The power washing industry is an attractive field for many aspiring entrepreneurs, due to its steady demand, low startup costs, and high-profit potential. But successfully starting and running a power washing business involves more than just mastering the technical skills of the trade.
If you’re planning on launching your own power washing business, this guide is designed to help you navigate this process with confidence and success.
A power washing business revolves around providing professional cleaning services for a wide range of residential and commercial properties. These services typically involve using high-pressure water sprays to remove dirt, grime, mold, loose paint, and other forms of environmental buildup from surfaces such as sidewalks, driveways, patios, decks, fences, and building exteriors. These businesses travel to their customers, and many customers may become returning customers who schedule appointments multiple times per year.
To get started, you’ll need to secure some essential elements. These include high-quality power washing equipment, safety gear, and a reliable vehicle for transporting your tools and equipment. Additionally, you’ll need to handle several administrative tasks, such as obtaining relevant licenses and permits, securing insurance coverage, and setting up a solid business plan to guide your operations and growth.
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.
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The power washing industry is a segment of the broader cleaning services industry. It’s typically categorized as a specialty cleaning service, targeting specific cleaning tasks that aren’t usually covered by regular cleaning companies.
Over the last five years, the industry has been increasing at an annualized rate of 9.4% and in 2022 generated $1.3 billion in sales. The industry’s health is generally tied to the state of the real estate market, as well as the commercial and industrial sectors. As these sectors expand, so does the demand for cleaning services, including power washing.
Starting a power washing business can be a rewarding endeavor if you take the right steps. By understanding the industry, staying abreast of trends, and learning how to navigate the business landscape, you’ll be well on your way to launching a successful power washing business. Some of the trends that continue to shape the pressure washing industry.
Green cleaning: As environmental awareness grows, there’s an increasing demand for eco-friendly cleaning solutions. This trend extends to power washing, where clients are increasingly looking for non-toxic cleaning agents and water-saving techniques. Embracing eco-friendly practices not only helps the environment but can also give your business a competitive edge in the market.
Technological advancements: The cleaning industry, like many others, is witnessing the rise of innovative technologies. This includes advanced power washing equipment that offers improved efficiency and effectiveness, as well as business software solutions for managing appointments, invoicing, and customer relations. According to Jobber It is reported that businesses that offer online booking receive up to 24% more bookings.
Diversification of services: Power washing businesses are broadening their services to include ancillary services like window cleaning, gutter cleaning, and soft washing. This diversification helps increase revenue streams and improve customer retention.
Online presence: A strong online presence has become crucial for businesses in the digital age. This includes having a professional website and active profiles on relevant social media platforms. Posting footage of actual jobs can give businesses credibility while showing potential customers the quality of work that the business does. Drone footage and video footage can make a business’s social media pages more engaging, and it can help to position the business owner as an authority in the industry.s.
Customer service: 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.
The target market for a power washing business is quite broad, encompassing both residential and commercial clients.
Residential clients range from homeowners, landlords, and Homeowner Associations. Commercial clients can include small businesses ranging from restaurants to retail stores, corporations, government buildings, and construction companies.
Checklist To Start 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: Research Potential Demand
Performing market research before starting a power washing business is necessary because it allows you to gauge whether there is local demand for your services.
By understanding the demand, you can evaluate the viability of your business idea and estimate your potential revenues. This research can also help you identify your competition, understand market trends, and create a business plan tailored to your specific market. Without this understanding, you risk investing your time, energy, and resources into a venture that may not be sustainable.
Here are some ways you can research whether there’s a market for a power washing business in your area:
1. Local business directories: Look at local business listings to see how many power washing businesses already exist in your area. If there are many, it indicates there’s a demand for the service, but it also means there’s substantial competition. If there are very few or none, it could either mean a great opportunity or a lack of demand.
2. Real estate and construction data: Check the number of residential and commercial properties, as well as the rate of construction in your area. Higher numbers indicate more potential customers. You can obtain this data from local real estate agencies, construction companies, or local government agencies.
3. Surveys and interviews: Conduct surveys or interviews with potential clients such as homeowners, landlords, and business owners. This can give you firsthand information about their needs and the frequency with which they require power washing services.
