Fantasy Vs Reality

Tony Brophy

Cleantalk Member
Hello to all,

I'm at a crossroads and a little nervous about taking the wrong turn.... any advice, opinions, views would be very much appreciated.

I have many many years experience as an employee working trad window cleaning, and I have a few years experience working for a large FM company (graffiti removal, standard pressure washing, soft washing, trash house/hoarding clearance and some office based sales/marketing work. I do not have any experience using wfp systems but I plan on doing the BWCA wfp training course and I'm also considering offering to pay a wfp window cleaner from outside my area to take me out and train me if required. For the moment I've been watching youtube videos which give a good idea of techniques used.

I have always enjoyed window cleaning but have never worked for myself.....

Having been unemployed the last 12 months and much soul searching... I'm seriously looking
into starting up my own commercial / domestic window cleaning business.

Fantasy Vs Reality...? I have compiled a business plan and a marketing strategy. Whilst trying to be confident and believe in myself and my abilities, I can't help thinking of the negatives:

-Is there really a demand for heated waterfed pole window cleaning service?
-Are there already too many companies at this game?
-Will there be any interest/demand for my service?

-Will I spend all my savings on new van, heated wfp system, gutter vac, insurance, etc
and be left with a load of fancy kit and no business?

The systems I'm considering are the 650/750 litre, xline and facelift, 2 man R/O system, with 1 man heated, electric reels, some poles and different brushes.

Any advice from guys/girls who have been in this situation would be really appreciated, also if anyone is aware of any methods which could be used to test the market demand?

Cheers

Tony
 
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Trevor Ives

Bathams Moderator
Cleantalk Team
Have a look around for systems and prices.
Gardiners seem reliable and reasonably priced.
 
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Daniel Paton

Well-Known Cleantalker
I’d start smaller and build on it. An RO system. Either a trolley or a backpack. By all means put a tank on the van for filling it but I wouldn’t spend thousands on a system for something that you might hate or might not work out. If it does work out then add a leisure battery pump and controller to your tank and viola you have a system. Cheap or dear they all do exactly the same thing. I wouldn’t bother with training either. Practice on your own house and the neighbors. It’s not rocket science. How much you spend is up to you but I’d rather save money and spend it aquiring customers rather than a fancy system.
 
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daniel crouch

Active Cleantalker
Only pearls I’ll give you as I’ve given a few others some listened and have done well others not listened and not so mutch lol .

Never believe - that’s all the customer will pay or they won’t pay that much - you dictate costs /quotes .

Never think you will charge cheap to get work because you need work - you’ll just collect crap and lots of it .
Never think I’m not big enough to do that job / contract - staff / sub contractors etc can enable anyone to run large or national contracts .

Get the contracts set up or the customers booked in b fore you spend thousands on gear you won’t use or don’t need .

Don’t bother with heat in my opinion - tried it -just another cost or something to go wrong - can be tried cheaply with an l 5 heater or a few thow from a company if you desperately need it .
Don’t bother electric reels unless your arms don’t work ? There a luxurious item you may want when youve a much better turnover .

A reliable van is a must -

Gutter vac - you will soon learn you need to get up ladders more than you’d like .

Poles - carbon like slx from gardeners .

Other companies are friends while your feeding them work or they feed you work - at all other times they are the competition and will turn on you ! not all but some will .

If you wasn’t over the water you could of had a few days water fed pole commercial with one of my lot or me for the window cleaning if you can trad you’ll pick up w f p in no time .
A lot of so called window cleaners can not use trad gear and if they can ? I’m fairly sure I’d run rings round them .
so not what a window cleaner would call quick .
so may be use that a selling point on your jobs trad and wfp ?.

Decide on your market - domestic spend 4 hours each evening knocking doors you’ll soon know .

Commercial - shops etc most are re subbed out though other window companies as national contracts and not always good money .

Other commercial - can pay very well call centres , schools , offices , hotel chains . You need to be kitted out on the h and s front and some other stuff but that’s my turf lol .

I wish you all the best - don’t over think , don’t over spend unless it makes you more money .
 
