“The first indication of where a business is heading is the the look of it before you even get inside,” says Dale, founder of Dr. Glass - window cleaning specialists.
"The second is the body language of the people working there,” Dale explains, “it’s such a giveaway and it’s almost impossible to fake, but the first sign that management is about to give up on their business is when they abandon the pursuit of cleanliness.”
Dale has just finished cleaning the windows on a large commercial building which was particularly demanding because renovations had recently been completed and it was important for the glass to be spotlessly clean to meet client expectations for opening day. Toiling beside Dale is one of the window cleaners from his team, Samantha, who barely pauses for breath before rattling off some of the tell-tale signs of a business in decline.
“Dirty glass, finger prints, oily head prints where people have leaned against a window, stains from food or coffee spills, dust, basically anything that make it look like the business owner doesn’t care about hygiene."
Dr. Glass specialises in making a customer's first impressions positive.
“Even offices where no food consumption takes place require window cleaning services, not only for hygiene, but also because glass is porous and staining can occur if the build up of dust, dirt and grime is not thoroughly cleaned,” adds Samantha, “and the trick is not a massive clean-up once a year, but small, regular cleans so there’s never a build up of signs that effectively tell customers to stay away.”
Dale claims there is a difference in clean standards between businesses such as family run enterprises that rely on the goodwill of their customers for success and businesses that answer to shareholders.
“I’ve found that if a business is responsible to shareholders, they tend to be more budget conscious and are often reluctant to pay for the niceties of window cleaning, while businesses that answer directly to those who walk into their premises are keen to cater to their needs.”
“The cleaner your premises, the greater your chance of success. After all, who wants to work in an environment that has a milky looking glass, a dirty toilet, dirty kitchen and grubby staff room and which customer wants to enter a business where the front entrance is covered in cob webs and the window ledges are dirty or sticky? People can tell the difference between a place that has been cleaned recently and one that has been neglected."
“You do not need to spend a fortune on cleaning but keeping the business clean means people want to come back because they know you take pride in your business.”
The cost of regular window cleaning is in fact far less than most people might expect, and certainly less than a 'one-off clean' that requires sometimes two or three times the amount of work to complete.
The Dr. Glass window cleaning team, service an impressive cross section of the workplace, including apartments, schools, restaurants, cafes, small businesses, student accommodation, hotels and function centres that combine to give them a powerful insight into the signs that indicate a business is dying.
“Whatever you do,” urges Dale, “keep it clean.”