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Management And Training

Finding The Window Cleaning Experts

September 19, 2010
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The cleaning industry encompasses so many diverse occupations that it would be rare to find anyone fully informed about all subjects.

That is true with us here at ICAN/ATEX as well.

Some questions are general and we give a general answer to put the writer on the right track.

For example, questions about pricing a service — "How much should I charge?" or "What should I bid?" — get a reply such as the following:

"Window cleaning has several time variables including technician experience, size and productivity of equipment, ease of access, soil conditions and size of glass. Sometimes, it is easier to break the glass size down into small, medium and large for bidding purposes. Many contractors figure one to three minutes per side, depending on the size, soil condition and access to the first floor windows and interior. This time may or may not include setup, ladder movement or removing obstacles. Then, you would calculate your hourly billing rate based on all expenses, frequency of cleaning, income potential of the account and desired profit. Many janitorial contractors who offer window cleaning charge $25 to $60 an hour. Suppose you cleaned small windows — those that were easily accessible and not too soiled — in one minute. If your billing rate were $60 an hour, then you would charge $1 per side. Or, suppose the windows are not cleaned often and heavily soiled, which is project work. You might chage $3.50 for first floor and interior, $4.50 for second floor and $5.50 for third floor and above. New construction window cleaning will take three to five times longer. The important thing is to track your own production times and then develop a pricing guide that reflects your production rate and required profit level." — Gary Clipperton.

Sometimes, we encourage a reader research a specific task in ISSA''s Cleaning Times as a starting point, as in my response to another:

"The latest ISSA Cleaning Times reference gives numerous times for cleaning windows by various methods. The fastest time is using a brush and squeegee on one side of a 10-foot-by-10-foot pane, which takes about 10 minutes. You can then do six of these an hour. So, to make $60 an hour, you must charge $10 a side or $20 a pane."

However, every so often we will be asked something such as this:

"We have an office building — circa 1980 — with reflective glass windows. The reflective glass coating is on the outside, lite #1. After the last cleaning, these windows became foggy and streaked. Has anyone had any experience repairing this kind of damage and what is the recommended next step, short of replacing the window units?"

And, we answer:

"For this one, I''m going to send you to the real community of window cleaning experts. Check this forum for an answer: You may have to post the question there as well, but someone will have some experience with reflective coatings and fogging."

Thanks to the Internet, it is easy to search out specialty forums that can provide experienced help and in-depth information on any variety of cleaning related endeavors.

The ISSA Cleaning Times guide is updated frequently, but even it has no time suggestions on the most recent advance in window cleaning — and that is the literal cleaning of the frames and glass by use of a brush on a water-fed extension pole.

The key to success here is to use pure water that is free from dissolved minerals, such as calcium and magnesium, that will leave spots on the surfaces when the water evaporates.

In the simplest system, a deionizing resin setup removes the minerals before the water goes up the pole hose to the brush and, with proper brush and pole technique, the rinsing will leave the surface residue-free.

Here is a word of caution from the forums and pure water experts.

Pretreatment of the water that needs de-ionization may be required to avoid rapidly deteriorating the rather expensive resins used in the process.

Sediments and chlorine, if present, must be removed by the proper filtration, making the setup more complicated and expensive than just the one or two tanks needed for the mineral removal.

As with all water treatment, the experts say to test your water to see what''s in it before selecting the treatment components you need to make an efficient and economical setup.

The forums with the window cleaning experts are a valuable source of guidance on this emerging technology.

After all, this is not a new system in Great Britain and Europe, and the users over there have done a lot of refinement to make the technique a success.

The International Custodial Advisors Network Inc. (ICAN) is a non-profit association comprised of industry consultants with a wide range of expertise in building management, indoor environmental and service disciplines. This network provides free janitorial and building maintenance consultation service to the industry through the Cleaning Management Institute®.

Recent Articles by Lynn Krafft, ICAN/ATEX editor

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