HiRange Window Cleaning – realising a business dream

Damon Clarke was just 16 when he began dreaming of his own business. He knew he wanted to make a mark on the world in his own way.

To me, even that one word, ‘business’ was exciting and stimulating. I clearly remember thinking that I didn’t want to be an employee. 

I deliberately chose subjects for Year 12 VCE that did not pigeonhole me; subjects that would give me a broad knowledge of the fundamentals of running a business.

After finishing school, Damon completed a business degree, and worked in retail management and recruitment for a time. 

He was always drawn to people who walked the talk and had ‘been there, done that’. Damon established connections with great mentors, who encouraged his entrepreneurial thinking. One of these connections led Damon to a partnership within an essential services franchise.

This was a big learning curve. I soon discovered it wasn’t for me, and the partnership did not work out the way I’d hoped. I left, a little bruised, wondering what to do next.” 

Now in his mid-20s, the dream of business ownership was still burning just as bright for Damon.  He felt sure he just needed the right opportunity.

Then one day he met Phil, the owner of HiRange Window Cleaning.

“Phil offered me a job for a few months, cleaning windows. It got me out of a suit, into shorts and a T-shirt for a while. I loved it. But I couldn’t help looking at the way Phil was operating his business and thinking it could be so much better.

Taking calls from up a ladder, Phil was losing business.

Phil was in hot demand – getting a constant stream of calls and referrals. Phil provided excellent service, but he wasn’t at all focussed on how the business was run. 

“People would ring Phil while he was up the ladder with a squeegee and he would miss calls. He’d write numbers on the back of his arm or his leg, then lose them. He was so busy that he was actually losing business!

“I knew if we had somebody taking care of administration and somebody cleaning windows, we could provide better customer service. And if demand was strong in Phil’s local suburbs, surely demand was strong in other parts of Melbourne, and in other states. 

Damon told Phil his ideas and was offered half of the business. Damon jumped at the chance. Then business slowed down the following winter, and Phil needed the certainty of a full time job. 

“Phil offered me the whole business – and my dream was alive again. I decided to use HiRange Window Cleaning as a testing ground to learn the skills of building and operating a business.

This was ground zero.

A logo, some magnets for a car, basic window cleaning gear. Ads in local papers and a small database. No marketing effort, no online presence, no staff, no administration, no structure. 

Damon thought it was perfect.

When I did some research, I couldn’t find a window cleaning business operating nationally anywhere in Australia. I set my vision then and there – I was going to build a national window cleaning business.

“Every single waking minute, I have that vision in my head. It’s still there today, and everything I’ve done has been building towards fulfilling that vision.

The revolution of online quoting

When Damon took over ownership of HiRange Window Cleaning, people were relying on print advertising and the Yellow Pages to promote their businesses. But taking out an expensive full page ad in the Yellow Pages limited a business’ reach to the local area. 

People were just starting to use the internet to search for tradespeople and suppliers – and Damon saw an opportunity.

Providing quotes was a time-consuming, laborious process. Setting times to go and see properties to provide quotes, driving from one side of the city to the other, it simply wasn’t going to work. 

People were becoming more time poor, working longer hours and were often not home to meet on-site.

“I realised what we needed was an online quoting system. 

While everyone else was advertising their window cleaning services in local papers, Damon adopted a completely different strategy. He invested money in creating an online quoting system that could generate fixed price quotes. Then he ran ads in local papers, directing people to their website to get a quote. 

Our competitors said it wouldn’t work – but it did. We started generating a regular portfolio of work. We were able to generate quotes 24 hours a day, 7 days a week all over Melbourne and take bookings. We reduced the cost of producing quotes to almost zero.

“Then we invested in SEO. I wanted to be at the forefront of the window cleaning space.

“We increased scale and geographical area so we could quote on properties in any suburb, and we were able to do it faster than our competitors. This became key to the success of our service delivery. 

From local – to national

For 10 years, Damon gradually grew his team and kept finessing service delivery and processes, even while navigating a global financial crisis and a pandemic. He held on to his vision. The concept was simple. With outstanding service, excellent processes, and quality people, he was confident the business could expand nationally, or even internationally if they got it right. 

Then came the breakthrough moment; a call from ALDI in early 2020.

ALDI had done a search for window cleaners in Melbourne and all the hard work paid off – we popped up. They called and asked if we were interested in providing them with a price to clean all 130 of their Victorian supermarkets.” 

ALDI wanted to use HiRange in Victoria as a testing ground, to compare against the rest of the country where their general store cleaners did the work. Their goal was to explore the value for their customers in a specialist window cleaner.

HiRange was good – and they were different.

After a couple of cleaning cycles, ALDI was blown away by the difference in service provided by Damon and his team. 

“We thoroughly cleaned their windows, we cleaned the ledges and screens. We were a professional cleaning service with well-presented, uniformed staff, an exceptional customer service team. 

“There was a structure in place, with a team leader overseeing cleaning staff, and an admin team easily contactable via phone. We arrived at every job in bright, eye-catching vans with professional signage. 

“These are the elements of service delivery that set us apart from our competitors every single day.”

Damon knew this was his chance to go national. So he pitched his idea to ALDI; to clean windows for every one of their supermarkets across the country. 

This was Damon’s opportunity to fulfil the dream he had as a 26-year-old, to build a national business. He wanted this contract – and no one was going to beat HiRange.

“ALDI wanted consistency, they wanted excellence. They didn’t want variations across properties, they wanted the same supplier delivering the same quality of work everywhere. 

I analysed the details. I triple tested my figures. We went to tender, I pushed and worked hard, and we won it.” 

HiRange Window Cleaning now has Australia’s third largest supermarket chain under contract for a number of years. 

It has been an amazing triumph for us. It’s given us the opportunity to employ staff in Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, and Adelaide – and begin building a national footprint.

“ALDI says we are the dream supplier – we are the best they could find. It’s a credit to my team and our hard work over the years.

Now Damon is imagining the future.

 To keep building on their strengths, HiRange Window Cleaning has embraced technology. Damon and his team use project management software and job management software, and are working towards full systemisation. 

They have improved their website and user experience, adjusted targeting, invested in SEO and Google Ads. The work never stops.

“We’ve laid a really solid foundation, and there are systems in place. Now it’s about scaling and driving business further.

I’m trying to build something that will not just survive without me, but actually grow and thrive without me. That’s my vision for the future. 

We’ve laid a really solid foundation, and there are systems in place. Now it’s about scaling and driving business further.

I’m trying to build something that will not just survive without me, but actually grow and thrive without me. That’s my vision for the future.

I’m proud of the journey, and I’m proud of the grind and the entrepreneurial roller coaster. We’ve had our moments of financial despair and disarray. But I just knew there was a market for a national window cleaner in Australia. I knew I had the right idea and digital was the future.

Everything that’s happened has validated my vision. Now we are excited for a bigger, brighter future

Damon Clarke

Everything that’s happened has validated my vision. Now we are excited for a bigger, brighter future!”