why using price per pane method does not work… some of the time
the problem with price per pane is there are too many variables from one job site to another to use this method to create accurate bids.
for instance, if you price a 5’x3′ slider window, which has 2 panes, $3 per pane, that may bid o. k. at ground level when the window is mildly dirty, but what if the window is…
- 1. on the 2nd or 3rd story?
- 2. has paint, hard water or other hard to remove contaminants beneath the grime?
- 3. has trees, hedges, or other obstacles in front of glass making exterior access difficult?
- 4. has desks, computers, blinds, and window dressings obstructing access to clean interior glass surfaces?
- 5. and what if you have to remove customer’s personal clutter from interior window sills?
all of these issues, plus many more – i’m sure you can think of more, can make using the ‘price per pane’ method inaccurate and give your customer a dishonest price. and, the worst part is, you’ll probably end up making less than your hourly price using this method.
sometimes using price per pane, or charging by the square foot is necessary in order to be considered by a prospective buyer
1. when you are bidding on contract work
window cleaning contracts issued by government agencies and property management companies are 2 of the most common times you’ll have to offer an absolute price for the specifications within the contracts.
2. when you are making a ‘cold call’ or cold sale
when you approach a home owner or commercial property owner and offer your services for the first time, most likely you have to offer an absolute price for the window cleaning. typical offers are for complete exterior and interior window washing, or just exterior windows only.
these 2 examples are dealing with what i call “non-qualified” customers. which means they may be willing to take an estimate but had no previous thought of hiring you to clean their windows before you showed up and presented yourself.
if your price for window cleaning is appealing, or in the case of government and property management issued contracts, your price is the lowest bid, they may hire you.
what i want to talk about today is how to simply offer your hourly rate instead of a solid price for window cleaning projects. using the hourly rate method will allow you to create a project total after you’ve completed the work based on your hourly rate.
before you can charge by the hour, you first need to…
establish your standard hourly window cleaning rate
by establishing an hourly charge, you’ve taken the first step in creating a solid foundation from which to build a successful business.
your standard hourly rate will give a tool to test how accurate your previous prices are. and, will give you an accurate way to change previous customer pricing mistakes and make them work for your business…
… all you need to do is start timing your work and make the necessary adjustments.
your hourly rate will also free you from copying another window cleaners ‘price per pane’ formula. let me ask you this:
do you seriously want to follow someone who could only be making $25 per hour?
think of it this way…
if window cleaner “x” is earning $25 per hour and you follow his price per pane method, you’ll have to work 3 times as many years to make the same income if you created a $75 per hour rate. if you’re like me, i’d rather retire in 15 years, than take the 45 year route!
offer a rough estimate along with your hourly rate
once you’ve established your hourly rate and measured your rate against previous window cleaning jobs, you’ll be able to quickly glance at a window cleaning job and produce a “rough estimate”.
you can offer your rough estimate to your prospective buyer along with the understanding that you will charge him based on your hourly rate when the job has been completed.
this is the technique i use almost 100% of the time when acquiring new customers because, all of the people that contact me for their window cleaning needs are “pre-qualified” customers.
but, what are pre-qualified customers anyway?
here’s 3 ways you can charge pre-qualified customers using your hourly rate
pre-qualified customers are…
1. customers who have hired your services previously and are asking you to ‘add extra services’ to their regular job, such as: (gutter cleaning, facia cleaning, pressure washing, cleaning chandeliers, cleaning mirrors, cleaning screens, cleaning tracks and more).
any services a customer requests in addition to your regular window cleaning visit can simply be charged by the hour using your hourly rate.
what you’ll do is perform the work your customer normally has you do at the price you’ve established with her, and then take an accurate time of the additional work and charge that portion using your hourly rate.
2. customers who have been referred to you via ‘word of month’ from a friend, associate or family member.
when you are contacted for window cleaning by a new person who has been referred to you, you can simply charge them by the hour. if they’d like to get an idea of the costs for your window cleaning services, you can offer them a rough estimate along as they understand they will be charged by the hour for your work.
this is an excellent technique when you have been contacted over the phone, via your web site or in person. this will save you massive amounts of time driving to prospective job sites, (homes and commercial properties) to evaluate the job and come up with a price.
if fact, i can’t remember the last time i actually drove somewhere to give a free estimate; i’m sure it’s been at least 6 years.
a referred customer is pre-qualified and already wants you to clean their windows. she is ready to buy, so go ahead and make the immediate sale and schedule the job over the phone.
3. customers who have seen your advertisement and call you for more info.
i like to call these types of prospects ‘luke-warm’ buyers. these propects want a professional quality window cleaning but don’t know you well enough to make a committment to hire you immediately without getting more information about you… really what they are looking for is a ‘feeling they can trust you’.
in this situation, you’re going to have to talk to them, ask them about their window cleaning needs and tell them a little about who you are and what you can do for them. basically, you need to give them a feeling of security by building a relationship with them starting with the words you use, but more importantly by using a warm and friendly tone in your conversation.
if you are naturally a charismatic person you’ll have very little problem asking for your hourly rate. if you’re not charismatic, just think about smiling when you are talking to a new prospect. even when talking on the phone, when you smile, your tone will be more upbeat and positive which can lull your prospect into becoming a buyer…
… even when you ask for your hourly rate instead of agreeing to drive to them for a free estimate.
i wanted to write this article because i read and see way too many new window cleaners copying the ‘price per pane’ method from other window cleaners.
i’m going to be frank with you and i hope this doesn’t offend you. i believe the ‘price per pane’ pricing strategy damages more new window cleaning businesses by setting them on an unpredictable course which produces very mixed pricing results.
i’m not sure why so many window cleaners go for price per pane but, in my opinion, it’s as ‘backwards’ as it can be.
what i’m trying to do is set the window cleaning industry back on course with all of the other professional trades that simply price their work on an hourly rate.