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How to Start a Gutter Cleaning Business

How to Start a Gutter Cleaning Business

How to Start a Gutter Cleaning Business

How to Start a Gutter Cleaning Business

How to Start a Gutter Cleaning Business

If you enjoy working outdoors and have dreamed of starting your own business, a gutter cleaning business may be a great option for you.  It does not cost much to start, and it’s relatively simple to manage.  Your services will always be in demand, and you can make a living being your own boss.

Business Overview

A gutter cleaning business offers services to homeowners to clean leaves and debris out of their gutters and downspouts as a one-time service or on a regular basis.  Some businesses offer the cleaning of clogged gutters only, and some offer it as part of a suite of services such as handyman, home improvement, or painting services.

Cleaning gutters is a physically demanding and dirty job that will be done outdoors when it may be cold and raining or in unsafe situations like homes with a steep roof.

One way to build a great reputation, get repeat business, and be able to charge more is to clean up after the job as many competitors will overlook the mess from cleaning the gutters. Most of what comes out of a gutter are decomposed plants or roofing materials like nails, shingle granules, and debris. 

The other challenge is that a gutter cleaning business will be seasonal, so you will need to plan for your downtimes.  Gutter cleaning season varies by location, but generally, it starts at the end of summer until it starts to snow. While cleaning gutters isn’t typically a year-round need, there are other types of similar services such as pressure washing, skylight cleaning services, or window washing.

Industry Summary

Gutter cleaning is part of the exterior building cleaning industry, which has a $10 billion market size according to IBIS World.  The industry has grown 2% per year for the last five years and is expected to continue to grow.  According to Market Research, demand for exterior cleaning services improved as growth in household formation rates expanded the potential customer numbers, and more disposable income allowed homeowners to hire for cleaning services that they did not do during the recession.

Industry Trends

Gutter cleaning demand should continue to increase post-pandemic as people return to work and “business as usual.”  The industry is very sensitive to economic fluctuations, so during economic downturns, the demand decreases due to people delaying non-essential services. There are new tools available to clean gutters from the ground, making it safer to do.

Target Market

Your target market will be homeowners, mainly those who have trees in their yards, although other types of debris can accumulate in gutters.

Skills, Experience, and Education Useful in Running a Gutter Cleaning Service

There are several specific skills and education that you will need to open a gutter cleaning business.

  • Experience.  While gutter cleaning is not complicated, experience will be an asset and give you credibility when talking to potential customers.
  • Business knowledge and experience.  You will need to have at least some basic knowledge of marketing, finance/accounting, and human resources.
  • Customer service. You’ll need to be able to build rapport with your customers so that you retain them as customers and gain repeat business and referrals.

Checklist for Starting a Gutter Cleaning Business

If you’re thinking about starting your own gutter cleaning business, there are a few things you should keep in mind. Here is a checklist of the essentials to get started.

Step 1: Write your Business Plan

After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your gutter cleaning business should be to write a business plan.  The business plan will make you focus on some important aspects of the business, such as who your customers are, how you plan to reach them, projecting sales and expenses, your value proposition to use for marketing, and more. You’ll also need to do some research to calculate exactly what your startup expenses will be and what your ongoing expenses will be.

Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan if you need financing, but multiple studies have shown that having a good business plan increases the odds of starting a successful business. Writing the plan helps you think through all the aspects of the business and then serves as a guide as you begin.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 2: Name the Business

Finding the perfect gutter cleaning business name can be challenging. Not only does the name have to reflect what you do and be appealing to customers, but it also has to be available to use. You can check your state’s website to see if the name is available and register your name.  Your name should make you stand out, reflect your brand, and tell potential customers exactly what you do.

Step 3: Form a Business Entity

A business entity refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business entities to choose from, which include the sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, and Limited Liability Company (LLC). Each type of entity has its own pros and cons, such as liability exposure, costs, and administrative requirements.

When deciding on which business entity is best for a gutter cleaning business, it normally comes down to the sole proprietorship and Limited Liability Company.

A partnership opens the owners up to unnecessary personal liability because if a partner does something to get the business sued, or runs off with cash from the business, the other partners are personally liable to repay. The corporation can be a good choice because it separates the business assets from the owner’s assets. If the corporation is sued or certain business debts can’t be paid back, the owners aren’t personally responsible to repay them. The downside to the corporation is that it is more complicated than all the other entities and requires more administration than the LLC. If you plan on raising a lot of investment though, the corporation is usually the better choice.

That leaves the sole proprietorship and LLC.

The sole proprietorship is the least expensive and easiest entity to start which is appealing. The downside is the owner is personally liable should anything happen to the business, which is an important consideration. The LLC offers the ability to operate as a sole proprietorship with the liability protection of a corporation. Depending on the state, the cost to form an LLC runs from $40 – $500, which is pretty inexpensive for protecting the owners from business-related lawsuits and certain debts.

Related: Guide to forming your LLC

Forming an LLC sounds complicated and expensive, but using an entity formation service guides you through the process so you know it was done right.

Some popular LLC formation services include:

IncFile - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

IncAuthority - $0 plus state fees & free registered agent the first year!

ZenBusiness - $49 plus state fees & free registered agent for 1 year!

Step 4: Select your Location

Chances are you will run your gutter cleaning service from your home, but you will need to decide on your service area depending on how far you are willing to travel to minimize transportation costs.  You will want to look for customers in neighborhoods that have trees, so you will generally be looking for more mature areas rather than new construction areas.