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Tony Brophy

Cleantalk Member
Good point definitely don't want to waste any money, seen the trolleys and backpacks, just thought I'm not going to get much work done in a day with one of those and it,ll probably end up in the pile of other impulse purchases I've made.
 
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Tony Brophy

Cleantalk Member
Dan C, thank you for kindly sharing your wisdom..

In my last job I spent a few weeks ringing around companies trying to sell window cleaning "business packages" basically if you wanted a one off clean, we,d do that for x amount?, however you had the option to book a "business package" 3 months, 6 months, or 12 months, pre paid upfront at a discounted rate.. I struggled with this because I personally thought our prices were so high nobody would buy anything and was of the belief "that’s all the customer will pay" or "they won’t pay that much" the boss man told me it was his view that good quality customers would rather pay more than less as they subconsciously associated a higher price with a higher quality service. I was told to believe in the high quality service we provided, be very firm on our pricing structure, and simply hang up on cheapskates as they weren't worth the hassle. I got on the phone gave the sales patter stuck firm to the prices and sold alot of "business packages".

"Get the contracts set up or the customers booked in b'fore you spend thousands on gear you won’t use or don’t need"

Dan have you any suggestions how I could test the market demand before making a substantial financial commitment?
I was thinking for example I could get on the phone and sell some business packages and pay a canvasser to cover the new housing estates in my area (100 x €650k homes just built 5 mins from me) and hundreds more within easy reach, we could book the first cleans a month from now.... and weigh up the response? this would give me time to travel to the UK and buy myself a vivaro and get it fitted out while I'm there.

"Don’t bother with heat" ok... I was under the impression I'd secure more or better paid work having the heat option?

"Don’t bother electric reels unless your arms don’t work?" lol ok I'm just being lazy here :lol:

"A reliable van is a must" I'll buy a 2016, lwb, vivaro sportive 120 hp BiTurbo or Transit Custom

"Poles / carbon like SLX from gardeners" ok think I,ll go for 2 x SLX 22, and 2 x SLX 39 poles.

"If you wasn’t over the water you could of had a few days water fed pole commercial with one of my lot or me"
May take you up on this as will have to travel to UK to buy van and kit would definitely be helpful and more than happy
to pay you for this work experience.

"A lot of so called window cleaners can not use trad gear and if they can? I’m fairly sure I’d run rings round them.
Well I,m not going to argue with you on this one I think I,m good on trad but not very quick some say.. :lol:

"Other commercial" , call centres, schools, offices, hotel chains"
What method of approach would you use here? I'm thinking direct mail, email/mail chimp, (with special offer), calling directly? or via phone?

Once again I sincerely thank you for sharing your knowledge and good wishes. I have certainly been over thinking about this maybe thinking about it way too much as I am under alot of pressure to get something up and running soon.....

Tony
 
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daniel crouch

Active Cleantalker
Did you tell sales commercial or domestic ? With the business packages . If you can get paid up front for 3 or 6 months you can work for me on telesales lol You should definitely replicate that !

You boss was totally correct - we don’t take on new contracts at a lower rate than they were paying ( under cut ) we are always dearer - while we don’t secure every job we Always secure the best Jobs that pay the most .

Canvasser if you know them brill as companies can be hit and miss with results . Numbers game knock on a 100 you should pick up 10 ? At 10 pounds each just replicate daily etc if you can get 5 to 10 domestics daily over a few months that’s 1-2k a month in work needs dedication though! . ( there’s a post on internet some where where a guy started from nothing doing just this and updates over the year he did rather well )

I hate domestic and don’t do any in fact I pass all of it on to guys that just do domestic . But .... it’s where most of us started and is great for cash flow if just starting up !

Commercial should always pay more far more but you need to account for the 30- 60 90 day payers ! Or have structure in place to deal with that .

Regards equipment - what’s your budget ? As there are other option than a fully kitted out package that will do exactly the same as Daniel said may save you some money that you can spend else where.

