Alan Karr

Intersting Life Experience - Gabriel Gutierrez Written by Michael Draper This issue we talked to Alan Karr from Canada. See how previous employment helped him launch his window cleaning business.

Getting involved in the Service Industry, happened by accident…. I was laid off from the Gaming Industry, due to the economic down-turn in 2007. I applied for a temporary telemarketing job at Weedman Lawncare. They needed a cold-caller to call local home-owners, and simply ask, “would you be interested in a quote, for Lawn Care?” It was a simple, mind-numbing job, that I later realized, would be one of the more important jobs at the company. The management told me that i would be laid-off in three months, however i managed to quickly, move up to phone sales, and from there, would wear a number of hats in the Sales Dept., and in the field.

After a few years at Weedman, the Lawn Care Industry as a whole, was changing. The Province of Ontario, decided to implement a pesticide ban, that would change how we did business. Weedman, and companies like Weedman, would have to embrace natural products, and try to convince the consumer, it was business as usual. It was a tough sell…. prompting the franchise owner to sell the franchise, which resulted in a mass lay-off.

Now what? Residential Squeegee Work

I was back where I started - trying to find meaningful employment in a shaky economy. Being at Weedman was an amazing experience. I had a front row seat, to everything that happened at the franchise. Before the lay-off, i was supervising door-knocking and telemarketing teams. The experience was priceless, and opened my eyes, to what was possible in the Service Industry. 

After the lay-off, I decided that I wanted to be an entrepreneur. My first thought was lawncare, but after watching the struggles at Weedman, i knew i would have some challenges. I kept getting SPAM email from a marketer, who was trying to sell his cd’s, on “How to become a Window Cleaner.” Becoming a window cleaner, was never on my radar…. To be honest, I had never seen a window cleaner in our area. After some research, I realized that you didn’t need much to get started, and i already knew how to, and was comfortable with, marketing to home-owners.

Step 1, was to design a cheesy logo, and make some cards, and begin the process of getting my first customers. I didn’t have much of a budget, but I managed to buy a brass squeegee, and a bucket and mop at the local janitorial store. Acquiring my first customers was easy… cleaning their windows was another story. It took me all day to clean my first home, but the feeling was simply AMAZING. Learning to use a squeegee is not as easy as everyone might think. Thankfully, I discovered all of the window cleaning videos on Youtube. There is a video for everything! Video has come a long way and has become the window cleaner’s greatest resource. 


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Residential Pole Window Cleaning Work

The first year or so, is always a struggle, but once you get your mind around the process, great things start to happen. Now I was ready to grow…. I decided to register with the DO NOT CALL REGISTRY, and telemarket to the masses. The campaigns I created, worked extremely well, but I was getting too much work and didn’t have any employees to help me. 

Hiring employees has always been a struggle for me - my weakness. I come from a military background, where a lot is demanded of you. Now it’s what can you do for the employee, that matters. It’s a work in progress….

After about year 3, I was able to purchase a used Pure Water Cleaning System. This allowed me as a solo operator, to work faster and safer.  

It has been 10 years since I began my journey. Since my humble beginnings, I now dabble in House Wash, and offer Screen Repair services. My heart is really with sales…. I have generated leads, through telemarketing for window cleaners and some National Lawncare companies in Canada and the U.S., as a side hustle.

What’s next?

I am getting a little older, and a little slower, but will always sling a squeegee at some level. My hope is to help a distributor or manufacturer with sales, or window cleaner development. Video has also been a passion of mine. Creating and editing video, allows me to make content that creates value for my customers and my peers.

You never know what lies around the corner. The possibilities are endless….

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Preparing to Sell your Business
You are, no doubt, a skilled professional window cleaner. But as a business owner, you have also invested a significant portion of your life building and maintaining the business…not just cleaning. Rightly so, you probably have an emotional attachment to it. So, to say goodbye in a sale it may feel like you are losing a member of the family and if those emotions are left unchecked, they can have a real dollar impact on the outcome of your business sale. As much as possible, you need to find ways to remain objective, making a good business decision.

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