In the window cleaning business, there are two main areas: commercial and residential. If you are a small scale operator, the residential market will most likely be your target. For this kind of work you could go for a traditional kit containing squeegees, sponges and a scraper and blades; but if you have the funds, you should really invest in a water fed pole and filtration kit, or ‘reach and wash’ system. This is made up of a 20 metre pole which runs with purified water.
A system like this will allow you to work more quickly, and without access to domestic water supply. You will also be able to reach upper floor windows without the need for climbing equipment such as ladders or a cherry picker. “You need a water purifier as well, which needs to be brought to each different location,” explains Christopher Turner of The London Window Cleaner. “It is a big investment. We have vehicles which have to carry over a metric tonne of water.”
If you take a long-term view, this kind of equipment will pay for itself many times over. “Residential window cleaners using a system like reach and wash are able to earn at least £25 per hour,” says Damien Whittaker of the BWCA. Once you have made the initial investment in a system like this, the overheads are low and it’s quite possible for a window cleaner to take £200 a day in income, he says.
As a rule, domestic window cleaning is not where the big money is found, though. If you want to grow your company and step into the big league, commercial window cleaning is probably the market you should aim for.
In commercial window cleaning, there are four main areas. You have general window cleaning, which requires a bucket, a ladder and a squeegee, and is done by hand: this is just for internal work, for inside office buildings and so on. The second area is exterior high level, cleaning buildings of up to 60ft with the reach and wash system, as detailed above. The third area is abseiling, which requires specialist individuals. And the fourth is crane cleaning, where you bring in a high level crane and cherry picker, and reach over the building to reach the windows.
If you want to cover all four of those areas, you will need substantial investment from the outset. “The cranes are always rented in because they’re jolly expensive to maintain.” Christopher explains. “We tend to focus more on abseiling these days. People see them and they say, ‘Wow, that looks professional.’”