Thursday, November 13, 2008

Ewe.. Snot!

Julie my wife has been ill, really ill. It started with a violent chesty chough then a headache caused by heavy congestion and then sneezing fits, aching limbs and a sore throat for good measure. Its all really rather nasty. The doctor said that she had a chest infection and then a virus on top, just for that little something extra. But the surprise was that Julie, who thinks that ‘time off’ is a place in china, somewhere between Hong Kong and Shanghai, actually had to take 4 days off in a row. Which is unheard of. She loves work and I think that she is addicted to it which is a shame because there are far more fun and exiting things to be addicted too.

But to tell you the truth, I don’t care about Julie for this week, and I have no sympathy whatsoever. None. This is simply because I sneezed, one of my eyes went watery and I also coughed. This means I have man-flue and that is far worse than anything Julie could ever have. Man-flue is by far the worst affliction in the known world and I for one have lost many a good friend to it. This means all my sympathy has to be saved for me and I have none to share.

Did I have time off work? No I didn’t, I like to think that I can work my way through anything. I thought this was a brave and selfless act and that as a boss my staff would look at me for an example to follow when they are struck down with the terrible illness that is man-flue.

Can’t imagine Spartacus staying in bed with the sniffles the day he fights the roman armies, or William Wallace on the battle fields of bannock burn with his box of Kleanex and a Lemsip can you? no good leadership wouldn’t allow it.

But that was wasted, they didn’t care either. That is until this morning when 2 of my managers came in with sore throats and sneezing…

Which I guess means they caught the deadly virus from me. Opps. This actually got me thinking as to why I turned up to work in the first place. Did I really need to be here? Am I so important that the business cannot survive without me for a couple of days?

My ego would automatically shout that if I was not at work the walls would fall down, there would be a fire and all my customers would leave me because I wasn’t there to help them. But in reality, I know I could have time off.

This brings me to the reason for this post. The difference between being self employed and a business owner.

Business ownership is different from being self employed. Self employment is just that. You still have a job to do (the ‘employment’ bit), but you decide what job you will do and how and when to do it (the ‘self’ bit) but self employment is dangerous. Its dangerous because it relies on you to generate income. If you don’t work, you don’t get paid.

A business owner is a person who has set a chain of events into motion that will eventually lead to a constant supply of money. If he is ill one day, his money will still come in. if he decides to go on holiday, his money still comes in. If he has an accident, his money still comes in. this is because he works on his business not in his business.

The good news for us is that window cleaning is such an easy business to develop from self employment style owner operated format to a business owner format, in other words, others go out and work your vehicles for you. That leaves you time to build your business. you become a business owner and not self employed.

If you’ve not got yourself into the window cleaning industry yet, what on earth are you waiting for? a written invitation from the queen? If you are fortunate enough to be a Concept 2O™ owner, congratulations, you can be a business owner, whenever you choose.

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd

Friday, September 19, 2008

Looks don’t matter…

Really? Who would you rather a date with; Angelina Jolie, or Jo Brand? Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure Jo brand is quite lovely, but I would still choose Angelina. It’s a shallow male thing.

That’s not all, looks go further than people. Remember a little while ago now that the fiat multipla won all sorts of awards across Europe, it had some serious innovation in internal design. Two bench seats that sat three, plenty of leg and headroom, a sizable boot and some pretty nifty foldable seats.

But what in the name of all that’s holy were the designers thinking. It looked like the love child of a dolphin and an elephant and I for one would rather arrive at my destination riding piggie-back on John Merrick than step out of it. And the truth is, I am not alone. Despite its good manners and supreme practicality, sales for fiat were disappointing low. It was meant for families, but no self respecting child would be seen getting out of it in front of the school gates. They would be beaten, tied to a tree and laughed at all day by passers by. So disappointing low were fiats sales, they decided to tone down the exterior design to just ugly instead of repulsively hideous. Thanks fiat.

Even if the product is good then, design still matters. But why? Well I have a theory about this. I personally think that good well thought design helps in two areas. It shows firstly that the company cares about the product. They have thought long and hard about how people will view it and they design it to look as pleasing as possible for them.

