We Promise and We Deliver: Some of what it takes for a measure of success in a small business!

I was a landscape contractor for 20+ years before returning to the window cleaning business. I learned a few things in that time, much of it what NOT TO DO.  What needs to happen for a measure of success running a small business is outlined simply below.

  • Settle in for the long haul and plan & implement with the “long haul” in mind.
  • Determine to authentically carry yourself and present yourself as a “Professional,” and then deliver that.
  • Be prepared to stand behind your product even to your “loss.” Promise and Deliver-Keep your word!
  • Network and find marketing strategies that are effective. Keep accurate statistics on everything!
  • Carry the insurance and employee work comp coverage required by law-operate in compliance.
  • Look until you find the best people you can hire and then turn them loose
  • Understand that people would rather pay a bit more and feel great about the finished product than save a few dollars and feel they didn’t get the best service possible.
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Hmmm.I wonder if I should clean my solar panels installed 5 years ago? The answer: YES!!!

Reasons to clean solar panels:

  • Energy savings of 15-30% when the panels are clean
  • Increase the life span of panels, protect your investment!
  • Aesthetics- Panels look better when they are clean
  • Neglect possibly voids guarantee

Some concerns to be addressed as cleaning of solar panels is being considered: 

  • Mineral deposit buildup can occur with a simple “hose down” over time. Have you ever noticed the etched glass that occurs when a sprinkler head hits a window for a protracted period of time? Permanent damage can occur.
  • Panels aren’t fully cleaned without purified water and a scrub, and if very dirty, a “solar panel cleaner” may be advisable.
  • Electrical danger and falls from roof areas are a perennial concern for the “do it yourselfers.”

Research indicates:
The cleaner the surface of the panel, the more unobstructed surface, the more the sun has to “work with.” How often should you clean your solar panels? That depends on where you live-if there is a lot of construction in your area, if you live in a windy desert or if you have lots of particulates in your air you will probably need to clean them more often. Some areas need a monthly washing, while other areas can get away with twice a year.

The more often you clean, you might even be able to get away with just rinsing maybe with some “soft water,” assuming you don’t have built up bird droppings or caked on dirt. A good scrub down and that meter may be spinning backwards. If your meter is spinning forwards in the middle of the day with the sun brightly shining, it means either you have a lot of appliances on or your panels are not doing their job. If the panels aren’t doing their job, then you’re losing money. 

Dust on solar panels does a lot more than just make them look bad. According to Larry Greenemeier writing in Scientific American, “[a] dust layer of 4 grams per square meter can decrease solar power conversion by 40 percent,” citing research conducted at Boston University.

Next time I blog… “Some cleaning options”

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Considerations to Maximize the Effectiveness of Solar Panels, and Preserving the Value of your Windows through Maintenance Procedures and Cleaning.

Last month we looked at some maintenance steps a homeowner can take to maximize the effectiveness of their solar panels, if they have them, and that boiled down to properly cleaning them.  If you didn’t see that article and it’s germane read my 1/26/18 blog post and see what’s helpful to you in that article
This follow up piece is about protecting the investment you have in your windows.  You may say, “I didn’t invest any money in ‘my windows!’”  Well, if you bought a house you bought windows and they require maintenance just like your roof, carpeting, and fixtures.  Windows are easily forgotten because they’re kinda’ just there, for the most part you can see through them pretty well, and they may seldom be opened to reveal the rusty cranking mechanisms, the eroded seals, the insects that have made the area home.  (Sometimes I feel like I’m a part time pest control person. Those closed windows are perfect for raising a little bug/spider family.)  So, because the windows are “out of sight, out of mind” we simply don’t notice the dullness that has crept in because of the salt, jet fuel, dust, bird splatter, and we don’t think about the deleterious effects of the  sun beating on that window day after day with that garbage on your windows.

