a 3 speed controller. The trolley also includes a charger and battery indicator.
As an alternative to the trolley system is the backpack set up. Backpacks are brilliant machines which allow you to be even more portable and efficient, in many cases speeding up your work . For example, cleaning the backs of terraced houses, inner courtyards and other situations where trailing hoses can cause problems.
Whether you opt for a trolley system or backpack system, our low cost starter systems come with an Impressor water fed pole and the fittings required to connect to the trolley or backpack. All you need to do is just add pure water. This works out to be one of the cheapest water fed pole systems.
We also supply DI resin and pressure vessels for immediate pure water production or RO systems for a more cost effective pure water production system in the long run.
We have a range of poles to suit your budget and stock other useful extras such as TDS meters to measure the purity of your water and extra water containers. You will find everything you need to start at very reasonable prices at the Full Clean Centre.
In answer to the question, yes you can be set up with a cheap water fed pole system for less that £400.
We invite you to come and visit our website at www.fullcleancentre.com
This water fed poles crash course will give you a glimpse at what is on the market and the various features of the poles.
Check out the Play List below to view individually or click Play All above to watch them all.
Things to consider when considering which water fed pole to buy:
- Length of the pole.
Don’t just look at the extended length for the job required. When the pole is closed will it fit in your van or car comfortably or will you need to put it on the roof rack? How easy is it for you to reach the clamps when extending and collapsing?
- Weight of the pole
This is especially important for the longer poles used for high work. For short bursts of high work a heavier pole may be fine but for extended periods of time a lighter pole is important. Not only will you work faster and in more comfort but your back and shoulders will thank you for it at the end of the day.
- Rigidity of the pole.
A rigid pole is easier to control although some flexibility is required to reduce breakage. A water fed pole with too much bend will quickly sap your energy.
- Material of the pole.
Carbon fibre poles are very light and rigid. However they can break more easily if treated without due respect. Glass fibre or aluminium is a heavier material but more resistant. Some poles combine the materials taking advantage of both. These are called ‘hybrid’ poles.
Will the pole be used by yourself or by employees? Will they treat the pole with care? If it likely to be thrown around then a glass fibre or aluminium pole may be a more durable option.
Some people like a collection of specific poles – one for every kind of job. Others choose one or two poles that are comfortable to use for a wide range of jobs.
- Modular or telescopic?
Usually a modular pole will have an external pole hose. A bag or trolley is often provided so that you can add and remove sections as needed. The advantage of modular poles is that they weigh less not having clamps on them and the fact that you only use and carry the length of pole needed. However, if you are happy to carry the extra weight an extendable telescopic pole is less fiddly and is quicker to use. If you choose modular how do the pieces connect? Heavy mechanisms may weigh as much as clamps. Tapered push fits are prone to getting stuck together. Getting them separated is possible but not easy!
- Price and budget
Obviously a key factor for most of us is the depth and resources of our pocket. Weigh your options carefully. Buying a cheaper pole that doesn’t tick all your boxes could end up costing you more. Likely you will end up having to buy a different pole in the end spending again.
If you are thinking of buying a new water fed pole or just want to know what’s out there on the market then you will love this playlist I put together…
Most of the videos shown in the playlist are of actual water fed pole manufacturers demonstrating and explaining the selling points of their products.
Click here to watch these videos and get a glimpse at what water fed poles are on the market right now and their various features.
A brief demonstration of the Unger nLite brush for water fed poles.
What is a Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment is an evaluation of risks and consequences involved in carrying out a certain task and what controls you will put in place to minimize the risks.
You carry out a risk assessment every time you cross the road, pull out at a junction or set up your pole or ladders.
Obviously to cross the road you don’t need to write a risk assessment! The situation and hence the risk assessment is dynamic and changes continuously. However, the same principle of evaluating the risks involved and coming to conclusions as to the course of action required provide the basis for creating a risk assessment.
Why Carry Out a Risk Assessment?
Risk assessment is not an option. It is a requirement of the management of health and safety at work regulations 1999. Serious problems can arise if an accident occurs and no risk assessment has been carried out. This is particularly true if you have employees.
Many commercial customers may request that you provide a written risk assessment, but even if they don’t, it’s good commercial practice to provide one. It will enhance the customers esteem for you as a professional and more than that it will protect you from and your business from criminal and civil court action. Obviously the main benefit of working in harmony with the findings of a risk assessment is that you and your employees will be safer at work.