Secondly, good design delivers something that money almost cannot buy. Pride. Have you ever wondered why all Ferrari drivers have a smug grin? Surly they must know that everybody hates them? I have a friend that owns one and yes, he knows that people want to do him a serious injury, but he also knows that secretly, deep down inside we would love to drive round town in one too. He knows he is the ugly bloke with the super model girl friend.

In business, pride provides a little bit more. It provides motivation. If your proud of something your motivated to tell as many people about it as possible. Now I know that I have touched on this subject before but the power of motivation is astonishing.
A recent survey from America studied the results of ‘grades verse motivation’ to prospective employers. The results showed that as many as 90% of employers will take someone who is highly motivated over someone less motivated but with good grades.

The same is true when we own our own business. There is nothing we cannot learn, or accomplish, no problem we cannot overcome and no mountain we cannot climb if we are motivated enough.

There are some things in business we can save money on, there are some corners we can cut. But with your equipment always, always buy with your head AND your heart. You will never regret it.

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd

Monday, September 1, 2008

Oi, Weirdo!

Last week I went camping… yes I know that’s not the kind of thing you’ll find Sir Alan Sugar doing, or any self respecting business owner ‘truth-be-told’, but there is a real good story behind it. If you remember in my last blog posting (the power of support), I highlighted the fact that I visit Ikea quite often just to keep my dearly beloved, other -half happy. I feel it is my responsibility to keep a smile on her face in any way I can. Those of you that are married will know that this is the purpose of life.

Firstly, it is my duty to explain that my wife has an obsession, she loves cows. We have over 50 ornamental items in our kitchen, each depicting a cow of sorts. She would have a real one if our sofa was big enough.
Unfortunately for me, a little while ago, she was browsing through an Argos catalogue and saw a cow pattern tent…

She had to have the cow tent. No amount of pleading and begging on my part was going to stop it. You see, I would have liked to have been more supportive but guessed that if she bought the cow tent, then she would want to use the cow tent. And I guessed right. I knew it was coming, both the bank holiday and the question…

How about we go for a couple of nights in my new cow tent?... shame not to use it.

OK, so now you see I have a problem. I don’t like going away to begin with. I don’t like camping and I have issues with sleeping in a cow pattern tent on a camp site full of drunken welsh skinheads. They will tease me or laugh at me or even try to make man love with me as soon as our lights went out.

But how can you fight a bubbly blonde with blue, puppy-dog eyes and a smile more addictive than chocolate cake? So, on Saturday morning of the bank holiday weekend, I find myself packing the cow tent, my toothbrush, bug repellent and a suspiciously large camping knife for under my pillow.

I began thinking this could all go wrong when we arrived at the campsite. Strangely, some people take camping very seriously. There were tents that were as large as a small house, with fridges, cookers, and bathrooms. More than one had those solar powered garden lights that made up driveways. Size doesn’t matter my wife says but with camping it does, apparently.

Of course it got worse. We had enough time to find a quite corner, pitch the tent and sharpen my knife, when the heavens opened. It rained all day and all night and all the next day too. By the second morning even the hardcore campers had called it a day and were moving off. But not me. I had a point to prove. I was more man than them, even if my sexuality was in question because of my tent. But that was just at first.

It didn’t take a genius to work out that this is Britain, its always going to rain on a bank holiday so I expected rain. We sat outside wearing water proofed coats laughing and chuckling until we fell over. Then we started again. We persisted even when a bald man with a beard came and told us off for making too much noise. We carried on of course.

By the second day we almost had the field to ourselves and there was no letup to the merriment. It may have even changed my mind about camping.

It wasn’t until we returned home that I started thinking about the other occupants of the campsite. After the first day of rain there was an evacuation of almost everyone. And that reminded me a lot like the business world.

Isn’t it strange that people quit their jobs, a massively difficult step to make, then they start out on their own, which is also a time consuming and complex hurdle and then as soon as they hit the first major obstacle, they call it a day? Unfortunately, more start-up businesses do this than those that succeed.

Real entrepreneurs have a different attitude. Real entrepreneurs find the silver lining in any cloud and stick at it, making the very best of the situation. They view set backs and situations that are far from ideal as natural and they set about working out creative solutions. The more you look for examples like this among the more successful entrepreneurs, the more you will find this to be case.