4. Online research: Use search engine trends and tools like Google Trends to see how often people in your area are searching for power washing services.
5. Local Chamber of Commerce or economic development office: These organizations often have resources and local data available to help entrepreneurs assess the local market.
6. Social media and online forums: Check local community groups on platforms like Facebook or Nextdoor. You can gauge interest by posting about your proposed service and seeing the response, or by noting how often people ask for recommendations for power washing services.
By using these research methods, you can gain valuable insights into the potential demand for a power washing business in your area. This will enable you to make informed decisions about your business venture.
Step 2: Write a Business Plan
Writing a business plan for a power washing business is a vital step in the process of establishing your company. Here’s why:
Roadmap for success: A business plan serves as a roadmap, outlining your business goals and the strategies you’ll use to achieve them. It helps you think through every aspect of your business, from identifying your target market to figuring out pricing and marketing strategies. It also helps you anticipate challenges and devise ways to overcome them.
Securing funding: If you’re seeking external funding from investors or lenders, a business plan is essential. It provides them with a comprehensive overview of your business, demonstrating your understanding of the market, your strategies for success, and your financial projections.
Measuring progress: Once your business is operational, your business plan serves as a benchmark against which you can measure your progress. You can see what’s working, what isn’t, and adjust your strategies accordingly.
Related: How to write a business plan
Step 3: Secure Funding
Depending on the scope of services and equipment already in hand, outside funding may be needed to start your business.
The most common source of funding outside of friends and family is a small business loan. Banks will commonly require the owners to leverage their personal funds to obtain a loan, often between 15% and 25%. In some cases, the bank will require a loan guarantee from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Another source of funding is available for equipment through specialty financing companies or leasing through equipment manufacturers.
Step 4: Register the Business
Starting a power washing business involves several legal steps to ensure your business is properly registered and operating within the boundaries of the law.
It’s important to note that these steps may vary slightly from state to state, so it’s always a good idea to consult with a business advisor or attorney to ensure you are in compliance with all local, state, and federal laws. Here are some common steps to take:
Business structure: Deciding on a business structure is a critical first step. Most pressure washing businesses are structured as either a sole proprietorship or Limited Liability Company (LLCs). Sole proprietorships are simple and don’t require state filing, but they don’t offer personal liability protection. LLCs, on the other hand, provide personal liability protection and have certain tax advantages.
Related: Comparison of business structures
Business name registration: After registering the business structure, you may need to register your business name. This process will vary depending on what business structure you pick. Sole proprietors and partnerships will often be required to register a “Doing Business As” (DBA), while corporations and LLCs register with the state during the formation process.
Related: Tips and ideas for naming a pressure washing business
During this time, it’s also a good idea to check if the name you want is available as a web domain, even if you’re not ready to set up a website yet.
Related: Finding a domain name for your business
Business licenses and permits: A pressure washing company 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, there will be general business registrations to research before starting. These vary by location, but common ones include a local business license, seller’s permit, Employer Identification Number (EIN), etc.
Zoning: It’s common to run a pressure washing business out of your home, before doing so, be sure to check for any zoning restrictions. Be sure to consider space for your work vehicle and any equipment.
Step 5: Purchase Equipment
Before purchasing equipment and supplies for your power washing business, there are several steps you should take to ensure you make the most cost-effective decisions that align with your service offerings.
First, make a comprehensive list of all the equipment and supplies you’ll need. This may include a professional power washer, nozzles, chemicals, cleaning solutions, hoses, ladders, protective gear, and a reliable vehicle for transportation.
Next, conduct thorough research to understand what specific equipment suits your needs. For instance, power washers vary in terms of pressure, flow rate, and whether they’re electric or gas-powered. The correct choice depends on the types of jobs you plan to take on (e.g., residential vs. commercial, exterior walls vs. driveways).
Also, evaluate different manufacturers and suppliers, considering factors such as cost, warranty, customer service, and the availability of spare parts. Online forums, industry publications, and peers in the industry can provide valuable insight here.
Consider your budget and how each purchase fits into it. While it may be tempting to purchase cheaper equipment, remember that this could lead to higher maintenance costs and lower work efficiency. Often, investing in high-quality equipment upfront can save money in the long run.
