Sunday 31 October 2010

How The Canvassing Window Cleaner Got My Business

How The Canvassing Window Cleaner Got My Business by Trish Jones: In minutes, I went from paying £5 to £12 to the canvassing window cleaner. So how did the slick marketing window cleaner get my business without me even sniffing at the 60% increase in the cost!?

We’ve been in our current house for 15 years now and since that time, we’ve had the same window cleaners … until this week. Our previous window cleaners did nothing wrong but on Saturday, there was a knock at the door and a smartly dressed man explained that he owned a window cleaning company and started cleaning windows in our area if we were interested.  I said “no thanks, we already have a window cleaner” and started shutting the front door.

As the canvasser walked up the path he explained how they use a purified water cleaning system to clean the windows which meant:

a) little or no use of ladders because they used a waterfed pole system
b) the windows were cleaner, brighter and stayed clean for longer
c) they would clean the window ledges and PVC doors as well

Well, at this point, my front door swung open again and I was all ears! Within minutes, I’d hired the window cleaner to do one clean so we could decide if we wanted to continue. That was Saturday … Come Tuesday … First off, when the window cleaner left, both my husband and I queried whether he himself would clean our windows.  Why? Because he was clean and tidy and, he smelled good!

We thought that he managed the company and someone else cleaned.  So come Tuesday, we were a little surprised when he turned up with his wife to clean our windows. My point is, our first impression of him wasn’t a window cleaner, but a business man who made himself presentable to his prospective clients. The evening before he was due, we even received a text message to say they’d be coming so we could unlock the side gate. And as for the clean … outstanding!

But why was I so quick to pay up £12 when we’d been paying £5 First of all, I don’t want to clean the outside of my house period!  I watch my house-proud “aged” neighbours doing it and I take the view, “not me … I’ve got better things to do with my time.” I was also impressed with the system they used to give a brighter shine since in the summer, the smears from a traditional clean can show up, making me feel as though I need to go clean the windows again – never happens though … I’m just a good thinker! 

Finally, and I’m sure this one will resonate with some of you, because they use a brush on the end of a long pole … I got no one looky looking through my bedroom window! I’m telling you … the amount of times I’ve asked my window cleaner to knock the door before he cleans the windows and I don’t recall him doing it once.  Fortunately, I’ve never been caught in an embarrassing situation but, I’ve often walked into my office which is in one of the bedrooms of our home, to be met with a face at the window.  Not nice!

So, when the canvassing window cleaner told me it was £12 a clean, trust me, I didn’t even baulk at the price.  In fact, he suggested once every two months was adequate for a clean and yet, I was willing to give him £12 every 4 weeks. My point here is that I was sold on the benefits even though he could have bombarded me with features of his purified water window cleaning system. So, my open ended question to you is … are you selling on features or letting the benefits do the selling for you?
Until next time, Trish.

Door Canvassing Script:

(PC) Good Morning/Afternoon Mr/s……..

(PC) I’m sorry to disturb you

I’m ………. The local window cleaner, I am just calling to see if you currently have a window cleaner?

Wait for Customers response

I’ve got a window cleaner?

(PC) OK. Are you happy with them?

Listen carefully to customer’s response; any sign of hesitation usually indicates they are less than satisfied. Probe and clarify what aspect of their current service they are not happy with and sell them on the benefits of our service.  If the customer says they haven’t seen their window cleaner for a while, sell the benefits of our service and offer to quote.

(PC) Yes. OK, thanks for your time

No I haven’t got a window cleaner

(PC) Is that something you might be interested in?

Customer Express’s an interest

(PC) OK Great. Let me give you a little more information and tell you why we are different to your average bucket and ladder window cleaner.

Open up blue leaflet in front of them.

(PC) We use a truck mounted pure water system which is completely ladderless, so there is no risk of damage to your property. We clean all the sills, frames and doors (point to fixed bottom door panels) using pure water. Pure water dries to a smear free shine leaving no spots or streaks whatsoever. So the windows absolutely gleam, and they stay cleaner for longer because the water is de-ionised and there is no detergent residue left on the glass. We always call to let you know we’re coming and never turn up unannounced.

(PC) We give you a full money back guarantee on every job so if your not absolutely delighted with what we do… don’t pay us a penny. That sounds fair, doesn’t it? Can I walk round the outside of the house to give you a quote (It only takes 2 minutes and I don’t need to come inside)

Price condition them at this stage by letting them know we are more expensive than most window cleaners.

Delivering the Price:

(PC) To do all the sills, frames and doors with a full money back guarantee it will be ……… per month.
Are you happy with that?

If they hesitate, re-sell the benefits, emphasising the high quality job we do. If they still won’t commit do a drop down close by suggesting an 8 week plan explaining the benefits of the windows staying cleaner than normal window cleaning so they will still be getting better value from this service. A great closing line is “May I suggest trying us once and if its not the best job you’ve ever had we wont charge you, now that sounds fair doesn’t it?" Get Agreement and close by asking for their name, address etc.

Saturday 30 October 2010

Spoof Window Cleaner Spams The Spammers

Spam is the plague of the electronic age, comprising 90% of all e-mails and illegally netting millions of dollars each year. Into this frustrating wave of directed marketing steps the brave figure of Bob Servant, a former window cleaner and cheeseburger magnate with a love of wine, women, and song—as well as a devious sense of fair play. In collusion with his "editor" Neil Forsyth, Bob gives spammers a taste of their own medicine. This wickedly funny and original book features the anarchic exchanges between Bob and the hapless spam merchants who unwittingly flood his inbox. As they offer him African fortunes, Russian brides, and get-rich-quick scams, he turns the tables by offering them some outlandish schemes of his own. Upping the ante with the skill of a seasoned pro, Bob demands legal asylum, shoulders to cry on, and gold lions that speak—and almost gets his way. The result is page after page of wacky and hilarious e-mail exchanges—and a cathartic release for anyone whose inbox has been deluged with unwanted e-mail. Other window cleaners have also tried this.

