How to start a window cleaning business

Set up a profitable window cleaning business with our step-by-step guide.

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Starting your own company is a great way to turn your window cleaning skills into an ongoing venture. From buying the right equipment to getting your business structure right, we explain the key steps involved in getting your company up and running.

What is a window cleaning business?

A window cleaning business specialises in providing professional window cleaning services to customers. Broadly, there are two types of window cleaning businesses: Commercial window cleaners who specialise in rope access window cleaning, and window cleaners who work on houses and low-rise buildings.

How to start a window cleaning business

  1. Pick your expertise. Decide on what type of window cleaning you want to specialise in. Setting up a rope access window cleaning will have a higher set-up cost, as well as more work health and safety issues, but generally the rates will be higher. On the other hand, if you are specialising in residential window cleaning you will have a lower set-up cost, but your rates will be lower.
  2. Develop a business plan. Write a business plan that sets out the services you provide, market research into competitors and the pricing for your services. As part of this, you should also consider if you need a small business loan.
  3. Create a brand name and logo. Choose a business name that accurately reflects your service and check on the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) website to see if the name is available to register. If you need a logo, there are graphic design tools and services to help you.
  4. Choose the right structure for your business. A Sole Trader or Partnership is often the easiest and most cost-effective way to set up a small business, but there are advantages to registering your business as a Company in certain situations. Read on to find out the pros and cons of the different business structures.
  5. Get the right insurance in place. Consider if you need to get insurance cover for your business. For a window cleaning business, you may need Public Liability Insurance to protect yourself against any liability for property damage or personal injury. For example, insurance cover can protect you if someone slips and falls due to cleaning solution spills.
  6. Consider legal requirements. It's important to get basic legal documents right, such as a Service Agreement and a Cancellation Policy to set out the terms and conditions of your service. As your business expands and you take on staff, you may also need an Employment Agreement.
  7. Market your business. The way you market your business will depend largely on what services you provide and your target customers. If you specialise in high-rise buildings, you may want to directly target building managers and commercial property landlords. On the other hand, if you provide residential window cleaning for houses and low-rise apartments, you will need to cast your net wider. Build a website and social media presence, and list your services on online marketplaces.
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Skills needed to start a window cleaning business

Here are some of the essential skills for running a window cleaning business:

  • Window cleaning skills and experience. The level of skills required will depend on your expertise. For both rope access and residential cleaning, you'll need to be familiar with glass cleaning techniques and cleaning products, and be aware of work health and safety requirements. For rope access window cleaning you will also need people with abseiling skills and experience.
  • Business skills. Some of the useful basic business skills include bookkeeping and marketing. This means you will be able to keep track of the business income and expenses, and promote your business to the wider public.

Courses and qualifications

For rope access window cleaning, it is industry standard to have an Industrial Rope Access Trade Association (IRATA) abseiling licence or equivalent. For residential window cleaners, a formal qualification is not absolutely essential, but you can improve your skills through training. The most common qualification for this kind of work is a Certificate II in Cleaning Operations. This course covers all kinds of cleaning situations and the skills required, so you'll have a broad range of expertise to offer in your business.

Some states require a licence to do window cleaning work in Australia. The New South Wales government requires a minor maintenance and cleaning licence for any work valued at more than $5,000 (including GST) in labour and materials. You should check the licence requirements for the state you are working in.

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    Equipment and software needed to start a window cleaning business

    As you'll be travelling to various locations, your business hub will essentially be your vehicle. You may need a van or ute big enough to carry all your supplies. As well as this, you'll want good quality window cleaning equipment, such as:

    • Scrubbers
    • Squeegees
    • Extension poles
    • Glass scrapers
    • T-bars and sleeves

    How to structure your window cleaning business

    Structuring your business will depend on a variety of factors including your startup costs, the number of people on your team and your long-term goals.

    Let's take a look at two of the more typical business models for a window cleaning business:

    • Sole Trader. One of the more simple ways to set up a business is as a Sole Trader. You'll be completely responsible for every aspect of the business and any debts or losses, but you can hire extra staff as necessary.
    • Partnership. If you're aiming to open your business with a friend or family member, you can choose to register it as a Partnership. This means that both you and your partner will share the responsibility for the business, including all debts and losses. In order to protect both parties involved, you might like to consider using a Partnership Agreement.
    • Company. This business structure involves higher costs but can be useful if you want to protect yourself from the Company's debts and liabilities.

