What is it and who is it suited to?
Window cleaning is not all buckets and suds and step ladders. It’s a lot more dangerous than that. If you believe research conducted by Churchill Insurance way back in 2004, window cleaning might even be the most dangerous job in Britain. Thankfully, it’s not quite as risky as such surveys suggest: things have become a little safer with the passing of time. “Window cleaners now have equipment that allows them to completely eliminate the need to work at height,” Damian Whittaker of the British Window Cleaning Academy (BWCA) explains, “Modern window cleaning is no longer the dangerous job it once was.”
Perhaps because of this dangerous reputation, window cleaning has suffered from something of a poor public image in the past, but don’t let that deter you. Window cleaners come from all all walks of life. While a City background may not be what you expect from the MD of a successful window cleaning company, there are many who have just that.
Christopher Turner, who set up The London Window Cleaner in 2006, for instance, is a former hedge fund manager. “I was actually in a hedge fund for the charitable sector; and I spent eight years in charity work before I left,” he says. “There are lots of people in the business from the City. I got out because I wanted to go back to something that was fundamental, something practical and useful and that would always have a market.”
A City background is not a prerequisite of course – although it might help with your start-up costs. Window cleaning is often a family business and, according to Damien of the BWCA, there are a few husband-and-wife teams around. Like most start-up businesses, entry is limited only by commitment and interest. In times of downturn especially, many people who have lost their job use their redundancy payment to start a business in something like window cleaning. So if you want to take up your squeegee and ladder, don’t let the scare stories put you off. Read on for our tips on how best to start up.