It's all come as a shock to 32-year-old Neil Forsyth, who now lives in Edinburgh. He admits he first started replying to the spammers purely because he was bored. Neil said: "I was sitting on the couch one night and I got this email entitled 'Delete this at your peril'. It was a particularly funny scam which didn't make any sense, so I decided to reply. "It kicked off a six-month period where I started talking to spammers all over the world but, as I didn't want to use my own name, I opened an email account in the name of Bob Servant. "That was largely because I found it funny to sign o the emails 'Your Servant, Bob Servant,' and the more I spoke to them, the more I built up the character around it. "Spammers would ask about my life, so I created this character of a 62-year-old window cleaner and cheeseburger van operator in Dundee.
"I'm from Dundee and I know a lot of old guys like that who like to tell a story and tell a joke, so the character was almost a tribute to them. "I started off doing it just for amusement but my girlfriend at the time thought it was funny and so did my agent, so it came out as a book." Neil used his character to make outlandish requests to his new email pen "pals", who were happy to indulge him in the belief he would eventually give them cash. Neil said: "A lot of these email conversations got quite surreal.

"I started off by wondering just how far I could push these spammers before they lost it but I think they assumed that Bob had a mental illness and hung in there in the hope they'd get a fiver out of him at the end. "It was very much a case of starting off relatively sensible and then quite quickly the exchanges would become rooted in the absurd." One such tale involved Bob asking a contact if he could provide him with a talking lion for his zoo back in Dundee. Within hours, the contact was claiming he had spoken to someone who had a talking lion for sale and that the animal would be shipped to Scotland in exchange for some cash. Neil said: "The story with the talking lion is the one people mention the most.

"But I enjoyed the conversation with a Russian woman called Olga whom Bob fell in love with. "Suddenly, Olga's 'agency owner' called Sasha - who had the same e-mail address - popped up asking for his cut. "It resulted in Bob launching a business in Dundee. Him, Olga and Sasha were going to go around building novelty lakes in people's gardens. "The spammers had absolutely no problem in saying they would do that as long as Bob sent the air fare so they could come and join him."

Neil even got one spammer to admit he was a conman. He said: "I really enjoyed that exchange, as he twigged that Bob was joking. He replied saying that he thought Bob was very funny and I ended up having this strange conversation where he was openly admitting what he was up to. "He said he lived in Malaysia and I asked him if a lot of people fell for what he was doing. "He said it was a minority but that was all he needed. It was interesting to hear him openly discussing his work."

First released in 2007, Neil's book slowly became an international cult hit. He said: "I had been getting on with other books and other projects but Delete This At Your Peril spread through word of mouth. It got picked up a lot by American colleges. "That generated a bit of interest over here and then Irvine Welsh named it as the funniest book he'd ever read. "Tom Simpson, who is the keyboardist in Snow Patrol, also heard about it, as he comes from Monifeith. He passed the book around the band. They then passed it on to Richard Colburn, who is the drummer in Belle and Sebastian. "They both mentioned it to a lot of people and they might also have mentioned it in a couple of interviews, which helped stoke things as well. "I missed much of this because I was living in New York and, at this time, the book wasn't for sale any more, so it was a real phoenix-like rise from the ashes."

The renewed interest led to Neil writing a sequel in the form of his comic character's autobiography entitled Bob Servant: Hero of Dundee. He said: "You could describe Bob with any positive adjective but you'd have to put the words 'self-proclaimed' before it. He's a self-proclaimed good guy, a self-proclaimed man of the people and a self-proclaimed success story, who sees himself as a local boy done good. "He's now retired and spends his time trawling the streets and bars of Dundee looking for the respect that he thinks he deserves." His success led to BBC Radio Scotland producing an adaptation of the first book with Dundonian Cox starring as Bob. Comic actors Sanjeev Kohli, Felix Dexter and Laura Solon play the spammers.

Neil said: "I was absolutely delighted that the whole thing came together with such a talented cast of actors. It was a real pleasure to hear them bring it to life. "And Bob would think the fact that Brian Cox was playing him was just about right. I think he would see himself as being very much on a par with Brian. They're two local boys done good." As for Neil, he's still coming to terms with the fact his comedy character captured the imagination of so many. He added: "There's another Bob book I'd like to write and there's talk of a TV adaptation as well, so we definitely haven't heard the last of him."

The unmissable business opportunity

To: Bob Servant
Dear Sir/Madam, We are Lanzhou Global, a specialist in the production of rubber belts such as power transmission belts, conveyor belts, etc. We need agents to receive payment in bank wire transfers and to resend the money to us. You earn 10% from each operation. Your job is absolutely legal. You can earn up to 3,000-4,000 pounds monthly.
Best regards,
Admin/Human Resources Manager,
Xiong Li

From: Bob Servant
Hello there
My name is Bob Servant and I am a semi-retired window cleaner. I am very interested in working for your company. I have a big garage that I could convert into an office?
Many thanks,
PS What would be my job title?
PPS Is there a uniform?