Can you imagine how James Dyson felt when after 4000 prototypes; Hoover laughed him out of their offices? Or how Richard Branson felt when the bank called in his 300 million pound overdraft? These people fought the odds and won because of their irrepressible positive-attitudes.

No doubt, as business owners you too have had experience in overcoming adversity just because of your positive attitudes. For those of you that have read the ‘pure inspiration’ newsletter article on John and Jane Carty, you will know what I mean. If you missed it, you can subscribe to our newsletter by sending an E-mail with 'Newsletter' in the title to -

For this post however, I have a question for you. How far do you think that a positive attitude will take you? Is it all you need? Post your answers below.

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Its all about the money!

Credit crunch. Everyday for the last three weeks to date, there has been something on the news about how the countries population is snowed under with debt and struggling to repay things as important as mortgages, car repayments and even food. Worse still, the banks are not loaning as they used to, mortgage lenders have withdrawn the 100% mortgages and energy and fuel suppliers are increasing their prices far faster than the rate of ‘usual’ inflation.

So what about our businesses? Is this the time invest and grow? Or should we all be consolidating our income and waiting it out? Is this the time to spend thousands of pounds on equipment? Or should we all be looking for the cheapest equipment? Is it really all about the money?

At first glance the current situation in the UK looks Bleak, bleak enough to turn the average home owner into a swivel eyed lunatic waiting for the impending recession to hit, but lets take a closer look at what this means for the self employed business man.

Without delving deeply into the endlessly fascinating subject of economics, we can safely assume that the problem is people in general are spending dangerously to close to maximum amount of money they earn. Which is bad. However, there is some good news for the window cleaning business owners.

Window cleaning works well as relatively small amounts of cash are taken from a large number of people. Even though window cleaning is not a typically essential bill, it is usually very small, usually £2 or so pounds per week. Most people loose more than that down the sides of their sofas. So things have to get really tight before the average home owner will cancel the service. This does happen of course, but when it does, the window cleaner looses a very small percentage of the income that can be replaced relatively quickly.

Look even closer and it gets even better for the window cleaner. Most of the cliental that make up a window cleaners round will inevitably be of the cash rich time poor sector of the general public. This sector is made up of professional working couples or singles that work full time and choose to relax on the weekends rather than carry out the household chores. According to HSBC in a recent survey, that market is worth some 6 billion pounds annually to the UK economy. It makes sense then that these individuals are not usually the first to be hit in any downturn of the market.

Think about this for a minute. As stated by a well respected economist, recession could be defined as more companies shrinking or down sizing than are growing. Its easy then, for people to panic when large companies put hundreds of people out of work at a time. The good news is referring back to the same HSBC survey 80 percent of the income from businesses is due to SME’s (small to medium enterprise) the days of giant British companies has gone and now the smaller more adaptable businesses are here. This in turn has given rise to the same cash rich time poor sector where the window cleaner spends most of his/her time.

The result of all this is simple, businesses still grow, employ staff, and reach record levels of growth in a down market the same as in an up market. For every negative, there is a positive. Take the fuel prices for example. Many businesses have suffered as a result of high fuel bills, cutting staff and some have gone under. The result for LPG conversion business and all the associated businesses of that industry tell a different tale. They have seen previously unimagined growth, with one firm experiencing a 1000% growth in one year! That’s not a printing error or typo, one thousand percent growth!

The truth of the matter is that with such a varied economy and such a massive amount of capital income coming directly from the smaller more adaptable business, the chance of a devastating recession is very, very small indeed.

This is a time for happy expansion for a window cleaning business. people will get laid off, find new jobs with thriving companies and the circle will continue as normal. Growing your business in a down market is such good business sense. The silver lining for us? -while your competition is shaking in the shadows believing the worst, you can be expanding with little or no competition.

Go for it!

Best Regards

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd

Thursday, August 7, 2008

the power of support

I hate Ikea. No really I hate it with such intensity, I cannot explain. Don’t get me wrong, I actually like the store, the cafĂ© is cheap with some different but not unusual food, the products are mostly cheaply made but don’t cost the earth, and I kind of like the European style layout.

