Window cleaning is a popular choice for people looking for a simple, low-cost way to go into business
There are many benefits to starting a window cleaning business: you get to be your own boss for a reasonably small outlay, the working hours are flexible, you get to work in the fresh air, specialist skills aren’t required and there will always be a demand for your services, whether domestic or commercial.
So what do you need to start a window cleaning business? The first thing many people might think of is a ladder. But that’s not necessarily the case these days. The use of ladders for window cleaning has become a controversial subject following the Work at Height Regulations (WAHR) introduced by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) in 2005.
The rules state: “Every employer shall ensure that a ladder is used for work at a height only if a risk assessment… has demonstrated that the use of more suitable work equipment is not justified because of the low risk and (a) the short duration of use or (b) existing features on site which he cannot alter.”
In some quarters this was interpreted as a ban on window cleaners using ladders, but the HSE was quick to refute these claims.
Ian Greenwood, head of HSE’s Falls from Height Programme, said: “These Regulations do not ban ladders but say they should be used only when all other safer alternatives for work at height have been ruled out. A risk assessment must show that the task is low risk and of short duration, or that there are site features that mean other equipment is not appropriate. If so, then ladders can be used.”
So in many cases, ladders are OK for window cleaners to use. However, it’s important to ensure all the necessary safety measures are taken, and that any business insurance covers the use of ladders.
So what’s the alternative? Many window cleaners these days use a “reach and wash” system that makes it possible to clean windows up to 65ft high from ground level. The design features an extendable pole with a soft-bristled brush on the end. Water is delivered through pole at high pressure via a tank with an electric pump.
Although it sounds like an unwieldy process, the poles are made from a lightweight carbon fibre so they’re more manoeuvrable than you might imagine. It does take a bit of practice to get the hang of it but many in the industry believe the system has made the job more accessible to a wider range of people – presumably including those afraid of heights!
As well as cleaning equipment and materials, you’ll need a suitable vehicle – the size of which will depend on the methods you use and what you need to carry.
Another cost to consider is marketing. You can print up leaflets and business cards to distribute and advertise in the local press – you can even use the old-fashioned method of knocking on doors to drum up business. But remember, the internet is often the first port of call for people looking for local services, so consider building a website for your business.
For more information on starting a window cleaning business, visit:
The Federation of Window Cleaners http://www.f-w-c.co.uk