Author Archives: Michael Cooper

6 Ways You Can Successfully Make the Change to the Water Fed Pole System

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For many traditional window cleaners, the prospect of making the change to the water fed pole system is probably a daunting one. Your customers have been used to and may even have a preference for traditional window cleaning methods, and have likely been happy with your work for a long time.

Yet, you’re also aware of the benefits the water fed pole system has to offer – speed, safety, opportunities to offer new services and ultimately the ability to earn more money.

But what if some of your customers don’t want you to use the pure water system? Can you make the move without losing lots of customers?

Well, the good news is that it is possible, and we’ve highlighted some of the steps you can take to successfully change from using traditional window cleaning methods to the water fed pole system:

1) Communicate the change effectively and with enough notice

It’s really important that you communicate your plans to change to the water fed pole system to your customers, taking the time to clearly explain how it works. You need to do this with plenty of notice, ideally on or before the last traditional clean you carry out for that customer prior to the changeover.

Doing this in person gives you the maximum chance of getting this information across in the right way, and making sure they’ve understood it, but whether you get to speak to your customers or not, you should provide written notice of the change. This should also briefly explain how the system works, mention some further points which we’ll go onto cover, and give them the opportunity to call you with any questions.

2) Get the benefits across to your customers

You can alleviate any concerns your customers might have about the water fed pole system by highlighting how it benefits them. You could highlight how you’ll be able to do a better job of cleaning the frames, how the system reduces the risk to their property and how not using detergents is better for their garden and the environment. You could also take a look and see if there are any extra windows you will now be able to reach with the water fed pole system that you hadn’t been able to previously – for example Velux windows or roof lights – this can be a huge selling point.

You can also mention that the system will allow you to offer a wider range of useful services to them – for example fascia, soffit, conservatory roof and solar panel cleaning. More on that to come.

3) Set your customer’s expectations

As we mentioned here, sometimes, if a window has been cleaned for some time traditionally, it can be difficult to get good results the first time it is cleaned with the water fed pole system. Make sure your customers are pre-warned, include it in your letter, and ensure they are aware that the finish improves after the first clean. Some window cleaners demonstrate their confidence in this by offering a refund for the first clean if it is not to the customer’s satisfaction.

Another issue some window cleaners have faced having made the move to the pure water system is how much quicker jobs can be completed. You’re probably wondering how that is an issue? Well, from the customer’s perspective, they’re getting charged the same price for a job that takes noticeably less time. Some window cleaners choose to address this only if it comes up, but you might want to pre-empt the question – particularly with your more scrupulous clients!

You could point out that the water fed pole system is more expensive to buy, run and maintain than traditional equipment, thus balancing time-savings against their existing pricing.

3) Know how to use the system

The water fed pole system is a tool, and like any tool, you need to know how to use it. Read our guide on the proper technique – and get some practice in before you start on real customers

4) Be thorough and use extra rinse

They say first impressions count. Whilst you’ll have pre-warned your customers about first-clean results, you can alleviate potential issues by spending a little extra time on the job the first time you do it with the water fed pole system. Brushing more thoroughly than normal and using extra rinse can help to get rid of the residual soap build up that can cause problems. Inspect every job when complete, and redo any windows you’re not happy with, or that you suspect might need it.

5) Inform your customers about the extra services you can offer

As we’ve mentioned, using the water fed pole system allows you to offer services you probably couldn’t have previously. Look for opportunities on every job you have – keep an eye out for fascias & soffits, conservatory roofs, cladding & solar panels that could benefit from your services. Don’t go for the ‘hard sell’ at this point – come at it from the perspective of the water fed pole system benefiting them and allowing you to provide them with a wider range of cleaning services, rather than earning you more money! (Once the customer is more familiar with the pure water system, you can push a bit harder for extra jobs like this.) Of course, there’s a good chance you’ll take on additional work at this point, which can help you see a quicker return on your investment in the water fed pole system.

6) Be flexible and / or expect some customer loss

These days, the water fed pole system is fairly well known and accepted, even by homeowners. Despite that and following all of the above steps, a small percentage of your customers may refuse to let you use the water fed pole system. It’s up to you how you deal with this – you can either continue to complete these jobs traditionally, or you can drop the work. If you choose the latter option, it’s highly likely that the time you save and additional income you make with the water fed pole system will more than outweigh any customer loss.

