For most people, becoming your own boss would be a dream come true. There is nothing better than being able to dictate your own hours, while doing something that you enjoy doing, at the same time as filling your own pockets with money, rather than your superiors. There are so many opportunities out there; you just have to seize the initiative. Starting your own pressure washing business is just one of the ways to do this, and is something that that will always be in demand.
How easy is it to use a pressure washer?
The basic principle of using a pressure washer isn’t too difficult, but when you’re getting paid to use one on someone else’s property, additional care and experience is vital. Imagine turning up to a job and accidently damaging the first thing you tried to wash, as it had been weathered and you didn’t realize.
To gain some basic experience, ask friends or family if you can borrow their washer, and ask them how they use it. This is of course only useful if you don’t plan on buying your own washer straight away. YouTube has countless videos on pressure washing and can be used as an invaluable tool in gaining knowledge on techniques that may take a while to learn by yourself, through trial and error.
Depending on where you live, you may need proof of your expertise and/or a contractors license. Don’t think of this as a roadblock, though, by gaining experience through working for another company for a short while, or doing a pressure washing course; you’ll reassure yourself that you are capable of doing the job to a high, professional standard.
Who hires someone with a pressure washer?
The short answer to this question is anyone and everyone. A snippet of the demographic for those who have hired a professional pressure wash operator are homeowners, business and shop owners, hotels, medical facilities, and realtors.
However, the largest proportion of people who will be hiring are senior citizens, due to their inability to reach certain areas of their house, and busy, middle-aged workers, who won’t have the time to do it themselves.
How to stand out from your competition
Just like all businesses and services, there will always be competition. The best way to stand out from the competition is to specialize. Becoming the expert at a certain type of washing will make your business the “go-to” for that specific dilemma.
If you’re not aware of some of the pressure washing niches available, then here are a few:
- Carpet care
- Construction clean-up
- Storefront cleaning
- Graffiti removal
- Wood restoration
- Driveways and gutters
- Concrete cleaning
As with everything, you don’t need to specialise, and you can operate as a general pressure wash business, but choosing one or two niches can help you stand out.
For the dirtier niches like construction clean-up and graffiti removal, it’s definitely advisable to wear respiratory protective equipment (RPE). You never know what nasty and dangerous compounds are getting put into the air during clean-up; you certainly wouldn’t want to breathe them in. Construction sites are obviously the most cause for concern, as depending on the age, there may be residual asbestos fibres present. If you do purchase RPE, it’s advisable (and a legal requirement if you’re making employees wear them), to get face fit testing done. There are many scattered across the country, like G&L Consultancy Ltd, who are based in the South West of England. You should always check that whatever company you choose has the adequate certifications to carry out the testing legally.
Starting a pressure washing business is just like starting any other business, regarding legal paperwork. When starting out, the first thing you need to do is to create and secure your legal entity. There are four to choose from: sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability companies (LLC), and corporations.
Many businesses start off as either a sole proprietorship or partnership, as these are the easiest and cheapest to set up. However, the big drawback with these two options is that they don’t cover you from personal liability.
As we spoke about earlier, as a professional pressure washer, you’ll be tasked to operate on other people’s property and businesses. If an accident were to happen, whether it was property damage or injury, your business entity would take the flak, if you were an LLC for example.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t start as a sole proprietorship, as it’s common for most businesses to start off this way and to change their legal entity later on, as it isn’t difficult to swap.
When setting up a new business in the USA, you’ll need several legal documents. Although these aren’t exclusive to pressure washing, if you aren’t aware, then this is a good list to look over:
- Certification of Incorporation
- Business Plan
- Business License
- Contractor Permit
- Contract Document
- Sales Tax Registration
- Environmental Permit
- Insurance Policy
With any business that provides a service for people, insurance is a must. It’s possible for an injury to occur to either yourself, your clients, or even your employees if you manage to scale large enough. Also, you may be unfortunate enough to damage the property that you’re trying to clean.
Other risks could involve your own equipment or property. If your business has it’s own physical location, that will need insurance, just like your house. This will cover theft, or damage if there is a fire.
If you’re planning on starting this business in the USA, be sure to speak to someone about the required laws on insurance. As a general guide, here are some of the insurances that are often used:
- Liability insurance
- Vehicle insurance
- Workers compensation
- Building and contents coverage
- Commercial general liability
Of course, some of these will only apply if you end up making your business large scale, so don’t feel like you’re going to be spending all your profit on insurances.
Choosing your business location
Depending on where your business is located will definitely affect your success. This doesn’t necessarily mean the physical location, but the location of where you wish to operate. Of course having the two near each other is beneficial.
If you were wanted to target the well-off suburban areas, then marketing yourself as a general window, gutter, driveway cleaner would reap the best rewards. Whereas doing the same in the inner city may not be as profitable.
The most important in running a successful pressure wash business is to have the correct gear for the job, as well as the experience to operate it efficiently. Understanding the niche you want to apply yourself too is another added bonus.
Even if you don’t have the correct equipment for a job, it still may be possible, but it’s important that you tell your client. Most people don’t realize that there are different type of washers, etc., so they’ll just assume that one person can do everything.
Be sure to keep learning new skills and stay up to date with the latest equipment, to really stand out against your competition.