What to Look for When Hiring a Window Cleaner

Are you in the process of looking for a window cleaner but you don’t know the right one to choose? 

Are you wondering how window cleaners estimate the cost of cleaning your windows? Why do some companies charge hourly and some others charge per pane? How do you know you aren’t getting ripped off? 

What if you only want some of your windows cleaned or just your outside windows?

These are probably just a few of your concerns.

Are you nervous about inviting strangers into your home? How do you know the people coming into your home are trustworthy, vetted technicians? 

Choosing a window cleaner is overwhelming and there are many components to consider.

With so many window cleaning horror stories and negative experiences, I want to help guide you towards a positive window cleaning experience!

I’ve been a window cleaner since 1992 in Northern California and know exactly what to look for in a good window cleaning company and the red flags to avoid. With over 30 years’ experience and the added distinction of founding Streakless,INC 12 years ago, I’d like to be your window cleaning ambassador!

I want you to have the information and confidence to know you are choosing the right window cleaning company at the right price.

Here are the top 5 things to consider when hiring a window cleaner:

1. Do they have Worker’s Compensation Insurance?

This is a great first step because it’s easy to verify and gives you a lot of important information about how they do business.

To find out if they have Worker’s Compensation Insurance click this link- https://www.caworkcompcoverage.com/Search

As a homeowner, you might be financially targeted if a worker is injured on your premises and their employer does not have Worker’s Compensation Insurance.

It surprises me how many companies misrepresent their Worker’s Compensation status. Sometimes they outright lie and other times they have Worker’s Compensation on a small fraction of their workforce.

A big fear for employers is that a worker will file a fraudulent claim which ends up forcing their company out of business because the only carrier that will cover window cleaners in CA (State Fund) drops their coverage and they are no longer able to operate legally.

I understand this fear but it does not outweigh the benefit of workers being cared for when they get injured on the job. I value paying my technicians a liveable wage which is not a small amount in Northern CA. Even at a high-end pay rate for cleaning windows, a physical injury that keeps my techs from working would be financially disastrous without the safety net of Worker’s Compensation Insurance.

I choose to believe most people have good intentions and fraudulent Worker’s Compensation claims or workers suing homeowners is a rare occurrence. If you are concerned about protecting yourself I’d recommend reaching out to your homeowners’ insurance broker or a local employment lawyer. I’d be interested to hear what you find out on this subject!

Below are the results I got from the Google Machine-

‘California law requires that employers, including those in the construction industry, carry workers’ compensation insurance, even if they have only one employee. The insurance exists for employees who get hurt or sick because of work. Workers’ compensation insurance provides basic benefits, including medical care, temporary disability benefits, permanent disability benefits, supplemental job displacement benefits and a return-to-work supplement, and death benefits.’ ~ Department of Consumer Affairs

‘As a homeowner, you have certain legal responsibilities over the safety of the people you welcome onto your property. This responsibility – known as premises liability – extends to workers such as landscapers, babysitters, contractors, repairmen and housekeepers.

While you may assume that a professional such as a construction worker has his or her own insurance and an injury on the job won’t be your responsibility, this is unfortunately not always the case. In many scenarios, a worker can hold you liable for damages.’~ Rose, Klein & Marias LLP

Having Worker’s Compensation also tells you the most important factor when looking to hire a window cleaning company; having Worker’s Compensation means you need to have legal employees!

2. Make sure they have employees (not subcontractors)

As an owner of Streakless INC, there is nothing more sacred than respecting the sanctity of my client’s homes. As an employer with employees, I have created company policies and protocols that reflect my beliefs and integrity. 

Having employees ensures that I am staying up to date and compliant with all of California’s regulations. Personally, my dad taught me at a young age the importance of having a clean conscience and being able to look at myself in the mirror knowing I’ve done my best to be a good person.

That’s why not complying with California’s employment laws was never an option.

It’s worth noting that there are lots of great window cleaners out there that due to their personal situations get taken advantage of and are given the responsibility of full time employees (without the benefits) while being subcontractors or paid under the table. 

Here are some of the ways these good workers can get taken advantage of by being mislabeled subcontractors while getting treated like full time employees or getting paid under the table:

  • They don’t get mandatory 15-minute breaks after every four hours of work 
  • No lunch breaks
  • No overtime pay
  • No state mandated 5 paid sick days a year
  • No state mandated CalSavers retirement accounts
  • No unemployment insurance
  • No workman’s compensation in case of injury
  • No paid travel time between jobs
  • They have to buy their own equipment and supplies
  • They have to supply their own transportation
  • They have to buy their own gas and maintain for their vehicle
  • If they aren’t authorized to work in this country, circumstances are often even worse because they fear any complaint can lead to deportation
  • Issues can get much worse if these good people are working for people with bad intent

Not all window cleaning companies that mislabel their workers or pay workers under the table have bad bosses. From what I’ve heard, their point of view is that they can’t afford to stay in business and have employees, or all the red tape and regulations is too time consuming and confusing to deal with. 

