277 Mallory Station Drive, Suite 109 Franklin, TN 37067
In Memory of Ettore Steccone
By Norman E. Bullock
Needless to say, I am appreciative of my essential household appliances- the
electric toaster ( invented by a the local inventor Lloyd Copeman, who introduced
me to his patent attorney when I was 15 years old ), Thomas Edison, remember the
light bulb invention? My reliable automobile tires, supporting my 1998 Ford Escort,
are the result of Charles Goodyear's accidental discovery of vulcanization and most
important, Ettore Steconne's invention of the SQUEEGEE!
Ettore Steccone immigrated to the United States from a small mountain village
in Northern Italy in 1896. Self motivated, he sought work in New York City and pursued
the window cleaning trade as a livelihood. Frustrated with the cumbersome trade tools
of the day, he developed the SQUEEGEE we use today. Steccone combating skeptics,
finally proved the superiority of his invention to the window cleaning trade.
I thank Ettore Steccone for his contribution to the well being of modest households
and the means of cleaning glass faceted multistoried commercial towers worldwide.
For me, Steccone tops the list of inventors; a possible contender for this honor
is Leonardo Da Vinci.
This is an original "new deal" Ettore Squeegee built in 1937 and used continuously
by a window cleaner worker for 34 years.
( Image courtesy of About Ettore - History )
Norman E. Bullock
Learn From My Mistake
By Seth Fensterstock
I wanted to share something that happened to me earlier this year, not for a
pity party. I’m hoping somebody can learn a lesson from my mistake and misfortune.
I know a few of you that I talk to may already know about this.
So, I’m two days into the season, fully booked for weeks out. My only full time
employee of three years quit suddenly with no notice the night before our season
started. Needless to say I was having a rough start to the season. That‘s not part
of the story, just setting the scene. Anyway, it’s all on me and I go out to clean
the windows for a regular customer at row house in downtown DC. I’m parked directly
in front of my customer's home on a busy downtown DC street. I decided to do the
inside first since I can pull in most of the windows on the upper floors. After about
2-3 hours of being inside I decide to take a break and get some dry towels from the
van. So I stroll outside, walk over to the van and instantly notice that the driver’s
side window, on the sidewalk side, is smashed. I go over to the passenger side and
unlock the door to open it and notice that the GPS, which was sitting on the dash,
was missing. Next thing I notice missing was my briefcase. It was sitting on the
floor between the two seats. I’m freaking out now! Inside my briefcase was my laptop,
portable printer, wireless card, all my detailed customer notes for the past year,
some misc. papers, and my portable hard drive. Yep, I said my portable hard drive,
too. See, I was going to meet with our new accountant that week and wanted to be
sure I had it with me. Dumb, I know.
First thing I did was call my Wife and tell her we’re ruined. We use Quickbooks
for our accounting software, and it was on my laptop. I’m completely freaking out
because everything was on that computer and portable hard drive. All my pictures
of my kids for the past three years, and all my documents and files for my company
were also on it. Luckily, and I say luckily, my Wife, without my knowledge, just
a day or two prior had backed up Quickbooks on some portable flash drive that I didn’t
even know we had. Her Dad had just given it to her. Since she does most of the bookkeeping
for us she was on the ball and ready for the accountant. If she hadn’t of done that
we would have been ruined. Also luckily I had synced my Blackberry recently and didn’t
lose all of my calendar.
The cops were called. They took a report and I filed an insurance claim later
that day. My customer was so upset for me. She called all the local pawn shops. I
jokingly said I was never doing her house again.
It took me a couple months to put out most of the fires this mishap caused me.
I was able to recover some pictures, files and documents from emails, and a few of
them were on our dilapidated home PC. Also some very helpful window cleaners I know
helped me out with some of their documents. I had to recreate years worth of files
and docs. Luckily some great forums are out there with free document downloads.
The moral of the story, back up your computer in multiple places! You never know
what can happen. I now have a Macbook and use Mobile Me to back up my calendar, pictures,
emails, and To Do’s. I also bought a new portable hard drive that I don’t carry with
me. And we also back up our computers online. We are using Mozy.com. I highly suggest
backing up online or to have a hard drive away from your house in another location.
If you don’t and you have a fire in your house, you could lose everything.
All this was a wake up call for me. It has actually worked out for the best,
though. I switched to a Mac, which I debated on for a few years. My business is a
bit more organized now (still working on that), and I am now employing two full time
employees and use a part time guy from time to time.
I hope some of you guys take note and back up your business in case something
happens that you don’t expect.