To: Bob Servant
Hello Bob,
Thanks a lot. Listen Bob, this job does not require your much time or space. You do not need a uniform for this and get 10% of each payment. You can give yourself any title you want. Please give us your full personal and banking details so we can get started with this now Bob, Thanks,

From: Bob Servant
I am an old-fashioned kind of man and as far as I'm concerned if you are working then you wear a uniform. What kind of look do you go for? Do you wear a suit or a branded tracksuit? I want something tight, that's vital. It makes me feel alert.
Your new employee, a proud member of the Lanzhou Team,
The Big Man, Bob Servant

To: Bob Servant
Hello Big Man!
We are glad to have you as our staff, please send the information that we need. Do what you think is best for a uniform, Bob. We trust you. I wear a suit.

From: Bob Servant
Hello boss! I have been trying like a bastard to find the right uniform for the job and I think I have it – a boilersuit that I bought for £30. I've really enjoyed my first two days of working for LANZHOU GLOBAL LTD. It's been all go, but I have had a great time. I'll get to grips with the form tomorrow.
Yours loyally,

To: Bob Servant
Dear Bob,
The uniform sounds perfect. You should wear it when you are doing your business as you will look smart.
Bob, do not hesitate to send back your job application form. It is very important and we need this information for our system.

From: Bob Servant
I have been very, very busy. I know you want to get these forms done, but it's not all about paperwork in business, Xiong, you should know that. What we need, Xiong, is to let people know that we are here and we mean business. Rubber belt business.
I've started spreading the word locally. I have also been thinking about a staff night out. Obviously, as things stand there is just me here in the Scottish office, but I was thinking of inviting a couple of people. I think that Chinese would be the most appropriate, as I'm sure you agree!
Is that OK? Shall I just keep a receipt and send it over to you?
Your Faithful Employee and Friend,
Bob Servant

To: Bob Servant
Thank you again for your hard work for the company. I think that the party is a good idea, and yes we would prefer you to eat at a Chinese restaurant. But Bob, you have still not given us your national insurance number, bank account information and phone number right away.
Please hurry Bob

From: Bob Servant
My friend. We've had some good times together. We've laughed and joked and worked damn hard to get LANZHOU GLOBAL LTD the respect that it undoubtedly deserves. But things change, my friend. I'd like to place on record how much I have enjoyed my time working with LANZHOU GLOBAL LTD. I suppose this is goodbye, Xiong. I will never, ever forget you.
Your ex-employee but lifelong friend
Bob "Xiong" Servant

To: Bob Servant
Hi, How are you? I know from the start you are a clown, I laugh a lot when i read from you.

From: Bob Servant
Hello there,
Yes, I was pulling your leg. All the very best with the old "Lanzhou" line. If you don't mind me saying so, I think it needs a bit of polishing. Tell me, where are you from and do many people actually fall for this stuff?
Stay strong,
Bob Servant

To: Bob Servant
Hello Bob,
Of course many people do fall for it, you know lots of gimimicks now and you make your cash. I am from Malaysia, tell me more about you.

No reply

The real life story..
Stockton Springs man convicted of wire fraud for 2nd time: A jury in U.S. District Court found a Stockton Springs man guilty Wednesday of soliciting money from several individuals, funds he then invested in an international money scam which officials say didn't exist. Todd Denson, 50, was convicted of 13 counts of wire fraud -- the second time in four years that he has been implicated in such a scheme. Denson spent 14 months in federal prison in 2007 and 2008 after he pleaded guilty to seven counts of mail and wire fraud.

Denson will be sentenced at a later date on his latest conviction but could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Jurors deliberated for nearly 3 1/2 hours Wednesday after hearing almost two full days of testimony from witnesses called by Assistant U.S. Attorney James McCarthy, including a U.S. Secret Service agent who has investigated Denson for years. Denson's attorney, Virginia Villa, did not call any witnesses and did not ask Denson to testify in his own defense.

The trial centered on whether Denson intentionally defrauded people when he asked them for money with a promise that he would pay it back. For several years, dating back to before Denson's first conviction, the man has been involved in an Internet scam that many consumers received e-mails about but few followed through on. The premise is simple: The e-mail recipient is instructed to send a certain amount of money overseas, usually to an African country, in order to access a much larger pool of money, usually millions of dollars. Similar scams were operated through mailed letters and fax machines for decades before they moved to the Internet in the 1990s.

Denson evidently became convinced the scam was real. In 2006, he claimed he sent $60,000 of his own money overseas with the promise that more than $9 million had his name on it. When Denson learned that he needed to send more money, he began asking individuals to "invest," but was untruthful about what the investment was. The U.S. Secret Service first began investigating Denson in 2006. The man later confessed he misappropriated nearly $80,000 from several residents of Cumberland County, where Denson used to live and own a window-washing business.

In order to attract investors, Denson fabricated stories about how he had made millions designing window-washing equipment or how he stood to inherit millions from his long-lost father. He later pleaded guilty to seven counts of mail and wire fraud and was sentenced in Portland in June 2007 to 18 months in federal prison. He served about 14 months, but court testimony revealed he began engaging in the same scam almost immediately after his release. In most instances, Denson was able to document his alleged wealth. In one case, he played a phone message to a potential investor from an overseas bank that confirmed his wealth, witness testimony revealed. In another, Denson told Secret Service agents that he traveled overseas and physically saw the money.

Three reputed victims testified Tuesday morning that Denson persuaded them to give him money with the promise that he would pay them back more than what they gave. One victim, Gary Plante of Oakland, was supposed to get a private loan from Denson of $185,000 so he could buy a home. Plante deposited $5,000 into an escrow account at Denson's request to help facilitate the loan. Nearly a year has passed and Plante has not gotten the loan or his $5,000 back.