Last, when it comes to purchasing, see if there’s room to negotiate with suppliers, especially when buying in bulk or when purchasing high-cost items. Some suppliers may also offer financing options, which can help you manage your initial cash.
Taking the time to carefully plan your purchases will ensure you have the right equipment to provide quality services and run your operations efficiently.
Step 6: Set Pricing
As we get closer to launching the business, if you haven’t already done so, setting your pricing is next on the list. Determining pricing for a power washing business requires a delicate balance between covering your costs, staying competitive, and making a profit. Here are a few specific tips:
1. Understand your costs: Your pricing must cover your operational costs and leave room for profit. This includes costs for equipment, supplies, fuel, maintenance, insurance, labor, marketing, and any overhead expenses such as an office space or storage. It’s important to have a clear understanding of both your fixed and variable costs.
2. Know your market: Research what competitors in your area charge for similar services. You don’t want to price yourself out of the market, but you also don’t want to undervalue your services. Knowing the average local rate for power washing can give you a good starting point for your pricing.
3. Pricing strategy: Most power washing businesses charge either by the project, by the hour, or by the square foot. For residential services, per-project or per-square-foot pricing is common, whereas commercial jobs are often priced by the hour. Charging per project or per square foot can be more appealing to customers as it gives them a clear upfront cost.
4. Consider the job specifics: Different jobs have different requirements. Washing a two-story house will be more complex and time-consuming than a single-story home. Cleaning a heavily soiled area may require more expensive cleaning agents. Ensure your pricing structure allows flexibility for these variations.
5. Value-added services: If you offer additional services like window cleaning or gutter cleaning, these should be priced separately, or you could offer bundled services at a slightly discounted rate, which can be an attractive option for customers and can increase your revenue.
6. Don’t forget profit: Ensure you build in a margin for profit in your pricing. It’s why you’re in business, after all. As your reputation grows and you gain more experience, you may be able to increase this margin. It’s not uncommon for business owners to not adequately account for their time when setting pricing, so one strategy would be to factor in what it would cost to hire an employee for the job. On top of the time to do the job, don’t forget about all of the other time you will spend on the administrative side of the business.
Remember, while you want to remain competitive, you don’t want to become the cheapest option on the market. Quality service, reliability, and professionalism can allow you to command higher prices. Regularly review your prices and adjust them as necessary as your business grows and evolves.
Step 7: Create a Marketing Plan
One of the most effective ways for a power washing business to market itself is by leveraging local Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategies. This means optimizing your online presence so that your business shows up in local search results when people search for power washing services in your area. This includes creating a Google My Business account, ensuring your website includes relevant keywords, and getting listed on local directories. In addition, collecting and showcasing positive customer reviews can significantly enhance your online reputation and attract more customers.
Apart from digital strategies, networking in your local community or joining the local Chamber of Commerce can be quite beneficial. Forge relationships with local businesses, property managers, and realtors who might regularly need power washing services or could refer you to potential clients.
Another powerful strategy is direct marketing. Distributing door hangers or flyers in neighborhoods where you’re already working can raise awareness about your services (be sure to check for city permitting before doing this). You can also use USPS direct mail campaigns targeting specific zip codes. Running an introductory special may help in drumming up some business quickly.
Last, having a strong branding strategy can set you apart. This includes having a professional logo, uniform, and signage on your vehicle, so your business is easily recognizable. It’s also crucial to provide excellent customer service, as word-of-mouth referrals can be a strong driver of new business.
Step 8: Prepare to Launch!
As you get ready to launch your power washing business, there are several key steps that haven’t yet been covered to ensure a smooth start.
First, acquire the necessary business insurance. At a minimum, you’ll need general liability insurance to protect your business against damage claims. You may also want to consider additional coverage for your equipment and, if you plan to hire employees, workers’ compensation insurance.
Next, if you’re planning to hire employees right away, start the hiring process. You’ll need to consider payroll setup and comply with all employment laws, including tax withholdings and reporting.
Related: Guide to hiring in each state
To keep track of your business’s financial health, set up a bookkeeping system. This could be a simple spreadsheet or a dedicated software system like Wave Accounting (FREE) or Quickbooks. You’ll need to regularly track income, expenses, taxes, and other important financial information.