At the time of the sale of the house…
I want to suggest to you too that the condition of your windows will be of significant importance if and when you get ready to sell, especially if you have a view.  I know too that the condition of your windows has an unconscious impact on how you feel about being in those rooms, and believe it or not, how you feel about life.  If I could put in a spray bottle what people experience after the windows are cleaned and spritz them, I’d make a fortune. 
People love the “feeling” of crystal clear clean glass.
Cleaning of your exterior window surfaces preserves them just like cleaning your car preserves its surface.  The dirt, moisture, salts (in our area) and  the sun erode the surfaces of both your car and your windows, especially in coastal areas where the salt eats away the surface of the glass and collects on the inner workings of the hinging, cranking and locking mechanisms.  The window frames are also slowly damaged by these same elements. I have lots of Realtors who order up window cleaning before showing a home.
On screen cleaning…
The screens on your windows provide a measure of protection if they are on the outside but can also add to the corrosion problem if they are constructed of a metal mesh, typically aluminum.  Aluminum screens become oxidized and cause the windows to be “screen burned” which is simply the pitting of the surface of the glass.  Vinyl screens are advised and are usually what is used today.  Screen frames sit in damaging mixtures of dirt/salt and water and over time the corners frequently break up creating a challenge to get them out or back in. Screens can be removed and stored during the cooler times of the year.  Doing this lengthens the life of the screen, opens up the view when the windows aren’t normally opened and reduces the time the screen will be present to breakdown and impact the window. 
Mineral deposit damage…
Hard water damage to windows is common and repairable if not left too long.  Professional cleaners are available along with tools to clean up glass that has had a steady spray of water on it over time and is now water spotted and damaged. If you have mineral deposits showing up on your windows, like you might notice on your shower doors, check the irrigation (sprinkler) system near those windows.  Irrigation heads can usually be adjusted away from windows and their frames.
Mechanical parts…final thoughts…
     You’ll preserve the life (value) of your windows if the mechanical parts that open and close them are kept in good working order. Three things you can do to accomplish “good working order” are to clean those mechanisms, lubricate them and repair them.
     So, give some consideration to the investment you’ve made in your windows, frames and screens.  Many people say, “I don’t do windows” but a few tools from the home improvement store and a bit of elbow grease can go a long way toward preserving your investment and giving you a place that’s delightful to be in because it’s “fresh and clean.”  Lastly, as a rule of thumb, homes in our coastal areas need an exterior cleaning about every 6 months minimum and inside cleaning annually.   Most standard 2 story homes in this area can be cleaned by a professional, inside and out, for about $275.00-$320.00 and that includes the cleaning of the tracks, sills, framing, and screens.  So, protect that investment and clean or arrange to have your windows cleaned on occasion.  Get them “detailed” like you have the car detailed at times and they will last longer and allow delightful light into those rooms and with that light a sense of cleanliness that you’ll enjoy. Blue Ocean details windows!
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Wow…that’s a lot of money for window cleaning!!

I’ve had a few people suggest my pricing is “high.”  Well, you know what Einstein said, “Everything is relative.”  Actually he probably didn’t say that but I bet he’d agree with it.

When I hear this I feel like it’s time to educate.  People who haven’t dealt with funding and maintaining a successful business typically have little idea what it takes. I’m tellin’ you, it takes a lot. Something like 85-90% of small businesses fail.

Here’s my reply to folks who feel my pricing is out of line.

I determine my rates by:
Determining what my costs are and factoring those into my estimate.
1. Mandatory sick leave (Mandated by the government)
2. Ever increasing workmen’s compensation and liability insurance costs
3. Expensive security checks on employees
4. Cost of standing behind our work, even to our loss.
5. Responsiveness to customer timetable and needs

Support expenses: Driving to and from prospective clients to look at the project, preparing quotes, upgrading and implementing new technology, finding new clients, maintaining existing accounts, preparing and disseminating marketing materials, researching/setting up/maintaining websites, and social media posts, repairs to equipment and vehicles, replacing vehicles, shopping and laundry, cleaning the office/vehicles/shop area, lights and water, doing accounts payables, receivables, purchasing.  I suspect you understand.   Thank you for the opportunity to provide the estimate.


People ask “How much does it cost to clean each window?” These factors also go into how much it costs to clean a window:  How much dirt on it? 1st floor or 2nd,? Fallbrook or Pt. Loma? Inside and out cleaning, or only exterior cleaning?  Screens on the windows? How dirty are they? What condition are they in?  Are most of the windows large or small in size or a mixed amount of small, medium sized and large? On the inside are the tracks relatively clean or need some real attention? Are their obstructions to working inside? Obstructions outside?  House on a canyon that effectively makes it a 3 story house? If windbreaks…do you want them cleaned? Are they “quieter home” program windows? Are they tinted? Is the cleaning part of a post construction cleaning? Do we have to walk on a tile roof or other “dangerous” arrangement?  This is a partial list but it helps one to understand the difficulty of quoting a per pane price.

If we are “too high” I encourage people to shop around but before you commit make sure he/she protects your floors/furniture/window treatments, make sure they are trustworthy and safe to have in your bedroom, will stand behind the work and repair or replace items that may be damaged during the work.

I hope that helps. ☺

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Why Blue Ocean Window Cleaning?

I recently had a lady say “I hear you’re ‘pricey’… can you tell me why?” I was a bit surprised, even taken aback, but I took a moment, thought about “why?” and then made these points with her.