My wife however is the polar opposite. If she could move into the Ikea store she would. She loves it to death. Whatever mood she is in, if I suggest an Ikea trip, she is instantly transformed into a puppy, bouncing around outside the car door waiting for me to unlock it, and set off. I’m not complaining of course, some wives are far harder to please and a lot more expensive too.

So at this point, you would think that I have the most blissful happily married life. After all I know the magic ‘happy key’ of my wife. But no. life is never that simple.

If you could just pick up that new funky-looking cabinet from off the shelf, man- handle it to the checkout ,squeeze it into the car and then into the house, fine. But no. everything comes in flat-pack.

You could not think of a word that instils so much fear into me than ‘flat pack’ for two reasons. One I have to put them together and two the instructions always lie. You would think that because of my wife’s obsession with Ikea that I would have plenty of practice, but as each one is different, and I have a memory like a goldfish, I have no clue.

I approach a flat pack box as though it was a dangerous snake, or a large dog with big teeth. I know quite well what pain awaits. Each time I bring one back I decide that this time, I will follow the instructions. I will work them out. But each time the same thing happens. I lay out all the bits, then carefully unwrap the instruction list. Whereupon I am presented with something that resembles a very large fold up origami map. There are diagrams but some are upside down some are the right way up, some instructions are in Dutch, German, French, Italian and other exotic languages that I don’t understand.
After some flipping and turning, I find the English instructions but they still don’t make sense. Insert 2:1.3 into side B, slot C, flip over and repeat…. some very sadistic people live in Holland.
So I do what I imagine every other male in the country does, carry on without them. I look at the picture on the box and try to make all those bits into the closest resemblance possible. The worst part is my wife repeatedly asking if its done yet, then finally loosing her patience and trying to help, spoiling my chi in the process. We argue and end up with some very unstable furniture.

Business is a lot like Ikea. We choose what we want to do, spend money on it and are then left to work out the pieces to get the desired result. Is it any wonder then that sometimes business can be frustrating.

Certainly, we all know support helps, the word is used quite a lot. But the power of support cannot be underestimated. Just like having a flat pack genius helping you to put your furniture together, a helpful supportive company pointing you in the right direction can have a dramatic effect on the outcome of your business.

As usual post a comment if you wish

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd

Friday, July 11, 2008

Networking sucks...

mmm… summer hay? Not such a good summer so far unfortunately, not that I think most of us window cleaners believe in summer anymore! But never the less, as part of our ongoing Business Development and Awareness Program (BDAP) Clear View Plus Ltd had its first s’ summer BBQ last Friday. Before I tell you more of what went on, I would like to share with you some more information on why we have a BDAP in the first place.

Early on in the life of our company, we understood the need of a reliable, solid foundation for a window cleaning business, that’s why we spent so much time, effort and money on the development of the Concept 2O™ system. Fail to get your foundation right and anything else you do will be seriously compromised. But please don’t ever be fooled into thinking that all that is required is the best equipment, business is far more complex than that!

Once you have the best equipment for your business, you can then concentrate your efforts on the growth of your company. The single most common and indeed fatal mistake business owners make is not understanding the dynamic nature of business itself. What that means is basically a failure to appreciate that business is a learning process that changes frequently and that is affected by many different and varied things.

Running a successful business is all about your ability to learn and then applying this knowledge. There is not a single person alive or who has ever lived that can do this by themselves. Entrepreneurship is learned, in the same way you learned to talk, walk, read and write when you were young, successful business people are avid learners.

Take as an example, Richard Branson. Do you think he was born with the knowledge of how to run a record shop? Or an airline? Or a finance company, a train service, or any of his numerous businesses? Of course not, he learned the required process along the way. Taking advice, learning about the nuances, shifts and trends in each individual industry and then he applied the information to his company.

The next obvious question is who taught him? Well in my own personal studies I have found that you can learn an amount of information from your competitors just by observing them do what they do. The key here is not to copy them, but to offer more. But there is only so far that will take you. To really get the fire started under your business, you have to get insider knowledge of a business the same or as similar as can be to yours. It’s the only real way to understand what is required, the problems you will face and the formulas to working out associated issues. The business world has its own term for this- Networking.