In the power washing business, it’s common to work with contracts, which outline the scope of work, pricing, and terms and conditions of your service. For residential jobs, these might be relatively simple. For commercial jobs, contracts can be more detailed, including things like frequency of service, detailed description of areas to be cleaned, and specific procedures for working in a commercial environment.
Next, open a business bank account. Keeping your business finances separate from your personal finances is important for tax purposes and makes bookkeeping much easier.
We’ve already discussed determining your pricing, but once that’s decided, you’ll also need to set up a system for accepting payments. In today’s digital world, many customers prefer to pay with credit or debit cards, so consider setting up a system to accept credit cards from popular services like Square or Stripe.
Finally, prepare for your grand opening. This could be as simple as scheduling your first job or as elaborate as hosting a launch event or special promotion.
Remember, while this list is quite comprehensive, the exact steps you’ll need to take will depend on your specific business plan, location, and goals. It’s always a good idea to consult with a business advisor or mentor to ensure you haven’t overlooked anything crucial. Starting a business involves juggling many different tasks, but taking it step by step and staying organized will help you set up a successful pressure washing business.
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Common Questions When Starting A Pressure Washing Business
How much does it cost to start a pressure washing business?
One of the great benefits of starting a pressure washing service is that it is affordable compared to many other types of businesses. Lease and rent-to-own options mean that you can even access equipment only as needed, which helps to minimize the amount of money needed to get started. Also, if you already have a vehicle that you can use for your business, you’ll also save on startup costs.
The total cost to start a pressure washing business can range from $2,000 to $10,000 depending on the type and quality of equipment you choose, and any additional costs like a vehicle, marketing, or office space.
Equipment costs: This is typically the largest upfront expense. A commercial-grade power washer can cost anywhere from $1,000 to $6,000. Additional equipment like hoses, nozzles, ladders, tanks, and cleaning chemicals can add another $500 to $2,000 to your startup costs.
Management software: An optional expense, but one that can dramatically help with running the business, communicating with customers, and handling billing is through specialized pressure washing management software.
Vehicle costs: If you don’t already have a suitable vehicle, you’ll need to factor in this cost. You need a reliable truck or van to transport your equipment. This cost can vary widely depending on whether you lease, buy new, or buy used.
Insurance costs: General liability insurance for a power washing business can range from $500 to $2,000 per year, depending on your coverage level and other factors.
Marketing costs: Budget for marketing costs like website development, business cards, flyers, online advertising, etc. This could range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Operating expenses: It’s wise to have three to six months of operating expenses on hand as a buffer. These expenses include fuel, equipment maintenance, marketing, loan payments, and living expenses if the business is your sole income source. Depending on your business size and scope, this could range from $3,000 to $10,000 or more.
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 dealing with downtime or replacing them quickly. Instead, try to save up for higher quality equipment, or look for used, quality equipment that’s been well-maintained.
Is a pressure washing business profitable?
Many factors will affect a pressure washing business’ profit, including the business’ location, number of jobs, pricing, 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.
For instance, if a small-scale pressure washing business averages three residential jobs per day for five days a week, and charges $200 per job, they would make about $3,000 in revenue per week or about $12,000 per month.
From this revenue, operating expenses must be subtracted to determine the profit. Let’s say the monthly operating expenses amount to $3,000, which covers things like fuel, maintenance, cleaning supplies, insurance, marketing, and any equipment loan payments.
So, using the formula: Profit = Revenue – Expenses, your profit would be $12,000 (Revenue) – $3,000 (Expenses) = $9,000 per month. Annually, this would equate to a profit of $108,000.
This is a simplified calculation, of course, and actual profits can vary based on numerous factors, including weather conditions (which can impact the number of jobs you can complete), the exact mix of services you offer, pricing strategy, and market competition. It’s also important to note that this assumes the business owner is doing all the work. If you hire employees, labor costs will also need to be factored in, which would reduce the profit. However, having employees could also allow you to complete more jobs and thereby increase your revenue.
This potential profitability demonstrates why power washing businesses can be a lucrative venture for entrepreneurs willing to invest their time and effort.
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.
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?