By carrying out the above steps, you maximise your chances of making a smooth and successful changeover to the water fed pole system, and minimize the risk of customer loss to the greatest extent possible.

Static vs. Mobile Pure Water Systems

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Whether you’re setting up a new window cleaning business, moving over to pure water window cleaning or upgrading your current pure water equipment – you’ll be faced with a decision over the kind of setup you go for. One of the key decisions is whether to go for a static or mobile pure water setup. We decided to look at the pros and cons of each with the aim of helping you to decide which is best for your business:

Static Pure Water System

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A static setup is where your pure water system, or purification equipment, is installed in a fixed location, rather than in a vehicle. Water is purified and stored in this location, then transferred via a pump to your water fed pole system of choice – most commonly a van system, but it could also be a trailer or trolley setup.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of a static system:

Static Pure Water System - The Pros
You’re not restricted by a vehicle size or payload, meaning you can use a bigger tank and therefore store more water
You can return to base and fill up your water at any given time
You can be processing water even while out working with your water fed pole system
Your water production and storage is therefore not limited by size of your mobile tank
You can use a smaller tank in your van or trailer, which means less weight and more space for other equipment
Can be used to serve multiple vehicles
Eliminates the need to park and secure your van or trailer near a mains water supply
Usually easier to protect your filters and water from cold temperatures
Makes rainwater harvesting possible

After reading that, you might think that going for a static system is a sure bet, but there are other factors that you need to take into consideration:

Static Pure Water System - The Cons
Requires a secure production / storage area at your home or premises, with access to a water and an electrical supply
You require both a static and mobile tank, which increases the cost of the setup over mobile installs
You also need to invest in a transfer pump and hose
You need to be able to get your van or trailer reasonably close to your static setup for water transfer
You have to transfer water between tanks, which is not necessary with a mobile system
You have no ability to produce pure water anywhere other than at your static setup

If any of the above pros seem like unnecessary benefits for your business, or if any of the cons are likely to be problematic, it might be that a mobile pure water system will be more suitable for you:

Mobile Pure Water System

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A mobile pure water system is where all of your purification equipment is installed in your van or trailer. The vehicle is connected directly to a water supply, where it purifies and stores the water on-board.

Mobile Pure Water System - The Pros
There’s no need for additional production and storage space - everything is contained within your vehicle
You have the ability to process water wherever your vehicle is, making onsite production possible and meaning you are less tied to your base
You only need one tank in your vehicle and there’s no need for water transfer equipment, meaning setup costs can be lower
It’s much easier to have your purification equipment installed by a professional

A shorter list of Pros you’ll notice, but they could be very key depending on your window cleaning business setup. Onto the cons:

Mobile Pure Water System - The Cons
You can usually only produce pure water when you’re not using the vehicle
The amount of water you can store is limited to the size of your tank and / or payload of your vehicle
You carry your purification equipment around with you, meaning a higher payload and less space for water and other equipment
The preceding two factors could mean a larger vehicle is required to store and transport the volume of water you require
You need somewhere near a mains water supply where your vehicle can be securely left for long periods of time
It’s harder to protect your equipment from low temperatures during winter
A mobile setup can usually only produce pure water for the vehicle it is installed in

In Summary

As we’ve seen, both static and mobile pure water systems come with positives and negatives – the importance of which will depend on size of your business and where it is based, the number of staff and vehicles you operate and the type of work you carry out.

To summarise, a static system is likely the best option if:

  • You need to maximise the production rate and storage volume of pure water
  • It’s not practical for your vehicle to access a mains water supply for long periods of time
  • You need to serve multiple vehicles

Mobile setups are best where:

  • Secure pure water production / storage space is not available or cost effective
  • A single vehicle is in operation and your daily water requirements are not large
  • Onsite or away-from-base water purification is required
  • You have easy and secure vehicular access to a mains water supply

Images supplied by GrippaTank

Q & A: Why Use GoCardless in Your Window Cleaning Business?

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Following our recent article on the reasons why window cleaners should use GoCardless, we decided to put a post together to answer the most common questions we’re asked about GoCardless.

What is GoCardless?