Most people think of networking as a group of people who get together so they can sell their product or service to each other. When I say ‘most people’ I mean myself included. All the networking meetings that I have been associated with have meant just that. A neat way for people to sell to other businesses. That’s why they suck. Who wants to be sold something that they didn’t really want in the first place and when they do want a product or service like the ability to research a number of different options first?

Which brings me neatly back to the BDAP. I wanted the business development program to be totally different. To me, the perfect network would consist of an eclectic group of people all sharing the same goal in the same industry. Imagine how cool it would be to have a group of people with the experience of a national company. Can you imagine just how much valuable information could be openly shared and called upon whenever it was required?

The BDAP provides just that. A varied group of Concept 2O™ owners, all with the goal of making the best of their businesses. What makes the network strong is the fact that all these people have different ways of improving their businesses over time and openly share their findings with others. In return they benefit from receiving information on problems they face. The fact that all these people are from different areas of the country provides answers to even specific area problems. Can you think of a more effective way to supercharge your business?

Last Friday was the inauguration event for the BDAP. It was an informal event cunningly disguised as a BBQ. Concept 2O™ operators from all over the country arrived mid afternoon many travelling for 5 hours or more and staying overnight.
What made the event remarkable was the mix of entrepreneurs that participated. There were operators with multi-vehicle operations, veteran window cleaners, new start business opportunities, operators that were brand new to pure water window cleaning and operators with years of experience.
Below are comments from some attendees-

‘Thank you so much for such a wonderful day, it was excellent talking with the other operators. I had such a good time and learned a lot from the experience. It was great to have the additional support from everyone.’

-Ian Gray
Ian Grey window cleaning

Thoughly enjoyable experience, its not what you’d usually get in this industry, it fabulous to be part of something like this. The ideas were flowing freely, everyone was so friendly and it was great helping each other. It was great to interact with people who use the same system as me. The only negative was that there was not enough alcohol!’

-Andy marling
Lynx window cleaning

We had a great time on Friday at the bbq. Thanks for arranging it. It was such a good idea and so well organised. Thank you!!

Lynda egiz
Crystal Vision

I wasn’t sure what to expect from a company BBQ its not the usually done thing. I was surprised how much I enjoyed it. I was able to share some things with other operators and I learned how to do things better and more efficiently. I think it’s a very good idea and will be a regular at these events from now on.

-Wayne mills
TEC cleaning services.

As for us, it was so good to see so many operators again, although many have become friends since their purchase, catching up with those further away was great. Finding out how well their businesses were doing was awesome, and I think I personally enjoyed the experience more than anyone. (Sorry about the karaoke thing by the way!)

Every year, the BDAP will consist of an informal summer BBQ (with the lure of free alcohol for the non drivers!) and a more formal winter seminar program. The seminar will be held at a hotel and the program will feature deliveries from business professionals, owner operators and us. The topics will cover marketing, finance and bookkeeping, employing staff and further business related titles. More information on this event will be posted closer to the date.
If your not yet a Concept 2O™ owner, contact us for further information on our new business packages and how we can help you reach your business goals.
Best Regards,
Carl Phillips.
Clear View Plus Ltd

Friday, April 11, 2008

Trade shows, the hidden power!

Everyone knows the obvious benefits of trade shows but what visitors to the show don’t often think about is what it is like to exhibit at a trade show. So in this blog id like to give you an insiders view of how a show is organized, the benefits to your business, the drawbacks and then the real power of a trade show.

Lets start by defining a trade show and the benefits for show visitors. A trade show by definition is a gathering of manufacturers and distributors of products usually intended for a specific market. A trade show is open to all trades persons in that market or industry.

Visiting a show holds some very specific advantages for these businesses. As well as the obvious benefits such as being able to see and feel respective products from different manufacturers, and the networking with other ‘movers and shakers’ within the industry, you can get a feel for the directions an industry is taking.

This last point is the one true advantage of visiting trade shows and it is as important for the manufacturers as it is for visitors. Being able to assess what the market is doing at present and the way it is heading is the true power of a trade show.

Doing it right
For an exhibitor, preparation for a show starts many months in advance. There is a serious amount of organizing to be done if a manufacturer wants to get the best from the show and if even small things are missed, they can have a devastating impact on the results of the show.