Another victim, Camillia Arelia, whose hometown was not available, knew Denson socially and at one point offered to give him money on the stipulation that he pay it back. Denson assured her that he had millions overseas that he could access. Like Plante, she was never repaid. "Evidence showed this defendant defrauded and cheated [victims]. He made promises he knew he could not and would not keep," McCarthy said in his closing argument. Villa said her client still believes there is money in an overseas account for him, and she told jurors that the prosecution never proved that Denson didn't have the money. Also here & here.

Friday 29 October 2010

Scissor Lift Death In Indiana

Use of lift in high wind likely safety violation - IOSHA investigating accident at Notre Dame. SOUTH BEND: The accident that claimed the life of a 20-year-old student at the University of Notre Dame on Wednesday could result in safety citations for the university. An investigator from the Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration arrived at the university Thursday to begin looking into the accident. Declan Sullivan (pictured) of Long Grove, Ill., died Wednesday night after the scissor lift from which he was reportedly videotaping Notre Dame's football practice toppled over amid wind gusts that reached in excess of 50 mph.

According to government safety regulations, "work on or from scaffolds is prohibited during storms or high winds unless a competent person has determined that it is safe for employees to be on the scaffold and those employees are protected by a personal fall arrest system or wind screens. Wind screens shall not be used unless the scaffold is secured against the anticipated wind forces imposed." The scissor lift used by Sullivan would be included in the regulation. Marc Lotter, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Labor, said Notre Dame hasn't had a major safety violation in his search of records going back 10 years.

Because each investigation is different, Lotter couldn't hazard a guess on how long it might take to issue a report. If IOSHA finds that regulations or safety protocols were not followed, it could attach fines that exceed $100,000, depending on "the severity and the nature of the violations," he said. Though it was initially reported that the scissor lift was leased from United Rentals, a company spokesman said Thursday that the lift does not belong to the company. A sticker attached to the lift might indicate that United Rentals has serviced the device in the past, said Fred Bratman, a spokesman for the company.

"We were saddened to learn of this tragic accident," said Bratman. "We are continuing to investigate the matter, but have determined that the unit was neither owned nor rented by our company." Scissor lifts are often plastered with safety stickers and built with various safety devices. Bill Fish, owner of Fish Window Cleaning of Granger, said he has used scissor lifts quite a bit to reach inside windows. He said the lifts he has used won't go up unless they're on a firm level surface, a warning beeper sounds if there is too much movement in the bucket and the person inside is supposed to be wearing a safety harness. When asked whether he would operate inside a scissor lift in high winds, Fish said, "That would be really scary."

Lotter said worker deaths in Indiana hit a historic low of 123 in 2009. Improved workplace safety as well as fewer jobs because of the recession were likely the reasons for the reduction, he said. Falls, including those from scissor lifts, are the No. 2 cause of workplace deaths in Indiana, said Lotter. From 2003 to 2009, eight workers in Indiana have been killed by falling from a fork lift, scissor lift or bucket truck.

According to government safety regulations, "work on or from scaffolds is prohibited during storms or high winds unless a competent person has determined that it is safe for employees to be on the scaffold and those employees are protected by a personal fall arrest system or wind screens. Wind screens shall not be used unless the scaffold is secured against the anticipated wind forces imposed." The scissor lift used by Sullivan would be included in the regulation.

Thursday 28 October 2010

Latest Window Cleaning Videos

Exclusive Window Cleaning Resource Video showing Mark Strange, as he fills us in on some of Reach higher Grounds traditional equipment.

Window cleaning in Amsterdam - oh dear..

The advert was mentioned in a blogpost previously here.

Obviously a joke? I hope.

The window washer swing for golfers..

Window cleaning in Denver - no problems with extended enclosed balconies.

Stop your water fed van freezing - set it up with a greenhouse heater to stop freezing.

Chris Dawber says installing a DI system is simple! Get a TDS meter first though!

The Ladder Companion is made of durable polypropylene and can hold enough tools to complete even the most demanding tasks.

The brand new Mister Squeegeeless indoor WFP kit is now available form WCR. Clean hard to reach indoor glass with ease, simply attach to pure water source and any extension pole of your choice. More info here.

How you can avoid being a horror story! Nicholas Menke from Cleanview gives you the low down.

A window cleaner (who knows the risks associated with ladders) invented this product. You need to clean or paint the windows but don't want to topple to one side. How do you cope with: Sloping Ground Uneven Ground Other problems can include: ladder feet from sliding away from the wall on smooth surfaces ladder feet sinking into soft ground Laddermat can provide the solution to all of these. Four mats, made from heavy-duty rubber matting with nodules, are linked by a sturdy metal loop. The mats give adjustable anti-slip blocking to go under one ladder foot to give extra height. Or can be put under both feet to reduce the risk of slipping or of sinking into soft ground.

"Ole does Windows," a couple of quick water fed pole videos.

Tamworth window cleaners showing their WFP kit.

I love this video...Travis from "A Glass Act" showing master technique.

A short depressing play about a window cleaner - & not a very good one at that!

The new Babcock wooden sectional, a pretty rare ladder these days, only a few companies still make these, freshly oiled and varnished, Type I rated for full-time use in the field.

Wednesday 27 October 2010

Last Chance For Free Wagtail: More Window Cleaning News

Last chance to enter the Wagtail Whirlwind competition - details by clicking here. Young Jaret the window cleaner and WCR mascot shows us his technique with the wagtail whirlwind professional window cleaning squeegee.

