Blog - random thoughts, observations and rants

Choosing the right window cleaner shouldn’t be a pane!

posted May 11, 2016, 9:50 PM by David Strong   [ updated May 11, 2016, 10:01 PM ]

A properly cleaned window will make you wonder why you ever invested in glass at all – suddenly, the garden is greener and the colours more distinct. Light permeates your home, giving it a comforting glow that fills you with peace and contentment and makes you want to sit down, sip coffee and just relax.

Clean windows are like ambient sounds for the eyes – relaxing.

A badly cleaned window is a con artist – at first it may appear to be what you wanted, until you notice a slight imperfection, a streak, perhaps – then as you attempt to wipe it away, another appears and suddenly the water stains around the edge draw your gaze, followed by the little black dots that weren’t there a moment ago. Soon, all you can see are the imperfections and they will not be ignored.

A badly cleaned window has the negative attention- getting skills of a tired two year old and you will feel your money was wasted.

So yup, the quality of a window clean matters and here are some things to consider to help you choose the right window cleaner and get the best value for money.

Do a Jessie J and Foggedaboudapricetag!

If you shop around for a window cleaner on price alone, you are setting yourself up for disappointment!

Good windows cleaners do more and leave better, longer lasting results.

Cheaper window cleaners often leave disappointment that good window cleaners have to contend with, usually at a lower than optimal price. With a little effort and understanding this can be avoided and the result will be money well spent.

So here goes!

Professional cleaning company or a person with a squeegee and bucket?

It doesn’t really matter because no matter which way you go, your windows will ultimately be cleaned by a person with a squeegee and bucket.

So lets look at some other things.

Keeping your home safe

Accidents can happen, glass can be broken and scratched! Ladders can fall, items can be knocked over, spills are not uncommon!

So look for :  

Insurance – it is essential! Public liability for $10,000,000 should be the very least you can expect from a window cleaner and ask to see a certificate of currency.

Police clearance – you are allowing someone into your home that you found either in a directory, online or off a flyer. None are a recommendation or guarantee that the window cleaner is not exploring other opportunities (like your jewellery box) to make a living.

Seriously – think about it.

Blue card – if your children are going to be at home, making loud noises, throwing things and generally having fun, then ensure that your window cleaner has been cleared by the authorities to work around little Angels.

References – It matters what people say! The more positive references the better. Don’t be too hard on the odd negative reference, but I do emphasise ‘odd’. Window cleaners are in a service industry where relationships are paramount and every effort should be made to ensure the expectations of customers are met. Even so, even the best window cleaner may get a negative reference, but very, very seldom.    

Meet with prospective window cleaners

Give them the once over: are they well-groomed, polite and dressed appropriately? (Thongs, T-shirt and wild, unkempt sun bleached hair doesn’t really cut it).  Is their vehicle okay to be seen in your neighbourhood – you know, clean with crisp, bright advertising and no bullet holes.

When showing them around your home, take note of the information they gather, questions they ask and listen to the quality, detail and fluency of any advice or explanations they offer.

Ask them about their cleaning methods, tools, equipment, techniques and products that they will use to clean different types of glass. Tinted and smart glass, for example, require specialist knowledge and very specific tools (I will elaborate on that in another post) otherwise there is a high risk of damage.

A bit of background also helps such as how long they have been window cleaning, how many people they employ and how long they have been in the business.

All this is important as it is their job to meet your expectations and your job to make the right choice.

Cleaning supplies and equipment

Window cleaning is probably the least expensive service to set up, so any window cleaners  serious about their job can be expected to provide all their own tools, equipment and cleaning supplies. Especially ladders – they need to be properly rated and lending a window cleaner one of yours could make you liable should anything happen.

Water and hosepipes are the usual exceptions, as few window cleaners carry a significant volume of water and often clients’ hosepipes are more conveniently sited and save time with loading and unloading.

With regard to cleaning chemicals, ask to see the Material Safety Data Sheets (MSDS) for the chemicals they intend to use. If they reply with a blank look or do not have them available count that as a negative.

Other stuff to think about

Remember, you are employing a professional service, so a website and a (relevant) blog is a good sign that prospective window cleaners are serious about their industry and their good name. Many people have social media pages for their businesses so check if they are up to date.

Accreditations in the cleaning industry are a bonus as window cleaners don’t actually require any qualifications – so don’t be too hard if your window cleaner doesn’t have one. Having a qualification is more of a bonus point.