How Do I Carry Out A Risk Assessment?
A risk assessment therefore must be specific to the site involved. It’s no good just copying one already prepared because the risks may be different. Risk assessment boils down to basic common sense. Documenting the findings of a risk assessment need not be overly complicates. The health and safety template kit shown above includes an example risk assessment and forms which make documenting a risk assessment very simple. However, if you wish to create your own, here are some guidelines as what it should include.
There are 5 stages in carrying out a risk assessment.
1. Identify the hazards involved.
The first step in assessing risk is obviously to identify the potential hazards.
Write a list of all the potential hazards that you can think of related to each particular task.
2. Decide who is at risk and how.
Next to each risk on your list, jot down who is at risk and how. eg. is it the person working or is it the general public? Why are they at particular risk?
3. Evaluate the risks and decide on what precautions are necessary.
This is where you need to decide how great the risk is. If the risk is high then something should be done to minimise the risk before work continues. These preventative measures are called controls. What controls are in place to reduce the risk?
To evaluate the risk first ask yourself how likely is it that an accident will occur as a result of the identified risks for each task. Using a system of scoring from 1 – 5 is a common way system of evaluation. The higher the number, the higher the likelihood and therefore the greater the risk. For example:
1 = Remote. (Very unlikely to happen)
2 = Unlikely. (May happen on rare occasions)
3 = Likely. (May happen once a year)
4 = Very likely. (Could occur several times a year)
5 = Certain. (Sure to happen at any time)
Now that we have an idea of how likely an accident is as a result of the risk, we need to determine what kind of consequences would result from the potential accident.
1 = Minor Injury
2 = Incapacity to work
3 = Major Injury
4 = Fatality
5 = Multiple fatality
The risk can now be evaluated by using the formula shown below:
Risk Evaluation = Likelihood x Consequences
By evaluating the severity of the risk we can decide what controls, if any need to be put in place to reduce the risk to an acceptable level.
1 – 5 = Very Low. (No further action required)
5 – 10 = Low. (Controls to minimise risk should be monitored)
10 – 15 = Medium (Controls must be put in place to reduce risk)
15 – 20 = High. (Urgent action is required to reduce risk)
20 – 25 = Very High. (Work should cease until the risk has been reduced)
Control measures could involve the following:
Elimination. (eg. risk of fall from height from ladder: Using a water fed pole instead of ladders)
Substitution. (eg. risk of fall from height: Using a MEWP rather than portable ladders)
Reduction. (eg. risk of falling from ladder: Using a ladder stability device)
Isolation (eg. using MEWP in front of a hotel: Isolate area with barriers or tape)
Procedure (eg. trip hazzard from trailing hoses in front of hotel entrance: Use safety signs)
PPE -Personal Protective Equipment (eg. using MEWP at height: Wear a harness in cradle)
Discipline (eg. has adequate training been given?)
4. Record your findings and put them into practise.
Your findings should now be documented and more importantly you will need to act in harmony with the findings of your risk assessment by putting the necessary controls in place.
A risk assessment template showing various common hazards and risks involved with window cleaning thatyou can use to adapt to be site specific is available to download.
5. Review the risk assessment regularly and update it if necessary.
Risk assessments need to be reviewed regularly. Set a date when you need to review it by. When you review the risk assessment look for changes in the working environment that affect the risk assessment. Are there new dangers? Are the ground conditions the same? Update the risk assessment accordingly.
Health and Safety Documents
Employers have many responsibilities. These documents make fulfilling them a little easier. Includes Risk Assessment and Method Statement templates and examples as well as various policies.
You’ll recognise him as Mike Howard formerly export manager at Brodex Machine Services, now heading up Facelift Cleaning Systems. Mike who has been given free rein to develop the brand, commented on his new role, ’Facelift has an excellent worldwide reputation, I can’t wait to push the new @ Facelift concept for window cleaners, it’s an absolute dream come true!!’
The new Facelift Cleaning Systems concept and products will have the backing and support network of Window Cleaning Warehouse, well known throughout the industry.
Steve Fox, MD at Facelift Cleaning Systems said, ‘After buying Facelift last year we have spent months on product development and needed the right guy on board to launch the exciting new range, Mike MASSIVELY fitted the bill’.