Going to the football. It’s all about the crowd, the lager, the shouting, the swearing, the shirt wearing , the lager, the pre-match pie, the post-match burger, the lager, the sound of the ball hitting the back of the net… But increasingly, there’s an element of the eye candy about going to watch your team play. Female fans represent an ever increasing demographic of football supporters, and that’s no bad thing for us fellas. In fact, two thirds of football fans polled agreed that seeing a girl in their team’s shirt was a turn-on. So how about seeing the most beautiful women in the world sporting the kit? pays tribute to football’s sexiest celebrity fans… Next up, it’s Everton; Gorgeous glamour model Katie had a small role in Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo, appearing as a wet t-shirt-wearing window washer. Apparently she won the role ahead of Michelle Marsh, Nicola Tappenden and Nikkala Stott, an impressive feat indeed. At only 4’11’’ she probably has to stand on her seat when visiting Goodison Park, but that doesn’t stop her from cheering on the Toffees whenever she can.

The National Weather Service has confirmed eight tornadoes across Indiana from the storm front that swept through the state Tuesday. No serious injuries or widespread damage was reported from the tornadoes. The weather service says the strongest of the twisters were rated EF1s with winds up to 110 mph. Two of those hit rural areas in Huntington and Whitely counties near Fort Wayne, while another caused some building damage at Wanatah in LaPorte County. Weaker EF0 tornadoes with winds up to 85 mph were confirmed in Dearborn, Howard, Huntington, Porter and Wabash counties. The Wabash tornado blew out some window and caused exterior damage to a Walmart store."
City, residents prepare for high winds: We have notified everyone in the city of Chicago right now, particularly cranes or anything out there that may pose a hazard. The idea behind this is to get the word out there," said Jose Santiago, Chicago Emergency Management. The danger is real. In 2002, 60 mile per hour wind gusts tore window washing equipment loose from the side of the John Hancock Building. It fell 43 stories, killing three people in cars below.

Lampasas City Manager Michael Stoldt informed the council that Kempner Water Supply Corporation would be conducting tank maintenance in Lampasas from Nov. 8 to Nov. 15. During the two-week maintenance period, the city will be under a Stage 3 mandatory water conservation measure, which limits the use of water. Residents will be prohibited from all outdoor washing, including car, pavement and window washing. Law and garden irrigation will also be restricted as well as the filling, re-filling or adding water to swimming pools. The restrictions will be lifted when the water storage tanks are back in service.

The Millville Housing Authority recently created a company to provide janitorial services to its own properties. As a way to help cut costs and generate revenue, the authority started Holly City Property Management to clean and maintain properties. A crew of four part-time workers is handling janitorial services at authority properties. Eventually, the services will be contracted out to area businesses, allowing the Housing Authority to make more money. Housing Authority Executive Director Paul Dice unveiled the new venture at a board meeting in August, although finer details were not ironed out at the time. In addition to janitorial services, Dice thinks the company could provide landscaping services in the future.
Although growing the new business still requires some time and planning, the immediate goal has been satisfied, Dice said. "It's one step toward cutting down the expenses in the Housing Authority, and that's what we're going to continue to do," he said. "We no longer have any vendors, and all of the janitorial work is now done internally. So, effectively, what we're doing is cutting out the middleman, cutting out the profit margin." The Housing Authority has been providing its own janitorial services for much of the past month. Everything from sweeping to window washing is being done in-house.

Survival of the fittest: Not bad for two guys nearly in their 40s! Bideford-based personal trainer Simon de Burgh and window cleaner Calvin Leach were overall winners of the team event of the 2010 Men's Health Survival of The Fittest TRI Nations series. They raced on three consecutive weekends in events which were a mix of rough obstacles, long stretches of running and, in some cases, swimming. Their first race was in Cardiff, a 14k run around Cardiff Bay over and through Army assault courses, up and down half the Millennium Stadium staircase and finally up the eight-foot wall of fame towering between them and the finish line. They came third in the team event.

Crawford testified that on February 23, 2008, at around 11:00 p.m., heheard objects hitting the side of his and his son's home. He went outside and saw that the east-facing and north-facing walls had been hit with eggs. Crawford spent an additional $1,628.31 to have those walls painted. He did some of the painting himself. Crawford spent two hours cleaning eggs off four windows. He hired a window cleaner at a cost of $89.

Plaintiff window washer fell while cleaning the outside of a window in Duff's cooperative apartment. He testified that the clip of his safety belt slipped from an anchor post affixed to the facade of the building. It is undisputed that Duff's proprietary lease placed the obligation to maintain the building's structural components on defendants. Contrary to defendants' contention, there is no evidence in the record that raises an issue of fact whether any act or omission by Duff caused plaintiff's injuries and triggered the indemnity provisions of the lease.

Aches and panes: An elderly Knox resident suffering from severe arthritis is hoping the council will get over a cost-cutting streak and bring back a window-cleaning service. The council-funded service for Knox seniors has been slashed. Knox Council had been offering a window cleaning service to seniors through support provider Calvary Silver Circle. The 80-year-old resident, who declined to give his name, was disappointed at the end of the service, which he had used for around three years to relieve him of a painful chore. "I had bad arthritis and my balance wasn't good. I just couldn't do it. My wife was in the same position. That's why I got it done." He paid a subsidised price - around $11 - to have the inside and outside of his windows cleaned once every six months.He said there was no notification that the service had been axed.
The resident gets his gutters and spouting cleared through Calvary Silver Circle, but began to ask questions when his windows were not cleaned. "They should be helping pensioners by having a service like that. I just can't understand why they'd cut it." Knox community services director Kerry Stubbings confirmed the service had been cut. "Of the many services offered through the home maintenance program, window cleaning is the task that least relates to the council's core focus on safety and security." Ms Stubbings said the council had increased funding for its home-care budget for the 2010-11 financial year, but had reduced the number of hours available to some clients in order to extend services to others who needed help. During 2009-10, 1175 residents accessed home-maintenance services, which in some cases included window cleaning. The council said 1767 accessed home-care services - including domestic household help - during the same time. Calvary Silver Circle declined to comment on the matter.