And for goodness sakes, don't leave your GPS on the dash board, ever!
Windows Only LLC
Washington DC Metropolitan Area
Review of PWC's WFP Tests Article
By Jack Nelson
Professional Window Cleaner Magazine ( PWC ) did in house testing of several
WFP's ( water fed poles ). Here is my review of their article and testing.
Water Fed Poles The pole is nothing more than the delivery system for the pure
water which is the most important part of the equation.
Now the pole holds some importance. Especially if you are going 4 stories or
more. But if you are working 3 stories and lower, ( I think a 35 ft pole would more
than cover this ) the pole becomes less important. JMO ( just my opinion ) The higher
you work, the more rigidity you need. Now I don't yet own a pole or system, but I
am slooooowly moving in that direction. If Peter can do it, I am sure that I can
( move in that direction, not actually do the work, I know I can handle the pole
O.K., they compared 5 or 6 poles. The Tucker, Unger Carbon Fiber, Facelift Carbon
Fiber, a pole produced only in the UK ( or Europe ) called Brodex Ecolite and the
Ionics E1, E2 and E3.
They tested for rigidity, weight, handle size, cost, ease of use and robustness.
I am not going to go through all of this now but you can go to www.professionalwindowcleaner.co.uk/polestrial.html
and request a free issue. I don't know that they will send that many issues to the
U.S. but they might. Also, Don Chute may have received or might be able to receive
some copies to share if we show an interest.
I will post more later tonight. I just need some family time right now. I can
tell you that PWC is an excellent magazine and worth every penny you would spend
to have it sent to you. It is much different than American Window Cleaner Magazine.
It is sponsored by the BWCA and Ionics, but they put out a good product.
The "My Opinion" part
Water Fed Pole; is it really the future? Probably. There is an innate safety
feature and a built in speed feature. Safety because you are not climbing a ladder
and the built in speed part because you are not moving and climbing a ladder.
The question most people ask is does it do as good of a job as the squeegee?
Craig will tell you it does. ( I am pretty sure he will ) If he says that, I believe
him. He has no reason to lie. He is not selling a unit. He is a straight up window
cleaner. So; now we know for certain it does as good of a job and is safer. I believe
that right now about 10% of window cleaners have WFP and that number is growing.
Now for a few facts from the article.
Facelift and Unger had the best handle size at 48 mm & 45 mm ( 1.88 & 1.77 inches
Tucker alone had the best cost.
Ionics Ergolite poles had the best rigidity. But Unger and Facelift were close.
Facelift had the best weight ( the lowest weight )
The 48 foot pole weighs 11.6 pounds ( 5.25 Kg )
But because Ionics weighed 11.7 pounds and had more rigidity, it looks like the
better choice. ( Based on the article )
First of all, let me say, if you don't subscribe to PWC ( UK ), subscribe. It
is the best window cleaning magazine I have ever seen. I love American Window Cleaner
Magazine but this one is different and different in a good way. I do believe we need
to support our industry magazines. Otherwise we will lose them.
That said, here are my final thoughts on the PWC Article.
I have listed the least expensive, the lightest, the most rigid, and the best
handles. There were other factors considered; ease of use and robustness. I believe
these two factors are subjective so I am not to going to into those.
Let me say again. I have tested the Tucker pole, the Unger Carbon Pole, the Ionics
poles ( but not the E2 and 2+ that were tested ). The Facelift tested very well in
the article and I know that Shawn Gavin sells the Facelift. I don't know much about
it never having seen it. I have also tested the Ettore Aquaclean WFP and seen the
I believe if you buy a pole, wait a minute, I should say, WHEN you buy a pole,
you should have all the info available to you. Go to a seminar. We list every seminar
that we know about every where by every group, bar none at our events page www.mwcoa.com/events.shtml.
If you get the chance to go to a seminar with WFPs, go. Go to it; learn it. Our
MWCoA is about learning. It doesn't matter who is teaching it.
Each pole has a different advantage. But getting back to the article; the clamping
system on each pole often is different and again each clamp has an advantage or a
disadvantage and sometimes they are not apparent right away.
Tucker has pretty much stayed with the clamp system they started with and they
have good reasons. I talked to Robin Tucker the other day for about 30 minutes on
this subject. They are testing a different clamping system in Europe now, but I doubt
that they will bring it to the U.S., unless it's an option.
Unger went with a sectional pole which has it's advantages also. Add a section
as needed and eliminate the weight of the telescoping poles when you don't need it.
It seems to me that Ionics has looked at all of the poles everywhere and tried
to incorporate all the best features into one pole but their pole costs a bit more
than most. It's a choice.