GoCardless is an online service that allows you to take direct debit payments quickly and easily. And not necessarily the kind of direct debits that come out on a fixed date each month – rather, it allows you to initiate a payment each time you do a job.

Why is it ideal for window cleaning businesses?

The window cleaning business model is usually based on a high volume of customers generating ongoing, recurring revenue. GoCardless provides a simple, fast and cost effective solution for taking recurring payments, but at the same time offering the flexibility that a fixed monthly direct debit or standing order can’t. If you get behind with your work, it’s not an issue, as you only take payment when you get around to doing it. If you clean jobs on a 4 week schedule (and therefore more than 12 times a year) you’ve still got the ability to charge for every single clean.

So how do I benefit?

Virtually all window cleaning businesses face the same challenges – not getting paid on time, having to chase for payment and investing time and money into collecting debt. GoCardless solves those problems. You control exactly when you get paid, making collecting debt in your spare time a thing of the past. Getting payments on time, every time means better cash flow and a much smaller, even non-existent debt list. You also make big time savings on your admin, but more on that later.

How much does it cost?

GoCardless charge 1% of the transaction, capped at a maximum of £2. That’s less than half what Paypal charge.

Is it secure?

Yes – GoCardless are an “Authorised Payment Institution” regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. They provide services to customers that include the likes of HM Government, Thomas Cook and Virgin. To get technical, your connection to their server is protected by twice the level of encryption required by UK banks. You can find out more about that here.

How does it integrate with Cleaner Planner?

Cleaner Planner recognises which of your customers are signed up to pay via GoCardless. It then gives you the option to process all of your GoCardless payments in bulk:

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Or individually:

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When you select either of those options, payments are processed and arrive in your bank account within 3-5 days.

Cleaner Planner detects when the payment has arrived and automatically updates your customer records.

How is that easier than taking BACS payments, cash or cheques?

Using GoCardless with Cleaner Planner means zero admin. There’s no need to match bank transfers to customers (meaning phantom BACS payments with blank references become a thing of the past), tally up cash totals, go to the bank to pay in cheques or even update your customer records to say that you’ve been paid. When you take a GoCardless payment, Cleaner Planner does your admin for you.

BACS payments are free though, is it worth it?

Based on our customer data, the average price of a 4 weekly, domestic window cleaning job is £12. So let’s take a £12 job as an example – if you were to take payment for that job via GoCardless, they’d charge you 12p. In the process, you’d guarantee you were going to get that £12, control exactly when you’d get it, you wouldn’t have to match a payment on your bank statement to the customer, or take the time to update any of your records. Most of our customers come to the conclusion that the benefits far outweigh a 1% fee.

Do my customers have to approve every payment?

No. Once they’re signed up, you can initiate payment without their approval. They simply get an email advising them that you’ve taken payment.

How do I sell it to my customers?

It’s easier than you think. From their perspective, they don’t have to worry about having cash to pay you, writing a cheque or even logging in to their bank to make a BACS payment. It requires zero effort on their part.

But my customers have never heard of GoCardless, will they trust it?

It’s true that not everyone has heard of GoCardless. But GoCardless is just a facilitator of the Direct Debit payment method – and everyone has heard of that. It’s key to highlight that GoCardless is a highly secure service, but regardless, your customers are covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee. They can cancel the agreement at any time, and are protected against fraudulent activity.

How do I sign my customers up?

It’s simple. You send them a sign up link by text or email (provided by us), they simply enter their personal / bank details into a secure contact form once, and they’re signed up. We also provide a widget that you can add to your website, which allows your customers to sign up there.

Do many window cleaners use GoCardless?

Yes – around 30% of our customers already use GoCardless, and that figure increases weekly.

How many customers is it normally possible to sign up to GoCardless?

We have users with 75% of their customers signed up, but the average take up is between 40-50% – which is a realistic target for any window cleaning business.

How do I get started with GoCardless and Cleaner Planner?

If you’re already signed up to Cleaner Planner, click here for instructions.

If you’re new to Cleaner Planner, you can sign up for free trial here. We’ll guide you through getting setup on GoCardless, so you can test it for yourself.

6 Reasons You Should Use Cloud-Based Window Cleaning Software

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In recent times, it’s become increasingly common for software in general to be cloud-based, rather than desktop-based. What’s the difference? Well, cloud (or web) based software is not “installed” on your computer, like desktop software – rather it’s accessed over the internet via your web browser.

