How much money can you, realistically, expect to make?

This resource is provided to help anyone start their own window cleaning business. *

So, how much money can you expect to make running a window cleaning business? This is the first question most of you are likely to ask. It’s an important question because, in the end, generating a good income is what being in business is all about. But you might as well ask “How long is a piece of string?”. It’s difficult to give you an exact figure, as there are so many variables that can affect an individuals ability to earn.

So, what are the factors that can affect how much money you make?

Personal factors:

  • Your age, lifestyle, health and fitness level
  • How hard you’re prepared to work
  • The number of hours you’re prepared to put in
  • How fast you can work, without compromising quality
  • Whether you have a motor vehicle or not

Business factors:

  • The size of your business (whether you’re a sole trader or an employer)
  • Whether you work in an urban or rural environment
  • How far you have to travel to reach your customers
  • How many customers you have
  • Distance between customers
  • How well grouped your customers are
  • How many times you have to unpack and pack your vehicle in a day
  • How much you charge each customer
  • How often you impose a price increase
  • How well you retain your customers (you will always have a natural turnover of customers)

Climatic factors:

  • Whether you’re working in Summer or Winter
  • Days lost due to bad weather

As you can see there are a number of factors (not exhaustive) that can affect how much money you can expect to make.

Let’s make this easier

Perhaps the easiest way to approach this is to look at an hourly rate, it’s then up to you how many hours you’re prepared to work. On a good day, at present, I can expect to earn about £20 (20 Great Britain Pounds ‘GBP’) per hour (as of 2010/2011). On a not so good day that will be down to about £15 (15 GBP) per hour.

Both rates are certainly better than the UK minimum wage and the UK Jobseeker’s Allowance weekly rates. The UK minimum wage (as of January 2011) is; £5.93 per hour (for age 21 or over) and £4.92 per hour (for age 18 to 20). The UK Jobseeker’s Allowance (as of January 2011) is; £51.85 per week (for age 16 to 24) and £65.45 per week (for age 25 and over). £65.45 could easily be made during one mornings window cleaning.

I’ll put this into context. I’m now 53 years of age (as of 2010/2011), I carry a little extra weight, but I do exercise. I eat healthily and have a healthy lifestyle. I’m a sole trader and I only clean the windows of residential properties. The majority (95%) of my work is within half a mile of where I live, on a housing development in a market town in the United Kingdom. I’m not the fastest window cleaner, but I do a thorough job and retain customers well. The number of hours I do each day varies and, to be honest, I can’t do as much now as I did when I first started in 2002.

I speculate that if I was in my twenties, I could probably get that hourly rate up to about £25 (25 GBP) or even £30 (30 GBP) (as of 2010/2011).

Hopefully, this gives you an idea of the potential earnings from running a window cleaning business (in the UK). The rest is up to you.

As you can see, most of the factors, above, are business related. Over the next few weeks, I’ll be showing you how to start your own window cleaning business and more importantly, how to help maximise your income.

* Please note, this resource has a UK bias, regarding UK legal requirements, otherwise the general principles, offered here, apply worldwide.

I welcome your questions, comments and feedback.

In the next article: Why should you start a window cleaning business?

11 Responses to How much money can you, realistically, expect to make?

  • simon taylor says:

    Hi there. I started a window cleaning business about 4 weeks ago. I’ve already acquired about 25 customers; 21 residential and 4 commercial, so far, making me about £250. I’m advertising whenever I get the chance. I’ll take on work all over Stoke-on-Trent, because I can’t afford to pick and choose an area. I’ve set a target for myself of £2000 a month, is that realistic? and how long do you think it will take to build a full months round?

    p.s. I really like your website and found it very helpful

    regards Simon.

    • Martin says:

      Hi Simon

      Congratulations on starting your own window cleaning business.

      Many thanks for your comment and thank you for your kind words about the website.

      I would say that £2000 per month (£24000 per year), working as a sole trader, is easily achievable, but it might take you a few years to get there. Prove me wrong. As my article:

      “How much money can you, realistically, expect to make?”

      says, there are many variables at work that can affect how much you earn.

      When you’re not cleaning windows get out there and knock on doors. In my experience, knocking on doors is, by far, the best way of acquiring new customers. When I started, I would clean in the mornings and be knocking on doors in the afternoons and evenings. See my article:

      “Sales and Marketing to acquire customers, Part 2 (of 2) – Knocking on doors”

      Keep me informed of your progress and feel free to ask questions.

      Good luck

      Martin

      • simon taylor says:

        Hi Martin, just thought i would update you on how my window cleaning business is going. I took your advise and went knocking on doors at the weekends as well as posting my flyers. I’ve now got 112 customers and bringing in £1000, I’m only half way from hitting my target in just 8 months of trading. I’m confident that i will hit my target by next summer, then who know’s where i can go from there,lol. thanks again for this great website and helpful information. if you can give me anymore tips or help to keep progressing that would be fantastic.
        thanks Simon.