Now in this magazine they also wrote about the brush heads and there seem to
be 2 main choices. I am not sure if there are more or not. I think there are 2. The
flocked bristles and the monofilament bristles. They, ( PWC ) recommend the monofilament
bristles because they say the flocked bristles can hold debris from cleaning the
window and that can be problematic.
PWC also spoke of Positive Stops. They are in telescoping poles where a section
can not be accidentally over extended. They have a nylon ring to stop the section.
Who has the positive stop? Tucker - No, Facelift - Yes, Unger - not needed, Ionics-
E1 & E2 - No, E2+ - Yes. Those nylon rights do make the handles a little larger to
To be perfectly fair, PWC tested the E2+ against all the other poles and compared
the results to their best pole. If the E1 were compared to the Unger pole or the
Facelift pole, the results would have been somewhat closer.
I hope you got something out of this and I also hope you will consider subscribing
to both magazines if you do not already.
The results don't lie. There may be more ways to look at testing the poles. I
don't know. I do know that the results would have been different if only 30 ft. poles
were tested. But they tested 45 ft. poles overall. Again, I made the statement about
3 stories and lower and 4 stories and higher. Most of us would use a 35 ft pole,
Former Executive Director
Master Window Cleaners of America (MWCoA)
Window Cleaners, an Independent Group
By Jack Nelson
More and more today you hear news about window cleaning associations, at least
I do. You see, I am the Executive Director of an association, MWCoA (Master Window
Cleaners of America).
I was wondering why someone should join a window cleaning association. So I did
some research on associations in general.
I found that the glass industry has a ton of associations. They include, but
are not limited to, the following; the biggest in America is G.A.N.A. (Glass Association
of North America). There is also the NGA, National Glass Association. I found the
A.G.A. as well. The American Glass Association. There is the IGA the Independent
Glass Association. For Insulating glass manufacturers there is the IMGA.
The dues for these associations can cost anywhere from $200 to $7,000 annually
to join, based on your companies gross income. Neither GANA, NGA, IGA nor AGA list
their members to the public.
It seems obvious that the glass producers are very well organized. It also seems
obvious that window cleaners, for the most part, are not.
The IWCA in America has about 700 members. MWCoA has about 150 and the newest
AUWC (Association of United Window Cleaners) to date has 30 members. The NFW&GC (UK)
has about 1,800 company members which represents about 10,000 window cleaners. It
is estimated that there are about 180,000 window cleaners in the U.K.
So, what difference could it make if we are more independent? Plenty. By being
organized, the glass producers share experiences and knowledge. By being independent,
window cleaners learn by trial and error and it’s the errors that can cost you, your
business or even your life. One claim against you for scratched glass could wipe
An Association can help inform and educate a window cleaner. I know in England
there are now three Associations. Most Window Cleaners know about the NFW&GC but
there is also the APWC (Association of Professional Window Cleaners) in the works
and the Nation Association of Window Cleaners (NAWC.biz) specializing in Water Fed
At MWCoA we try to have a lot of fun. We have a Window Cleaner of The Month (voted
by a committee) with nice prizes from supply houses worth about $250 per month. We
also have a Window Cleaner of The Year (voted by the membership) with prizes worth
over $1,500 for the top three vote getters. And a new program for the "Best Thread
of The Month" award. So, an association can do a lot of things, not the least of
which is educate.
Join one, two or more. What could it hurt? I know of one American window cleaner
that is a member of IWCA, MWCoA, AUWC and a UK Association too. The cost is indirectly
passed along to your customers. What do you get for it? You learn from others or
you share with others and the window cleaning industry as a whole benefits.
The more professionals that we have out there, the better for all of us. The
NFW ( NFW&GC ) also offers free 24 hour legal advice. The APWC offers an on-line
discussion group and the NAWC offers many discounts on training and equipment as
well as a free subscription to this magazine.
This is the 21st century. It’s time to join an association. It’s time to share
your experience or to learn from those who have paved the way for the rookie. There
is power in numbers and the glass manufacturers know this. It’s time we found out
how much power and put it to use in our industry.
Former Executive Director
Master Window Cleaners of America (MWCoA)
Business Relationships and the Small Stuff
It is all in the small stuff. Lots of "small" accounts that you can service well.
You lose one and you do not go under.
I never really had any "big" accounts. However, a friend had a large commercial
account that comprised 25% of his business. Lots of favors were needed and it was
hard to get an increase.