So is cloud-based software just a trend, yet another equivalent to what you already use? Or does it have clear benefits over traditional desktop-based software solutions for window cleaners? The answer to that is a resounding yes, and we’ve outlined 6 of them below:

You can access it from anywhere and any device

A key benefit of cloud-based window cleaning software is the ability to access it from anywhere and any device with an internet connection. This is in sharp contrast to desktop software, which ties you down to a specific computer. As a result, it makes managing your business whilst on the move and away from your desk far easier.

Multiple users can access it at the same time

Another major advantage of cloud-based software is that multiple users can access it at the same time. Whether you’re the business owner, office administrator or window cleaner – you’ll all be able to access the data required to keep your business organised and running smoothly and profitably. It’s not a free for all of course – it’s simple to setup your users with appropriate “privileges”, controlling what information they can access and edit.

You can manage staff more efficiently

Desktop software’s answer to managing what your staff’s workload? The ability to print out a list of work. Cloud-based software takes it a few steps further than that and makes it far easier to manage your staff more efficiently. Cleaner Planner, for example, has a mobile app that allows you to remotely assign work to your staff – they simply download their list of work for the day onto their phone or tablet. They update their progress throughout the day, recording what jobs they’ve done and who’s paid them, and then upload their changes. All of your staff’s progress feeds back to a central place – without the need to collect and manually check lists, tally up totals and adjust customer records.

You save time

Whether you’re a small, one or two man window cleaning business or a large outfit, the result of the above feature (and others) is a substantial time saving. By removing the need to carry out manual tasks, like updating what’s been done at the end of the day – something you don’t get paid for, it frees up time for things you do get paid for. Our customers report an average of 20 hours saved per month over older systems.

Your data is more secure and more regularly backed up

Cloud-based software stores your data in, surprise surprise, the “cloud”. Desktop solutions store your data on your local computer, and whilst many of them have backup facilities, it’s usually down to you as to how regularly you do this. In the not-so-unlikely event of hardware failure, loss or theft, this leaves you susceptible to being left with out of date data, or even worse – none at all. And you’ll have to either fix your computer, or install your software on a new machine before you can access any of it. On the other hand, Cleaner Planner automatically backs your data up hourly, meaning you always have access to a copy of your data that is no more than an hour old – and you don’t even have to think about it. In the event of your computer breaking, you can access your data from another device, immediately. For added peace of mind, you can also take your own backup whenever you like, to your machine or to Dropbox. In the event that your computer is stolen, none of your data is actually stored on your machine, meaning your customer and business information is safe.

You get access to other online services

Unlike desktop-based window cleaning software, cloud-based solutions can integrate with other online services and providers. For example, Cleaner Planner integrates with GoCardless (a direct debit payment provider) and Stripe (a card payment provider) allowing you to offer modern payment methods and take complete control of when you get paid. Other examples include Textlocal, which allows you to send bulk text message reminders to your customers, and Mailchimp, which gives you the ability to send bulk marketing emails to your customers. These integrations make it easy to modernise your business, reduce debts and increase profitability.

If you’d like to trial cloud-based window cleaning software, you can try Cleaner Planner free for 30 days. It’s possible to import your customers from Window Cleaner Pro, George, Aworka, Round Partner and Excel.

 

7 Reasons to use Cleaner Planner as Your Oven Cleaning Software

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Whilst you might associate Cleaner Planner with window cleaners, it can do everything you need to run an oven cleaning business.

We take a look at 7 reasons you should use Cleaner Planner as your oven cleaning software, to not only efficiently manage your business, but also save you time, grow and offer a better service to your customers.

1) Scheduling – Get it right

Cleaner Planner can handle a high volume of jobs and customers and gives you the ability to automate their scheduling so that you know what needs to be done and when. Whether you have jobs that need to be done every 2 months on a Monday or on the last Friday of every quarter, Cleaner Planner makes custom scheduling a breeze. We can import your customers from other software as well as from an Excel spreadsheet.

2) Invoices and Quotes – Save time

Cleaner Planner takes the manual work out of raising invoices and quotes. You can generate personalised PDF invoices and quotes which can be downloaded, printed or, by linking with your email account, emailed directly from Cleaner Planner.

