February 22, 2024

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How to Start a Pressure Washing Business

A pressure washing business owner aims to please, and there’s no time like the present to get into that line of work. It may also be called a power washing business.

People are working from home. Businesses that focus on property enhancement – such as hardscaping, decks and backyard pools – are booming. Lots of structures around a home need the services of a pressure washer.

In addition to private individuals, corporate customers need your services. In the post pandemic environment, keeping work and home properties clean – and disinfected – is more important than ever.

How Does a Pressure Washing Business Work?

A power washing company can have a wide variety of customers. Cleaning may be needed for business fleet vehicles, pools and decks, home exteriors, boats and agricultural equipment.

When you have your own pressure washing business, you’re your own boss and you can choose a specialty. The main specialties are residential owners, commercial property owners, marine and agricultral. Recent statistics put the pressure cleaning business at $2 billion annually, growing at a steady rate of 3.5%.

The Pressure Washing Industry in the US.

There are 135,000 companies employing about 187,000 people. The industry is $2 billion annually with a steady growth of 3.5%.

Pressure Washing Business Starting Cost

As you’d expect, pressure washing businesses operate with lots of equipment and the costs can vary. And this is why your startup checklist should be very thorough. There are some basic items you may already have, such as a heavy-duty truck, van and/or trailer.

If you have a truck or van, find out the maximum number for weight it can carry. A full-size one ton pickup truck can tote more weight that a 1/2 ton pickup truck, for example.

Also find out how much weight your vehicle can tow. A truck with an engine size greater than 5.0 can tow about 6,000 pounds (including the weight of the trailer) while a smaller 3.0 will have less towing capacity. Whenever you’re towing more than 3,000 pounds (total of trailer and load), you’re required by motor vehicle law to have electric brakes for your trailer. In some states, you may be required to also have sway bars to help control the trailer.

Here are some other basic equipment needs:

High power washers – Of 3,000 psi (pounds per square inch) and greater. These can be electric or gas. You’ll have to weigh the cost of gas to run the pressure washer, versus the cost of gas to run a generator for an electric pressure washer. Customers, especially residential customers, may not be happy when you tap into their power to run your equipment.

Hot water units – At least 18 horsepower.

Wand tips of various angles.

High and low-pressure hoses.

Telescoping extension wands.

Cleaning soaps, chemicals and additives.

A generator – If you’re using an electric power washer and working at an off-grid site. A 2,000-watt inverter isn’t going to be able to handle the work; you’ll need a 5-6,000 watt generator, and the associated oil and gas for it.

Pressure washing gear such as protective clothing.

10 Steps to Starting a Pressure Washing Business

Before you consider the steps, consider your level of physical fitness and the climate where you plan to work. Pressure washing skills are challenging, physical work done in various weather conditions.

1. Learn the Required Skills for Power Washing

It’s not simple. Too much pressure for the job, and you could inadvertently strip paint or damage items.

Use the wrong cleaning agent or additive, and you could also damage a surface.

Practice with your equipment on your own property and on property owned by family and friends. Can you apprentice with someone who owns a pressure washing business? That’s not likely if you’ll be competing for work in the same geographical area.

2. Create a Business Plan

Creating a business model is a necessary step for all businesses. When starting a pressure washing company, you’ll need a business name and separate personal and business accounts at the bank. A separate business bank account can also help you establish your company’s credit history, when you’re ready to get a loan to expand.

You should also put pen to paper to write out a general plan. Don’t worry about too much focus on long-range plans. A plan is a moving target, that you can adapt to your needs as the business climate and your success rate change.

Research office or retail space, if you need it. Get a business credit card.

The preferred business structure is a limited liability corporation for your business, which will protect your personal assets. Personal asset protection is important, since you’ll be providing a service to items owned by others. You’ll need equipment insurance and liability insurance.

Think about who or what you consider as your ideal customer. Do you want to clean agricultural equipment? Residential decks and patios? Tailer your business plan to that customer.

Also, research CRM software. A great program can make life so much easier, with appointment scheduling, tracking expenses, keeping personal and business expenses separate, accounting and tax filing. All these things should be part of a business plan that is well thought out so it can answer the questions investors or lenders might have.

3. Price Pressure Washing Services

A lot of pressure wash services are priced by the square foot, especially for home siding. Prices range from .35 to .77 per square ft.

Some price the service by the job, with prices for house siding jobs ranging from $170 to $225.

For small jobs, such as decks, you may need to add a minimum service charge.

4. Get Licenses and Permits

Check with your local licensing office to see what’s required. You’ll be operating potentially dangerous equipment and there will be run 0ff, either onto land or into storm drains.

Here’s a basic list:

  • Business license
  • Bonding
  • Sales tax registration
  • Contractor permit
  • Environmental permit

5. Buy the Necessary Equipment

You can start with inexpensive equipment but you’d likely have to replace or repair it in a short time.

Those in the business advise – Buy the best quality you can afford. If you can’t afford the best quality, save money towards the purchase and wait.

6. Hiring Employees

Based on the numbers, many businesses are sole proprietors. There are 135,000 businesses and 187,000 employees nationwide.

If you hire an employee or employees, you’ll need an employer identification number (EIN). Many hire seasonal employees during their busiest times.

7. Consider Joining Pressure Washer Associations

There are two main ones: Pressure Washer Manufacturers Association and Pressure Washers of America.

8. Market Your Business

You can set up partnerships with business owners to get your foot in the door with fleet sales, real estate, agriculture and construction companies.

No matter what segment you target, nothing tells a tale better than Before and After images. Be sure to post them on your website or FB page.

9. Make Sure Your Business Complies with OSHA Regulations

There are proper safety precautions to follow for pressure washing equipment outlined in OSHA regulations. For example, any piece of equipment with greater than 3200 psi must have a 24″ hose guard on the hose, closest to the operator.

10. Scale Your Business

Set fees for common jobs such as driveways, houses and decks.

Have an adjustable budget for your business, making room for equipment maintenance and purchase.

Tips to Run a Successful Pressure Washing Business

Here are a few quick tips to running a successful pressure washing business:

  • Use promotions and packages, advertising and promotions to attract new customers.
  • Stay in touch with customers, reconnecting with them after the job.
  • Use top notch CRM software. The cost will pay off in high profit margins, since you’ll have more time to work on getting new business.

What is the average business income?

The average income is $40 to $60 an hour and about $28,000 a year (after expenses).

In good markets, the top salary range is close to $40,000.

What is the best pressure washer for a pressure washing business?

Gas washers have more power. The range for consumer power washing equipment is from 1200 to 2500 watts, and these are used for jobs such as washing fences and grills.

Commercial pressure washers range from 3,000 to 4,000 psi. Those can handle boats, siding, driveways, industrial equipment and paint/graffiti stripping.

Image: Depositphotos