Not long ago, I was a salesman for one of the franchises of the largest window cleaning entity in the world.  You know who it is. They were overwhelmingly a route firm.  Occasionally they did buildings and large projects, but they didn’t like them.  In their mind, that type of work distracted them from the  huge route they had to do, which was the core of their business.  Nothing wrong with that. It works for them.  It is easy and provides a steady income year-round.  They used the window counting method.  It lent itself to bidding on storefronts and houses. 

I have owned a high-rise firm for 24 years.  I have been in the window cleaning business for four decades, all my adult life.  I never had any other job besides bus boy and gas station attendant in my teen years.  We did mostly buildings.  So when I started my new sales position, I went thru my extensive list of Property Managers.  They all wanted bids since they still needed the service.  So when I went out to look at their property to formulate a proposal, the Operations Manager went with me to ensure I knew what I was doing.  Who wants to be saddled with a lot of underbid work they cannot make money on?  He used the count method and had a price per window for 3rd story, 2nd story, and ground floor/inside windows.  I asked him how much he expected to make per man-hour and estimated how long the work would take.  An incredible thing happened.  Our figures were almost identical, with about a 1% difference.  On every building, we bid on.  The only difference was the time it took to formulate a price.  He had to count all of those windows, hundreds of them.  When I ran my business, I was always in a hurry.  I’m not counting all of those windows!

Bottom line, both methods work.  I used the count method for storefronts and houses and the man-hour method for buildings and high rises.  The count method was ineffective when bidding on a wide variety of structures.  Sometimes there were huge walls of windows with cross members.  Sometimes buildings had overhangs.  Sometimes they needed to be staged.  Sometimes you had to use boom lifts.  

It is best to be skilled in both methods.  You never know what you run up against. 

By: Matt Johnson