    It's essential to have legal documents in order so that you're protected if there are any disputes with the customer or third party. For a window cleaning business, here are some of the most essential documents to consider:

    • A Service Agreement will be one of your most important documents to ensure that all the terms of each arrangement are clearly laid out. This will set out the services you'll be offering and how much your client is expected to pay.
    • A Cancellation Policy in your Service Agreement will help you deal with any costs associated with last-minute cancellations.
    • Once you have your website up and running, you'll need to add a Website Disclaimer to help protect you against legal liability.
    • If you're taking on extra staff to help you in your business, an Employment Agreement will keep everyone on the same page.

    You'll want to make sure your documents are legally sound with the correct language. An easy way to do this is by using online legal templates or seeking legal advice online.

    In addition, online legal services can be helpful if you need advice on setting up your business, or if you face specific legal issues in the course of running your business. Here are the types of lawyers you might need to consult with:

    • Small business lawyers. They can advise you on what structure works best for your business, as well as draft and review essential contracts and policies.
    • Franchise lawyers. Sometimes you will join an existing franchise such as Jim's Cleaning. It's a good idea to consult a franchise lawyer before signing a franchise agreement so that you can get advice on your rights as a franchisee.

    Get access to legal services and documents online

    Name Product What's offered? Starting price to become a member Annual Fee from Free legal documents available?
    Lawpath
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $79 per month
    Essentials: $288, legal advice: $828
    You can view samples for free and you can create your first document for free.
    Choose an annual plan from just $288 and get unlimited revisions to your legal or business documents. Plus, unlock exclusive partner offers.
    Sprintlaw
    Legal documents and templates, Access to lawyers, Legal guides, Legal advice
    $599 (with fixed fee services starting at $49)
    $599
    Some documents are free to download. Get access to all documents with a membership.
    Unlimited lawyer phone consultations, free updates to documents, exclusive partner offers & legal discounts.
    LawDepot
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    $4.99 per month
    $59.88
    Free one week trial available which gives access to hundreds of documents.
    Customise and download legal documents in as little as five minutes. Plus, LawDepot offers peace of mind with two service guarantees.
    Legal123
    Legal documents and templates, Legal guides
    Varies per template
    N/A
    No
    Legal123 offers a range of individual templates or document packages for consultants, app developers, personal trainers and more.
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    How to find customers

    The first thing you'll want to do is build a digital presence for your business. There are some free ways to do this, including registering your business on Google My Business, listing on free online classified sites like Yellow Pages and setting up a Facebook page. In addition to this, you can start reaching customers quickly in your area by using online marketplaces such as:

    • Airtasker. Post your services and reach customers looking for tasks to be done.
    • hipages. List your business on this recognised platform and find people looking for quotes.
    • Oneflare. Register your business on this Australian marketplace which has a specific focus on the home improvement and services market.

    Most of these freelancing platforms have apps which you can download and get real-time updates on job postings. You can also message directly with potential customers.

    Business directories such as White Pages and True Local are additional places you can use to list your services.

    How much should I charge my customers?

    Your pricing will depend largely on if your business provides residential or high-rise commercial window cleaning services. According to ServiceSeeking, average window cleaning costs around $35 an hour, but charges for commercial cleaning can go up to $90 per hour for high-rise buildings.

    When determining prices, it's worth taking a look at sites like Airtasker and Oneflare, as well as other window cleaning businesses in your area to see what your competitors are charging. Your pricing will also depend on your own experience and other factors such as distance to locations, whether it is a multiple storey house with limited access and what cleaning products are required. In most cases, window cleaning businesses will charge by the hour, but some window cleaners will charge per window panel.

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    Frequently asked questions

    What insurance does a window cleaner need?

    You'll typically need to get Public Liability Insurance to ensure you and your business are protected. This will cover risks such as third-party injuries, liability to subcontractors and the risks of cleaning equipment causing injury to people or property. You can get quotes from insurers like AAMI and NRMA, or reach out to an insurance broker.

    What does a window cleaning estimate include?

    When pricing a window cleaning job, you'll need to do a site check and include multiple factors, such as the number and size of the panes, accessibility to the windows, sills and tracks, the level of dirt and average prices in your region.

    Should I join a franchise or start my own business?

    There are pros and cons for each option. If you join a franchise, they will provide support and training, and they can also help you find customers through marketing campaigns. However, as a franchisee, you will have to pay a fee, and you may have restrictions in terms of what products you can use and what geographical areas you can service.

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