I firmly believe that this is a relationship business; both in residential and
commercial. People like doing business with people they like. A few minutes of chit-chat
goes a long way. Remembering and speaking about something they told you from the
last time helps keep the connection. There were times I spent a half an hour talking
with the customer. It really anchored me in with them. Today the business world is
so interested in getting the money and running. Those people are always looking for
new business. It is not how old or young you are or even how experienced. Show that
you care about them and they will care about you.
I did a lot of "favors" for my customers. I spot cleaned gutters, while I was
up on the ladder. I have swept out garages; gotten the spider webs with my WEBSTER
on a pole; trimmed bushes and trees (with their permission), changed a light bulb
or two while I had the ladder right there; moved furniture, vacuumed or wiped the
floor where I had moved a piece of furniture; some mirrors, car windows, and a bunch
of other little stuff including picking up trash in the yard.
After two full years in the business, I did not need to prospect for work. The
referrals just poured in.
Understate what you will do and over deliver.
By the end of my third year, I moved from having a 50/50 residential/commercial
to about 80% residential and 20% commercial. I probably wound up at about 85/15.
I never kept close track of it. I was too busy.
I "lost" some bids to price cutters. It was not long and they were out of business.
I do mot believe we will ever be free of them. It costs so little to get started
in this business.
I never worried about them. We do not have a storefront where we set up and hope
people will come in and shop. Prospects call us and we go to them with what we have
to offer. Not everyone can afford to "purchase" what we offer. I never let it get
to me. I just kept on going. It is just a part of the business. I do not recall ever
having any established customer taken away from me because of price. I also never
tried to take anybody else's customer from them.
When I was prospecting and came across someone who had a window cleaner, I thanked
them and told them that I was not interested in trying to take someone else's business.
I offered them a card for possible future reference should their window cleaner move
away. If they asked me what I would charge, I would ask them what they were presently
paying. Whatever price they told me, I would say that it sounded fair to me. Only,
if they were truly dissatisfied, did I give a bid. I had very few of these in my
first few years.
In short, be professional in all ways and manners under all conditions. That
will bring up the image of the window cleaning profession. There is cut-rate in everything.
Eventually, service, quality, and relationship will win out.
Over my 16+ years it has proven to be true for me. I expect it will be true for
Johnny Clean Windows
The House on the Hill
It was a bright spring day when I received a phone call from a fire and water
restoration company regarding a special problem they couldn't solve. They had called
in a window cleaning company who also couldn't solve it, but who referred them to
me. Actually it was the insurance company who represented a powerwash company that
really wanted my services. Their client had blasted this multimillion dollar house
with a solution of sodium carbonate and sodium metasilicate. It was a commercial
product. Was. Since then I think it has been pulled. Anyhow, the house on the hill
was now showing this milky white stain over about 487 of its very small IG units.
These were Pellas. The doors had about fifteen little units. The windows had eight,
twelve, and sixteen. Counting all of the small units there were 1,977. Not a very
good year for this owner;...who lived in the house on the top of the hill.
From this you can see that one window might have three stained units, and a door
might have had five. Every window and door had some units stained bad enough not
to be acceptable. The insurance company was ready to replace all of the windows and
doors at a cost of eighty thousand dollars. I found a solution, bid the job at twelve
thousand, saved them megabux, and made a hundred bux per hour. The solution;...correctly
applied diamond compound in a syringe. The cost was about two bux per unit. My charge
was based on twenty bux per unit. And an initial two thousand to first clean all
of the windows inside and out to determine precisely which units were stained.
Diamond compounds are based on microcrystalline synthetic diamond powders. Some
are even based on nano diamond. There are different formulas for creating custom
compounds based on these powders. Also there are different types of diamond powders.
The compound that I used on the house on the hill from a syringe was a commercial
product with an average micron size of about four to six. I don't know more than
this about the composition. But it was a fast cutting product.
The technique I am talking about was very low tech;...bounty paper towels! I
tried using hard felt polishing bobs at 1200 rpms and smaller ones at ten thousand
rpms. But scratches always resulted. So I threw away the machines, electric cords,
and hard felt bobs;...and got out my quicker picker upper. Slow circular movements
took off all of the silicate stains/deposits without leaving a single scratch. The
individual lites/IG units were about six by eight inches each. And they took about
ten minutes each on the average to clear.
If anyone is wondering, hydrofluoric acid wouldn't touch these stains. I wasn't
going to use this glass etchant anyhow, but tried it just out of apelike curiosity.
In my "post house on the hill experiments", with different home made diamond brews,
I learned that mine were much less aggressive but were course enough to remove scratches.