3) Mobile App & Worksheets – Go paperless and eliminate unnecessary admin

Cleaner Planner allows you to go paperless. You can create and assign worksheets (to multiple users if required – more on that to come) and then access them remotely using the Cleaner Planner mobile app (available for both Apple and Android devices). You, or your employees, can then update progress on the move, marking what’s been done, missed and paid. And there’s no need to worry about having 3G signal or WiFi, the app works perfectly offline – you simply sync your changes at the end of the day. This oven cleaning software feature eliminates admin time spent updating paper records or an Excel spreadsheet at the end of the day, and makes organising work for multiple staff and vehicles child’s play.

4) Multiple Users – Remotely organise your staff

As mentioned, Cleaner Planner allows multiple users to access the software at any given time, and as it’s cloud-based software, from anywhere with an internet connection. That means your staff can access worksheets from the mobile app, know exactly what they need to be doing and when, and can do more of their own admin, subject to your review and approval of course.

5) GoCardless and Stripe – Control your payments

Cleaner Planner integrates with GoCardless – a feature which puts you in control of your payments. You can process direct debit payments, in bulk, directly from Cleaner Planner each time the work has been completed. The system automatically updates who has paid, further reducing time spent chasing for payments, matching payments to customers and then manually updating records. The Stripe integration also allows you to take card payments, and the combination of the two allows you to not only maximise your chances of being paid when you want, but offers the most convenient payment options to your customers.

6) Bulk SMS Messaging – Communicate more easily

The bulk text messaging feature allows you to quickly communicate with your customers. Do you need to inform customers that you’re coming, or need to arrange access for particular jobs? Cleaner Planner allows you to send out text message alerts individually or in bulk and schedule them to go out at a later time and date, meaning you not only save time but you can set the alert to go at the right time – without it encroaching on your evening.

7) Franchising

If you are a franchised oven cleaning business, are part of a franchised business or are looking to go franchised, Cleaner Planner has been designed to cater for you. Multiple franchisee accounts can be seamlessly linked to your master account. Your franchisees manage their own separate accounts, but you have easy access when you need to know what they are doing and review their performance.

Cleaner Planner has a growing number of oven cleaning customers that use the system as their dedicated oven cleaning software. You can try a 30 day free trial of Cleaner Planner, and we may be able to import your customers.

Alternatively, you can request a call back to find out more about how the system can help your oven cleaning business.

5 Ways You Can Spend Less Time Collecting Debt Using Cleaner Planner

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Getting paid on time is a challenge faced by most window cleaners. Whether you have a number of customers that consistently pay late, or you seem to be investing more and more time into collecting payments, customer debt can become a problem that can have a serious impact on your cashflow and profit margins.

Cleaner Planner window cleaning software has been designed to improve, if not eliminate, the problem of debt for window cleaners, and save you time in the process. We take a look at 5 ways it can do that:

1) GoCardless integration

GoCardless is a service that allows you to take direct debit payments from your customers – not the kind that come out on a fixed date each month, but a direct debit you can initiate each time you complete the job. As a result, you can use GoCardless to control exactly when you get paid – eliminating issues with late or non-payments as well as the need to spend time and money chasing the customer. You get paid on time, every time.

GoCardless integrates seamlessly with Cleaner Planner, meaning you can process multiple GoCardless payments directly from the system, in bulk, at the click of a button. Cleaner Planner then automatically updates who has paid, meaning the payment method is not only more convenient for your customers, it’s even easier for you than being paid by bank transfer.

2) Stripe integration

Cleaner Planner also integrates with Stripe, allowing you to take credit and debit card payments. This is incredibly useful when collecting debt, as the card payment can be taken over the phone – which is not only convenient for the customer, it’s also far more time and cost -effective than physically visiting customers to collect payment. They don’t need to be at home, meaning it’s far more likely you’ll catch them and take payment with minimal effort.

3) Dedicated “Debts” tab

Cleaner Planner has a dedicated “Debts” tab that has been designed to keep you on top of who owes you money. Every single outstanding debt is itemised, along with the age of the debt, meaning you always know exactly who owes you money and how long for. You can order the debts based on their age or amount, allowing you to prioritise your debt collection. Each debt has quick access options to email, text message (more on that later) and invoice making it quick and easy to communicate with and chase your customers by various means.

