Monday, November 13, 2023

Window "Washing" or Window "Cleaning"?

Is Washing Less or More Thorough Than Cleaning?

It may be that some view the difference between washing and cleaning as significant enough to choose one or the other as framed by a professional company. Many others don't see it as any more than the choice of words. Do you as a customer feel one or the other term is a caveat? Maybe one way is less thorough or one way is far more expensive. Perhaps one sounds more professional than the other. Interestingly, whether you use the phrase "window cleaning" or "window washing" in a Google search for a local company, you'll get the same results. I'll give my observations and mention those of others. 

What Some Professionals Say

There are some professional companies who believe there is a definite difference in window cleaning and window washing. I even noticed another term used- "window detailing". This term was used to place that company on a higher plane than its local competitors, namely one that removes the tough stuff off of glass, frames, and sills, such as bugs and paint specks. Some feel that cleaning is more akin to spot cleaning and not as thorough as washing, which would be all foreign matter on the glass. From what I've read on professional forums and Facebook groups, most, but not all in the business choose 'window cleaning'. 

What Customers Say

Here is where a professional company needs to pay attention: what term does a prospective customer prefer? Obviously, this may differ geographically. Upon doing a search on Google Trends, the term that is used in searches, especially over longer spans of time, is far more often 'window cleaning' than 'window washing'. It could well be that this indicates a more popular way to phrase it nowadays and not too much the perception that there is a real difference. What I've found locally, over many years of being, called, texted, or emailed by consumers, most use 'cleaning'. I could be imagining it, but I'm pretty sure that if  'washing' is used, it almost always will be by senior citizens. 

My Take

I feel that for my company name and the description of what I do, I prefer 'window cleaning'. I think it sounds classier and more professionalized. At the same time, I view what I do as any of the three terms mentioned in the opening paragraph. My opinion is that if you are a professional and would like to create raving fans and repeat business, you need to do as thorough a job as possible. There are both low and high thresholds in your service, that is, the very minimum that would be considered acceptable without having to specify what you are leaving out, and the point where you go from normal cleaning to specialized cleaning. The bare minimum I would consider professional is all dirt and grime off the glass as well as the frames, sills, and screens (if any). When the sills have foreign matter that may not budge with normal window scrubbing tools or rags or the glass has paint or wood stain left on by careless contractors that came before you, this requires specialized service. Another issue that requires specialized attention is 'screen burn'. This is the layman's term for that white haze that is extremely hard to get off glass windows with outside aluminum screens. Here is a nice explanation why that can happen. Regular water, pure water, soapy water, ammonia, rubbing alcohol- none of these touch screen burn. Thus, to remove this calls for specialized attention. 

I feel it is important to communicate to a customer what will be included in standard window cleaning and what constitutes 'restoration'. The choice of terms that window cleaning companies use can be to make them appear better than their competition. "While other companies only do X, we do X, Y, and Z, because we care about you." Something similar to that. I'm not a fan of implying that my competition is inferior or doesn't care about their customers. I simply endeavor to leave glass , sills, and screens extremely clean. There are many other practices that will make you the go-to for those that know you, more than what terms you use. 

At Dan Wagner Window Cleaning  we have been washing, cleaning, detailing, or all of the above in northeastern Pennsylvania since 1986 and we are not going away! 

Serving Honesdale, Hawley, Scranton, Lake Ariel, Stroudsburg, Tannersville, Mount Pocono and many other towns. 


Thursday, October 12, 2023

Should You Go With Nationally Known Service Providers or Stick With Local?

Do the Big Names Guarantee Better Service?

The home service industry in the United States is large and growing larger. Well over 2 million businesses in the US provide various services to homeowners, generating revenue well over half a trillion dollars annually. Many more do so for commercial properties or both residential and commercial. Likely all of us are familiar with some big names that advertise heavily as home service providers. A common way to generate a very high volume of participants is by being a matchmaker of sorts. In other words, find a vast number of local companies that are available to provide services to customers in a specified area, be the go-between, and ideally make a profit on volume while trusting that the customer and provider are both happy in the end. Clearly, there is a high level of marketing and logistics to make this work and be sustainable. There is no denying that some have figured it out. 

