Well…beginning year number 9 and I ran across this article in the local paper that featured a story about a new window cleaner in the area. In 2019 we will break all the records! Thank you to all who made it possible.
This article - "Window Washing Business Gleams Despite Tough Economy" was originally written by Debbie Hatch for The Peninsula Beacon
WINDOW WASHING BUSINESS GLEAMS DESPITE TOUGH ECONOMY by Debbie Hatch
Paul Pate puts the polish into a job as owner of Blue Ocean Window Cleaning.
The exceptional views from Point Loma and Ocean Beach give homeowners something to brag about — but not if they are looking through dirty windows.
With that in mind, Paul Pate, owner of Blue Ocean Window Cleaning, offers a service to help homeowners maximize their views.
“It’s amazing to me the psychological difference it makes for people when their windows are clean,” Pate said.
Dirt left on a window can eat away at the surface, causing damage over time, especially in San Diego where salt and moisture are environmental factors. Pate suggests homeowners have their windows cleaned at least once a year.
Most homeowners have no idea how dirty their windows are until they have them cleaned, Pate said.
“Everything gets dirty around a window or window frame, and it will get taken care of,” Pate said of his services.
His business includes the cleaning of windowsills, window frames and screens. He also offers the option of having solar panels cleaned.
“There’s nothing fancy about it,” Pate said. “It’s just something that people forget about.”
The effectiveness of the solar panels is increased as the result of cleaning, he added.
Pate and a business partner started a window-washing service in the early 1980s. Over time, the company branched out into landscaping. After six years, the duo amicably split the business into two separate entities. Pate took the landscaping portion and ran with it for 24 years.
In 2005, the economy forced Pate to close his landscaping business and he began working in sales.
Recently, Pate decided to revive his window-washing business as a side job, but word of mouth spread — and now, his side business is taking off.
He said his business ethics, conscientious behavior and dependability are the characteristics of his business; traits he believes are keeping him booked.
“They can expect me to show up on time and do the job at a competitive price,” Pate said.
Pate and his wife are both graduates of Point Loma Nazarene University and have lived in Point Loma for more than 25 years.
I recently had a lady say “I hear you’re ‘pricey’… can you tell me why?” I was a bit surprised, even taken aback, but I took a moment, thought about “why?” and then made these points with her.
I’ve had a few people suggest my pricing is “high.” Well, you know what Einstein said, “Everything is relative.” Actually he probably didn’t say that but I bet he’d agree with it.
When I hear this I feel like it’s time to educate. People who haven’t dealt with funding and maintaining a successful business typically have little idea what it takes. I’m tellin’ you, it takes a lot. Something like 85-90% of small businesses fail.
Here’s my reply to folks who feel my pricing is out of line.
I determine my rates by:
Determining what my costs are and factoring those into my estimate.
1. Mandatory sick leave (Mandated by the government)
2. Ever increasing workmen’s compensation and liability insurance costs
3. Expensive security checks on employees
4. Cost of standing behind our work, even to our loss.
5. Responsiveness to customer timetable and needs
Support expenses: Driving to and from prospective clients to look at the project, preparing quotes, upgrading and implementing new technology, finding new clients, maintaining existing accounts, preparing and disseminating marketing materials, researching/setting up/maintaining websites, and social media posts, repairs to equipment and vehicles, replacing vehicles, shopping and laundry, cleaning the office/vehicles/shop area, lights and water, doing accounts payables, receivables, purchasing. I suspect you understand. Thank you for the opportunity to provide the estimate.
People ask “How much does it cost to clean each window?” These factors also go into how much it costs to clean a window: How much dirt on it? 1st floor or 2nd,? Fallbrook or Pt. Loma? Inside and out cleaning, or only exterior cleaning? Screens on the windows? How dirty are they? What condition are they in? Are most of the windows large or small in size or a mixed amount of small, medium sized and large? On the inside are the tracks relatively clean or need some real attention? Are their obstructions to working inside? Obstructions outside? House on a canyon that effectively makes it a 3 story house? If windbreaks...do you want them cleaned? Are they "quieter home" program windows? Are they tinted? Is the cleaning part of a post construction cleaning? Do we have to walk on a tile roof or other "dangerous" arrangement? This is a partial list but it helps one to understand the difficulty of quoting a per pane price.
If we are “too high” I encourage people to shop around but before you commit make sure he/she protects your floors/furniture/window treatments, make sure they are trustworthy and safe to have in your bedroom, will stand behind the work and repair or replace items that may be damaged during the work.
I hope that helps. ☺
Considerations to Maximize the Effectiveness of Solar Panels, and Preserving the Value of your Windows through Maintenance Procedures and Cleaning.