4) Mobile app

The Cleaner Planner mobile app has a “Debts” tab that allows you to take a live copy of your debt list out with you if you do go out collecting payments. Not only do you know exactly what you need collect and where, but you can also update your progress in real time. The need to take out paper lists is eliminated, and there’s no need to do any manual admin on your return – it’s all done!

5) PDF invoices

Cleaner Planner gives you the ability to generate professional, personalised PDF invoices in a matter of seconds. You can then email invoices to your customers straight from Cleaner Planner and multiple jobs and transactions can be added to the same invoice. As a result, you save a huge amount of time raising invoices over more manual methods, meaning it’s easy get an invoice to your client as soon as you’ve done the job.

6) SMS and email messaging

As we’ve mentioned, Cleaner Planner allows you to send SMS (text) and email messages to your customers, individually or in bulk, straight from the system. As a result, it’s quick and simple to send out debt reminders and stay on top of your customers, saving you substantial amounts of time over manual methods.

If you’d like to trial Cleaner Planner and see if it can help you reduce your customer debt, you can sign-up for a 30 day free trial here, with full access to all features and no credit card details required.

5 Reasons Window Cleaners Should Use GoCardless

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Getting paid on time is a challenge faced by most businesses. With high volumes of customers generating recurring revenue, this is especially the case for window cleaning businesses. Not getting paid on time, having to chase for payment and investing time and money into collecting payments are all common complaints. Enter GoCardless – we decided to take a look at 5 reasons it should be next on your to-do list as a window cleaner. We’ll also see if our customers agree, but first, you might be wondering what GoCardless is.

What is GoCardless?

GoCardless is a UK-based service that allows you to easily take direct debits from your customers. Not the kind of direct debits that get taken on a set date each month, but rather the kind that you can initiate each time you complete the job. GoCardless take a flat fee of 1%, capped at a total of £2 per transaction, and funds take 3-5 days to clear in your bank account.

Why use it?

1) Take control of your payments

As we’ve mentioned, late payments are a common problem for most window cleaning businesses. It can have a big impact on cashflow, and chasing customers for money is a drain on your resources which simply magnifies the problem. Utilising GoCardless allows you to take payment as soon as you complete the job, every time – with no delays or chasing required. The result is a payment you control, and the more customers you have signed up to GoCardless, the more of your total revenue you can bank on receiving exactly when you should.

“…GoCardless integration has put me in control of when my customers pay – in fact it’s also massively convenient for them too, which is why more and more of my customers are signing up for it.”

Damian at LGB Vision

2) Reduce debts and time spent collecting

The results? Quite simply, less customers owing you money, and less time needed to chase for and collect payment. This frees up time that can be spent on other money-making activities like developing new business.

“The GoCardless integration with Cleaner Planner has almost eliminated the problem of debts and collecting for me. Most of my customers that used to pay by cash or cheque are now signed up to GoCardless – that’s about 45% of my round – and the rest pay by bank transfer. It’s so easy, you can start a GoCardless payment run for the work that day by clicking a button”

Paul Westcott at Impact Window Cleaning

3) Save on admin time with Cleaner Planner

GoCardless integrates seamlessly with Cleaner Planner. You can bulk-process GoCardless payments in Cleaner Planner at the click of a button. The system then automatically updates who has paid. Even when you compare that to receiving bank transfers, which need to be manually attributed to you customers, the time savings are huge.

Not only that, but Cleaner Planner provide a widget for your website that your customers can use to sign up to GoCardless. It’s simple to implement on your website, looks professional and makes it incredibly easy to sign your customers up.

“We used GoCardless before we were on Cleaner Planner, but it still meant clicking on each individual customer to process a payment. Now, we can process everything with the click of a button, and over 40% of our customers are signed up so that makes a big difference.”

Carrie at Odd Bods Cleaning

“It’s so easy, you can start a GoCardless payment run for the work that day by clicking a button, and there’s no manually updating records to say they’ve paid, Cleaner Planner does it for you automatically!”

