How to Start a Pressure Washing Business

If you want to escape the rat race, reduce the financial pressure of being laid off, or fulfill your entrepreneurial dreams, you should start your own business. 

A pressure washing business may be particularly appealing to you if you want to provide a service in the local community. Plus the startup costs for this type of business are relatively low.

But unfortunately, around 20% of new businesses fail in the first two years. Thus you need to get your business off to a strong start.

In this guide, we’ll teach you how to plan, prepare, register, market, and grow your pressure washing business. In other words, we’ll help you tick all the necessary boxes and then some.

The Easy Parts of Starting a Pressure Washing Business

A Business that Grows with You

You can start the business with a small budget if you need to. For example, you could even begin as a one-person operation with rented equipment. Then over time, you have the opportunity to expand by hiring laborers, acquiring your own equipment, and so on.

Managing Your Finances

You’re a budding entrepreneur, not an accountant. Thankfully the days where managing your finances means a ton of paperwork and complex calculations are long gone.

There are some fantastic small business accounting tools out there that simplify bookkeeping and help you run your business more efficiently. 

QuickBooks, for example, has a ton of features. You can use it to invoice customers, send estimates, maximize tax deductions, manage bills, and more.

The Difficult Parts of Starting a Pressure Washing Business

Getting Your First Customers

Building a customer base from scratch is tough. It takes time, effort, and hella good marketing. But don’t give up.

When you have those first customers you can start building momentum. If you provide a top service it’s reasonable to ask for recommendations and referrals.

Forming a Business

When you form a business, there are a bunch of hoops to jump through. You must register your business, get a tax ID, open a business bank account, and get the right permits, etc. Plus the way you go about all of this differs from state to state so it’s difficult to get the right advice.

There are some handy resources you can look to though, such as the U.S. Small Business Administration. Alternatively, you can get a business formation service to take care of the legal stuff for you.

Step 1: Get Ready to Start Your Business

It’s natural to be super eager to get your business started. But you can’t just jump in headfirst. 

You need to put the right things in place to become a pro. Nobody wants to hire a subpar pressure washing service, after all.

Furthermore, you’re more likely to be successful if you set goals, understand the market, and have a proper plan in place.

Advance Your Skills

It’s likely you already have some experience pressure washing your own driveway or backyard. But your skills and knowledge have to be top-notch if you hope to make a business out of doing it.

When you have the basics down the most important areas to focus on are safety and damage prevention. Of course, you need to ensure the safe use of equipment for you, your future staff, and your clients. You’ll also want to avoid financial losses incurred by damaging plants or surfaces.

To learn more you could seek out a local training course or get some on-the-job experience working for another company. Or take a DIY approach and learn the ins and outs online, for example on YouTube.

Source Pressure Washing Equipment

If you don’t have the budget to get your own pressure washing equipment straight away, start by renting it. You can rent professional equipment for around $100 a day until you have enough profit to reinvest in your own equipment.

Commercial pressure washers vary in price from around $600 to $1000+. Note that investing in better equipment from the beginning may lead to savings down the line, for example in maintenance costs.

Your pressure washers will likely come with a spray gun, hose, and nozzles of different angles. You may wish to purchase extras, e.g. portable hoses of different pressures or lengths. Further equipment you’ll need includes:

  • Safety and protective equipment, e.g. personal safety equipment and tarps
  • Transportation and storage, e.g.a truck and reels to store hoses
  • Detergents for different surfaces, e.g. concrete or decking
  • Equipment for specialist services, e.g. sewer jetters

Create a Business Plan

You need a business plan for a number of reasons. First, to work out the important stuff, such as your business structure, budget, and projected profits, for example. Then to set goals, keep you on track, and aid growth. And finally to gain a better understanding of the market and your competition.

If you hope to apply for a loan or business support or get partners on board, then you need a detailed business plan. If not, it’s okay to keep it simple. Don’t get unnecessarily bogged down.

Create a straightforward business plan outlining the following:

  • Objectives
  • Company Description
  • Market Analysis
  • Organizational Structure
  • Management & Operations
  • Marketing & Sales Strategy
  • Projections
  • Financial Needs

Of course, you may be starting out as a one-person operation. In this case, your business plan will account for expansion or you can add to it as you grow (e.g. the organizational structure section).

At this point, you’ll also need to set your rates. According to HomeAdvisor, customers spend an average of $293 on pressure washing. Naturally, your rates will vary depending on the size of the project, if there are any special services required and if you’ll need to cover expenses, such as labor. 