How did we get our work ? A combination of kept contracts and contacts from previous bought sold businesses , good business contact’s and networking , good telesales company’s campaigns , having your finger to the pulse when other contracts end or are due for renewal . Knowing the rite people , Again a lot will be national owned contracts so the cleaning or window cleaning companies re sub these - always best to work direct though .
I’ve been doing this for over 20 years - I’ve been much bigger as a business but probably earn more profit these days been smaller focusing efforts on the bigger better paying work and actively dismissing the other stuff .

Let me know if your coming through van shopping I have various jobs on that are good for pole work some 40 foot and some 60 foot work I’ve slx 39 s and superlite poles if you like to test them. in August we have a site that takes 5 weeks to complete so you could come any time you like that month ( some other sites need I’d checks etc so not ideal ) and I’d be more than happy to show you what we do and how much you can earn, we cover windows , carpets and pressure washing there and I’ve around a dozen staff working that month so I’ll have free time .

If you want a chat any time your welcome to call -just pm me - I am how ever on holiday next week sunny Spain get in I’m back for 3 weeks then back to Spain lol for a further 2 week .

Always happy to help as long as you don’t live up the road lol .
 
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Daniel Paton

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Tony I had a home made diy trolley attached to a van tank at one point. I could use it as a van mount with a hose reel or change 2 connections in under 30 seconds attach a barrel and it was a trolley again for getting up twisty alleyways. That worked like a dream. Good luck though whatever you decide to do.
 
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Tony Brophy

Cleantalk Member
"Can I also ask, why uk to buy a van? Are they dear in Ireland? Just curious"

Too expensive here Dan, the UK offers a vast selection of clean, well maintained vehicles at much lower prices, higher specs, and you receive excellent customer service (yes we'll collect you at the airport, tea/coffee/muffin Sir?).
 
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daniel crouch

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Oh I see - I can vouch for the free coffee never got to the free muffin though .

Does the Euro rate effect the cost for you or is it negligible
 

Tony Brophy

Cleantalk Member
I actually sold alot of pre paid window cleaning "packages" over the phone to commercial customers, take the regular Business Package (Interior and exterior windows, frames, sills & doors) aimed at ground floor doctors, dentists, accountants,
solicitors offices etc €39.99 or book a package and save 3 months €89.99. I was one of a whole room full of people making these calls wasn't simple took a bit of effort but I recall the team leader giving the real smooth talkers quiet a few high fives throughout the day.

"Numbers game knock on a 100 you should pick up 10?" At 10 pounds each"
Wow really? 100 doors may only yield 10 sign ups? ok maybe I'm being completely unrealistic with my expectations, sooner the better to just get my man out there knocking.. the local rate here for a standard 3 bed is around €30-€40 euro per house.

I have registered the company got a virtual number etc just waiting on leaflets to print, my plan is get on the phone myself and start ringing around potential new commercial clients at the same time I will get the canvasser out there wearing Hi-Viz with company name on back and wearing visible Identification, he'll be equipped with leaflets, will knock say "Hi I'm (name) from (xxx) window cleaning, from next month we'll be covering your area with our regular, professional window cleaning service, and I'm just taking/registering names now for those that are interested (in keeping there homes sparkling clean / explain benefits of wfp etc) I'm hoping a few days of me on the phone and the canvasser out knocking will give me better insight into where I'm at in terms of local demand. If we don't sign up/register a good few new clients then I,ll need to look closer at my approach.


"Regards equipment - what’s your budget?"

Max I can afford right now £19,000 - £20,000 (but need to make it work :lol:

-£10,000 used van (preferably lwb,15-16 plate vivaro or transit custom, want a professional looking van)
-£5,000-£6,000 wfp system (600 - 700 litre, 2 man r/o, would like have heat for one man as competition haven't got heat)
-£800 (insurance: current insurer will extend motor cover to van only €100 extra so just need PL + EL insurance)
-£2,000 (cash flow)
-£1,000 (marketing)

Thank you for the offer of work experience all going to plan this would be invaluable, hopefully all going well I'll be up and running pretty soon would be great if we were working for the summer months but I,ll see how the initial round of telesales and canvassing is received.