Paul at Impact Window Cleaning

4) Retain problem payers

You probably have or more importantly, have had customers that do pay…eventually. Maybe you ended up carrying out the job a few times before you received payment and a pattern formed. It can be challenging scenario for any window cleaner – you are still receiving income that you likely need, but in the meantime you have to deal with the impact that receiving that money late has on your cashflow. Signing these customers up to GoCardless, and maybe even setting that as an ultimatum, eliminates this problem. You get to keep the work, and get paid on time – win, win!

“GoCardless – that has helped hugely with our debts. We insisted any bad payers sign up to pay us via GoCardless, and now we control when they pay us.”

Lance at Sunshine Window Cleaning

5) Offer your customers modern, convenient payment methods

Contrary to what you might think, GoCardless is an easy sell to most customers. It’s incredibly convenient – they don’t have to write a cheque, have the right cash, or even login to their online banking. It requires zero effort on their part, and they simply get an email letting them know the payment has been taken. With virtually every industry moving away from traditional payment methods, you can bring your business up to speed and offer modern payments methods that your competitors might not.

“Being able to offer GoCardless as a payment option is also fantastically convenient for our customers – they don’t have to worry about having the right money or posting cheques and it means we don’t have to hassle them for payment either, we can just take it at the click of a button.”

Lindsey at Green Team Cleaning

If you’d like to find out more about how Cleaner Planner and GoCardless can benefit your window cleaning business, contact us. You can also take out a 30 day free trial of Cleaner Planner here.

Cleaner Planner Launch Video Tutorials

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We’re delighted to announce that we have started producing video tutorials that will feature on our YouTube channel.

The first two videos cover adding services and jobs to your Cleaner Planner account. The tutorials will work hand-in-hand with our help centre and initially focus on getting started with the system, but will cover more in-depth tasks and features on the window cleaning software over time.

We’ll be adding new videos regularly, so subscribe to our channel to stay in the loop.

Our aim is for the videos to make it even easier to get started on Cleaner Planner, so if you don’t have an account yet, sign up for a 30 day free trial and give it a go.

4 Reasons to Consider Franchising Your Window Cleaning Business

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The franchise model works. You can probably reel off a few household names, businesses that wouldn’t have got to where they are without it. According to the British Franchise Association, the UK franchising industry turns over £15.1 billion per year, generated by 44,200 franchise outlets, 97% of which are profitable. It’s a proven model that clearly works, but can it work for window cleaning industry? Well, many window cleaning companies have franchised their businesses and been as successful as you might expect from those statistics.

Whilst it’s not for everyone, Cleaner Planner decided to look at 4 reasons why you might consider franchising your window cleaning business.

1) Quicker growth

One of the primary reasons many businesses opt for the franchise model when expanding is the scalable nature of franchising and fast rate of growth that it can achieve. This is for a number of reasons which are highlighted in more depth throughout this post, but the primary reason is that you empower your franchisees with the opportunity to run their own business. As a result, they are invested in and motivated to develop new business for their franchise, growing your overall business in turn. As each franchisee comes on board, your network grows and you penetrate a new area, multiplying this effect and achieving more rapid results than traditional, organic growth models.

2) A more motivated workforce

As we’ve just highlighted, franchisees are far more likely to be more motivated compared to an employee. When you offer someone a franchise in your company, you effectively offer them the opportunity to run their own business, control their income and their future.  As a result, they benefit directly from the success of their franchise, meaning it’s in their interest to grow and develop the business, work at a profitable pace and maintain a high standard of service at all times. The result is a more motivated workforce that is incentivised to play their part in growing and maintaining your business as a whole. This is backed up by the British Franchise Association who claim that: “for over 20 years consecutively, around 90% of all UK franchisees reported profitability over the previous 12 months.”

3) Better workforce retention

Following on from that, a very common problem faced by window cleaning businesses that employ staff is finding and keeping hold of employees that will do a good job. Employees are far less invested in your business, making other opportunities more attractive and easier to transition into. Owing to the unavoidable fact that a window cleaning business is relatively easy to set up, sometimes that opportunity is setting up for themselves. A franchisee has already invested their time and energy into developing their own business that they benefit directly from, making it far more likely that they will be around for the long haul.

4) Simpler management

Generally, franchisees manage their own day to day tasks, scheduling and admin. When you combine that with the facts that we’ve already mentioned, it’s clear that franchisees require far less management in comparison to an employee. Your responsibility to organise and motivate is drastically reduced, freeing up time that can be spent on other aspects of growing your business.

