Most commercial window washers (similar to most residential window washers) will just jot the estimate price on the back of their business card, and then present it to the business owner/manager. Or they’ll give out a verbal estimate.
So we may as well be a little different and come across a bit more professional than that, right?
The estimate package may need to be modified a bit so it leans toward the commercial prospect. For example…if you already have some commercial customers, and they’re willing to act as references, then I would list those instead of residential references.
And there’s one saying in my cover letter for the residential prospect that I would definitely remove for the commercial prospect. And that is this: “Our pricing may be a little higher than the average window washer”.
And your explanation within the cover letter on how you clean the glass may need to be tweaked a little bit to accommodate how you’re going to clean commercial glass.
And finally, you won’t really be able to personalize the salutation on the cover letter like “Dear Mrs. Jones” for example due to you just walking in off the street (unless they called you, which gives you some type of advance notice), so a “Hello” will probably be the best you can do.
Other than that, let it fly.
Because of the cheaper pricing that you need to present to commercial window washing prospects (if you want the job), you do need to take a few shortcuts when it comes to washing the windows.
Try not to use your scraper and steel wool if you can help it. Unless it’s the first time you’re doing the glass and everything is just filthy so you need to whip out your scraper.
Although you still need to do a quality job, you need to be pretty speedy about it. Speaking of speedy, get a large strip washer and use a large squeegee.
Most strip washers are 22″ wide and that should be fine for you, but there are window supply houses that carry 30″ wide strip washers. And your 22″ squeegee should be fine also. As a side note, some window supply houses have the Quick Silver Sorbo channel that is 36″ wide. If you do end up doing a lot of
commercial glass, getting this 36″ wide squeegee would be a smart move.
A lot of the commercial glass you’ll be tackling is definitely larger than the basic 28″, 30″, or 36″ residential windows so since your commercial pricing needs to be less than your residential pricing, any way you can save some time is in your favor.
And one of the top complaints that you’ll hear is that the store’s current or previous window washer left water everywhere, so make sure you towel everything up nice and dry.
Not much more to be said about quality so let’s discuss…
There are differing opinions on this, but I personally wouldn’t bother with getting a store owner to sign any type of a contract unless they’re a larger customer.
One little $45 restaurant is fine with no contract, but make it a chain of 12 restaurants, and it would be a good idea to protect both parties with a contract.
A contract should just spell out each parties responsibility.
Things like how often you’ll be cleaning their windows, what kind of materials and equipment you’ll be bringing to the job site, the fact that you’re an independent contractor and not an employee of the commercial customer, when payment is due, and of course the agreed upon price of the job.
One of my guys out in the field in Hawaii sent me a contract that was provided by a builder to him so he could sign it. The contract was for 21 buildings at $1,200 per building. Not too shabby. Way to go Matthew.
You can find a standard contract in an office supply store and have it personalized by an attorney to fit you for $100. As a side note, I do provide my system owners with 2 different types of service contractsclick now.
Before signing a contract, my only recommendation is to make
sure you feel comfortable with your estimated price of the job. If you come in with too low of a price, you may regret it, because you won’t be able to just walk away. You will be committed to do that job for a certain length of time at that set price.
Making it all work
I’ll let the cat out of the bag right now and say that if I had to do it all over again, I would build a commercial division in addition to the residential part of my business.
Yes…there are certainly disadvantages to dealing with commercial customers.
–not as much loyalty
–pricing has to be less
–accounts receivables vs. getting paid at the end of every job with our residential customers.
But one important advantage is the fact that you’ll be doing their glass more often. I know of window washers doing some of their commercial customers every week, although usually it’s at least every 2 weeks to a month. One of my system owners though does a theme park’s outside glass every day! Talk about repeat business. Yowee!
It’ll give you a good consistent cash flow if you can mix up your business with a sprinkling of commercial accounts in addition to your tried and true residential customers.
But what you need to do to really make this work for you is to hire a person or two to deal with your commercial customers. You focus on getting the accounts because that should always be your responsibility (no one can do it as good as you), and let your subs handle the cleaning of the glass.
You would set up routes based on the locations of your commercial accounts. You then point your subs in the right direction, wind ’em up, and let ’em go.
Of course, they need to go through a little window washing training, but they don’t need to be as high quality or as high caliber of a person like you need when you’re doing a residential customer.
A residential customer is not too fond of having someone in their house who has 14 tattoos, multi-colored hair, or safety pins
sticking out of the side of their nose, whereas that’s not that important to your commercial customers. As long as they get clean glass, they’re a happy bunch.
So that’s what I’m talking about when I say “wind ’em up and let ’em go.” When I brought someone on board my window washing business, due to the fact that my customers were residential, in addition to being presentable, it was necessary to always monitor or have a crew leader monitor that person until there was a comfort level and we trusted them. But again…you don’t have to be this diligent with your commercial helpers.
And by having other subs do most or all of your commercial jobs, you can still focus on your residential customers where you make
the most money. So you’re essentially getting a pretty sweet override for every job your commercial subs do. Can you say “Jackpot”?
Earmark some time to go after commercial accounts. As I said a minute ago, if I was doing it all over again, this would definitely be part of the mix. It may be hard to say yes to a $10 or $20 job, but if you have enough of them being done on
a frequent basis by your commercial subs, those small jobs can add up to one big paycheck!
Make a goal every day of just visiting a set number of businesses. If all you have the time for is to visit 10 stores, then go for it. And we’re not talking about a great deal of time here either. In, out, next. But as with everything else, you have to be consistent with it. Visiting 10 stores or spending 1
hour prospecting for commercial business every 3rd month won’t get it done.
If you just visit 10 measly businesses every day 4 days a week, that’s 160 stores every month you stopped in, said hello, and exposed your business to. That will surely translate into you grabbing some commercial accounts. And more importantly…put moolah in your pocket.