Why water fed pole systems are popular

By Carl Phillips

I have a pair of Spiderman y-fronts I have owned since I was 7. Occasionally, for really special goings on, I will wear them… The blues and reds have faded somewhat, true, but In a really strange way they are the most comfortable, if not the tightest pants I own; I know them and they know me. Many times over the years as my wifey goes about her special (and rather brutal) ‘sorting days’ I have had to rescue them from the bin. I don’t have a Spiderman fetish either, It’s just because I don’t like change and they are familiar. In fact, I would rather have sharp items poked forcefully and repeatedly into my eyeballs rather than accept any kind of change. Change can be frustrating, scary and in the case of underwear, bitterly uncomfortable but then again, there is always an exception to every rule; My beloved window cleaning industry. Over the last fifteen or so years, it has changed and continues to change dramatically, thank the good lord. The good news for you? Those changes are set to revolutionise your business.

The days of old…

In the US, and now at some schools in the UK, they have strange social gatherings called ‘high school reunions,’ an odd event at which old classmates get the chance to hire a Porsche and a tux and show off how far they have come since leaving school. My school has never had one, I think It’s because all my class mates are too busy sleeping under railway bridges or are in prison, but it’s a good job, because I would have had to rock up and tell everyone I was a window cleaner… don’t get me wrong, I would have said it fast and with a big smile on my face, I may have even used the old ‘ exterior glazing technician’ approach but I would have still blushed, looked at my shoes and shuffled about uneasily in my Spiderman panties.

The thing is, some 20 years ago when I first started window cleaning, there was precious little to separate my window cleaning business from the next dude. One of us may have had different emblems on our beer towels (early form of scrim cloths to you younger folk) and our ladders may have been made from different types of wood, but window cleaners were all pretty much viewed exactly the same by the public at large; window cleaning was a job you did just to get by, or because you breathed through your mouth and dribbled a lot and couldn’t actually do anything else. I was once astonished when a customer said to me after I had thanked her for her custom, “no problem my lovely, I’m happy to help keep you off the streets”… she even had the cheek to keep a straight face as she said it, charming…

Seriously though, this view really upsets me because I have always viewed window cleaning very differently. Window cleaning, particularly residential window cleaning, is a great business model. It takes a relatively small amount of money from a large group of people making it very stable. It has repeat business as an inherent part of it, Mrs Jones gets terribly upset if you don’t call next month and so you don’t have to spend all your hard earned cash marketing for new customers constantly like you have to in other businesses (based on UK window cleaning) and you provide a service that people know they need and appreciate. What’s more, the money is fab too! Get a shuffle on, work up a sweat, which was easy with wooden ladders, and you could earn a full days wage in a few hours of graft. What’s not to like?

My customers view upset me mostly though because she was right. Window cleaning was so easy, so good and so enjoyable, that it attracted all sorts; villains, rouges and dole bums included and we were all just tarred with the same brush; That’s why window cleaning needed a change. Those of us that loved window cleaning and took it seriously needed to separate ourselves and our businesses from those who just used it abused it and left us to clean up after them.

‘We are the change we have been waiting for’ – Barack Obama

Normally when politics are mentioned, I have sudden urges to bang my head on the pavement, but I can’t help but smile at the truth of Mr Obama’s words. Truth be told, I smile a lot lately and that’s because our industry is in a full-scale revolution, the great water fed pole revolution.

Being first at anything is hard. Can you imagine the scale of the lunacy required to be the first to eat frog legs or caviar? Yet someone did, and now both are delicacies… when van mounted water fed pole systems were first introduced in the UK it kind of met the same ‘that’s disgusting!’ response… why oh why would you currently spend less than £100 per year on window cleaning equipment and then wilfully decide to spend 10k or so on a van and a further 10k on some magic water thingie to do the same job… no thanks matey, I think I’ll pass…

But hold on a second… there was far more to water fed pole systems than just the method you use to get someone’s windows clean, a fact missed by most window cleaners early on. Window cleaning using a pure water system addresses some fundamentally important issues with window cleaning. This may well go a long way in explaining their current popularity, Lookie here;

Firstly, the boring stuff;

Mrs. Jones gets her frames cleaned. Not the biggest advantage I’ll grant you but nice for her. Finally, she can stop popping out after the window cleaner calls and wipe the dirty old fairy liquid off her sills…

Then the often underrated and misunderstood Health and safety benefits. To be honest, if you’re running up and down ladders for a living, health and safety is not really that high on your list of priorities, is it? That said, some of the things I used to clean from ladders now make me cringe. Fortunately for me, I only had scares and near misses, but Dave, our finance manager, has had 5 falls from his ladders over the years and now has a permanently misaligned hip, which I’m guessing seriously affects his sex life… ouchie.