Window Cleaning Add-On? Maid American Style has launched a brand new cleaning service that offers valuable service to pregnant women and new mothers. This new baby cleaning service will provide new mothers with a sense of peace and more time to relax and enjoy valued time with their families and newborns. Maid American Style will prepare the home and keep it ready to welcome the newborn. Everyone knows that bringing home a new baby involves a lot of preparation. It is vital that the newborn gets a clean and safe environment to sleep, grow and call home. Mike Smith the Director of Sales at Maid American Style in northern Virginia says “our goal is to provide an all-inclusive program where Pregnant women and new mothers can experience a worry-free Maid and cleaning service. We have designed packages focused on pregnant women while listening carefully to their concerns and needs while going through and after pregnancy”.

Dad jailed for failing to pay fines: A dad of four children has been jailed for five weeks after failing to make regular payments off his court fines totalling more than £1,200. Michael Vaughan's whopping crime bill started in 2004 and has grown over the years as magistrates fined him for offences such as assault, theft, non-payment of a television licence, and driving with no insurance. The last contribution the window cleaner made to pay for those crimes was back in 2008. But when the 26-year-old appeared at Hartlepool Magistrates' Court and could not give a reasonable explanation for his non-payment, he found that justices' patience had ran out. Chairman of the bench Lynn Gibson sent him to jail for 34 days.
Mrs Gibson told him: "We have listened to what you and your solicitor have had to say, but we feel that you have made no reasonable attempt to pay your fines and we are sentencing you to 34 days imprisonment." Vaughan, of Woodbine Terrace, in Greatham Village, on the outskirts of Hartlepool, needed help in reading the oath before trying to explain why he had not paid anything off his £1,221.79 court account for two years.
He said: "I was at work and I asked my girlfriend to come to court to pay the fine, but they wouldn't let her." And when asked what steps he had taken after this he said: "Well we moved from Raby Gardens up to Greatham because we had to flee the area because we had loads of trouble, so I wouldn't have got any letters."
Mitigating, David Smith told magistrates that Vaughan had struggled for money since the birth of his four children, two daughters and two sons aged eight, seven, five and four. He said that Vaughan used to make regular £20 payments and if extra money was available would pay more. "That's not to say incredible sacrifices hadn't been made to do that," said Mr Smith. "However, the end of that coincides with the birth of his children. Unfortunately that has been an extra financial drain upon him. "There are still financial difficulties, but he's beginning to do some window cleaning work for which he gets £150 each week. He's working, he's got responsibilities and he wants to extend those responsibilities to clear this amount."

Tuesday 26 October 2010

Q & A With Window Cleaning Resource - Chris & Alex Lambrinides

This week we have a question & answer session with relatively newcomers to the window cleaning supply market. Chris & Alex Lambrinides (pictured left & right with centre, Thad Eckhoff) bust on to the window cleaning scene with a fresh new approach to an otherwise drab internet window cleaning shop search & have caused all sorts of havoc on their way. It has made interesting news for this blog, but with their window cleaning forum & supply shop & now their own magazine – it has also made my life a lot easier. Never a week goes past where some content from their site can be used to inform & educate window cleaners on a new approach or another window cleaning idea, usually by video.

Being window cleaners themselves with their own company “All County Window Cleaning (ACWC),” they know the products inside out because they use them on a daily basis. They are also in a position to inform window cleaners about new products i.e. what works & what doesn’t. Chris is quite transparent when he comes to his business dealing, opening up & showing other window cleaners how he makes his company successful by sharing his business ideas & company paperwork.

Window Cleaning Resource (WCR) has become a phenomenon all it’s own. What was once a forum is now a supply shop serving customers State wide in the US & internationally. If you are on the internet & a window cleaner, it would be difficult not to come across their site sooner or later due to their cunning use of search engine optimization – yep, they even have a guy that can do that for your website too! Often emulated but never quite beaten, most supply shops are following in the after-burn of what these guys set out to do. As they say; “Imitation is the best form of flattery!”

In the hot seat.. Chris Lambrinides:

So how long were you window cleaning for before you started the forum & shop?
Errr, about 7 years.

What made you open a window cleaning forum & shop?
We didn't really like the options available out there for Window Cleaning forums. Bad moderation, lack of technology, and unappealing design. Our window cleaning business had grown pretty large so we were ordering a lot of supplies. We noticed when calling for supplies we knew way more than the order takers on the other end of the phone. That seemed a bit odd to me as they got to play with these tools all day. We got to talking and thought it be a really neat idea to have a store staffed by all window cleaners. People that had actually used the tools before in real life situations. People that could relate to the situation the customer was in on the other end of the phone. Then we thought why not just combine the two. We also wanted to translate our expertise with the products we carried into online format. That’s where the idea for all the product videos came from, we want every single product to have a video.. We are almost there.

What has been your biggest challenge to date?
Money! It is really tough to have a supply business that doesn't carry "everything" – It’s hard to afford "everything" if the business doesn't have "everything" to sell to make a profit. Its a tough circle, but we finally got it worked out. This has been a great year for us, thousands of new customers, and great loyal repeat customers, it has translated into us being able to completely expand our inventory and stock.
Being hated (by other suppliers), we dabble in everything, so everyone in the Window Cleaning world sees us as competition. The forums, the stores, the organizations and now the magazines, they are all bothered by us.