If you’re really not sure on what to charge, it’s a good idea to look at other established pressure washing companies in your region to get rough estimates.

Step 2: Form Your Pressure Washing Business

There’s a fair bit of bureaucracy involved in forming a legit business. It can be a snoozefest and complicated if you haven’t done anything like this before.

But putting the right systems in place comes with benefits such as tax breaks. Take a look:

Register Your Business

Registering a business is worthwhile as you may receive legal benefits, tax benefits, and personal liability protection. The way you register depends on the structure of your pressure washing business.

If you’re a sole trader and running a business under your own name, you don’t need to register. If you’re starting a small business, however, you’ll need to register the business name with local and state authorities.

You should also check with local authorities if you need any permits or licenses to operate your pressure washing business, for example, a wastewater discharge permit.

Consider Your Taxes

As a sole trader, you pay taxes on the profits you make when you file your state and federal tax bills. But if you wish to hire employees and/or open a business account, there are further steps. You must apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN) which you can do online using the IRS’s EIN Assistant tool.

Open a Business Bank Account

To separate your business and personal finances you can open a business bank account. Shop around to find a bank that offers good rates and benefits to suit your needs. For instance, some banks have introductory offers, provide lines of credit and cover personal liability.

To open a business bank account, you’ll need to provide certain information and documentation such as your EIN number, business formation documents, and proof of business address.

Get Started with Accounting

Accounting is crucial and not just for legal reasons. You must keep track of your finances to see how your business is performing and make sure you’re distributing your budget effectively. 

Moreover, analyzing your finances helps you make important business decisions. For example, a cost-benefit analysis will help you decide if certain investments such as hiring another employee are worth it.

As mentioned above, small business accounting tools like QuickBooks help you carry out key processes such as invoicing and bookkeeping. They can also give you useful insights from an overview of your finances in real-time to in-depth reports which will be useful as you grow.

Step 3: Market Your Business

You need marketing to get customers on board. It’s that simple.

It starts with creating a memorable brand identity and an online presence. Then you can use a combination of digital and in-person marketing to get the word out about your pressure washing business.

Branding

You need strong branding so that over time people begin to recognize and remember your business. Then, when they need a pressure washing service, they’ll immediately think of you.

A brand identity consists of your business name, logo, tagline, and elements of design, such as colors and fonts.

Also, consider what you want people to associate with your brand. Perhaps you want people to see a trustworthy, dependable, and friendly company, for example.

Make sure you reflect all of the above in all of your communications and marketing materials.

Website

It’s a good idea to create a website for your pressure washing company. First off, it looks professional. You also want a place where people can find you and your contact details when they perform searches online.

If you’re not so tech-savvy you can hire a web developer. But it’s easy enough to create your own website these days using a website builder.

With Wix for example you can work off of a template and make the site unique to your brand with its drag and drop builder.

Online Marketing

With people spending most of their time online these days, it’s clear you’ll be able to reach lots of potential customers through digital marketing. 

There are many online platforms you can use to market your business. It can be overwhelming. 

So the best place to start is to figure out where your potential customers spend their time online. For example, your demographic may use local community Facebook groups a lot. It makes sense to focus your energy and budget on such platforms.

Offline Marketing

Because you’re offering a service to local people, even if you plan to go city-wide or even state-wide eventually, you should do some marketing in real life, too.

With any new business, it’s good to simply tell everybody you know – family, friends, and so on – about your new venture. Get the word out there. And once you start operating, ask customers for referrals and recommendations.

Another route would be to distribute flyers. You may wish to consider offering a discount or incentive to get your first customers on board.

Step 4: Grow and Expand

Once you’ve established your business, the work doesn’t stop. Naturally, you need to grow your business to increase profits.

This means expanding. To have a thriving business you can’t do everything by yourself.

Hire Additional Labor

You don’t want to be in a position where you can’t take on more work simply because there isn’t enough time in the day. When your customer base is growing, hire additional workers for your business.

This will also give you the opportunity to step back and take more of a managerial role. Plus, you’ll have the time to do more of what matters to you and your business, such as forming relationships with customers.

Ramp Up Sales & Marketing

To grow your business even further you may want to expand your sales and marketing efforts. This means assigning a greater budget to acquire customers.

You could hire an agency to take care of this work. It’s unlikely you’ll find an agency that specializes specifically in pressure washing. But you can check their current and former client lists to see if they’ve had success with similar companies, e.g. gardening, industrial cleaning, or construction companies.

Alternatively, you could bring in your own sales and marketing employees if you’re serious about growth.

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