Commercial expectations for "route" questions


Hi All,

I have been thinking about switching over from my small route and residential customers over to mostly just commercial (2- 3 stories, 500 min per service, semi annual or quarterly contract, mostly outside only where possible) I would like more flexibility/ money than route work offers and more consistency than resi. I am solo with a 40 ft xero pole with a 110 gallon tank system in my van. I plan on upgrading to a 55 ft unger eventually so I can reach that 4th story. My thought is that alot of the guys on here are quoting 100+ hour on commercial, so if I build a “route” with 20 hours a week nose to glass, 8 months a year, then I can make around 60k a year doing the majority of my work in 8 months. I am expecting this to take about 2 years to build. (4 new accounts a month) I dont need to make 100k a year, for me around 60k is fine for now so I can have time/energy for other things. I live in Columbia SC with 750k people in the surrounding area. I am able to get 1- 5 per pane for in/out depending on window size on the storefront side. I just finished up my first full calendar year in business and did just over 30k. So, here are my questions to the guys who do mostly commercial.

  1. Is this a pipe dream? Do my numbers sound about right, and if not, for you where would they have been off?

  2. How do you win commercial accounts? I just watched the WCR Nation episode 29 (thanks Josh), but Columbia is a bit different than most of SC and NC. Alot of the people here are always looking for what type of scam you are trying to pull, so if you take cookies in to an office as a nice treat to try to win the decision maker over, they may like you less instead of more, at least that is what I have seen. I have researched on the form, but I still feel like most what I saw would work better on store fronts. Are there other methods that you use, especially starting out on a low budget?

  3. For the guys consistently (key word, not 100 hour once a week) making 100+ an hour on commercial jobs, what kind of equipment do you use? I have a 11 in unger radius and a 12 in dual trim tucker, but I plan on getting a 12 and 18 in Tucker hybrid, a bronze wool pad, and a rinse bar eventually.

  4. Lastly, so you charge more for the first clean, or do you know you you will make it back later so you just eat the profit loss up front?

Thanks up front for your help everyone! This form has been a tremendous help in so many ways, I really appreciate it!

  1. Absolutely not a pipe dream. It actually sounds very similar to my operation.

  2. I spend much time targeting commercial properties in person. Either, self-managed properties or buildings managed by a property management company.

  3. I keep things as simple as possible. Highest of quality but simple. Easy to fix, easy to maintain. Our average sized building is 40 feet. We go 7 and some 8 stories…All out of a cargo bike. 30km radius from home base.

  4. Always, always, always charge more for a first service. Train your clients how to treat you. They need to “purchase” room in my schedule.


Sorry for the slow response. Thanks for the advice! Its nice to hear that it will work on more than paper! Do you just go in and ask for the maint. manager? I imagine it’s a bit different than storefront?


So I see this claim and expectation a lot on here. That is, " I am making ( $ fill in the blank) per hour ".

I am not making $100.00 an hour on a job just because I make $100.00 from the exact time I start washing until the last pane is done.

There is so much more time that goes into managing that account ( your business) that is unrelated to washing a window. I use to run those calculations on paper too. I would work a few hours on routes and do, say, $65.00 an hour and surmise that it would convert to $ XXX a week or a year and I would only need to work a set amount of hours a week to make that happen. " Oh my gosh… I am going to have all this money and have all this free time - my life will be euphoric !! "…LOL !

Dream yes, plan yes, be ambitious yes, but also be smart and practical in your calculations. Yea - I have a few jobs that are awesome money makers per hour but if we set our pride aside and look at it more objectively, most of us aren’t close to that per hour ( total time invested in that account ).

Its always risky to go “here” on the forum - you will get responses that claim they do $100.00 plus every day, every week all year and make zillions and all is good and if you aren’t making this you are inferior… Ok whatever - that’s fine if that is your experience. Just saying, be reasonable.


For storefront it’s not too too much different. Still the same principle. Go in ask for the person in charge. If not available ask when. My marketing coach years ago taught me to never leave a perspective clients without giving something and without taking something.

For example, I would give my card to whom ever I find. And I would take the email address of the person in charge regardless of whether or not I was able to speak with them.

Also, follow up immediately with an email.

I apply the same with commercial building and condo building in person marketing.


Great advice Joshua!

The “give and take” action creates a connection.

I also follow up immediately with an email.


I’m not looking to only do only 20 hours a week of total work, just around 20 a week nose to glass. I know there will be more work than that. I know I may not make 100 hour every time, but I’m trying to eliminate most of the variables that lower income. I agree that what looks good on paper doesn’t always work.


Ok, thanks! That is alot easier than I expected. Good tip on the follow up and exchange. It’s little things like that which make all the difference in business.