Diversifying Into Window Cleaning Services

In a time of increasing competition and shrinking budgets, building service contractors are looking for ways to maximize every contract. That’s one reason window cleaning has become a popular add-on service in recent years.

While many BSCs offer window cleaning, they’re rarely full-service providers. Very often, they do only light window washing in an entryway and subcontract the more involved interior and exterior work to a specialized company.

“They’re farming out the business and taking a very low margin on it, when they could have someone in-house do it,” says John Lombardo, global vice president of sales and marketing for Unger Enterprise, Bridgeport, Connecticut.

Manufacturers are creating a variety of tools that allow BSCs to more easily and safely clean windows. So why are so many BSCs still losing out on profits by subcontracting window work? Manufacturers believe it’s all about outdated perceptions.

BSCs tend to think of window washing as dangerous, skilled, expensive work. It immediately brings to mind images of men on lifts using a special squeegee technique. It also makes BSCs think about things like OSHA regulations, hefty insurance premiums and workers’ compensation claims.

“We hear about the safety element a lot,” says Lombardo. “They shy away from it because they don’t want to take it on. They’d rather hire it out and let someone else have the liability.”

What some BSCs don’t realize, says Lombardo, is the use of lifts and ladders and safety harnesses is becoming less common. Thanks to advances in technology, workers can clean the windows on buildings up to six stories tall with their feet on the ground.

“Part of the problem is awareness,” says Lombardo. “When I tell BSCs about our products, they look at me like I have two heads. They don’t know what’s out there right now.”

Even those BSCs who do know about the newer window-cleaning tools often remain resistant.

“It’s a different type of work and a BSC has to be willing to take on that new adventure,” says Mike Draper, vice president of sales and marketing for J Racenstein, a distributor of window-cleaning tools in Santa Ana, California. “I think in business as a whole, people are reluctant to change.”

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Window Cleaning Without Subcontractors