Probably one of the greatest mysteries for the new self employed window cleaner is knowing what to charge for your window cleaning services. First you must remember that you are becoming a business and as such, your earnings go towards the cost of running a business as well as putting food on your kitchen table and a roof over your head. Now I've made mention on the home page about window cleaners earning $50/hr and up but you may be wondering how one prices actual jobs so that you can earn this kind of money from them.
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Target Earning Goal
I usually tell beginners to set an earning goal of around 50$/hr for their first few months (up to a year) in the biz. If a new window cleaner can achieve this consistently then they are well on their way to earning $60-$70/hr by their second year. Here's why. Even after you've calculated what to charge per window/job in order for you to achieve the return of $50/hr, you will be earning this as an unskilled window cleaner. That's right, until you've been cleaning windows for a while, technically you're still unskilled. But after you've aquired the skills to clean windows more professionally and quickly, your hourly return rate will increase.
I tell a story on my dvd of when I first started out window cleaning and priced out a job where I ended up only making around $35/hr. The following year I returned to do a repeat clean at the same bid price but because of the improvements in my technique, my earnings on that job increased to $70/hr. Simply because I was now cleaning more windows per hour. My dvd offers many tips and techniques for cleaning windows more efficiently and accurately resulting in more windows cleaned per hour.
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How To Price Window Cleaning Jobs
After studying price ranges (for residential) across the North American market, I have determined that window cleaning companies charge anywhere from $4 per basic window in/out on the low end to $8 per window on the high end. Storm windows are usually priced much higher because of the amount of work, not just in cleaning them but also the time it takes to take them apart and re-assemble them. French panes (small cut ups) are often charged at $1 in/out to $1.50 in/out for each individual pane. The two things that will determine what you charge is how your per window price meets your earning goal and also what your market will bare.
Pricing commercial work is slightly different. Usually a per window price will be lower than residential work. Reasons for this include such things as level of competition in your area, simpler window styles (usually), more frequent visits (sometimes by contract of weekly/monthly/quarterly etc.) In many cases you may be ask just to clean the outside glass only. Pricing of anywhere between $1 per pane side to $2 per pane side is quite common for ground level commercial glass but may need to be increased depending on other variables. (see below)
If you are looking at going after store front work, it is often a good idea to set a minimum per service stop because some stores may only have a few pieces of glass. If you're aiming at getting many small stores in one area location, you may want to set your min per stop at around $15 and test the waters for going up from there. The one main characteristic in doing store front work is that although you may make a smaller amount per stop, you plan to make it up in volume (number of stops per day). Some window cleaners prefer this type of work because a storefront window cleaning route of weekly/bi-weekly/monthly accounts means consistent earnings throughout the year, even in the cold winter months.
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Variables In Window Cleaning Pricing
All the pricing guide info offered above is taking into consideration that the window cleaning jobs are pretty straight forward. But there are always going to be variables that may affect what you end up charging per job such as how dirty the glass is, what is the access to the glass like, do you need to use ladders or extension poles, any obstacles to make cleaning difficult, any stains or hard water spots to remove? etc.. In time you will even come across glass that is so corroded due to neglect that the only option is replacement. Just remember, whatever extra work you face on the job, make sure you charge for it.
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Is Your Pricing Too Low/High?
A window cleaner who had been in the business for many years once told me that you should aim for landing around 70% of your bids. If you consistently win more bids than that then your prices are probably too low. Likewise, if you consistently land fewer bids than 70% then your prices may be too high. I would say this is very true when it comes to residential jobs and larger commercial jobs. The only time one should ignore this rule is when bidding store front. Store front is the most competitive area in window cleaning and many small businesses are price shoppers so be prepared to hear a lot of "no's" while canvassing for clients. Home owners can be price shoppers too but don't feel bad if you lower your price to land some jobs in the early stages of your business. You gotta eat right? Plus, you can chalk everything up to experience in the long run.
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Don't be afraid to network with other local window cleaning companies. The good ones won't be afraid to share information with you and will encourage a healthy marketplace for everyone. But stay clear of those competitors that offer rock bottom prices. They may appear to be constantly busy but what's the point if they're not profitable, right?