How do you manage to run a window cleaning business successfully with a window cleaning shop?
The window cleaning business pretty much runs itself. I have a wonderful staff in place that handles everything. Alex oversees the warehouse all day. I work on WCR next door from the Window Cleaning office. I do this so I still keep my finger on the pulse of what’s going on in the window cleaning business. I wouldn't call it micro managing or anything. But I just listen as I work and interject when I need to.
I haven’t found a way to be in massive growth mode at both companies at the same time, my brain isn’t wired for that. So once WCR started I pulled ACWC out of growth mode and into profit mode. A company is much easier to run when not in growth mode. Ill probably switch them up in 2 years or so. I’m very excited about WCR right now, that’s where my brain is at. Right now I have a list of about 320 new things I want to do at WCR. We need some interns!

How many hours do you work in a day?
10 - 14

Out of all the technology you utilize in business – which is your favorite? (Pictured: Murphy the mascot).
The internet.

What is the ‘must have’ for any window cleaner out there, technology-wise?
Probably a smart phone so they can run everything from the road.

You’ve been successful in quite a short period of time – has it changed you?
I don’t think so.. maybe? maybe not?

You’ve had a few run-ins with other suppliers – do you think they envy your success?
Absolutely! We have completely disrupted their business and forced them to completely change the way they operate. You'll see these companies be forced to get out of profit mode and back into growth mode to keep up. I see it being diddled down to 3 or 4 of us in a few years, then down to 2.

At what point did Alex join you in the window cleaning field?
Probably (thinking) like 6 months in, on the weekends. I remember the first job site so vividly, he was absolutely hating it. 6/6 storms that hadn't been cleaned in 10 years. After that, probably 3 summer vacations in a row before he graduated high school.

What bugs you about Alex?
He’s cranky.

Who is the better window cleaner? You or Alex?

What’s your nickname in the office?
Not sure, I’m sure I have a few when I’m not around.

Where do you see “Window Cleaning Resource” in 10 years time?
Killing it! - Offering a wide variety of products and services to professional cleaners. We are currently in the States, the top destination for professional window cleaners, to learn, grow, and gain information on running a profitable business. I mean that’s what it’s all about, teaching these guys on the site how to make a very good living thorough professional window cleaning. I would like to expand that Internationally. Get even more eye balls on the site, more opinions, and tid-bits of information from window cleaners all across the world.

(Pictured: Chris solves the problem of how to tell his barber how he wants his haircut - he keeps a picture on his iphone!)
Where do you see window cleaning in 10 years time?
I imagine it will look pretty close to what it does now. Water-fed poles and pure water cleaning will be come even more popular than they are now. I hope we can get to the point here that cleaners think to pull the WFP off the truck before they do the ladder. Kind of a reversal of what’s happening now.

When did you decide to produce “ready made” postcards for window cleaners? Was there a call for them initially?
Well I was already producing them for years for my own WC biz, so I figured damn, - these things are good, why hide them away. So I unleashed them and all our internal forms. I'm hoping to release our operations manual and company handbook in March 2011.

What’s your next big purchase for WCR & All County window Cleaning?
Hahah I just last week got a new furnace and hot water heater for ACWC. WCR will definitely be a bigger warehouse. The one we have now is super convenient because it’s right next door but we need more space. More space for products, a larger retail store, a training area for both traditional and WFP cleaning and a real dedicated filming studio type area for the videos.
There are so many window cleaning type shows I want to do that we simply don’t have sufficient space for. We are on the hunt though, if anyone knows of any good buildings for sale in the north jersey area?

What is the most profitable work of All County Window Cleaning? Windows, gutters, pressure washing?
1. We make the most $ from residential window cleaning.
2. Pressure washing is our best add on.
3. And gutter protection installation is our highest margin transaction

On video “Window Cleaning Resource HQ” seems a fun place to work – is it more serious off camera?
We are deadly serious behind the scenes when it comes to managing "customer experience." That includes:
• How the phone call was handled and who spoke to them.
• Was the online check out smooth for them.
• Was everything easy for them to find in the store.
• How quick can we get this order shipped out the door.
• 4 Step process to ensure - they get exactly what they ordered very time.
• Was the order packed with extreme care to ensure safe delivery.
• Did they get the best price.
• Was the shipping price highly accurate to what USPS or Fedex charged.
• Quick invoicing, Did they get an confirmation right away.
• Did they get their tracking # right away.
All those little things that make for a great purchasing experience that we are very serious about. We are also trying to grow very quickly so it gets a little stressful. Everything else is kinda fun and easy going. We drink a lot of “redbull” and walk around barefoot. It is extremely causal through out the office. When a job applicant or sales person comes in they must think they've just entered some ones house.

What season do you sell more window cleaning tools? Why?
Mid spring, work is flowing in for most window cleaners and they have some cash to stock up for the year or the next couple of months.

Do you think your business model could be transferred to another field? Have you thought about it?
Well its no secret the business model is basically - open our doors to everyone & show them how we did it with our window cleaning business. Show them what’s possible, educate them, support them, help them and interact with them daily. Help them build great companies. Great companies consume more supplies and services. Add in the best prices, customer experience, and quick delivery.
Could we do it with another field? Probably not - I would like to think we are experts in the window cleaning business. I’m not an expert at anything else so I don’t think we could apply it to another field. But someone else certainly could.

Who came up with the idea for your new magazine?
I think it was a joint effort, between Alex, myself and Steph’ from our graphic design department.