Now for the good stuff…

Van mounted Pure Water Systems transform window cleaning businesses by removing the skill factor and replacing it with a capital expense. Put another way, and in English, it means cleaning windows requires real skill, at least it does if you wish to do it fast enough to make money and accurately enough to keep your clients. Pure water systems remove that skill, (fast, accurate ladder positioning. Fast, accurate use of a squeegee and expert use of your cloth) and instead use a more simple method to clean windows with as good, usually better, results. Pure water systems replace this required skill with a capital expense, which means that Bob, your helper, won’t likely rush off and start his own round as soon as you have finished spending many moons training him up, getting him ‘just so’. Good old Bob, while he used to be able to buy a set of ladders and knock some doors, will now have to find some dough to invest in equipment of his own, simply because he doesn’t know how to clean windows any other way. In short, you can now employ people to ‘wash’ windows rather than ‘clean’ them. All this without the long training times and without worrying about ‘losing’ Bob the next time you refuse to give him a day off to catch up on his missed episodes of Jerry Springer. Genius no?

But there’s more. Just a few months ago, I was asked to book a children’s entertainer for my nephews second birthday. Fortunately, I knew of a great one. As I wandered into his shop and suddenly I realised this wasn’t going to be so easy. Do I go for Postman PPat? Or is he too ‘yesterday’? What about the Teletubbies? No, they creep me out… that leaves Bob the Builder then. Life was so much easier when we only had the Muppets.

One costume I saw in his shop, which I knew wouldn’t work for this gig, was a full-blown Marylyn Manson suit. I’m pretty confident that never mind how highly recommended he came, or how good the guys routine was, parents and children alike would have been truly horrified if Marylyn had popped out of little Joshua’s birthday cake. Appearance really does make a massive difference to how people view your performance and how comfortable they are and with you. Two things you will definitely need in a successful business. A nice new shiny van, professional, sexy looking kit and a smart uniform and you look like the doggies dangly bits. You make your clients relax; You make them proud, you are showing them you know your stuff. You have invested in your business and so will they and they will love you for it! It matters to them! Have a sneaky peek of this e-mail one of my clients sent me…

 " I would like to admit that I actually felt smug when your lovely sign written van pulled up outside my house as I felt like I was having a posh window cleaning service! Unlike my neighbours who I shall now refer to as the riff-raff."
Mrs Clair Davies."

You can bet your booties ‘ Bob’s windows cleaning inc’ is a little short on e-mails like that huh?

I have saved the best till last…

This shiny new van, professional quality equipment, and snazzy new uniform will also provide you with something else; pride in your business. Think about the last thing you were really proud of, your car? Home? Whatever, How did you treat it if you’re anything like me; with all the man-love you could muster! The same is true for your business. The more pride you have in your business the more you will look after it, the more you look after it, the better and more efficiently it will run for you and the less and less stress it will cause you. Of course, I know this from experience, I have been through the stages of one man and a bucket to multivehicle operations, but I have also seen it in the owner’s faces of the concept2o systems we manufacture and that’s just priceless. Never, ever underestimate the true value that genuine pride can have on your business.

With all the above points taken as a whole, is it any wonder that pure water systems are finally becoming commonplace on the shores of ‘good old blighty?’ Some guestimate at a third to a half of all window cleaners in the UK at present run a pure water system of some kind. Good on you boys.

Other goodies

Since the first introduction, many other pure water goodies have been added to the mix. We now have trolley systems which can either carry pure water in a container or water purification equipment you can hook up to a tap, great for those hard to reach areas or courtyards where you can’t run a hose.

Then there are the cute backpack units for the odd hard to reach glazing, some of which carry up to 25 ltr of pure water, just don’t lean back…

And if you have a large static contract, a trailer is a fantastic tool you can just unhitch and clean all day. We manufacture a trailer system with some 1200 litres of hot steamy, pure water which can be refilled on site. It’s a bad boy.

All of the above are excellent additions to your van mount system.

Our beloved industry is finally coming of age. What used to be a free for all, is now taking shape. Professional window cleaners are now being acknowledged as such, especially by the general public. This has lead to more stable, larger and more profitable business for window cleaners and a much better, more consistent service to the clients. As time goes on, better poles, brush heads, filtration units and more will make what has become an easy job even easier. Our clients will continue to change their opinions and loyalty from them will continue to increase. The revolution is indeed in full swing. I have a tear in my eye and I’m pretty sure my tight Spidey panties have nothing to do with it…