— INTERVIEW BY KRIS COOK —
— Kris Cook: When did you start your company?
We started our window cleaning business in 1985.
— KC: What led you to start a window cleaning company?
I was working for a motorcycle newspaper in Long Beach, CA. After I got married in 1983, my wife, Cookie, encouraged me to start our own business. She had cleaned houses before, and, after seeing a window cleaner work at our newspaper office, my interest was at full peak. After being quickly trained by my close friend (a window cleaner) we started out on our own.
— KC: What other business/work experience did you have before window cleaning?
I have formerly cleaned carpets, worked for Cycle News, did volunteer work in Brooklyn, NY for eight years.
— KC: How do you combat the slow winter season?
Winters in Montana are cold and long. Some say Montana is “nine months of winter and three months of relatives…” but it is not quite that bad. I do some commercial work, but try not to do much ladder work.
We have another business. It is a carpet cleaning company. (Advanced Carpet Cleaning Systems) My wife is a decorative artist. (Tour de Faux) (TourdeFaux.com) I work with her more during the winter months. It is also nice to take some time off during the winter.
— KC: What kind of service truck(s) does your company use?
We use a half ton Chevy truck. Used to use two Toyota trucks, but had both (separate incidents) totaled within twenty-four hours while parked at our business office.
— KC: What is your favorite line of window cleaning supplies?
Wagtail squeegees. Favorite is an 8″. I know it’s small, but can do virtually anything with it. We have a picture using it on our front page. (HansonWindowCleaning.com) After Willie Erken saw the picture he inquired ‘Why such a small Wagtail?’. I really wanted to say “Because I couldn’t reach my little 6″… but refrained. With just a few more strokes, you can really do better work with a smaller squeegee, with much better control. When we train our workers, we start with a 6″ squeegee. Few ever want to use anything over 10”.
We also use a MagmaBullet™. It is a quantum physics device that we place in our water bucket to purify and restructure the water. It has changed our window cleaning business.
— KC: Do you use a water-fed-pole system? If so, how often?
We don’t do that much with the wfp here in Montana. When we worked in Orange County, CA, we used it extensively. Will probably be getting a mobile cart system this year, though. Getting tired of climbing over loose rocks and wood chips.
— KC: Are you married? What role does your spouse play in the company, if any?
Married in 1983. My wife, Cookie, worked full-time with our company for over twenty years, until she started her decorative arts business.
— KC: What is your favorite thing about the window cleaning industry? Least favorite?
Favorite: Love to clean windows, even after twenty-five years, but, really, it is the satisfaction of a happy customer. What can compare to that?
Least favorite: Dealing with difficult customers, and people that are late paying.
— KC: What kind of software do you use to keep track of your customers, if any?
Have used Camelot Software for about ten years. Does an excellent job at it. Run that on a PC, but do everything else on a Mac.
— KC: When your company was at its largest, how many employees did you have? How many right now?
We have had six. Now, usually one or two. Employees have been one of the toughest things for us to deal with over the years. Can’t seem to find many that will represent our business the way that we do. When our business grows, we sell off portions. Have sold two separate areas in the past two years.
— KC: Which market is your business focused on: residential, storefront or retail, low to mid-rise, or high-rise?
We have always seemed to gravitate toward residential. It is the most personally satisfying.
— KC: What is your favorite add-on service, such as pressure washing, gutter cleaning, screen repair, bird-proofing, etc…?
Our add on business has been carpet cleaning, since 2000.
— KG: Do you have a business mentor that you meet with regularly?
We do not. But now you have me thinking…
— KC: Favorite book to read? Any business books you would recommend for other window cleaners?
The Bible. Would recommend any book that inspires and motivates.
— KC: What do you enjoy doing in your spare time? What are your hobbies?
Reading, Golf, Cycling, Volunteer services in my local area.
— KC: What piece of advice would you like to give the window cleaning world?
It is all about the customer. Work to make people’s lives better. Serve the interests of other people. The principle applies: “Practice giving and people will give to you.”