Being a middle-man


I just want to get some input on this possible scenario.

Let’s say I can get enough work to keep one or two guys busy most of the year but the work only brings in maybe $25 per man hour. If I pay independent contractors about $15 per hour to take care of the work that leaves me roughly $10 per hour they are working without having to raise a squeegee myself. There are no costs involved in getting the work, it’s a situation where I match the current price they pay and it’s mine. This is 95% outside only work that is time consuming but not particularly risky at all.

Is there something I’m not seeing that could make this a bad thing? I’d be making probably $10,000 a year with little to no effort on my part. I understand that I could run into issues if the contractors quit or something which means I need to find other guys fast or may have to do some of the jobs myself until I can find people. I also realize that the income overall is low per hour but it’s also quite a bit of work which deserves some price break I would think anyway. Is this something worth doing? Have any of you tried anything similar as far as using contractors and just making a little off the top? I obviously will continue to do the jobs I do now and I have a couple guys in need of work that should be perfectly happy with $15 per hour in pay. I am not signing any contract, just verbally agreeing to do the work for someone who doesn’t wash windows but has an in with a few property managers from the work that they do. They would be taking 15% of course which I subtracted before looking at the numbers. I trust the guy to pay me so no issues with that. I would be paid net 30 at the longest, usually faster. I’ve worked with the guy in the past so I know he’s not messing around. He just doesn’t want to bother with it and would rather hire me to do it.

This almost seems like one of those things that is easier than things are ever. It bugs me and I keep thinking I’m not thinking of something that will make this not work and end up screwing me in the end. I have done work for a few guys in the past before starting a company that paid me up to 70% of the income while they worked full time jobs in a different industry and had a window cleaning company for some extra income but never cleaned a window themselves. It seemed to work for them so I was figuring it should work here as well.

Am I missing anything?


If I’m an independent contractor working for you, paying all my own insurances, fica, and general business expenses, there is no way I’m taking 15/hr…


Surprisingly that is the going rate around here that most guys are paying contractors. I personally was going to offer them $20 but they came to me with the $15 first. Once I see them doing everything correctly and all I plan to bump up the pay. My guess is they haven’t really made enough as a 1099 to know what taxes will cost them. That’s what window cleaning companies offer around me unless they go by percentage which can be anywhere from 30-50%. If I gave them 50% on these they would make even less.

I might pay them whatever the first clean is in hours, that way they will make a higher rate on the ones after that as first time takes longer usually. They will also become faster as they gain experience so they could probably make like $25 or so by the time a few months roll by.

I personally would not work for $15 either unless it was the only option and I needed to put food on the table or pay bills. I’m still not sure it is totally worth doing anyway, which is what I was asking here for. The $15 per hour thing is why I decided I’d start my own company as that was all companies offered me. I must have been offered that by six or seven companies last year before I just took the plunge and started an LLC. I guess most guys work for that. I couldn’t but the last guy I 1099ed for gave me 70% of the jobs so it worked out to almost 50 an hour counting drive time and all that.


You really just have to look out for the irs and workers comp claiming that you are misclassifying them as sub contractors when they are really working like an employee. There’s a bunch of guidelines on this which can be hard to navigate. This is really more of an issue when you grow into a lot bigger company. Make sure the guys you hire know what it means to be an independent contractor and are expecting to file and pay taxes at the end of the year.

Another issue is, you are charging way too low. don’t crush the market


you’d be wrong, you can’t offer “bulk” pricing when your service is based on time. whether they give you a lot of work or a little it still takes the same amount of time to do the work.

if i sell 10 widgets per hour and make $2 a piece, i’m making $20 per hour, if a person comes in and wants to order 1000 widgets, i can give them a price break because i’ll make $2000 in 5 minutes and the only extra work involved is ordering more stock.

if i clean 10 panes per hour and make $50 and someone asks me to clean 1000 panes it will still take me 100 hours no matter the volume so the price should be $5000


I’m getting the jobs for what the last company did them for. They aren’t out of business, just are really crappy cleaners.

On a related note, there are companies here doing houses with up to 30 windows (full windows, not panes) for just under $100. My next question was going to be about these guys. It’s not just one company either, there are others doing any single story home for $125, 2 story for I think 145. This is destroying the industry here. I guess for guys who started a few years back who already have clients at normal prices it isn’t noticeable, but guys like me just starting out simply can’t even think of matching those rates. Too bad there aren’t unions that would curb this. I don’t get how they do it. They vacuum the tracks and clean screens and the windows in and out for that. They have to be breaking laws is the only way I see it being possible. They claim they are insured to 2 million and all their guys are bonded as well. WTF?

Am I missing something?


Tough market! Find a way to add value and set yourself apart from the other cleaners


I think I’m going to pass on it just so I’m not taking prices down. Sadly it’s probably too late seeing as the property managers won’t accept higher prices. It’s too bad because I know that they will find someone who will take them at that rate though. I might actually abandon window cleaning all together because I am not finding enough work at my rate. Standard I try to only do residential for a straight 5 per pane. The most I’ve found so far was just under $1000 in a week which just isn’t cutting it. I must hear my prices are too high at 75% of the estimates I do. That’s why I was wondering about this.


You’d be surprised, in every market there are people you can sell to for more. Not everyone has heard of those low bidders. You know their prices, but most people have no idea


There are great areas around me but you can’t do door hangers or any soliciting there by law with a hefty fine for each flyer if found.


The market might just be over saturated here I think.


You aren’t missing anything and this is quite common. One of the bigger cleaning franchises in the US (Coverall Cleaning) doesn’t do any of the cleaning themselves. It is all subcontracted to individual cleaning companies.


I didnt read the whole threadbut it sounds like you’re talking about property management for the most part. Lots of companies do it but youre going to need tobfind a way to bring in more than $25 a man hour if youre going to be successful.


This is totally extra, I still have the regular residential stuff going on. Been doing a ton of flat pack furniture building lately, which was just to fill the schedule but has brought in way more than window cleaning for a few weeks now. Surprisingly, it’s fairly easy to gross $500 or more a day building furniture. the outdoor items like basketball hoops, trampolines, and swingsets. Built a Murphy bed two days ago that was around 600 and took slightly less than 8 hrs. It’s actually fairly easy and rewarding work. Gets some window accounts too as a bonus.