Going to Spain..... coming back.... going back to Spain for a further 2 weeks, "Gordon Bennet" how the other half live eh :lol: , have a great time.....
 
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daniel crouch

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That’s a great skill set you have for the cold calling already , I’d be shocked if you couldn’t get some clients that way and with a guy knocking you’ve already spread your marketing so that seems like a way forward .

With the domestics you can upsell for addons - gutter facia conservatory pressure washing etc to make bigger job price as I’m sure your aware .

Your system budget is ample - I could kit 2 vans out with delivery systems for that . So shop around even Nic on this forum can quote for systems I believe .
Even the twin r o units won’t fill the tank super fast - a lot us included us use a static r o unit on 24 7 store in i b c tanks and then fill the vans that way .
So if you ran out - pop back to lock up re fill in ten mins and your back out .

Van budget is ample also, I like to own mine so buy them 2 to 3 year old last one was 13 plate transit under 22 k immaculate and think we gave about 7500 plus vat for it . So you will get a good one with that budget - you could lease hire and keep cash in the business also I know some do .
I had Vivaros before and spent more On them than they cost new gear box gear linkage engines etc I can’t comment on the newest ones though I wasn’t prepaired to risk it .

I’d defo try cold and test hot and see if you think it will earn you more ? Make you faster ? Each to there own ( the customer won’t come to the van with a thermometer and check ) lol . And the competition won’t care .

Lol Spain that’s what happens when wife spend too long on the laptop ! Lethal

Keep us updated with the sales etc I’m always interested to see startups climb there way up .

I don’t know what business over there require but some want safe contractor , Chas , construction line , dbs checks etc if you need help on that front I can put you in touch with our h and s guy ( separate company we use ) that can set up health and safety policies help you with r a m s etc if you don’t already have them he’s very reasonable and knolagable .
 
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Tony Brophy

Cleantalk Member
Euro/GBP rate would be negligible when it comes to the overall saving made.... here's a car we bought in January,
Audi A3, S Line, 2015, 5 Door, White, 34,000 miles, full history, etc.

Purchase price: £11,350 (€12,936)
Ryanair Flight: €60
Diesel: €40
Food/Taxi €45
Ferry Home: £169 / €192.00
VRT: (Irish Import Tax) €3,415
Total: €16,688

Cheapest like for like 2015, A3, S Line, 5 Door White, available from a local dealer today 22/04/18 = €22,950

Welcome to Ireland land of rip off prices.......... :lol:
 

Tony Brophy

Cleantalk Member
Look it I'm no telesales expert actually don't like pestering people over the phone but once you get going it can open a few doors once in theres the possibility of the up sell. I'm also reasonably good with marketing so I feel I,ll be ok.... I guess I,ll never know unless I go for it.... just going to dip my toes in with the telesales/canvassing and gauge the feedback.

So would you consider the systems I have been looking at as over priced?, I know alot of guys mention diy systems but if I'm honest I haven't a clue how to put one together, at the moment theres so many to choose from it's confusing: Grippatank, Brodex, Facelift, Xline ?????.

Also could you tell me how many hours it would take to fill a 600/700 litre R/O tank? and which companies sell static R/O units with transfer pump to move to van?, I'm told it takes an average of about 30 litre's of pure to do a average 3 bed house.

Ye with the van I dont like leasing feel it's a waste of money paying interest much prefer to buy outright one less bill to worry about. The new vivaro seems like a good van I know few guys round here with them I guess there too new to know if gonna be as unreliable as the old one, I remember driving on the motorway in a vivaro years ago and the engine went up in flames got the fright of me life lol....... I,ll probably end up buying the vivaro or transit custom.

Oh pull the fuse on the wifi lad or you'll end up like me taken to the cleaners constantly, just booked disney land for July, myself, herself and the 3 kids booked and confirmed.... then shes looking at a week in Salou in August when I shut it down theres talk of a new kitchen.... theres no escape just wish my lotto numbers would come right .......

