“Your reputation is important”

“Your reputation is important”

Please introduce yourself to the clean Magazine readers. 
Hi, my name’s Ashley Mackintosh, I started my business A.E.Mackintosh Cleaning Services nearly 20 years ago now – where has the time gone! I started purely as a window cleaning business, but I have diversified a little now. I’ve done all kinds of different cleaning tasks over the years but mainly I promote my exterior cleaning services throughout the Northamptonshire area.

When and how did you become a professional window cleaner?
I started cleaning windows part time while I studied at college. I worked with a friend who needed a hand, but my reputation for working hard spread and I ended up working with quite a few different window cleaners for a while. But of course I began picking up some of my own jobs and my own round started to grow. Looking back, it was a great way to get into the industry, I picked up different tips and techniques from each of the guys I worked with. Everyone had their own little ways of doing things, I developed my own style by picking up on different things from them.

Mackintosh Neu 2What are your tools of choice – traditional or water fed – and why?
That is a tricky subject! I promote myself as a good old fashioned traditional window cleaner with high standards. This fits in well with my target market which consists mostly of domestic customers who appreciate the attention to detail. Not that I don’t think there is a place for water fed, it just depends on your business approach. For many years I have incorporated the two, using a basic water fed system to accomplish some tasks that Just couldn’t be done the traditional way, more recently I have upgraded my pure water pole system to make it a more integral part of my business.

Recently you have produced a great video review Unger Stingray Indoor Cleaning System. What has prompted you to create the video?
Honestly- YouTube hits. I wanted to boost my website by attaching the video to it. I thought that this new tool would get a lot of attention from window cleaners curious to see it in action. But now I have used it quite a bit, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised. I have a number of regular awkward jobs where it has proved invaluable.

What are your thoughts on the Stingray for professional window cleaning?
It definitely gives another dimension to my business. It is especially good in more sensitive areas where access might be difficult or you might not want to splash soapy water all over the place with traditional tools. I have some jobs where I’ve been taking the ladder inside to get to certain windows, but now I use the stingray which makes things much easier. Overall it gives me a much more professional approach to certain situations.

Do you use other Unger tools and if so, do you have a favourite?
In the early days I would try all sorts of different bits of kit, compare them with the guys I was working with: Squeegees, buckets, scrapers, pouches. Unger has become my go to brand of equipment that I feel most comfortable with. I particularly like the Ninja squeegee. It’s robust and durable, and I particularly like the way it holds the blade against the glass. It really just seems to suit the way I work.

What would be your dream product to trial in your work?
Can’t say that I particularly dream about window cleaning products… But how about some kind of water fed applicator, so I don’t have to keep going back to the bucket of water?

Running your own business can be challenging – what are your personal highlights and lowlights?
I remember one year it had been a particularly harsh winter followed by quite a wet spring, I really struggled to get any work done because of the harsh weather and I seriously considered giving it up to do something different. In the end I have diversified to include other exterior cleaning jobs that can be done even when the weather is bad! There have been some good experiences though that have made the hard graft seem worthwhile. More recently a regular customer moved house. She moved to a street of fairly large new build houses and was keen to keep me as her window cleaner. So keen in fact that she insisted that all the other newcomers to the street should also have me as their window cleaner! She wanted to make sure that it was worthwhile for me as I was “the best window cleaner that she had ever had”. Now I clean all the houses in that street and that one job has turned into a great days work! But those customers are now also starting to also take advantage of my other services too.

Any advice for the new starters in professional window cleaning?
You have to be prepared to put in the effort and have good self discipline. It might sound cliche but if you look after your customers they will look after you! Your reputation is so important as much of my work has come through recommendations from satisfied customers, and that wouldn’t happen without delivering a quality service! Of course image is so important. For a long time I used an old car for work like many window cleaners, it was a cheap way to run a vehicle for work. Eventually I took the plunge and invested in a van. I couldn’t believe the reaction from some of my customers, a few of them insisted on paying me more since I had become “so professional”! Well I was doing exactly the same quality job as I was before, but ever since then I’ve gone all out to look as professional as I can and having the right tools for the job gives the professional image that I think helps me stand out from the crowd.

Fotos: © A.E.Mackintosh Cleaning Services

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