The window cleaning industry is expected to grow at a rate of up to 15% annually, and it is currently worth over $2 billion in the United States alone. Make no mistake – there’s a lot of money to go around for window cleaners – and choosing the right prices helps you get your fair share. But setting the ideal cost for your window cleaning services may be more complicated than you realize. You should always carry out detailed calculations for your next window cleaning estimate.
But how exactly do you make these calculations? This might feel like a daunting process, especially if math isn’t your strong suit. That being said, technological innovations have made it easier than ever to charge invoices, create estimates, set prices, and approach the entire payment process with confidence. VIIZR is a rare example of a software tool built specifically for the trades, and this mobile-friendly software helps you create estimates, invoices, and schedules with just a few taps. With these new software innovations, determining how much to charge for your window washing services is easier than ever.
The cost of your window cleaning services determines how much money you bring home at the end of each day. This might sound obvious, but profit margins are more complex than many window-cleaning entrepreneurs realize. Your final cost is only one aspect of the overall profit margin calculation.
Before you even think about putting a price tag on your window cleaning services, you need to consider a range of different factors:
In recent years, inflation has caused wild price fluctuations. Even though business owners might not have any control over things like pandemics and supply chain issues, they must react quickly and accurately to market forces to stay afloat and remain profitable. Window washing businesses are no exception.
The cost of your window washing services also affects your reputation in the marketplace. A low price helps you attract more budget-conscious customers – but it might also represent a red flag. Low prices are associated with low quality, even if you provide higher quality services compared to other window washing businesses that charge more.
On the other hand, higher prices are associated with higher-quality results – even if your window washing services are comparable to less expensive companies. We see this phenomenon perfectly illustrated in the world of high fashion, where many customers buy designer goods for the sole reason of advertising their own wealth. The actual quality of these goods is an afterthought.
As you can see, there are many factors to keep in mind when setting the right cost for your window washing services – before you even begin to run your calculations.
Using mathematical formulas to calculate your cost and markup is a smart move. Even if you failed math in high school, these formulas are very easy to understand and use. Mathematical formulas are useful because they stay the same regardless of your window washing jobs. All you need to do is plug in your values, and you get a price that helps you achieve your target profit margin.
The most basic formula for calculating prices looks like this:
Your profit margin (also known as the “markup”) depends on how much you want to take home on each job. This is what you actually make on each window washing service after you subtract your total expenses.
If you want to earn a 30% profit margin, you would multiply your expenses, including labor, by 1.3 to find the appropriate price. If you want to earn a 20% profit margin, you would multiply your expenses by 1.2 – and so on.
For example, you might receive a request from a customer who wants their windows washed. You may run the numbers and calculate your expenses for this job at $250. If you want to earn a profit margin of 20%, what price should you charge? You can plug these values into your formula to find the answer:
Expenses = $250
Markup = 1.2
Price = 250(1.2)
Price = $300
In other words, you should charge $300 if you want to earn a 20% profit margin on this window washing service. This would provide you with $50 profit at the end of the job.
This is all well and good, but what happens if the customer “shops around” with other window washing companies in your area? You might need to adjust this formula in order to bid effectively.
For example, the cleaning price of $300 might be too high to compete with other companies. You could simply walk away and let this customer go (a viable strategy), or you could find ways to lower your prices and become more competitive. If you wanted to maintain the same profit margin of 20% and you know you need to lower your cost to at least $275 to remain competitive, you could plug these values into a slightly different formula:
Price/Markup = Expenses
275/1.2 = Expenses
Expenses = $229.17
In other words, you need to find a way to shave off about $20 in order to earn the same profit margin for this window cleaning service. Maybe you put yourself on this job to keep labor costs down, for example.
Note that the profit for this service is about $45. Compared to our previous calculation of $50 profit, you’re earning $5 less for this window cleaning service. Even though your markup of 20% stayed the same, you’re still technically earning less.
Most window cleaning professionals agree that you should never lower your target profit margins. If another company is cleaning windows for far lower prices, you should avoid getting into a “bidding war” and compromising your own integrity. While having a little bit of flexibility is never a bad thing, you can step aside and let other companies pursue unprofitable strategies. Long-term sustainability is more important than a few additional customers over a short period.
To calculate the cost of your window washing services, you first need to calculate your expenses and markup. These calculations are more difficult because there is no easy formula that tells you the specific market forces at work in your local area.
Wages can vary depending on your location. The cost of equipment and cleaning supplies may fluctuate from one year to the next. You may be competing with numerous window washing businesses in your area, while another company in a different neighborhood might have no competition whatsoever. These are just a few examples of factors that may affect your calculations.
It’s important to constantly re-assess the cost of doing business. This is why calculating your price based on each individual window washing service helps you maintain profit margins and avoid losses. It might be more time-consuming, but running the numbers for each individual estimate is the best way to ensure long-term sustainability.
But what about your markup? How do you determine your target profits? Ultimately, this is a question only you can answer – but most trades companies and contractors aim for a markup of at least 8%. The average contractor charges a markup of about 10%, while a moderately successful operation can justify a markup of 15%. Remember that these numbers are based on an average cost analysis of the entire construction/trades industry, and they may not reflect the realities of the window cleaning world. The cleaning industry tends to have higher profit margins, ranging from about 10% to 28%.