Firstly, shows are expensive, very expensive so the first question for a manufacturer is whether it is the right time to show at all. Before a decision is made a manufacturer has to be absolutely confident that his/her products have a ‘niche’, a specific benefit or advantage that they can do, or that their product has that other competitors don’t have or don’t do well.
Usually, this is split into three distinct categories.


All competitors in all industries will compete to a greater or lesser degree with these three tools. As a customer, you want all three, but unfortunately the three never go hand in hand.
One manufacturer of a product will offer high service levels along with a quality product, but then price will suffer.
Another manufacturer will offer the lowest price, but then quality and service will suffer.
In reality, all manufacturers will offer a fine mix of all three to the best of their ability. That is why trade shows are beneficial for visitors. A visitor to a show can clearly observe in most cases where the manufacturer is aiming in the market place and make their choice from there.

Once a manufacturer is happy that they can compete on some level, the rest of the time before the show is spent organizing marketing literature, informing potential clients of the show details, designing stand structures, and the small but vital issues such as hotel accommodation, transport and logistical issues.

On the days of the show, the manufactures sales team will do their very best to highlight the advantages of their product based on the manufactures mix of quality, service or price.

Choosing equipment for your business is a matter of deciding what mix of the ‘three’ you feel is the best for you based on the quality, service or price rule.
A good manufacturers job on show day is help make that decision easy for you to see.

A word of warning here though. If a manufacturer cannot compete fairly on the three rule basis, they will all too often try other tactics. The most common of these is to attack the credibility of other manufacturers. A quality manufacturer will never have to resort to this kind of aggressive marketing; it is a sign of a weak company, stay well clear.

The hidden power
As mentioned earlier, the hidden power of a trade show is the opportunity to observe the direction of an industry. Observing trends in an industry will help prepare your business to adapt to change and it is this ability to be flexible that will quite often be critical in your business surviving or becoming extinct.

In the window cleaning industry, we have seen comparatively small change when compared to technology based industry but the changes we have seen over the last ten years have been significant and will have far reaching effects.

Summing up
Trade shows are an excellent way of assessing the industry you are part of. They provide not only valuable information on the products of individual manufacturers and the manufacturers themselves, but also networking opportunities and the business trends that will to varying degrees affect your future business.

Windex 2008 turned out to be a remarkable show for us a company, all the effort, time and money spent was worth the ability to talk to like minded individuals. For this show we had no sales team, instead all the people that staffed our stand were concept2o owner operators. This provided them with an opportunity to discuss both equipment choice and network with others sharing tips and advice with other window cleaners.

If you missed the windex 2008 I hope to see you at the cleaning show next year.

Best Regards

Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Growing your business - Part 6

Part 6

Referring briefly back to part 4, we learned the components that made up a window cleaning business and in part 5 we discussed some ideas for gaining the type of quality client that makes running a window cleaning business easy. In this section, I want to focus on the operations side of the business. to be absolutely clear of what we are discussing, operations in this context refers to the actual window cleaning itself and the structure behind it.

The subject of window cleaning operations is truly massive, covering sub headings such as equipment choice, time scheduling, employing staff and employment law, client database organization, customer service, complaints and how to deal with them, staff training and recruitment, advanced cleaning techniques, problem solving, marketing and brand advertising and the list could go on. It is difficult to determine which subjects to cover here because they are all important and all play vital roles at various degrees at various times in your business growth so I am going to deal with the two of the most essential for your business; equipment and customer service, they are both interrelated and are very, very, important.