Also, don’t forget to take a couple of business cards – that way if you like the job you can give them to your friends or hand them out to bounty hunters if you don’t. Fridge magnets are a plus because they don’t clutter your house or blow away.

.Be creative with your questions

Before hiring anyone, ask lots of questions – here are a few that have been covered in this blog:

1. Do you have insurance?

2. Can you provide specific details of the different services you offer?

3. Have you had a background check?

4. Do you have a window cleaning manual that I can see?

6. What are your policies, terms and conditions?

7. Do you have references?

8. Do your employees wear uniforms?

9. What is the procedure if I am not happy with the final result?

10. How would you like to be paid?

11. Can you give me a detailed breakdown of your quote?

12. What is your policy and procedures for assigning keys and alarm codes?

15. Do you have contracts or agreements?

16. What is your cancellation policy?

17. Can you do bond cleaning, pressure cleaning or gutter cleaning?

18.What certifications do you have?

20. Arer going to subcontract any work that would be done in my home?

21. What cleaning chemicals do you use?

22. Are your cleaning products environmentally friendly?

23. May I have a look at your MSDS for the products that you use?

24.Will you send one person or a team to clean my home?

 

Hopefully this blog has given you some ideas and enough information to help you compare window cleaners effectively and identify the one that will give you most value for money.

Selecting a service with integrity is important as you are inviting them, into your home - never take this decision lightly, as it may compromise the safety of your family and property.

The creation of Sir Washalot

posted Mar 2, 2013, 8:06 AM by David Strong   [ updated Mar 9, 2013, 11:58 PM ]

Window cleaning was not a career my son ever considered at school - I mean he was constantly told to find his passion, that unique job that would inspire great things in him. The problem was that my son had no idea what his passion looked like or where it might be hiding. so actually looking for it seemed pointless to him. In all honesty though he did have passions, contentious passions like video gaming, hanging out with friends and sleeping in late. 

I think the Australian school system fails because they are so focussed on making work sound cool and meaningful that they miss the point completely and shoot themselves in the foot as a result. To remedy this they should, first of all, accept that young people have passions, very real passions, and that these passions are not congruent with the school's defintion. Secondly, the school should have taught my son that all work is noble and that it did not matter what he did for a living provided it paid the rent and put food on the table. Thirdly, they should have taught him to take responsibility for himself and his life and have shown him how to find the passion in everything that he does.

Seriously, think about it - by telling young people to find their passion, the school is in effect abdicating  its responsibility to guide and counsel them; the school's argument is simply that until young people find their passion there is little that the school can do. It is a very negative approach and instils a belief in young people that work has to be about what they want to do, not what they have to do. In fact young people already know this, there is nothing exciting about flipping burgers at Macca's or Hungry Jacks but  for most young people it is the only job they can find. Why the schools try to distort this is a mystery. 

As a father I did all that I could to point these things out to my son, even to the extent of meeting with the student counsellor and headmaster. They could tell me little about my son's academic standing - the school reports were generic and, I believe, constructed from recommended phrase sheets so they offered nothing either. Extra tuition yielded minimal results as no one knew exactly what academic challenges my son struggled with. Personally, I am convinced the real problem was his attitude, driven by a sense of entitlement that comes when too much is given and life's realities are hidden behind descriptive words like passion. 

I felt that the school had set my son up to fail and given the standing of the Australian education in the global context it would appear that I was right. This is is a huge problem and many young people are paying the price. When my son left school he struggled to find employment beyond casual work that was unpredictable at best and poorly paid. It tool two years before he finally learnt what the school had neglected to teach him - that life is about taking responsibility being accountable and working with what you have got, and if that means window cleaning, so be it.

I was blessed as I managed to maintain a good relationship with my son through all this and so we started working together. I tutored him through a Certificate IV in business management and helped him put together a business plan which was enough for him to be accepted into the New Enterprise Incentive Scheme run by Centrelink and Sir Washalot Window Cleaning was created. 

Window cleaning is not what my son wanted to do. It was not his passion, not in the beginning, but recently I have seen a change in him, an awakening, a realisation, an awareness that this is more than a job, that  it is an opportunity for a future that will enable him to take full control of his life. 

He has learnt that it is not necessary to do the job you love, but to love the job you do.


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