I'm approaching this from the standpoint of what benefits or advantages there may be to seeking the numerous choices presented by some of the big names as opposed to looking for local businesses that are already known in the community. Granted, when you as a homeowner agree to have a company render services, you'll almost surely be getting a local company anyway. Is there a difference? 

Pros and Cons of National Companies Which Provide or Locate Home Services

Offhand, I can see some pros to trusting the well-known names. They are well-known because of their vast marketing success and enormous number of service companies that are willing to pay for leads or in some other way share some of the revenue. I have no criticism of that in itself. They consequently may have a long list of hopefully qualified and solid local companies waiting to help you out. There may be many helpful, well-researched articles that pertain to your interests that they publish as well. They may have a satisfaction guarantee and background check that, if genuine, will put one at ease. And some may influence participating contractors to give deep discounts for a certain volume of jobs. This could be very good for price shoppers. 

There are potential cons as well. One that may be manifest after some time is based on the cost of acquisition for contractors. When the arrangement to team up with large go-betweens costs something, contractors may eventually feel the need to increase prices to recoup the expense. Or perhaps contractors may compare other avenues of marketing and feel they will provide more bang for the buck in the long run. This potentially creates a bit of a revolving-door situation for the national companies who endeavor to increase their stable of participants, only to lose some of the best ones. There are only so many local companies available to provide home services before distance becomes an issue. For the property owner, the full scope of reviews for service companies may not be evident on the national provider's platform. One may see a few reviews on these platforms for let's say, a window cleaner, while a straight-up Google search might reveal 20, 50, even 100 or more from not just price-shoppers, but new and long-time customers alike. In a low-population area, the 'top 10' for many service categories may include only a few truly local companies, while Google may return more truly localized results. Certainly no guarantee, though. 

You Choose By What Means You Get Similar Results

Ultimately, whether you decide to search for a company to provide a service for your home or business through a large online site that acts as a go-between or by going straight to Google, Bing, DuckDuckGo, or similar, you'll probably end up having a local company do the work. And in the long haul, you'll either pay the agreed price for a service you come to trust or keep looking for new options and possibly find special deals each time. It is my opinion that you'll find more viable options by using the more currently traditional method of Google or their competitors. 

Friday, September 29, 2023

Is There An Easy Way to Clean My Gutters?

Rain Gutters- Love Them and Hate Them!

In a perfect world, gutters would only fill up in the fall if you live in the northern hemisphere. We know painfully well that it is not a perfect world. Gutters can become a concern after a heavy wind or rainstorm, or if some unexpected object takes up residence in your gutter that is large or dense enough to create a backup. This can happen any time of year and will give property owners fits if they are not familiar with resolving this or equipped to do so. Water buildup will spill onto the ground and mess up landscaping. Sustained weight due to sitting water will cause stress on gutter supports, eventually ruining the proper pitch of the gutter run. If the water becomes ice, the body of the gutter may be forced to expand and alter the proper flow. Excess water can run down the side of the wall below and potentially undermine the foundation. 

Easiest Way to Clean a Gutter Clog

So, how does one remedy a problem gutter? Unless you can actually see what is in a gutter from a distance (large twig, tree branch, plant growing etc) you will need to safely set up a ladder to get a close look. If you have 2 or 3 floors in your house, you may be able to look out a window to a lower gutter and see what the culprit is. Or you may own a drone with a camera that can reveal where your problem is as well. A note about ladders- stepladders need to be opened up fully and have all four feet planted on the ground or pavement. If you can't make it sit level, beware. When you put your weight on each successive rung, there is going to be a slight shift in the concentration of your weight. Even a slight shift can turn into a ladder fall if the ground is soft or the user does not have a great sense of balance. Extension ladders have 2 feet, but the same idea applies. Soft or uneven ground, a dangerous climbing angle, or an improper end ladder height can be a serious danger.                                                                 All that aside, if you can safely see what the issue is, it will likely be a simple fix by pulling out what is causing the clog. Herein will lie another caveat- if it's a stubborn branch that's stuck under a brace or you have to lean more than a foot or two away from the ladder, you may very well lose your balance. So please be careful!