Another strategy is to calculate the cost of your services based on the number of dirty windows that need to be cleaned. This is a common method in the window cleaning industry.
The general rule is that each window should cost anywhere from $5 to $15. These calculations are based on client windows that measure 3’ by 6’, which is the industry standard for the average residential house. Of course, this system isn’t perfect, because many homeowners have windows that are much bigger or smaller than this standard size. For example, many modern homes today have “glass walls” that extend from the floor to the ceiling.
Despite these issues, the per-window pricing system offers notable advantages. First and foremost, it is simple and straightforward. This makes it easier for the customer to provide you assess your prices and provide the green light. All they need to do is count their windows and add up the price for an estimate. You don’t even need to provide your customers with an estimate in some cases, as you can simply advertise your per-window price list on your website, flyers, marketing emails, ads, and so on.
On the other hand, this system has its downsides. The cost calculations are inherently less accurate, as they do not take into account various factors that may affect your expenses. These factors include:
Without taking these factors into account, it can be difficult to maintain your profit margins and your company’s overall sustainability.
In addition, a professional estimate can be highly beneficial for window cleaning professionals. Providing your customers with detailed PDF estimates allows you to show off your professionalism. It also makes your pricing structure more transparent, as your customers can see clear cost breakdowns. This helps them understand why you are charging a specific price, giving them greater purchasing confidence.
You can use tools like VIIZR to create these detailed, professional estimates with just a few clicks. Better yet, you can add upsells and cross-sells in seconds – giving customers options to upgrade their window cleaning services. This helps you boost your profit margins and earn even more on each service.
Labor represents the greatest for most trades businesses – and window cleaning companies are no exception. One of the most important factors you need to take into account when figuring out how much to charge is your wage bill. So how much does it cost to hire window cleaners?
The average window cleaner pro earns about $30,000 a year, although higher-paid professionals earn closer to $40,000 per year. This means that you can expect to pay your window cleaners about $17.50 per hour. Of course, this all depends on your jurisdiction. Some states and municipalities have very high minimum wages, while others have no minimum-wage legislation whatsoever. For example, the minimum wage in Los Angeles (as of 2023) is $16.78 per hour. Emeryville, California and Seattle have some of the highest minimum wages in the nation, at about $17.50 per hour.
Aside from minimum wage laws, you also need to consider local labor shortages and market forces. Your state’s minimum wage might be low, but will struggle to hire window cleaners for that (especially when every other company in your area is hiring at $15 per hour).
Check out your competition as you consider how much to charge based on your area’s unique factors. How much are other window cleaning companies charging? Often, a simple internet search can provide you with plenty of answers and insights. You can even request quotes from your competitors and ask for a detailed price breakdown. This can help you understand their total expenses for an average job, allowing you to calculate their profit margins.
As a general rule, it makes sense to follow the crowd when setting your profit margins and prices. If other companies in your area are setting very similar prices, there’s probably some logic behind these numbers. They might have settled on these prices after decades of fine-tuning their operations, and there’s no sense in experimenting with prices when others have already found a balanced, profitable pricing system.
For example, you might have three major competitors in your neighborhood. For an average house, these three companies might charge $250, $300, and $1,350 respectively. If you want to play it safe and remain competitive, you might simply choose an average of these three prices. To calculate the average, all you need to do is add the numbers together and then divide by the number of values.
In other words:
Average price = (250+300+350)÷3
This should be a competitive price that helps you capture numerous leads in your area.
The cost of doing business most revolves around equipment and supplies.
Supplies include things like window cleaning solvents, waxes, and soaps. You need to constantly replace these supplies, so you should re-calculate their cost for each service if you want to charge an accurate amount for a target profit margin.
Equipment includes things like squeegees, towels, buckets, scrapers, extension poles, and so on. This “hardware” should last at least a few dozen cleaning jobs, which means that you can leave these costs out of your per-project estimates and cost calculations. On the other hand, you should definitely factor them into your startup calculations if you’re launching a new window cleaning company.
You should always consider market disruptions when calculating the cost of doing business. While you might need to constantly replace cleaning solvents, don’t assume that you’ll enjoy the same prices next time you head back to the shop. High inflation makes prices increase at a fast rate, and you need to accept this reality when making your calculations. Consider buying cleaning solvents in bulk.
Fuel is perhaps the most notable cost on this list, and this is why it’s so important to use routing software for shorter trips and lower gas bills. VIIZR’s mapping feature lets you plan out the most fuel-efficient routes, ensuring more window cleaning jobs per week and a lower overall operating cost.
Window washing bids are slightly different compared to estimates and quotes. While the latter two terms are essentially interchangeable, bids are more formal. A bid is a contractual, legally-binding agreement to wash windows for a certain price. In contrast, you can go over the initial estimated cost without running into legal issues.
Software alone cannot automatically provide you with the best cost for your window cleaning services. You need to consider unique factors at play in your local area, and even the most advanced AIs cannot tell you many of these factors. Your target profit margin depends on how much you feel comfortable in charging, and your expenses may vary from week to week based on complex circumstances.
That being said, software like VIIZR can make the estimating process more convenient and less time-consuming with streamlined, easy PDF estimates. These estimates take just a few moments, and they ensure positive first impressions with new clients.
Try VIIZR for free today for 14 days and experience optimized estimating, tracking, scheduling, CRM, and a range of other business management tools.