Fred Still has been in the Window Cleaning business for over 35 years. After slowly improving his services over time – Fred enlisted the help of family members to go one step further. Together with his daughter; Emma, the pair have worked tirelessly to build Still Window Cleaning Ltd to the success it is today.
In 1981, Fred made a living installing Rayburns and sweeping chimneys until he suffered damage to his back during a particularly nasty car accident. “I was 27 years old with three children at the time, it took me over 6 months to recover and it was certainly a low point in my life, not being able to work and provide for my family”.
“I tried to do whatever I could to get by and after recommendation from a friend, the idea of becoming a window cleaner was put in front of me”.
Fred found that he could get up and down a ladder without causing unnecessary strain to his back, and he started out with a few local window cleaning jobs to keep him going. “I had an old Fiesta with a roof rack for the ladder. People just knew me as Fred the window cleaner, I had no branding, no business cards – just me, a bucket, a sponge and a ladder!”
“I carried on like that for many years, I saw there was potential. With window cleaning, you are constantly on your feet, the physical activity was great to rehabilitate my back injury. Who needed the gym!?”
Fast forward to 2006, Fred has a brand new van and is now trading as ‘Still Cleaning’. Fred was one of the first local companies to be fully kitted out with a ‘Pure water’ system, an innovative way of window cleaning that filtered out any natural minerals and solids, resulting in crystal clear glass once dried.
Fred and his wife have five children in total, the eldest being Business Partner and Director- Emma Still. Emma joined Fred in February 2016, initially to help him out part time.
“Before I joined dad, I chose the corporate life and worked within the financial services industry for 15 years. After this I moved into marketing for large companies such as BT and Yell”.
Emma also has valuable experience in health and safety and employment law. After a number of jobs in a short period of time following redundancy from Yell, Emma realised that the employment market in the South West at the time wasn’t great so she decided to spend her time helping Fred build his business.
“As children, we all helped dad out to get a bit of pocket money, window cleaning has always been in our family. Dad and I sat down one day over lunch and at this point I’d been assisting in the company quite a bit. Coming from a business background I thought well, where is dad going with this?”
Putting their heads together, the pair realised they has great foundations to build the business into something bigger. Emma became full time and in May 2016 a second van was added to the fleet.
Fred explains that it was a huge change for him, but it was the best thing they could have done. “Running a business on your own, the way you’ve been used to for 34 years- and then having it all change was definitely tough”.
“To be honest I wasn’t 100% behind it in the beginning because I was still dragging my heels in the past. But seeing the business now, I am so glad we put in the hard work”.
Still Window Cleaning offer both commercial and domestic window cleaning services as well as fascias and uPVC, gutter vacuuming and conservatories. Fred explains that technology within the industry is always moving forward making their job easier and more effective.
“Take Gutter Vacuuming for example, most jobs need scaffolding due to health and safety. We can overcome this as we can reach four storeys high and remotely clean the interior of the gutter, preventing damage to the property and overflowing issues. No scaffolding, no ladders”.
In January 2017, Still Windows Cleaning introduced an app on their individual phones to keep track of their jobs. This was a world away from Fred’s old school pen and paper diary but he admits it has been a life saver since the company has grown in popularity.
“This not only makes it easier for us but for our clients too. They know exactly when we are going to turn up for the next job”. Fred explains that they have also updated their payment system, which means a more efficient service for everyone.
“There is no confusion over missed payments, and it reduces the need for money chasing if the client isn’t home at the time. We are becoming a cashless society, sometimes the client has paid before we’ve even finished the job! Each invoice is itemised so we both know the exact cost breakdown and the account balance”.
We are very customer focused, and being productive and organised is as much for our clients benefits as it is ours. We are completely transparent when it comes to our costs and we strive to offer a professional, reliable service that you can trust.
Due to growing demand, Fred and Emma employed family friend, Jimmy, in June of this year. Jimmy explains that he feels incredibly lucky to be able to call himself a part of the Still Window Cleaning team and it’s great to learn invaluable skills from someone like Fred.
“Both Fred and Emma are amazing bosses and this is the first time I’ve been proud of my job. The best part is working for Fred and seeing his passion even after 35 years. He has so much knowledge and is willing to teach others. You couldn’t ask for a better mentor he’s so relaxed and patient and makes you feel at ease with his friendly banter!”
In March 2016, Still Window Cleaning Services had a respectable 226 customers on their books. Now- due to the huge amount of hard work they have put into the family business, they have a fleet of 3 fully kitted out vans, 3 full time employees and over 650 loyal clients.
Emma explains that due to the ever growing demand; herself, Jimmy and Fred are looking to recruit another member to their passionate and hardworking team. “We want to ensure we retain a personal and manageable service but we would also like to expand our reach”.
Still Window Cleaning currently cover Plymouth, Totnes, Dartmouth, the South Hams, Tavist
ock and the Moors. They are looking to take on more customers, particularly in the corridor linking Plymouth to Totnes along with an additional team member and are happy to train up anyone who feels they are right for the job!
Looking to the future, Fred explains that he would eventually love to taper down his involvement and hand the business over to his daughter Emma. “Emma has given me a great relief. She has a great grounding, a path has to be followed to make a successful business and she knows exactly how to do that”.
Still Window Cleaning realise the power of Social media when it comes to advertising their services, and their Facebook page gives a great feel for the company ethos. To find out more about their services, or to enquire about the upcoming vacancy, search for their page or contact the team on the number below.