Our work is reader-supported, meaning that we may earn a commission from the products and services mentioned.

How to Start a Pressure Washing Business

Overview

How to Start a Pressure Washing Business

If you’re looking for a career that gets you outdoors, keeps you active, and instantly shows the results of your work, then starting a pressure washing business might be the right option for you. With a pressure washing business, you’ll clean any number of different surfaces and quickly improve their appearance. This type of business requires only minimal startup costs, and it’s possible to run this business on a part-time basis as you build up your customer roster and lay the foundation of your new career.

Business Overview

Pressure washing businesses are mobile businesses that offer cleaning services to commercial and/or residential properties. Pressure washing is efficient and effective, but it also requires some degree of skill and caution. Pressure washing uses heated water, while the more common pressure washing equipment relies on cold water. While anyone can rent a basic model pressure or pressure washer, pressure washing businesses offer expertise, convenience, and higher quality equipment that can tackle larger jobs.

Most pressure washing businesses offer a variety of services, from cleaning driveways, decks, patio furniture, and building siding to cleaning boats and automobiles. These businesses travel to their customers, and many customers may become returning customers who schedule appointments multiple times per year.

It’s possible to damage items with a pressure washer, so invest some time into educating yourself about the equipment and learning how to use it correctly on a variety of surfaces. Ideally, try to get some experience working with someone talented in pressure washing. If you can work for someone else’s business, you can get a sense of what running your own business will be like and can learn valuable information about safety, pressure washing techniques, and what equipment you’d like to buy.

Industry Summary

According to IBIS World, the building exterior cleaners industry, which includes pressure washing, experienced a 2.0% growth from 2015 to 2020. This growth was driven by increased demand for cleaning services from both households and businesses. An increase in per capita disposable income meant that more consumers could hire out the cleaning work, rather than attempting to do it themselves. Office vacancies also declined during this period, driving an increase in service demand.

In 2020, the industry is expected to bring in $10 billion in revenue. The 108,107 businesses in operation employ a total of 160,111 people. The building exterior cleaners industry is predicted to continue to grow as the residential and commercial markets also experience growth and profitability.

Some power washing businesses also provide window cleaning services. See the industry overview for window washing businesses.

Industry Trends

Many trends continue to shape the pressure washing industry. Jobber Academy notes that it’s important for pressure washing businesses to invest in technology and equipment that increases their efficiency and ability to do top-quality work. Software and training tools can help businesses to attract, hire, and train talented employees. Specialty equipment, like water-fed poles, allows a business to tackle difficult jobs while saving time. Automation tools, like QuickBooks Online, help business owners to better operate their businesses while also saving time.

Social media has also become important for pressure washing businesses. Posting footage of actual jobs can give businesses credibility while showing potential customers the quality work that the business does. Drone footage and video footage can make a business’ social media pages more engaging, and it can help to position the business owner as an authority in the industry.

Businesses also need to fully embrace online marketing since more customers are turning to online searches and reviews when identifying and booking service professionals. Google’s local service ads can be a valuable marketing option, and businesses need to make it easy for potential customers to contact them through their Google business pages.

Just like in many other industries, the customer service experience has become increasingly important and valued in the pressure washing industry. Business owners should focus on providing the best customer service experience possible from the initial inquiry to following up after the appointment. Promptly returning phone calls, scheduling flexibility, arriving at appointments on time, offering automated recurring scheduling, and taking credit card payments or online payments can all help a business’ customer service stand out from others.

Target Market

Pressure washing businesses may market to a variety of property owners or property managers. Many pressure washers market to business owners, while others may also market to homeowners and boat and vehicle owners.

Checklist for Starting a Pressure Washing Business

If you’re thinking about starting a pressure washing business, it’s important to do your research first. Here is a checklist to help you get started.

Step 1: Write a Business Plan

After coming up with the idea, the next step in starting your business should be to write a clothing line business plan. Not only will a bank require you to have a business plan, but multiple studies have shown that a business plan helps increase the odds of starting a successful business.

Related: How to write a business plan

Step 2: Form a Business Entity

A business entity (also referred to as a business structure) refers to how a business is legally organized to operate. There are four primary business structures 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 pressure washing 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 to minimize liability risk 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 that 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 3: Name the Business

Finding the perfect business name can be challenging. Not only does the name have to resonate with your customers, but it also has to be available to use.

Related: Tips and ideas for naming a pressure washing business

Step 4: Select your Location

It’s possible to run a single-vehicle business out of your home, but once you expand that business to a multi-vehicle operation, it may be necessary to rent a garage or storage building with a parking lot. If the business is run out of the home, be sure to check for any zoning restrictions.

Related: Choosing a business location

Step 5: Register for Business Licenses and Permits

A pressure washing business will need to obtain certain business licenses and permits, including permits and certifications for the cleaning chemicals used. Some states will require an environmental permit due to runoff water that will enter the storm drain. Depending on where the customer is located, some towns will require a contractor’s license as well.

Additionally, general business registrations will need to be researched. These vary by location, but common ones include a business license, such as a sales tax license, Employer Identification Number (EIN), etc.

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 pressure washing company is another. Fortunately, the cost to start a pressure washing business is quite low, but if a small business loan is needed, the borrower(s) will need to have good credit and personally invest 15-25% towards the total start-up costs.