  • gary says:

    Hi I’m looking to start a window cleaning round, but I cant afford to buy one. So I’m thinking that I will create on my own. I’m just thinking that I may be treading on other window cleaners toes if I start posting leaflets and working on peoples patches. Could you shed any light on this please. Thanks for this web site its very helpful.Gary

    • Martin says:

      Hi Gary

      In answer to your inquiry, the following is an extract from my article “Sales and Marketing to acquire customers, Part 2 (of 2) – Knocking on doors”

      “By the way, a question I get asked regularly is;

      how do you know if you’re on another window cleaners territory?”

      Let’s get this straight right from the start,

      NO WINDOW CLEANER HAS AN EXCLUSIVE RIGHT TO THE ROADS IN AN AREA.

      We live (in the UK) in a democracy. No window cleaner has a right to tell you that they “own” a territory. If you’re ever told this, just ignore it. If you’re ever threatened, then it becomes a matter for the Police. Enterprise and free trade is all about healthy competition. Having said that, no one has ever said anything to me. Customers mention to me, all the time, that a new window cleaner was touting for business, especially in the Spring and Summer. I just make sure I provide the best service possible.

      Knocking on doors to acquire customers is easy and you’ll get more customers in a given area than you would by doing a leaflet drop. Read the article “Sales and Marketing to acquire customers, Part 2 (of 2) – Knocking on doors”, I show you exactly how to do it.

      Feel free to ask me questions, I’ll help you if I can.

      Thank you for your kind words about the website and good luck with your new business

      Martin

  • Dominic says:

    Hi I’m just starting up in north London and not sure what I should be charging people around this area I.e how much per window on a house how much on a shop and how much to do the inside as well as the out side

    • Martin says:

      Hi Dominic

      Check out my article “Window cleaning, how much do you charge?”.

      When talking to other window cleaners, just tell them you’re thinking of starting a business in another area.

      Never undercut another window cleaner. If anything, try charging more, they may not be charging enough.

      When knocking on doors some people will already have a window cleaner and most will be happy to let you know what they charge. Again, don’t undercut and try charging more for similar sized properties. I know for a fact that I’m the most expensive window cleaner in my area.

      In my experience cleaning windows inside is a nightmare – too many obstacles – unless the house is empty and then I don’t mind doing it as a one off. I developed a full round within a year of starting and even now, I get asked, at least, a couple of times a week. There is always a shortage of GOOD window cleaners.

      Thanks for your comment and good luck with your new venture. Feel free to ask me questions in the future.

      Good Luck

      Martin

  • John says:

    My first windows
    A bit desperate and in need of money I advertized in a prefab complex that I would do the inside and out of any house in the complex for £60 (gbp). I got three takers. Average of about 32 windows inside and out plus washing sills in and out and a dozen screens each. Each house took a full 10 hour day.

    All were happy and I got some work when I needed it. Next time I’ll be looking for twice that.

    Great site! Thanks, John

  • michael weston says:

    I want some help in starting a window cleaning service. I just want a few hints and tips to get me going and can someone tell me if you really need to do training.

    • Martin says:

      Hi Michael

      Customers, Customers, Customers!!!

      Without CUSTOMERS you don’t have a business.

      The actual process of cleaning window is not that difficult and it won’t take you long to acquire the skills you need.

      But those skills are pointless without actual CUSTOMERS (this applies to ALL businesses, both large and small).

      I went out and got myself 20 customers before I bought any equipment.

      Read my articles “Sales and Marketing to acquire customers”, Parts 1 and 2.

      I have found that knocking on doors is by far the best way to acquire customers.

      To reduce the amount of travelling you do – START WITH YOUR NEIGHBOURS AND WORK OUT.

      I acquired my window cleaning skills through trial and error and talking to other window cleaners when I met them. People love telling you what they know – it’s human nature.

      Also, checkout “YouTube”, it’s a wealth of knowledge.

      Feel free to ask me more questions and good luck with your new venture.

      Martin

  • Syra says:

    Hello Martin,
    I’m a woman and starting my own window cleaning business next week. I have borrowed money from family as I have been unemployed for the last two years and this was the only way to change things. Also I’m in my late 40′s.

    My question is, is it safe? I mean you don’t get trouble do you whilst cleaning windows?

    I stumbled upon your site as I have been trying to tell myself this is the right thing to do but still have doubts. Reading what you wrote about doing the job slower than you used to and still making good money gave me hope that I’ll be OK.

    Thank you for this website, you dont know how much hope it gives people like me.

    Wish me well and I’ll let you know how things progress.

    Syra x

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