  1. We deliver!  We have a byword “We promise and we deliver”  We do all we can to be people, a company, that keep it’s word and it’s word is it’s bond.
  2. We stand behind the work we do.  If we break something, miss something, fail to perform in any way that is in fact a falling short on our part…we make it right, even to our loss.
  3. Fair wages for the Team Members.  To get people who will stay for years they have to be compensated, treated fairly, have opportunities for growth, and work in an environment where morale is high.  We pay well because our Team Member produce, and they produce while maintaining very high standards.  We get 5 star ratings on nearly every job and that won’t happen with poorly paid inexperienced Team Members.  They have to be paid a fair wage or they go elsewhere and turnover costs can be significant in this business. Experience matters to our customers.  They can rest easy and have confidence when they sense experience and see vehicles and equipment consistent with a professional operation.
  4. Safety is emphasized and it costs to stress safety and abide by the law in regard to safe operations. This emphasis protects the Team Member, our companies viability, and your interests.
  5. Responsiveness:  Another byword for us is “Responsive and Responsible.”  It takes planning and resources to live up to this commitment.  We are known for being problem solvers, the “go to guys” when someone needs action on a project.  Again, It takes planning and resources to live up to this commitment.
  6. We are kind of “old school.”  We use modern technology and equipment but bring a mentality to our customers that puts customer service and satisfaction ahead of profit.  That approach makes us a little “pricey” sometimes. But, like I’ve said many times, “I have learned that people would rather pay a bit more and feel great about the finished product than save a few dollars and feel they didn’t get good value.”

Thanks for reading. ☺

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Window Washing Business Gleams Despite Tough Economy

Well…beginning year number 9 and I ran across this article in the local paper that featured a story about a new window cleaner in the area. In 2019 we will break all the records! Thank you to all who made it possible.

​This article – “Window Washing Business Gleams Despite Tough Economy” was originally written by Debbie Hatch for The Peninsula Beacon


Paul Pate puts the polish into a job as owner of Blue Ocean Window Cleaning. 
The exceptional views from Point Loma and Ocean Beach give homeowners something to brag about — but not if they are looking through dirty windows.

With that in mind, Paul Pate, owner of Blue Ocean Window Cleaning, offers a service to help homeowners maximize their views.

“It’s amazing to me the psychological difference it makes for people when their windows are clean,” Pate said.

Dirt left on a window can eat away at the surface, causing damage over time, especially in San Diego where salt and moisture are environmental factors. Pate suggests homeowners have their windows cleaned at least once a year.

Most homeowners have no idea how dirty their windows are until they have them cleaned, Pate said.

“Everything gets dirty around a window or window frame, and it will get taken care of,” Pate said of his services.

His business includes the cleaning of windowsills, window frames and screens. He also offers the option of having solar panels cleaned.

“There’s nothing fancy about it,” Pate said. “It’s just something that people forget about.”

The effectiveness of the solar panels is increased as the result of cleaning, he added.

Pate and a business partner started a window-washing service in the early 1980s. Over time, the company branched out into landscaping. After six years, the duo amicably split the business into two separate entities.  Pate took the landscaping portion and ran with it for 24 years.

In 2005, the economy forced Pate to close his landscaping business and he began working in sales.

Recently, Pate decided to revive his window-washing business as a side job, but word of mouth spread — and now, his side business is taking off.

He said his business ethics, conscientious behavior and dependability are the characteristics of his business; traits he believes are keeping him booked.

“They can expect me to show up on time and do the job at a competitive price,” Pate said.

Pate and his wife are both graduates of Point Loma Nazarene University and have lived in Point Loma for more than 25 years. 

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THE UNANSWERABLE COSMIC QUESTION… How much will my window cleaning cost?

People frequently call and ask “How much to clean my windows?” and I can never tell them without a lot of questions from me and even then I probably need to go see the property. Here are the questions I need answers too.

  • Is it a single story or 2 story building?
  • Inside and outside window cleaning, or only exterior cleaning?
  • Will I have to climb on the roof? What type roof is it if I have to go on the roof?
  • When were the windows last cleaned outside?
  • When were the windows last cleaned inside?
  • Are the tracks quite clean or very dirty?
  • Are there screens on the windows, if so what percentage of the windows have screens?
  • What type of screens are they? (Some screens have locking mechanisms)
  • How many large screens and how large? (Large screens are difficult to handle and clean)
  • Are most of the windows large or small in size or a mixed amount of varied sizes?
  • Are their obstructions to working inside (dressers/beds/knick knacks/etc.)?
  • Are there trees/ large shrubs (obstructions) outside that block ladder usage?
  • Can we use our pure water system and avoid ladder climbing?
  • Is the house on a canyon that effectively makes it a 3 or 4 story house?
  • If there are windbreaks or skylights…do you want them cleaned and how many? Outside only?
  • Are the windows tinted? What type of tint is on them?
  • Is the cleaning post construction or post remodeling cleaning? (post construction-TOUGH)
  • Do we have to walk on a “dangerous” arrangement like a ledge 3’ wide to access any windows?
  • Fallbrook or Pt. Loma (The distance issue)?

