While many of the window cleaners in the country are closing shop and hunkering down for the Winter, the squeegee slingers in the Southern half of the US are smack in the middle of their busy season. Regardless of when you find yourself running on all cylinders in the year, there will inevitably be the age-old temptation of taking on too much work.  

Logically, you know you shouldn’t do it. You lie to yourself, “This year, I’m not going to kill myself by working too hard.” And then, every year, you’re racing to get the last few windows done before sunset on a Sunday.


Why are you in this spot yet again? Probably for several reasons 


 1. Loss Aversion


Psychologists say that the fear of losing something is twice as strong as the pleasure of gaining. Even though your business may be established and profitable, you remember the days when you weren’t so sure that you would have enough work to pay the bills. Saying “no” to work that is right in front of you feels wasteful and a decision you might come to regret if business slows down in a few months. 


 2. You Want to Help


There is a reason that your loyal customers call you year after year to clean their windows: They know you care. You have come through for them so often that they know they can count on you to help them out every year. The thought of letting these cherished clients down before their special event kills you. 


 3. It’s What You Know

Credit: Peter Cruz


To have a successful business cleaning windows, you must have passion about the work. This is especially true when you are a one-person business. I can remember working a week of 12-hour days and not thinking anything of it. Therefore, transitioning to working 4 ten-hour days just doesn’t feel right. You know what you are capable of, and it just seems wasteful to work less when the phone is still ringing off the hook. 


Other things may make it hard for you to say “no” to more work. However, let’s get real and figure out the real cost of not saying “no” 


 1. The Actual Cost of Loss Aversion


When you take every job that comes your way, you may be taking away opportunities to be more efficient and raise your profitability. This is especially true when you have a one-person company. For instance, say you have a chain of stores that want you to clean for them weekly. You are so excited at the opportunity to have a steady income. However, think about what you might be giving up? The time needed to complete this new obligation may mean that you are committing a large chunk of your available schedule to a job that is most likely not making the dollar per hour rate that a residential job may give you. You just put a ceiling on your earning power. Anytime you say “yes” to a job, it should help the profit margin grow, not limit it. So, remember before you say “yes” to the job, make sure you aren’t saying “no” to higher profits. 


 2. Are You Really Helping?


If you have a small and manageable client base, taking on extra work here or threre is probably fine. However, if your goal is growth, the easiest way to stifle that is to work yourself so hard that you will not have the energy or stamina to keep up the quality of your work. Burnout is real. Your body has a stress level limit that will shut down without question if you push it too hard. But don’t worry. With a little organization and forethought, you can plan and make sure all those important customers get on the schedule ahead of time. Then you can still save the day without overworking yourself. 


 3. You Know a Lot More Now


With experience should come wisdom. You have to recognize that you are human, and you will not keep up with this pace indefinitely. Modesty is not a weakness. Rather, it is a tool to help you to stay healthy and enjoy the work of running a business for a long time. Allowing your body to have adequate rest is an investment in your company’s future, and it’s one that you should not be afraid to make. 

I know it’s counter-intuitive, but there are times when it is in the best interest of your company NOT to take those extra jobs. Whether you are packing up your squeegee for the Winter or are like me and are crazy busy, being smart and counting the cost is what will help you to make the best decision for your company.


From one longtime squeegee slinger to another, sometimes less is more.


-By Gabriel Gutierrez