Before I go on though, id just like to warn you that what follows is not going to be popular among many in the window cleaning industry and I must admit it is a little strong, but nothing irritates and upsets me more than the way window cleaning is viewed among the general public. A little while ago now I was sent an e-mail from an old school friend inviting me to join friends reunited. During the login process, I had to fill out my job title, what I did for a living. At this point I hesitated. Was it because I hated window cleaning? Defiantly not I love the job and 16 years in I still enjoy it. The truth of the matter is, as soon as window cleaners are mentioned, certain stereotypes will be applied. We have George Formby’s banjo solo with a voice like a high pitched kazoo, or there is the porn film, which I haven’t seen yet, which follows the adventures of a window cleaner. or the dole bum who lives a few streets over who cleans windows for beer money and to buy his 19 kids shoes. And that’s why I hesitated, did I really want to open myself to this kind of abuse.
I must add here that its not me being paranoid either. I once went to the bank for a small bank loan to invest in couple of sets of ladders and an abseil training course. I had a well written business plan and some financials to show how I would pay the monies back. He nodded all the way through my presentation, smiled broadly at the end and gave me the ‘we’ll call you’ speech as he walked me out of his office. Nice. I got the distinct impression that he would rather invest the money in Ronnie and Reggie Cray’s collection business than to a window cleaner.
To be honest here, this is what the Concept 2O™ machine and the corporate vehicle branding was all about, to try to change peoples view on the window cleaning industry. to finally shake off the stereotypes and allow people to see just what a fabulous little business window cleaning really can be. So please excuse me if I get a little passionate about this subject. Read on at your peril!

Ok, so I don’t know at what stage your business is at currently, you could be quite established just looking to polish some rough edges or brand new to window cleaning but whatever your situation, the following will apply to you.

Customer service
This may seem obvious to most but to emphasize the point, a business without customer service will not grow and will be lucky to survive at all. Common sense really, but have you ever wondered why so very many companies get it wrong?
All of us at some point have been dissatisfied with the customer service we have received, but the important question to ask is how did that make you feel about that company afterwards? Would you use them again? What if they treated everyone that way?

Unfortunately, you may have had your issues with a large business or company so the next question that we need to ask is if the ‘big boys’ get customer service wrong, what chance do we have?
Well customer service is called customer service because its just that; serving your customers. So what we need to do is radically change our thinking when we view our business. instead of thinking what we think is good, acceptable or the norm, we have to ask how will my customers view this?

To do this effectively, we need to put ourselves in the position of our present or would be clients. I want you to imagine if you will, what your perfect window cleaner would look like. Would he wear a uniform? Would he have a security pass? Would he be polite, courteous and well mannered? What vehicle would he drive?, would he have the correct equipment? What would his literature look like? If we are imagining the perfect window cleaner he would probably have all those things.

The point missed by many window cleaners is that just because many people accept the way the status quo as it is, doesn’t mean to say that they are happy

Just to give this story a little balance, I want to tell you about our local window cleaner. He drives a very old van, it has rust on it and has not been cleaned well… forever I think. He wears jeans to work and they have tears in them, not designer tears either, just threadbare knees and a Manchester united fleece. He has an eyebrow ring and both his ears are pierced. He has a home made pure water system that uses the same rain collection butts that I have in my garden and a plastic B&Q hose cart, the same as my neighbours. He fills a little yellow trolley from his water butts and pushes it up and down the street refilling his trolley every 1-2 houses. Now before I get a brick through my window I want to add that he is one of the nicest guys, very friendly and surprising approachable, but would I think of him as a successes business owner? Not really, but would you?

The purpose of this story is not meant to be unkind to people who make an effort to earn a living rather than steal everything that isn’t bolted down, but it is meant to show to you how dangerous it is to only think of what you think is acceptable and not take into account what your clients think is acceptable.

Our local window cleaner doesn’t see anything wrong with the way he looks or the equipment he uses. He doesn’t feel it is necessary to clean and maintain his vehicle, he doesn’t think that his jeans having holes in them makes any difference to the service he provides. But in business, he doesn’t count, his client’s do.

Which window cleaner would you have if both called and offered their services to you? Once you appreciate that our clients and potential clients view of us is vital, you will begin to understand one of the essential keys to business growth. After all if we don’t want to spend money on our own business how can we expect others to?

Unfortunately, I have heard it said many times that image doesn’t matter, it’s the service you provide that counts. Every person who has told me that has been a single owner operated business similar to our local window cleaner. Meanwhile every person who has told me that image is vital, has been a millionaire business man or women.

I did say that this was going to be a strong one and im sorry if I have given offence to anyone, but the whole point is this… lets stop thinking about what we think is right and start worrying about what our clients view of our business is. If we have plenty of happy clients, the rest kind of follows naturally.

Seasons greetings to all and all the best in the new year!

As always, if you feel like you would like to comment, post below!


Carl Phillips
Clear View Plus Ltd