Last month we looked at some maintenance steps a homeowner can take to maximize the effectiveness of their solar panels, if they have them, and that boiled down to properly cleaning them. If you didn’t see that article and it’s germane read my 1/26/18 blog post and see what’s helpful to you in that article
This follow up piece is about protecting the investment you have in your windows. You may say, “I didn’t invest any money in ‘my windows!’” Well, if you bought a house you bought windows and they require maintenance just like your roof, carpeting, and fixtures. Windows are easily forgotten because they’re kinda’ just there, for the most part you can see through them pretty well, and they may seldom be opened to reveal the rusty cranking mechanisms, the eroded seals, the insects that have made the area home. (Sometimes I feel like I’m a part time pest control person. Those closed windows are perfect for raising a little bug/spider family.) So, because the windows are “out of sight, out of mind” we simply don’t notice the dullness that has crept in because of the salt, jet fuel, dust, bird splatter, and we don’t think about the deleterious effects of the sun beating on that window day after day with that garbage on your windows.
At the time of the sale of the house…
I want to suggest to you too that the condition of your windows will be of significant importance if and when you get ready to sell, especially if you have a view. I know too that the condition of your windows has an unconscious impact on how you feel about being in those rooms, and believe it or not, how you feel about life. If I could put in a spray bottle what people experience after the windows are cleaned and spritz them, I’d make a fortune.
People love the “feeling” of crystal clear clean glass.
Cleaning of your exterior window surfaces preserves them just like cleaning your car preserves its surface. The dirt, moisture, salts (in our area) and the sun erode the surfaces of both your car and your windows, especially in coastal areas where the salt eats away the surface of the glass and collects on the inner workings of the hinging, cranking and locking mechanisms. The window frames are also slowly damaged by these same elements. I have lots of Realtors who order up window cleaning before showing a home.
On screen cleaning…
The screens on your windows provide a measure of protection if they are on the outside but can also add to the corrosion problem if they are constructed of a metal mesh, typically aluminum. Aluminum screens become oxidized and cause the windows to be "screen burned” which is simply the pitting of the surface of the glass. Vinyl screens are advised and are usually what is used today. Screen frames sit in damaging mixtures of dirt/salt and water and over time the corners frequently break up creating a challenge to get them out or back in. Screens can be removed and stored during the cooler times of the year. Doing this lengthens the life of the screen, opens up the view when the windows aren’t normally opened and reduces the time the screen will be present to breakdown and impact the window.
Mineral deposit damage…
Hard water damage to windows is common and repairable if not left too long. Professional cleaners are available along with tools to clean up glass that has had a steady spray of water on it over time and is now water spotted and damaged. If you have mineral deposits showing up on your windows, like you might notice on your shower doors, check the irrigation (sprinkler) system near those windows. Irrigation heads can usually be adjusted away from windows and their frames.
Mechanical parts…final thoughts…
You’ll preserve the life (value) of your windows if the mechanical parts that open and close them are kept in good working order. Three things you can do to accomplish “good working order” are to clean those mechanisms, lubricate them and repair them.
So, give some consideration to the investment you’ve made in your windows, frames and screens. Many people say, “I don’t do windows” but a few tools from the home improvement store and a bit of elbow grease can go a long way toward preserving your investment and giving you a place that’s delightful to be in because it’s “fresh and clean.” Lastly, as a rule of thumb, homes in our coastal areas need an exterior cleaning about every 6 months minimum and inside cleaning annually. Most standard 2 story homes in this area can be cleaned by a professional, inside and out, for about $275.00-$320.00 and that includes the cleaning of the tracks, sills, framing, and screens. So, protect that investment and clean or arrange to have your windows cleaned on occasion. Get them “detailed” like you have the car detailed at times and they will last longer and allow delightful light into those rooms and with that light a sense of cleanliness that you’ll enjoy. Blue Ocean details windows!
Reasons to clean solar panels:
The cleaner the surface of the panel, the more unobstructed surface, the more the sun has to "work with." How often should you clean your solar panels? That depends on where you live-if there is a lot of construction in your area, if you live in a windy desert or if you have lots of particulates in your air you will probably need to clean them more often. Some areas need a monthly washing, while other areas can get away with twice a year.
The more often you clean, you might even be able to get away with just rinsing maybe with some "soft water," assuming you don't have built up bird droppings or caked on dirt. A good scrub down and that meter may be spinning backwards. If your meter is spinning forwards in the middle of the day with the sun brightly shining, it means either you have a lot of appliances on or your panels are not doing their job. If the panels aren't doing their job, then you're losing money.
Dust on solar panels does a lot more than just make them look bad. According to Larry Greenemeier writing in Scientific American, "[a] dust layer of 4 grams per square meter can decrease solar power conversion by 40 percent," citing research conducted at Boston University.
Next time I blog... "Some cleaning options"
I was a landscape contractor for 20+ years before returning to the window cleaning business. I learned a few things in that time, much of it what NOT TO DO. What needs to happen for a measure of success running a small business is outlined simply below.