Other Viable Ways to Clean Gutters

There are special ladders and ladder accessories that can make cleaning gutters safer. Also, some professionals use gutter vacuums to do it all with feet firmly planted. A homeowner can rig up something similar that may or may not work with a shop vac, extensions, and a gooseneck end. Some roofs may be safe enough to walk and be either sprayed out or cleared with a leaf blower. Pressure washing can get results by force, but there are obviously inherent cautions with this method. They would be whether the user is in control of the process, firmly balanced, and very deliberate. While blowing the leaves out can cause an initial mess, imagine the mess that high-pressure water forcing gutter debris in every direction causes! A lot to consider!

 In Northeastern Pennsylvania, 'gutter cleaning season' is generally speaking, anywhere from late October to mid-late November. This is the time of year, of course, when most or all of the leaves have fallen off the deciduous trees in the area. As a result, nearby leaves fall onto or into gutters. It is a very good idea to have them cleaned at least once a year. Earlier in this post, potential issues were brought up that may create an immediate need for attention. When those fluffy, almost waterproof leaves are left to lay in a gutter, they will eventually break down into soil. I know this from experience, having cleaned gutters as an added service to window cleaning. I have literally pulled tiny maple trees from gutters many times! Clearly, this is not a place where you want to be with your own gutters. Also, beware that while there are a few gutter guard systems that work properly as advertised, there are countless installed covers that have failed. This could be due to a poor-quality product or poor installation. When guards become ineffective, the proper cleaning of your gutters will take even more time and effort. Some or all of the guards will have to be removed to clean what debris got inside and then replaced. More time translates to more cost. 

Hopefully, this short article has shed light on gutter cleaning. If you'd like to take care of your gutter cleaning, feel free to inquire on our website or call or text us at 5706300326. We serve many areas in Northeastern Pennsylvania.


Saturday, September 23, 2023

Are Microfiber Rags Really the Best Way to Clean Windows?

 Microfibers- The Cure-all End-all in Cleaning?

Since microfiber technology for cleaning became all the rage maybe 20 years ago, Mystic Maid, and other brands have made a real splash with consumers. I was introduced to Mystic Maid by one of my window cleaning customers. She told me it was a modern miracle! I bought one rag for around $10. Amazon sells a large version of the original right now for $31.99. I can't say it was great as a window cleaning tool, nor was it particularly bad. Certainly, for me as someone whose company cleans thousands of windows a week, microfibers would need to be both cost-effective and as good or better than what we would normally use to clean windows. That was not the case at all. Of course, we clean windows larger and higher than your average homeowner, for sure! I must say that we do use microfiber rags EXTENSIVELY for surface cleaning and sopping up dirty window sills and so forth. They have wonderful absorption and scrubbing abilities by their design and have been a boon to our efficiency and effectiveness. 

What About For the Professional Window Cleaner?

I would venture to say it is likely that most professional window cleaners use microfibers for one reason or another. When I'm on forums and FB groups, I don't see too many say they are using them as the best detailing method and none at all say they use them for a complete large clean. Some do use them for small panes, but that is a different scenario for sure. When one is required to choose between using a ladder or a pole to reach absolutely every bit of glass beyond standing reach, time and expenditure of energy surely come into play. A professional can do a stellar job cleaning glass by other means such as the old 'stand-by'- a scrubber and a squeegee. I find that for mass usage, huck towels, also known as surgical towels, are among the best detailers I've found. They last a very long time when properly cared for and are cost-effective. In my experience, huck towels are far less likely to leave lint on glass than all but an elite few brands of microfiber rags. 
Here's an example of a 'run of the mill' microfiber rag and one of my well-used huck towels. You can buy both items here  Only under the most extreme conditions such as very hot glass will surgical towels leave any lint. When I first started, the only thing I knew to use was paper towels. Back in the late 80's and some of the 90's I found Scott Towels was the best for me. I was told to try newspaper. I did and it really made the glass shine! But after a few windows my hands were black with ink and the paper was getting pulpy and useless. Surgical towels are hearty and can be laundered many times. If want to try them, don't launder them with bleach or fabric softener. They can be put in a drier or air-dried. Either way is fine. As time has gone by, of course, many professional window cleaners have other tools in their box that are just as viable for doing great work with a reasonable amount of speed. Well, that's my take on this part of window cleaning!   

