Tip #1
Determine How Much Quoting Really Costs You

This is the first of our top tips on making the most of your window cleaning quotes. We'll start with a look at the true cost of offering free quotes. We will show you how to calculate the time and money you currently spend on quotes (which is likely to surprise you!) and give you ideas to help significantly reduce these numbers.

How much TIME do you spend on quotes?

There are a number of factors that affect the time spent quoting. Consider the following:
  • Number of quotes - On average, how many quotes do you complete each week?
  • Distance - On average, how many miles do you drive to complete each quote?
  • Speed - On average, at what speed are you traveling (mph)? Is it mostly highway or through neighborhoods? How much traffic do you typically encounter slowing you down?
  • Time - How long do you spend at a property (walking around, making notes, counting windows, speaking with the owner)?

Now tally up the time spent driving (miles divided by mph for an average quote – be sure to include both to and from the client's property) and add to this to the time spent on site. Next, multiply this number by the average number of quotes per week and you'll get a good idea of time spent.

avg hours on quotes = ((miles/mph)+time at property) x number of quotes

We estimate that the average window cleaner spends about 5 hours per week, which translates to 22 hours per month on quotes.

Use our convenient calculator to discover how much time YOU spend on quotes.

How much MONEY do you spend on quotes?

The cost associated with quoting can be broken down into several components (hint: it's more than just gas money!).

1. Fuel

Gas/diesel is the obvious expense most people take into account. Check AAA's gas price pages: they show a nationwide average and a list broken down by state. Keep in mind, fuel prices go up during the summer, which unfortunately coincides with the high season for window cleaning. Also check out Gas Buddy's fuel forecast for an analysis of what to expect in the future.

To make matters worse, professional window cleaners typically drive large pickup trucks or vans and may also be pulling trailers in order to carry all their equipment. So, unless you have another vehicle dedicated to quotes, your gas mileage won't be great (around 20 mpg for a 1/2-ton truck according to AAA).

This means fuel will cost you around 15 cents per mile on average.

Unfortunately, fuel is not the only expense incurred while driving. AAA has conducted an interesting study that estimates the cost per mile of various aspects (such as maintenance, repair, depreciation, etc). We discuss those below (click here to see the full AAA report).

2. Maintenance, repairs and tires

Few people think to include maintenance items and repairs in the cost of using a vehicle. But they do add up the more miles you drive.

AAA's study examined those costs, which include retail parts and labor for routine maintenance specified by the vehicle manufacturer, a comprehensive warranty, repairs to wear-and-tear items that require service during five years of operation and one set of replacement tires of the same quality, size and rating as those that came with the vehicle. Sales tax is included on a national average basis.

The average for a pick-up truck comes to about 8.13 cents / mile.

3. Depreciation

Depreciation is another factor that is often overlooked when determining the cost of operating a vehicle. It's defined as "a reduction in the value of an asset with the passage of time, due in particular to wear and tear."

The AAA study looked at depreciation based on the difference between the new-vehicle purchase price and the estimated trade-in value at the end of five years and 75,000 miles.

For pick-up trucks this is about 23 cents / mile.

4. Potential lost business

Successful window cleaning businesses often struggle balancing free quotes and paying jobs, especially during super busy times. Since in-person quotes need to be completed before dark, they eat into actual window cleaning time.

As a result, you may need to delay jobs in order to get quotes done, or even turn down new business because you are overwhelmed. Alternatively, you may promise to quote for a job and yet not have time, which damages your reputation and ultimately results in the business going to another company. Or you try to do it all, which could impact the quality of your work, increase your stress levels and eventually lead to burnout. So, what's the solution?

Earlier, we discussed (and you calculated) the time spent on quotes (with no guarantee they will lead to a job). This is time that could better be spent on paid work which would increase your income. Alternatively, this extra time could be spent with friends & family or on sports or other activities and interests. The choice is yours, we'll discuss how below.

Overall, we conservatively estimate the cost of doing quotes for the average window cleaner to be around $500 a month. Yes, it really does add up to that much!

Again, feel free to use our calculator to estimate what all this represents for you.

Our Suggestions

All the above points lead to a clear conclusion: there is a high cost to traveling to the customer to do quotes, both in terms of time and money (not to mention your sanity and health).

But what if you could do those quotes remotely? There are several ways to do this: using square footage, quoting over the phone or even using a self-quoting tool. But, if you've previously used any of these methods, you already know that each has its flaws (more on that in this post).

Here's an idea: Ask your customers to take photos with their phones of each side of their house and send these pictures to you. You can then look at the pictures, count windows and send a quote back. The advantage of this method is that you can put together a quote from wherever you are, whenever is convenient (between jobs, during your lunch break or in the evening while putting your feet up at home).

You can certainly do these manually or you can automate the process with a professional tool such a Snappy Bids.

Well, that's it for this post. Try the photo method next time you get a call for a quote and see how it works out. In our next post, we'll be delving into the importance of giving accurate quotes.