The cost was probably higher however. I was buying stuff at fifty bux a carrot. Pretty
high priced veggies!
Glass restoration is just one of many different specialty services we can offer
as window cleaners. Everyone was happy;... the homeowner, the insurance company,
the powerwash company, the restoration company, the other window cleaning company,
my friends who helped me do the job, and of course myself.
Specialty services are the way to go my friends. Maybe someday you also might
find a house on the hill!
Henry Grover Jr.
Glass Tech Services
Estimating By Maximizing Your Assets
This is only one case in point, the driver for *this* customer. Obviously we
all have to shoot for the fat part of the bell curve in our respective target markets.
As others have said, everybody gets a “feel” for what is likely to drive a particular
customer and can help improve perceptions in those areas that are hot buttons.
I suspected this lady was very persnickety. You could tell by the way she kept
her house. The fact that, on a Saturday, she was in a freshly pressed blouse, every
hair in place and a string of pearls to boot. Looked like Beaver Cleaver’s mom. Based
on the questions she asked I could tell that she wanted to see that my price was
supported by some sort of logic rather than just a number that might look to her
like “I pulled it out of the air.”
I know two of the other companies that were bidding against me. Both are very
competent window cleaners, much bigger, faster and younger than me. But those weren’t
apparently the only variables she was putting into the decision equation. It just
happens that my particular game plan involves building an image around a guy that
is old enough to be most of my customer’s dad. A family guy (we stress that in all
our communications—women generally love strong relationships even if theirs isn’t—that’s
the basis for every chick flick out there) with very high quality, reputation and
trust. Someone that the homeowner can have in her house without worry about involvement
with her things or her family. I try and make my slower speed an asset by using it
to indirectly support quality and attention to detail. Like the old bespectacled
finish carpenter that works slower than the young bucks but delivers a great finished
These are the assets I happen to have in my hand and I use them to try and offset
the weaknesses that I also have in my hand. My particular shtick won’t work for younger
guys, but they have assets of their own to tout. In *this case* price was far less
important than the intangibles of professional image, service, trust and punctuality
which played directly to the perceptions I’m attempting to build.
Next bid, however, I may lose to one of those other guys because my approach
happens to rub the customer the wrong way. (“Too much d**n paperwork, son! Just get
to the bottom line, why don’t ya?”). Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But I
wouldn’t change my approach with every new customer input. So far my approach snags
about 60% of the bids I supply. And, truthfully, that’s about all this old guy can
handle without moving into hiring other folks with all the headaches and challenges
I know from your posts that you’ve got a well thought-out business plan. If you’re
using cards to transmit estimates and the approach is doing what it’s supposed to
do in overall marketing plan, keep it up! Don’t fix something that ain’t broke.
Crystal Clean Windows
Worker's Compensation Certificate
By Rick Kadletz
What is a Workers Compensation Certificate? What is the importance of one? Who
should have a Workers Compensation certificate and why?
Basically a Workers Compensation Certificate is a document produced by an insurance
agent for the customer of a service company. It is important to note that this certificate
is produced by the insurance agent and not the service provider. The service provider
merely requests from his insurance agent that they produce this certificate for the
customer. The certificate states that the company or individual, who is to provide
service to the holder of the document, is covered under their states Workers Compensation
Insurance laws and has an insurance policy to that effect. The certificate is made
out to the customer receiving the service. It will contain the customers name and
address and amounts of coverage provided by the company or individual providing service.
This important document states that the policy is in full force and that the premiums
have been paid up through a certain period of time. Sometimes the premiums are paid
monthly or sometimes may be paid yearly. The good thing is, generally, the insurance
agent will notify the holder of the certificate (the customer) if there is a lapse
The importance of a customer having a workers compensation certificate on a service
provider ranks high. It affords them protection if a service company's employee is
injured, while performing services at the customer's residence or place of business.
Without this certificate the customer or home owner may very well be sued by the
employee of the service company to recoup his or her loses. "Doesn't seem fair" you
say? Well, fair or not there is a good possibility that the home owner may have to
use their home owners insurance to cover expenses from the injury. And of course
the cost may not be limited to just medical bills. Any good lawyer worth their salt
should easily be able to tack on some loss of wages, pain and suffering, and whatever
else may be accepted in the legal world.
It is highly recommended that any customer of a service provider request and
receive a workers compensation certificate to avoid these legal issues in case an
injury accident happens while providing service to them. A service provider may include
anyone from a painter, plumber, carpenter, window cleaner, power washing contractor,
lawn care personnel, concrete contractor, or even a TV repairman. This is a small
list of service providers.