Yes I will keep you updated on the sales/marketing campaign as soon as we get it going, right now I'm just waiting on leaflets to arrive and the canvasser is busy working for sky this week...

While there is no regulation that I'm aware of here for window/general cleaning apart from all insurances being in place, I have registered as a sole trader, registered for VAT, I have also just got full Garda background check clearance done. I will definitely be looking at safe contractor or Chas and registering with the Irish Contract Cleaning Association (ICCA) as I think its important to stand out as a professional company not a fly by night operator here today gone tomorrow.

Yes I'll get the contact details for the H&S guy as soon as were at that stage.
 

daniel crouch

Active Cleantalker
Hi wow expensive for vehicles over there I never knew !

Close to 29 degrees today so we’ve beeen soaking up the rays . I won’t mention kitchen to our lass lol .

System wise - I’ve had pro delivery systems and they’ve been great but dear and replaced with custom made tanks more baffles and cages for a fraction of the price when they’ve been hammered and they work perfectly . there are a few companies I can recommend Yorkshire and Manchester that make them any size or shape - then add 2 pumps 2 controllers and 2 batteries 2 hose reels basic diy skills or pay a garage to fit the tanks . Around 1600to 1800 there roughly .

Fill time will normally be less in quoted gpd so as an example a 300 gpd ro is going to take around 8 hours to fill a tank of 7 800 litres may be more . Less time the bigger r o you got but mutch dearer where as you can fill from stored water in half hour ish if that . If some one else doesn’t reply I’ll do you a shopping list when I get back so you can compare costs .
 

Tony Brophy

Cleantalk Member
yeah its been hot here last few days too although rain has returned today...

I asked my cousin to take a look at the wfp systems he's a carpenter by trade but just one of these guys that can do almost anything reckons he could put a wfp system together with his eyes closed lol, he did actually make his own diy hot power washer by adding a burner powered by a 12v battery so I guess he knows what he's on about... I,ll add up the costs and see where I'm at...... eager to get moving now just waiting to start the canvassing/telesales campaign and see how it goes??

Enjoy your break in Spain, go easy on the sangria :lol:
 
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daniel crouch

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as promised
custom made tank - probs 800-900 quid with a frame . but ask for you own quote lol
http://www.plasticwatertanks.co.uk/49.html
pumps and controllers 310 for 2
https://www.cleaningspot.co.uk/acatalog/100psi-Shurflo-Pump---Variflo--Digital---Fittings-and-Strainer-PACK2.html#SID=12
hose reel 260 for 2
https://www.cleaningspot.co.uk/acatalog/COMPLETE-8mm-MINIBORE-Hose-100m---Metal-Reel-inc-fittings-SHP8.html#SID=247
add poles from gardiners and 2 110 leisure batteries cost depends on pole etc and a few bits and bobs thats the van covered . plus get a decent charger for the batteries !

static ro to fill van ,

https://www.cleaningspot.co.uk/acatalog/Static-system-600-GPD-SS600.html#SID=205

850 and should give at least 1500 litres a day may be more ( your not going to refill more than 2 times a day certainly not at the start )

so around 1600 plus vat for a decent delivery system plus cost of poles and 850 for a static system ready to use ( can be got cheaper but for ease of use i found this for you )
plus this can be kept in garage or lock up less likely to freeze thank in van

gutter vac ? i think i saw one on the for sale section of the forum ? or gutter cleaning systems google - pressure washer youve got jet mac not far from you ,we have one from him and its been a work horse or rutland pumps over here well regarded .
soft wash - youve got benz wash in Ireland ? and they sell the tips to go on a water fed pole .

thats my shopping list if i was setting up another van - every thing else would go on marketing as far too many have the shiny new van and kit and no work .

best of luck .
 
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Tony Brophy

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Thank you once again for your help and advice Daniel very much appreciated... I got a vivaro van last week, everything else has been on hold due to a nervous breakdown.... right now just focusing on getting back to myself and picking up some cleaning equipment online for the new venture.. I actually have a washer from jet mac have it few years strong as an ox.
 
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