Why did you leave the board of the IWCA?
Tough question;
1) The majority of the board of directors didn't like me. So it was kinda hard to want to participate in something where I didn't feel welcome. Don’t get me wrong they have some really smart, cool, successful business people on that board. I would have loved to stay, and learn from them.

2) I became a distraction to the board. They were constantly dealing with complaints from our competitors about things. Dealing with me was a burden for them.

3) There is a new association on the horizon that I’m going to be a part of. Ideas started bouncing around after I got on the board. I knew instantly I wanted to be a part of it, so I figured it would be best to bail early than to hang around a year then quit. This way they can at least fill my spot to the dude who came in 5th or whatever right away.

Who is your hero in the Window Cleaning world?
Oh, I don’t really have one. Don Chute maybe. That guy was so cool, if it wasn't for him WCR wouldn't be here today. He was the first one that allowed us to distribute his products, and he actually helped us hook up with some of our other manufacturers. Real genuine guy, loved him.

What’s next for WCR?
"Changing the industry through education"
I stole that from my friend Ron - this is his site: Pro Power Wash.
Make sure you check it out, but the slogan totally describes what I want WCR to be and do. WCR + a better community feel, better website, better store, more shows, more education, more learning opportunities - Just a better overall experience and product offering for the window cleaners that check in with us on a daily basis.

Pictured: WCR Board Meeting

Your down time consists of what?
Hanging with JR (my baby), snowboarding and reading.

Pizza or Bacon? Choose one!
Pizza - Minimum 10 slices a week.

In the hot seat - Alex Lambrinides;

Who came up with the name “Window Cleaning Resource?”
Chris came to me with the idea about a month before we launched the site with the idea. After going to a soon to be competitor's warehouse, Chris told me that we could do it better. I was sold right then.

Besides the Slayer, which is your next favorite squeegee?
I have always been a fan of the Unger Ergotec. I used the same Ergotec handle for about 6 years before I let someone else borrow it… I never got it back. Lost in a sharp I suppose.

You seem more hands on the tools than Chris – do you prefer it this way?
I do. I always liked getting my hands on new tools and equipment. Now I enjoy sharing all the new toys with window cleaners I talk to over the phone and on the forum. Chris is defiantly more techie then me. I really do enjoy being in the warehouse with the phone ringing like crazy.

How often do you go out & clean your own windows? 
When my girlfriend threatens to clean the windows herself.

How many people have you fired at All County Window Cleaning this year?
I only fire 5 to 8 people a year. Mostly people who show up late in the first week of work. Sounds cruel, but I simply don't care about people who have no respect for other peoples valuable time. I'm shocked that in todays economy, people with "easy" window cleaning jobs can't even show up on time.

Alex in Snuggy! (Chris sent this picture).
Who is the nice guy? You or Chris?
Ha! We take turns I think. Chris and I are both very passionate people with real emotions and neither of us hide them well. Chris can tell when I'm in a bad mood and visa versa.

What bugs you about Chris?
His stinky lunch. (Pictured: Chris's brocolli & chicken made to go meals). His only other meal is whisky & pizza.

Who is the better window cleaner? You or Chris?
I'm way better, Chris is a terrible window cleaner. He'll tell you himself.

What’s your nickname in the office?
Don't know. Don't know if I want to know.

Are you the only one in the building without an office? Why?
I have an office in ACWC but I share it with Kate and Stephanie who work at WCR. My real office is in the warehouse. It’s not pretty, but that’s how I like it. It’s kind of cold in the winter and kind of hot in the summer and I can spit on the floor. Just my speed!

Where do you see “All County Window Cleaning” in 10 years time?
I see ACWC being in a similar place to where it is now. We have kind of plateaued for the area we are in. I'm sure it will run a little more smooth though. There is always room for improvement.

What's with this dog picture that I keep seeing every now & then on the forum?
Bad ass dog - comes from page 84 of the "skymall" catalogue on airplanes.. He goes on vacation with us & road trips everywhere. Please note we have a laminated plastic version for vacation so he can come swimming with us. Oh, and he ruins nice pictures.

Where do you see window cleaning in 10 years time?
Not far off from where it is now. This is a slow industry to change. There is a whole new generation of cleaners just starting off now who have a lot of valuable time at their disposal. Lets see if they take advantage of it.

You seem to make all the product videos – did you jump in or were you pushed?
I always seemed to know more about the products right out of the box so I never minded doing them.

Just how many videos have been deleted?
Can't put a number on that. There have been quite a few of product video screw-ups, and the occasional last minute judgement call.

What is the best selling product in the WCR store?
Of the non-consumables, the Pulex Tubex detachable holster.

Scrim – are you a fan now?
I am, when I clean my windows at home, I use one scrim and I'm good.

Larry Llazko (well known forum member) – if he didn’t exist, would you have to invent him?
I don't think Larry could be invented. Love him or hate him, Larry’s a fixture of the forum and I wouldn't change a thing about him. He's the one who has always stuck up for us whenever Chris, WCR or I were being trashed.

What’s the best thing about WCR events?
Always a relaxed environment.

Who is your hero in the window cleaning world?
Don't really have one.

What’s next for WCR?
GROWTH. Expanding on the products we carry to win over a larger share of the market. (Pictured: Alex is constantly making new shelving to store the products).

Your down time consists of what?
Don't have to much of that these days, but I like to work out when I can and in the winter snowboarding takes up a lot of my time.

When’s the wedding? This year or next?
Ha! wait and see. If you got an invite would you show?

Pizza or Bacon? Choose one!
I have to say pizza.

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