Clean Up The Competition: How To Start A Pressure Washing Business – Forbes

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Published: Mar 31, 2022, 2:00pm
Pressure washing is a business that nearly anyone can start. There is little in terms of supplies needed to do your work. According to ZipRecruiter, the top pressure washers earn an annual salary of $35,500 a year—but that is as an employee. Running your own show could generate a lot more.
Consider that the average pressure washing costs between $192 and $401 per job. If you did two jobs a day at $250 each, you’d make $130,000 a year working 260 days per year. That’s good money and a lot of time off to enjoy it.
So, how exactly do you start a pressure washing business? Let’s take a closer look.
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The first step in starting a business is choosing a business structure and filing the appropriate paperwork to offer services in your area legally. There are three business structures that you can choose from: a sole proprietorship, an LLC or a corporation. A sole proprietorship uses your own Social Security number with a “doing business as” (DBA) name. This structure can leave you with personal liability in your business, and legal experts don’t recommend it.
Most people will choose an LLC or a corporation as their business entity to limit personal liability. You’ll start with a name search with the secretary of state’s office to see that there are no competing business names with what you want to use. Then you’ll file the appropriate paperwork with the state that lists the owners of the entity, the business name and pertinent contact information. Depending on the state that you live in, expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $700 to establish your business entity.
You’ll need to get the right equipment and supplies to start your business. First, choose between a gas or electric pressure washer. Keep in mind that if you choose an electric pressure washer, you’ll need clients to supply the energy to run it. Also, select the type of pressure washer you want to get: light duty, medium duty or heavy duty.
A heavy-duty pressure washer might cost you $400, while a light-duty washer will run less than $200. Rather than buy all the washers at the onset, think about renting the equipment when you first start to save on costs and ensure you have what you need when you need it.
Recommended equipment and supplies other than the pressure washer include:
Don’t forget about transportation; you need to get your gear to and from jobs every day. Think about leasing a work van or truck to keep everything in. It might be good advertising to have your company name and phone number listed on the truck so that people can call while they see you moving about neighborhoods. Expect to pay at least $350 per month for a truck lease.
You’ll need to set rates before you market to potential customers. With most jobs costing consumers between $192 and $401, you’ll want to think about whether you choose the high end of the range or the low end. It might be easier to get a lot of clients with lower prices, but you need to determine if that is worth your time and effort. It’s a good idea to do some secret shopping and see what other pressure washers in your area are charging so that you are competitive.
When determining your pricing, think about whether you will charge hourly or per project. Keep in mind that if you charge per project, you have to know how much time any particular project will take. Practice your craft to see how long it takes to pressure wash:
When setting rates, think about the gas needed to run the pressure washer as well as the number of supplies necessary to do a job. Make sure that you are charging enough to cover all of it and still make a profit.
You’re in this to turn a profit, and that means being able to take payments to deposit funds into a bank account. With your LLC or corporation details, contact the IRS to complete Form W-7 and get a Tax Identification Number (TIN). This is similar to a Social Security number, but for your business. You’ll then be able to go to the bank with your company documents to get a bank account.
The bank account will let you deposit cash and checks, but you’ll need a payment gateway to take credit card payments. There are many payment gateway options available. Expect to pay up to 3% of the charge as a fee for using the gateway, so be sure to factor that into your pricing. Connect the payment gateway to the bank so that you can run all income and expense transactions from your business bank account.
Your marketing is everything from word of mouth conversations to online listings. Get business cards made that have your business name and contact information on them. You can use these as you go door-to-door, introducing yourself and your new business. You may also want to set up a website that shows some of your work with “before and after” pictures.
Even if you don’t establish a website, get listed on online service listing pages such as Google business pages, Yelp and Facebook. Some businesses have also found success by posting on Instagram Reels or TikTok, where users enjoy the satisfying process of watching a dirty facade become beautiful again.
Start talking to everyone about your new business. This includes participating in community groups online where you can promote your pressure washing business. Think about running some ads with an introductory special to help you drum up business fast. Facebook has made it easy to target homeowners with a small budget; start an ad with a $10 a day budget and test different ads to see which works best. As you grow, you can scale your budget to target more people.
When you start a new business, one of the biggest challenges is getting that first client. Be sure to ask friends, family and neighbors if you can offer your services to them. If you cannot get a first client from these friendly channels, think about offering your services to a few people for free in exchange for a testimonial online. This will let you build up a positive online presence and help you establish the quality of your work.
It doesn’t take much to start a pressure washing business. You can get into the business with less than $5,000 in capital with equipment, supplies and a vehicle lease. Get the business set up properly and determine pricing that makes you competitive, then talk to everyone that you can about your services to find new customers as quickly as possible.
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You can get clients for your pressure washing business by going door-to-door and introducing yourself, you can put an ad in the paper or a mailer, or you can do online advertising. Each marketing option has its own time and budget considerations.
The difference between pressure washing and power washing is water temperature. Pressure washing uses normal water temperature with pressure to clean things. Power washing uses hot water with less pressure and is helpful for tough messes that need some extra sanitation.
Yes, you can scale a pressure washing business. As you become better at your craft, you will be faster in completing jobs and can then take on more business. Once you max out your time with jobs, you can invest in more machines and hire employees to do the work.
Kimberlee Leonard has taken her professional experience as an insurance agency owner and financial advisor and translated that into a finance writing career that helps business owners and professionals succeed. Her work has appeared on Business.com, Business News Daily, FitSmallBusiness.com, CentsibleMoney.com, and Kin Insurance.
Cassie is an assistant assigning editor, collaborating with teams around the world while living in the beautiful hills of Kentucky. She is passionate about economic development and is on the board of two non-profit organizations seeking to revitalize her former railroad town. Prior to joining the team at Forbes Advisor, Cassie was a Content Operations Manager and Copywriting Manager at Fit Small Business.

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