The world of window cleaning has changed much from the days of Ettore Steccone and his newfangled squeegee design. What was once a simplistic industry of door-to-door sales has morphed into the high-tech and fast-paced industry of today. Anyone who has been around the block once or twice knows the story of how Paul West, past IWCA president, started cleaning windows with a bucket on the back of his bicycle. In fact, window cleaners have always been an unusual bunch, donning everything from superhero gear to kilts to clean windows.
Bikes and buckets aside, today's window cleaner has to be able to do so much more than just snake a window -- that's window-cleaner talk for squeegeeing in an S-shaped pattern to avoid streaks. Luckily, there are plenty of tech tools to help window cleaners survive in the digital world.
1. Online Scheduling: While having an office staff answer the phone live is something that is always appreciated by customers, small businesses and one-man operations know that it is not always possible. No one wants to wait for a callback, though. Online scheduling software is now available that lets customers schedule their own appointments in a real-time calendar.
2. Fleet Management Software: Window-cleaning companies that run crews of trucks will appreciate fleet management software, which allows them to track where their crew is and how their day is flowing. It is a common complaint among homeowners how long they have to wait for the cable company to come out for an appointment. They are given four-hour windows, but they still show up late. Having fleet management software can help alleviate this inconsistency in the window-cleaning world.
3. Customer Relations Management Software: While window cleaners of the past may have had stacks of work orders filed away by last name and year in filing cabinet after filing cabinet, smart window cleaners know that CRM software is the way to go in the digital age. Using a custom database can help you sort through contacts and create a schedule for both sales and marketing, streamlining your entire process.
4. Social Media Marketing: Gone are the days of expensive 6x9 postcard mailings and customized door hangers for marketing. Window cleaners know that marketing via social channels is much less expensive and, frequently, more effective. Using a social media planning tool to schedule posts throughout the busy season is an easy way to make technology work for you while you are out cleaning windows. Social media is also a great way to ask existing clients for online reviews at various sites.
5. Website: As little as ten years ago, you'd be hard-pressed to find a window cleaner that thought his small business needed a website, but times have changed. It is often one of the first things recommended to new window cleaners now to grow their business. Developing a website is crucial if you want potential customers to find you. If you can't be found online, no one will bother calling you. It doesn't have to be a fancy website; a static page with links to social media channels and an online scheduling tool is plenty.
6. Email Marketing: Window cleaning is a very cyclical business. The same customers like their windows cleaned, the same way, at the same time each year. The spring-fall customers always want their windows cleaned every spring and every fall. The people that live on the golf course always want their windows cleaned the week before the big fireworks show. When you can send an email reminder to those customers, it works like a charm. Suddenly, you can book an entire day in one location with your clients and all their neighbors. Combining CRM with email marketing can make this happen with very little cost, allowing digitally forward window cleaners to increase their potential while decreasing their marketing costs.
While knowing how to use a squeegee is a basic component to running a successful window-cleaning business, the digital age presents so many more opportunities to increase your reach with technical tools and marketing products.