If you live in northeastern Pennsylvania and just want to have somebody clean your window for you, feel free to get in touch with us. We've been serving the area since 1986. Here are some, but not all, of the areas we work in:  Honesdale, Waymart, Hawley, Carbondale, Forest City, Pleasant Mount, Scranton, Dunmore, Moosic, Damascus, Mount Pocono, Stroudsburg, East Stroudsburg, Tannersville, Beach Lake, Lake Ariel, Greenfield Township, Jefferson Township, Moscow

Call, text, or What's App me at 5706300326




Sunday, January 22, 2023

How Long Should You Have to Wait to Get Your Residential Windows Cleaned?

Today or Tomorrow May Not be Reasonable

The Best Service Options May Take a Little Time

In most countries, people now have more information at their fingertips within seconds than ever before. Perhaps we have become accustomed to, or at least have the expectation, that personal services can be delivered to us at the snap of a finger. Barring supply issues, that privilege, if you will, is more likely to be the case with goods as opposed to services. When it comes to service requests, the length of wait is often largely congruent with how well-established and recommended the service company is. In fairness, some large companies that offer a variety of home services use a network of subcontractors to fulfill requests and may be able to get you scheduled sooner than a company that you would deal with directly can. One other factor that comes to mind is that the relative scarcity or abundance of companies providing your sought-after service will determine how quickly you can get what you're looking for. 

Timing is Everything

There are categories of services that have busy and slow seasons. Some are related to customer demand. Some are related to climate, such as window cleaning,  power washing, and roof cleaning. The colder the weather, the more difficult it is to perform these outdoor services. That said, you likely would have far less of a wait for these home services if you can manage to find a company that never 'closes' and is willing to do what it takes to get it done. I happen to own and manage a residential window cleaning company in a colder climate and was recently able to provide a full service for a customer living at the foot of a ski mountain as shown in the photo below. The air temperature upon arrival was 18F, but by the time I started working outside it was very close to 32. I was able to schedule it and do it with less than a week's notice. As I read comments from colleagues in industry groups online, the wait time is similar, very short, when there is little demand. When the demand is high, such as in the warmer months and in conjunction with special events at homes which normally are also planned for warmer months, the wait time may be a month or even significantly more. 
window cleaning in the winter in Pennsylvania

Plan Ahead If You Can

The point is, it is probably not reasonable to expect a reputable and experienced service company such as one that provides residential window cleaning, to be there 'tomorrow' during the busy season. You may be fortunate and find such a one that will deliver quality service and is in the early stages of growth. Chances are, if they continue on the right path business-wise, you will not be able to get that type of 'immediate' service as time goes by. Some companies hire seasonal workers for just this situation, that is to optimize the opportunity for a large share of the demand. The wait for you as a homeowner may be less than when using a company that keeps the same core staff year-round. But you may get less experienced technicians as well.            
Clearly, there are several things to consider when building up an expectation for how soon you can get someone to your house for your required service.

My suggestion, based on decades of experience, is if you can commit to scheduling your next service while your window cleaners or whoever else it may be are still on the premises, you will instantly be at an advantage. I'm personally happy as a service provider to schedule months or even a year in advance. It's a win-win. You as a homeowner don't have to scramble at the last minute in desperate hopes of getting a good company to clean your windows and I, the contractor, can start to fill what will become a jam-packed schedule with priority customers. 

If you live in northeastern Pennsylvania and want great quality residential window cleaning from a company with over 30 years of continuous experience, consider us. We are Dan Wagner Window Cleaning, established in 1986. Call or text us at 5706300326.

You'll like what you see!