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

Marketing is essential in both launching the business and to continuously bring in new customers. Marketing activities can include social media marketing, direct mail, online advertising, Google My Business listing, and even handing out door hangers, flyers, and business cards.

Establishing a referral program can also help to bring in new customers.

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 Canvaa logo maker!

Step 9: Get Business Insurance

There are several types of insurance to consider when starting a pressure washing business. A few of these include:
General liability insurance protects the business in case clients or their property is ever injured or damaged due to the business’ work. This type of policy can help to cover expenses like medical bills, repair costs, and legal fees.
Equipment insurance protects the business if its equipment is ever damaged or destroyed in an event like a fire.
Commercial auto insurance helps cover expenses that can result from a business vehicle being involved in an accident.
Worker’s compensation insurance helps to cover expenses like lost wages and medical bills that may occur if an employee is ever hurt while on the job.

The cost to insure a pressure washing business will vary depending on factors like the value of the business’ equipment and its vehicles’ value. To get an accurate idea of what to budget for insurance, request quotes from multiple providers. When comparing the quotes, look beyond just how the premiums stack up and be sure to consider all of the factors like differences in coverage limits, exclusions, and deductibles.

Related: Types of insurance your business may need

Step 10: Hire Employees

While it’s possible for a business owner to perform all of the pressure washing work in a business’ initial stages, bringing on additional staff or contractors will allow that business to expand and accommodate growing demand. ZipRecruiter states that pressure washers make an average of $28,384 per year, though salaries range from $19,000 to $35,500.

In addition to budgeting for employee salaries, a budget will also need to include the additional expenses of hiring staff, like paid time off, health insurance contributions, and worker’s comp insurance.

Related: Hiring your first employee

Step 11: Set up an Accounting System

Setting up an accounting system 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

The thought of accounting can be intimidating for a lot of new entrepreneurs. There are a number of ways of handling bookkeeping, from DIY to hiring a bookkeeper. These include:

- Pen and paper - Low expense, but difficult to track.
- Spreadsheet - Low expense, but easy to make errors.
- Accounting software - Medium expense, but owner typically inputs expenses. Some great accounting software programs include Freshbooks or Wave Accounting.
- Hire a bookkeeper - Higher expense, though very affordable at $100-$200 per month in most cases. A dedicated bookkeeper will probably save money because, in addition to handling all of the bookkeeping (so you can focus on the business), they also provide personalized tax advice and ensure the business is in compliance.

Find bookkeepers in your local area or use a service like 800Accountant.

How much does it cost to start a pressure washing business?

One of the great benefits of starting a pressure washing service is that you won’t need significant startup costs to get up and running. It’s possible to start a smaller pressure washing business with basic equipment for as little as $10,000. Lease and rent-to-own options mean that you can access even more equipment, as needed, with little money down. If you already have a vehicle that you can use for your business, you’ll also save on startup costs.

Some common startup costs for a pressure washing business include:
– Equipment such as a commercial pressure washer, hoses, wands, nozzles, surface spinners, etc.
– Truck or van
– Cleaning chemicals
– Uniforms
– Computer and printer

When it comes to purchasing equipment, avoid buying the cheaper consumer-grade equipment. Though the cost is appealing, these pressure washers are unlikely to hold up to the intense use they’ll see in a business setting, and you’ll find yourself replacing them quickly. Instead, try to save up for higher quality equipment, or look for used, quality equipment that’s been well-maintained. Having this higher quality equipment can even help with bookings since you’ll offer better results than customers could get if they went out and rented a basic pressure washer themselves.

How much can a pressure washing business owner make?

Many factors will affect a pressure washing business’ income, including the business’ location, profit margins, and any special services offered. Businesses that focus solely on commercial work will earn more money per job, but there’s plenty of opportunity for profit in residential work, too.

According to Power Wash Guide, power washers can earn between $40 and $60 per hour; businesses that offer environmental services can charge $80 and up per hour. Power washing houses can average between $220 and $380, while driveways average $130 to $220. If a business has minimal expenses and can book a full schedule, that business owner can make a healthy annual income.

What skills are needed to run a pressure washing business?

Starting a pressure washing business doesn’t require a business degree, but certain skills and experiences are valuable in both starting and running this type of business.

Pressure washing experience. Experience in using pressure washing equipment is important and will help a business owner perform quality work.

Attention to detail. From choosing the right pressure settings to ensuring that every job is done well and completely, a business owner will use attention to detail daily.

Customer service skills. Business owners will interact with customers daily. Strong customer service skills like promptly returning phone calls and addressing customer concerns can help a business build up a roster of returning customers.

Knowledge of chemical use and safety. Cleaning chemicals require proper handling, storage, and usage to be safe. Experience in using these chemicals is beneficial, but be prepared to take a training course and earn a certification to handle particularly harsh chemicals.

Organizational skills. A business owner also needs to be well-organized to track appointments, show up on time, ensure that invoices go out, and more.

Management experience. When it’s time for a business to hire employees, previous hiring, training, and management experience will be valuable.

Are there grants to start a pressure washing business?

It’s extremely rare to find a grant to start a pressure washing 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 pressure washing business?

The NAICS code for a pressure washing business is 561790.

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?

Resources:
Power Washers of North America
Pressure Washers of America
United Association of Mobile Contract Cleaners

Subscribe Now to the 60-day Startup Challenge!

Subscribe Now to the 60-day Startup Challenge!