This is a partial list but it helps one to understand the difficulty of quoting a per pane price.  We will gladly provide a written estimate at no charge and then you can determine if it makes sense for you.

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Cobweb Removal… Why worry about it?

Cobwebs aren’t just unsightly, they can quickly be a large-scale problem. Whether it’s one spider or hundreds of baby spiders, they can quickly call your window eaves, window frames and doorways home. And don’t be fooled, these problems don’t stay outside. Open windows, torn screens, open doors, vents and more can be an invitation for a spider to come inside and weave their web. Don’t let your property become a home for spiders, take care of those cobwebs! 

Follow these steps for a clean and simple cobweb removal: 

  • Purchase an extension pole and a web removal at any big box store to remove the cobwebs. You can also use a long handled broom, too.
  • Go around your property and knock down any webs you see. Be sure to pay attention to the underside of your roof and window frames, as spiders tend to favorite these areas.
  • Keep your eye around areas of your property for the next week or so, and knock down any cobwebs that reappear.
  • You can also use the extension pole and web removal inside to get to any hard to reach cobwebs. Search for angled areas, like the corner of your ceiling.

​Take care of those spiders before they become a nuisance on your property. Remember, one spider can quickly turn into hundreds. Don’t let the cobweb problem turn into a spider infestation. Get out there and remove those cobwebs today. 

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How to Get Clean Rain Gutters

It’s not raining yet, but it’s never too early to start preparing for the winter rains. One thing to think about is your rain gutters. While the leaves lining your rain gutters may not be a problem now, they can cause problems later.  Debris such as leaves and asphalt single grit not only clog your gutters, but also causes them to bend under the weight of too much water. This will eventually cause the rain gutter to pull away from the fascia boards. 

Don’t let a small overflow of leaves lead to an expensive and annoying home improvement issue. Now is the time to get your rain gutters cleaned! If you’re cleaning your rain gutters yourself, there’s a few key steps to follow. These will not only guarantee a clean rain gutter, but also will protect your home from other problems. Follow these steps if you’re a do-it-yourselfer:

    • Disconnect the downspouts from the drainage system if they are connected. This will help avoid the debris from clogging your properties drainage system.
    • Start by getting on the roof with a hose to rinse off the roof prior to cleaning. The first rain of the year moves debris on the roof into gutters, so this will help lessen the debris that rain gathers. You can also use a leaf blower, just make sure to wear eye protection and a mask to avoid dust.
    • Next, work your way along the edge where the gutter is attached and pull out what you can with a gloved hand. Put all debris in a trash bag.
    • Reattach the downspouts and clean any debris off the ground.


If you’re not a do-it-yourself, know you can always call Blue Ocean Window Cleaning. We offer a variety of services, specifically gutter cleaning, to help you prepare your home for winter. Call us today to get those gutters clean!

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An Insight Into Pressure Washing

We’re all familiar with pressure washing but do you know exactly what should be consistently pressure washed? Today, pressure washing can be used to clean a lot more than clean the driveway. Here are a few areas you may not have realized can benefit from pressure washing: 

  • House roof, especially prior to gutter cleaning
  • House sides, especially prior to the window cleaning
  • Trash can enclosure and the trash cans
  • Garage floor
  • Stair areas outside
  • Roof top decks
  • Gutter undersides and fascia boards supporting the gutters
  • Post construction initial cleaning

Caution is necessary when using a pressure washing system. Different nozzles are used for different applications. One nozzle may be needed to cut gum loose from the concrete and another for simple a good rinse of the side of a house. Caution: Use the wrong tip on the wand and you may mar a surface or remove the paint where it wasn’t intended. There are attachments that can be added, like an injector that mixes liquid cleaner with the water, a long extendable pole that allows one to reach at least 2 stories up, and some units can give you hot water to the job site. Be aware too of the fact that you may need to reclaim the water that will be used in the system.  California law requires that the water go into a landscape or be collected and then put into a landscape. The water should not go into the drainage system tied to the city’s drainage system.  Fines will be assessed if you are caught doing such. This challenge will necessitate a wet/dry vacuum to collect the runoff so it can be moved to a landscaped area.

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