One of the most difficult decisions an owner of a window cleaning firm must make is whether or not to take on a job. If you say yes to everything, you will eventually get into trouble. I know it’s tough to say no. A customer is trying to give you business, and your first instinct is to come across for them. But part of your job is to avoid being tangled up in projects that you can’t make money on or that are too dangerous. There are lots of reasons to turn down work. One occasion, the customer required more insurance than I was carrying. I did the math and wouldn’t have made a profit by the time I paid for the extra coverage. So I withdrew from the bidding process. Another time a huge headquarters was nearly complete and wanted their windows construction cleaned. I had a crew of eight, but it was so big it would have taken us 7 or 8 months, and I wouldn’t have been able to get to any of my other customers. I recommended a couple of the biggest companies in town with the manpower to handle it. The project manager seemed to appreciate my honesty.
The number one reason to turn down a job is geography. Don’t do a $30.00 job 50 miles away. Sometimes it is the windows themselves. If they are completely covered in lime deposits, don’t do it unless you restore windows as well as clean them. If a construction cleanup has tempered glass, don’t use razor blades on it, you will leave scratches. Use your judgement, it might be better to pass. Once there was an old home with storm windows falling apart, and the regular windows were painted shut. I knew I would damage something if I tried to force them open. Sometimes the job is too dangerous. I looked at a building that had a greenhouse at the edge of a roof 9 stories high, with no tie-backs anywhere. There was no way to do it. I think the architect’s wife must have run off with a window cleaner, and this was his revenge!
I was a dang good high-rise window cleaner. I did the most challenging jobs imaginable. But even I had my limits. I had to control my ego and desire to get the job done. Don’t try to do the impossible. As a business owner, your first job is to make a buck, not merely to get the glass cleaned. Sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.