The above factors form part of the reason why window cleaning franchises can be very successful. Of course, as a franchised window cleaning business grows, it becomes even more important to stay organised and on top of scheduling, admin, customer communication and debt management.

Cleaner Planner window cleaning software provides the perfect platform for franchised window cleaning businesses, enabling you to provide franchisees with separate accounts, allowing them to take on the day to day running of the franchise. At the same time, you retain control and ownership of their data, and whilst it’s kept separate from your “master” account, you can easily check in and report on their progress as you help them to grow.

Take a look at a success story from one of our customers operating a franchised window cleaning business, start your 30 day free trial or contact us to find out more about how Cleaner Planner can work for your business.

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The Pros and Cons of Commercial Window Cleaning Work

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A large number of window cleaning businesses start out with residential work. However, as a window cleaning company grows, commercial business becomes more accessible and a viable source of revenue. If you own a window cleaning business, you might ask how much commercial work you should take on as part of your ongoing expansion. When should you take it on, and should it replace any of your existing residential business?

This article aims to help you make those decisions by highlighting the pros and cons of commercial window cleaning work along with highlighting key differences to residential work.

Pros

Higher value

Generally (and with a few exceptions) commercial window cleaning jobs are bigger and therefore carry higher prices. As a result, you need fewer commercial jobs to make up the equivalent income in residential work.

Lower volume

You’ll therefore have commercial work in lower volumes – whilst this can be a disadvantage (more on that later) it also has it’s advantages. A major example is the fact that you have fewer customers to manage, communicate with, schedule and chase for payment.

Higher profit margins

Businesses are generally less price sensitive than consumers meaning that, commercial window cleaning rates are generally higher than domestic. As a result, you have the opportunity to price commercial business with higher profit margins, meaning it can be more lucrative than residential work.

More frequent

Outside the UK, commercial window cleaning work is more regular than residential, meaning it provides a more frequent and often more reliable source of ongoing income. Even in the UK, the same applies to some types of commercial business; for example shop fronts are often scheduled weekly or fortnightly.

Cons

Lower volume

Though getting a mention in our ‘Pros’ section, having a lower number of individual jobs forming your income can present problems. As an example, let’s imagine 4 large commercial contracts make up your company’s entire income. Losing only 2 of those contracts, a perfectly feasible possibility, would result in losing half of your earnings. Losses of that size have the potential to cripple many businesses. With residential work, your risk is spread much more thinly across a large number of jobs.

More admin

Whilst fewer jobs mean less customers to manage, each individual commercial job requires more admin work when compared with residential business. For example, health and safety documents often have to written and provided along with proof of your business’s liability insurance. Quotes usually have to be given in writing, you’ll always be required to provide an invoice and you may need to implement measures to protect your business including work satisfaction forms. Whilst modern window cleaning software has made some of those tasks far easier, they are still tasks not usually required for residential jobs.

More subject to change

In the commercial world things can change quickly, and with very little warning. Cutbacks, buyouts, staff changes, and businesses going into administration are just some of the things that can mean you lose work overnight. Competitor undercutting is also far more common and customer loyalty can be harder to maintain – for example if you’re working directly for a commercial customer, your relationship is often with a staff member who is subject to all of the above factors. The same goes if you are subcontracting. This can be a major concern when it comes to commercial work, and many window cleaning business have lost jobs due to changes completely outside their control.

Specialist equipment requirements

Many commercial jobs require specialist equipment. If you don’t already own equipment capable of doing the job, you’ll need to invest and it will take a while to recoup that investment. In addition, some jobs require the rental of specialist access equipment like cherry pickers. Whilst you would allow for this when pricing the job, it makes the process of organising and completing the work more complex.

Getting paid

Many businesses inflexibly operate payment terms that can range from 30-60 days – and there is no guarantee they will make payment on time. Whilst it isn’t always an issue, chasing for payment can be time consuming and late payments are a very common problem for many window cleaning businesses – having a serious impact on cashflow.

As you can see, there are both advantages and disadvantages when it comes to taking on commercial business. It’s for these reasons that many window cleaning businesses choose to benefit from the best of both worlds and have a split of both commercial and residential work.

Header image provided by Concept