When you are looking to hire a window cleaning company, there is no way to distinguish which law breaking companies might actually be a good company. That is why I recommend verifying if the company you are interested in has Worker’s Compensation so you can avoid Window Cleaner Roulette.

3. Razor Blade Litmus Test

If they use razor blades, stay away! In my experience, there is no safe way to use razor blades on modern tempered glass. No amount of wetness and technique that can avoid scratching. When glass is tempered or baked, it is common for small glass particles to bond to the glass during the heating process. These baked- on particles turn into scratches when contacted by a razor blade.

In my 30 years of experience, I have yet to talk to a window cleaning manufacturer that says it’s safe to use razor blades on their windows.

4. Per Pane vs Hourly Pricing

I have used both pricing options and think they both can work well if the estimate is known ahead of time.

Per pane pricing usually means a salesman comes to your house and counts every window or windowpane, assigns a price for each type of pane and gives you an estimate based on the pane count. Sometimes screens are included and sometimes they are extra. Usually, sills and tracks are included. The more difficult or time consuming a window or pane is to clean, the higher the price point.

Per pane pricing can have many variations and price points. From what I can tell, every company counts and prices panes a little differently.

Hourly window cleaning consists of an estimate based on how long the cleaners think cleaning your windows will take. I would only use an hourly company that provides time range estimates in writing and keeps you in the loop of any changes they may encounter in real time

 5. Owner involvement and accessibility

I love my clients and greatly value their feedback. Hearing what my customers have to say and, if needing, addressing any issues or concerns is an essential part of my business. We are only as good as our technicians, and they can only succeed with proper training and support.

Let’s say you’ve found a company that checks all the boxes, you make your appointment, and you’re disappointed in your service. Now what? You call the company, but they aren’t as nice as they were when you were booking the appointment. You ask to speak to a supervisor or office manager, but it seems you aren’t getting very far. The subcontractors have disappeared and don’t want to return to a home they aren’t getting paid twice for. Now what? 

I can’t count the number of clients who have reached out to me over the years after they paid another company and were disappointed with results and are asking us to step in to do a job right. Here at Streakless, we reach out to every client after their service and ask how their service went to ensure we met and hopefully exceeded their expectations. In the rare occurrence that something went wrong, I am immediately looped in by our office manager and we get to work on rectifying the issue, no matter how small.’

You might be able to find a great window cleaner at a bargain price if you can find a sole proprietor window cleaning company. This is a company where the owner does all the actual work alone. Sole proprietors don’t have to pay Worker’s Compensation or Payroll taxes and there are far fewer regulations because they don’t have any workers. But they are highly motivated to do a good job because they are working for themselves. Because of that they might have a lower price point.

Let’s summarize:

  1. Worker’s Compensation- Make sure you are protected against any injuries or accidents that may occur. (again, need to focus on why it matters to them)
  2. Employees- Is the company run legally?
  3. Razor Blade Test- Are they protecting the integrity and longevity of your home?
  4. Pricing Structure- How are they charging and are they honest and upfront about their pricing?
  5. Owner Accessibility- If you have any questions or concerns after the job is done, will you have anyone to reach out to or will they go ghost?

Looking for a solid window cleaning company near Marin County, CA?

I believe the more people enjoy the benefits of crystal-clear windows, the better for all the hard-working professionals that swirl through the day renewing windows with soap and squeegees.

At our core window cleaners face solvable problems all day- make dirty, clean, rinse, repeat.

The good ones of us are very grateful for the simplicity of accomplishment that fills our heart with every pull of the squeegee. We value every client relationship and always have room for more friends in the Streakless family.

I began Streakless INC, based in Marin County, over 12 years ago and have ensured my company maintains the highest standards across the board. We are fully compliant with all state regulations and have a team of fully vetted and ensured employees paid a liveable wage. 

As an owner I make sure Streakless INC is 100% compliant; we only use vetted employees and follow all the numerous state regulations. 

Here are a few of our costs for every dollar I pay my technicians-

  • 14% payroll taxes (on average)
  • 19% Workers’ Compensation
  • 8% Liability Insurance
  • $500-$3500 /month for full-time HR and enforcement.

I love running a business in California the right way because I know my technicians and customers are protected to the best of my ability. 

If you have any questions or would like more details on what was discussed in this article, please email me so I can personally get back to you. 

If you are local to the Marin County, CA area, don’t hesitate to Contact Us for any of your window cleaning, gutter cleaning, solar panel cleaning, garbage can cleaning, shower or window restoration needs.

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