Related: Choosing a business location

Step 5: Apply for Business Licenses and Permits

You may need to obtain certain business licenses and permits. These permits and licenses can vary based on the state and town where the business is located. A gutter cleaning business may be considered a contractor business in some states so that you may need a contractor’s license.  Some other common local, state, and federal registrations a gutter cleaning business may need include a sales tax permit and an Employer Identification Number.

Related: Common business licenses, permits, and registrations by state

Step 6: Find Financing

Coming up with a good business idea and having the skills to run it are one thing, but getting the funding to start a gutter cleaning business is another.  In order to get a loan, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and be able to invest 15-25% of their money towards the total start-up costs.  Fortunately, the startup costs for a gutter cleaning business are quite low, and many entrepreneurs use their own funds, a home equity loan, or credit cards to get started.

Related: Finding the money to start a business

Step 7: Open a Business Bank Account

Keeping your small business and personal finances in separate bank accounts is important to track the income and expenses of your business and identify trends.
Many banks offer free business checking accounts, so be sure to find a cost-effective option for your business.

Step 8: Get your Marketing Plan in Place

A gutter cleaning business will need to set aside a budget to cover marketing costs on a continuous basis. Common marketing techniques for a gutter cleaning business include yard signs, social media marketing, and online advertising, as well as flyers and postcard mailers.  Developing a website can be a significant expense, but it can also give your gutter cleaning business greater visibility online.

Related: Low-cost ideas to market a new business

Every business is going to need a logo. Make a professional logo in no time with the free logo makers from BrandCrowd and Canva.

Step 9: Get Business Insurance

There are several types of insurance to consider when starting a gutter cleaning business. A few of these include:
– General liability insurance can help protect you from third-party claims of bodily injury and property damage. For a gutter cleaning business, this may be more expensive due to the danger of the job.
– Worker’s compensation insurance covers expenses like medical bills and legal fees that a business might face if an employee were ever hurt while working. This is critical in a gutter cleaning business in case one of your employees is injured.
– Property and casualty insurance protects you if your equipment is damaged.

The cost to insure a gutter cleaning business will vary depending on a number of factors. To get the most accurate idea of what to budget for insurance, request quotes from multiple providers. When comparing the quotes, consider not only the premiums but also how the plan exclusions, coverage limitations, and deductibles compare.

In addition to insurance, be sure not to overlook basic safety standards. Climbing ladders and walking on roofs that may be slick are just a few of the hazards you can face. Before starting, learn safety requirements from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Related: Common types of insurance a business may need

Step 10: Hire Employees

You may need employees to help you run your gutter cleaning business if you are able to get a large volume of customers.
In addition to salary costs, your budget will also need to include other employee-related expenses. Workman’s comp insurance, unemployment insurance, and paid time off are common expenses that a business will need to cover when hiring staff.

Related: Hiring your first employee

Step 11: Set up an Accounting System

Setting up an accounting system for your gutter cleaning business is critical to the long-term success of your business.
Staying on top of taxes not only keeps the business out of trouble with the government but the numbers can be used to track and monitor trends and cash flow in the business and maximize profits.

Related: Setting up the accounting for your business


How much does it cost to start a gutter cleaning business?

Here are some of the typical costs you will face when you open a gutter cleaning business.

– Safety gear such as a helmet, eye protection, gloves, etc.
– Gutter cleaning equipment including a ladder, leaf blower, garden hose, buckets, gloves, and tarps 
– Vehicle large enough for a ladder 
– Initial insurance

How much does a gutter cleaning business owner make?

Some gutter cleaning businesses will price jobs by calculating roof height and square footage, while others charge by the hour.

Prices for gutter cleaning range from $1 – $1.50 per linear foot and are higher for 2nd or 3rd stories.  An average house price would be around $100 – $150.   If you average 5 houses per week at an average of $125, you could make $32,500 per year.

Additional profits can be generated by installing gutter guards on clients’ homes.

The costs to run a gutter cleaning business are small, but you will probably have to pay more for insurance because of the potential for injuries.  Your main costs will be for fuel to get to your jobs, so consider distance when calculating prices.

Are there grants to start a gutter cleaning business?

It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a gutter cleaning business. If you search for business grants, you will come across a lot of scams and misinformation. Occasionally an organization will offer grants to start a business, however, be skeptical and don’t provide any sensitive personal information or pay money to get more information.

Legitimate federal grants can be found at Grants.gov and you can check on your state’s economic development office to see if they have any grants available.

What is the NAICS code for a gutter cleaning business?

The NAICS code for a gutter cleaning business is 561790, which is classified under Other Services to Buildings and Dwellings.

The NAICS code (North American Industry Classification System) is a federal system to classify different types of businesses for the collection and reporting of statistical data.

Related: What is a NAICS code?

How to Start a Gutter Cleaning Business

How to Start a Gutter Cleaning Business

Greg Bouhl

Greg Bouhl

Welcome! My name is Greg Bouhl, and I have over 21 years as an entrepreneur, educator, and business advisor, where I worked with over 1,600 entrepreneurs to help them start and grow their businesses.

As a small business advisor, I got fed up with clients finding inaccurate and outdated information when they were researching how to start a business online, so I launched StartingYourBusiness.com to be a trusted resource.

I'm constantly adding and revising this site, but if there is a question you have about starting a business or need help finding something, please ask!

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