When our 2-year-old granddaughter Charlotte used to struggle to put her shoes on, she expressed considerable frustration at times. We could see that after some ongoing “failure” she was ready to give up and quit. But most of the time she’d press on, keep working at it until she succeeded, and then we’d hear: "I did it! I did it!” That excited expression was delivered with a grand smile and much joy. I’d like to suggest that we all can learn from Charlotte.
The local paper did a story on my window cleaning business in San Diego when I started it a little over 7 years ago. When the economy went south (people in the south probably hate that phrase), I was out of work, no real prospects for work, had normal expenses to pay which included a Point Loma mortgage. My wife and I were very anxious and had real concerns about how all this could be worked out. I sat on the edge of our bed at times, nauseous with anxiety. Some of you may know the feeling. It seemed impossible.
As I wrestled with what to do I recalled that I had cleaned windows for about four years in the 90’s and it was enjoyable work to do and a profitable little business. Given that good experience I decided to hand out some slips of paper soliciting window cleaning work. I received a few calls, then a few more. Ultimately the response to my efforts was such that I launched my window cleaning business, Blue Ocean Window Cleaning, focusing on Point Loma and Ocean Beach, our home for the last 20 years.
Seven years later, I can say: “I did it!” Today, I have a good income stream, I am my own boss, and I have an A+ rating with several ratings entities. I now have 9 employees working full or part time and we serve or have served nearly 2,000 customers.
Now, for those of you who currently have your back against the wall because you’re out of work, facing a layoff or other difficult circumstance, I’m telling you: “You can do it too!” You may be facing uncertainty, feeling anxious and fearful, you may be in the worse-case scenario, but if you do just a few things, it can all turn around in ways you never expected.
This is America. She’s not perfect, but it is the land of opportunity. You can succeed, even in a “Great Recession.” WARNING: Be prepared to work! Prepare to see efforts not work out as planned and be ready to reinvest your earnings. Expect some frustration, disappointment, setbacks, and nominal support from some. And absolutely anticipate this… “Negative mind chatter,” the voice in the head with discouraging words of fear and failure. To reduce the voices simply be aware of the distressing thoughts when they arise and in that moment of noticing there is now actually a little gap between you and the troubling thought. You are now not thinking the disturbing thought. As you practice this awareness, you will find the negative thoughts appearing less and less until they are reduced to nearly nothing. As you are “in action” you can also expect the universe, God, Life, to begin to work with you and support your action. Be prepared to see doors open, and to get good ideas that will take you to the next level. Be attentive to the creativity that will arise within you as you weigh paths to take toward your new day. Here is a key to success: Do what your hand finds to do TODAY. Stay out of tomorrow and yesterday! We as humans have a great propensity to live in fear of the future and in regret about the past — and these persistent thoughts rob us of the joy, peace and power of NOW. The negative mind chatter will take from us the freedom to excel. We need to plan and give some consideration to the past and future, but there needs to be openness and sensitivity to what’s around us and a readiness to run with the ideas that come to us. A new venture can be the seedbed for personal growth and enriching life experiences.
After 7 years of “keeping on keeping on”, Blue Ocean Window Cleaning is clearly in the black. We will do $400k in sales and a profit margin around 25%. The finances at home have stabilized. We now have 3 service vehicles on the road, added screen repair to our list of available services, and have seen sales double or triple, quarter over quarter, since we started in 2010. We love the people we serve and love being in business.
So, you can do it!! Get in action, stay in the now, and listen for that still small voice that will guide you.
Blue Ocean Window Cleaning
I say, “Keep them clean.” Regular cleaning of windows, screens, and solar panels reduces the corrosive effects of dirt, moisture, and contaminants … All that to say, “The regular cleaning of these surfaces will protect your investment.” The window cleaning and screen cleaning will also reduce the number of insects, spiders, and bugs that will congregate around window frames and at times make their way into your home.
Did you ever notice how the windows with screens seem to get dirty more quickly? Stuff builds up on the screens and then migrates to the glass. The dustier the area you are in (like a high traffic volume area where road dust is kicked up) the more you will notice quick buildup of dust on your windows. If you have a number of trees that overhang or are near your home, the more needful it will be to clean the windows and screens on a frequent basis. Dust & pollen from nearby trees will accumulate on your screens. Lastly, if there has been construction nearby, the construction mess on your windows/screens can be significant!
So, what to do?
Frequently wiping with a damp towel or light brushing of the screens in between cleanings will cut down on the dirt transfer from screens to windows. That transfer occurs when the wind blows overnight moisture that collects on the screens onto the windows. Wind and rain combined also move the dirt from screens to glass. If the screens are clean it will cut down on the dust that moves from the screen to inside you home when those windows are open. However, the best way to have sparkling windows and clean screens is to bring in Blue Ocean Window Cleaning on a regular basis. With regular cleaning you will be protecting your investment.