Commercial Accounts

For those of you who have commercial accounts.

We are thinking about expanding from residential to commercial. What are some plentiful easy to obtain account that are profitable to go after?

I am thinking if we can find one account that is once or twice a month that is better than trying to have to find another new house each month to wash.

Work smarter now harder, plus we hope to find something that will give us something to do once the residential slows down for the season.

Finding residential house washes is easy. We can do 3-5+ a day 5 days a week in season like now. Houses can easily pay more then some store front Powerwashing.

The nice thing about commercial is twofold-- The jobs can be much much bigger and alot more money(these jobs are my favorite) and other types of commercial work is repeat business which is always good but there are alot of cut throats in that type of work(we lose commercial accounts all the time from these low ball hacks).

There are a few ways to get commercial work such as Cold calling(the hardest) target your mailings and websites towards PM’s and of course word of mouth. We work with quite a few PM’s out here and they have recommended us to other PM’s.

Commercial work takes the longest to build up but keep hitting it and it will start to come slowly but surely.

I’m looking for the same advice, although I am finding the pay and ease of res work to be very satisfying and am not sure if I want to put up with the headaches that come with commercial.

John, how would you recommend one goes out and finds these “big jobs”? Putting in bids? My website has netted me a few big jobs which I unfortunately had to pass on due to limited capabilities, but I’d love to find more ways of reaching out instead of them coming to me.

-David

I am looking at it not as a replacement to residential work but as reoccurring. Also looking for some reoccurring work for the slow months to help pay bills so cash reserves do not get low until next season gets here.

I waited for commercial till I had a hot water machine. I suggest that if you don’t already have hot water, get it before you proceed.

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First off if anyone wants to chase Commercial you need to have hot water. That’s a must. Yes you can clean with cold water but it won’t be nearly the same and is a lot more time consuming and in this business Time=Money especially if you have employees like I do.

Commercial work at least when it comes to flatwork, building cleanings and Parking garages which are the 3 area’s we target is a never ending process and much harder to nail then anything Residential.

You have to keep plugging away to get residential. Send out postcards,flyers,pamphlets to your ever growing commercial customer list. Scour the net to find contacts and put them in your ever growing commercial list. Keep pounding the pavement. All this is a pain in the Azz but when you eventually nail down those 30-40-$50,000+ jobs you’ll be happy as a kid in a candy store.

Side note-- never give up on your residential end even if your commercial side takes off. My residential customer list is my personal gold mine year in and year out;)

Thanks John, I appreciate the advice. We do have hot water. We will just keep plugging away to break into the commercial side. Residential for us was slow at first but has picked up steam. Our best leads come when people see our truck in a neighborhood. Sometimes a single job has provided leads to 4 others while we were sitting there doing one job. I have gotten my sales pitch down to the point where I can close about 90% of any estimates that I give.

Your area is chalk full of commercial potential, it’s also chalk full of commercial competition. That being said…it’s time to hit the bricks and let them know you’re there.

Personally I find more profit in the residential side of this equation. It takes less time, effort, labor, etc. and produces more profit than commercial work…In my opinion of course.

It really comes down to a few things…

How is your website ranking? How are you producing residential-commercial traffic & sales? How long have you been in business in the Charlotte area? Not that there’s anything wrong with this…are you part-time or full-time washing?

This quote kind of sticks out to me “Our best leads come when people see our truck in a neighborhood.” …not that there’s anything wrong with that situation…but normally that’s not the way it happens…it says there’s something wrong with “Lead Generation” in your business model…At least to me…with no disrespect intended.

Your thread says to me that you’ve got a Marketing problem on the residential side of this. It may stem from any one of the things I’ve listed, or something else…I’m not quite sure…but it’s a good idea to take a step back and look at this.

As Always…Just Saying…

We are full time, once truck, one person. For only being in business for 5 months we are pleased with the results so far. We are just looking ahead to fall when residential slows down to have other things in the works to supplement the decline in residential when cooler weather gets here.

Any new business takes time to get established and for word of mouth to help establish a steady supply of referrals from customers. It feels really good when you are doing a job in a neighborhood and get asked to do 4 quotes and I closed all 4 on the spot and scheduled them for the following week.

Just my .02 cents.

Focus on one thing. Whether its hoods, house washes, decks etc. Get good at that. Then when you have a consistent revenue to do so you can venture out. Commercial accounts isn’t cake with icing. You will get complaints and the people that request a “redo” etc. You will get people who even though your contract states 15 day net, 30 day net etc; they don’t seem to understand it. So you will have to float money…and sometimes LOTS of money. Just an example, one of our snow contracts this year stated that we are to be paid on the 15th a said amount regardless of how much or even if it snows. I called the account manager on the 20th. Her words “my boss gives me xxx amount every week to write checks to contractors, I think you will be paid next week>” LOL.
I started in the commercial world by accident. But this year our residential has increased so much I have lost track. I’ll put it this way…We have done more house washes this year already then in any whole year of the last 10. I like getting paid in a week vs 90 days…LOL

Very true… Unless you have a line if credit or a lot of cash flow I wouldn’t put to many eggs in the commercial basket because they will stretch you out. Once I get my 5,500 I’ve been waiting on from a take your sweet time commercial account I wouldn’t be so against commercial right now… And we’ve never went chasing commercial accounts if you have a google places or a high ranking professional site they will come…

Commercial work is great, but as others have said it’s not all sunshine and unicorns. Like everything it has it’s pros and cons. On the earlier comment about work slowing down in the fall. I love the fall. All the guys with the home depot machines begin to fade away, so now the homeowner has no choice but to contact the professional company thats phone is still on. If you market, PROPERLY and effectively, they will come.

Guess I won’t be around in the fall … Lol

I am very interested in getting a nice book of business for commercial. Any and all input is nice.

I’m scouring the planet for commercial leads. My biggest issue and the issue many guys have is getting to the right person. I set a goal for 1500 is sales this week by Wednesday I had all but $200 in signed contracts. One being commercial.
For you guys that are out pounding the pavement what is your method? who do you network with locally? I really want to get my foot in the door with one particular property manager. I have left them alone this week because I don’t want to screw it up. Point me in the right direction towards some good resources on how I should do this and Ill figure it out. I still have two days to close another 200 bucks.

We don’t go after commercial, but most types of business have a major organization that most are a part of. Apartment associations, prop mgmt associations, etc… A lot of these are open to join for a fee. Join up and network at their events.

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Go to your local town meeting’s , be on a first name basis with chamber of commerce, sponsor a local football-baseball-soccer etc. team(preferably little league) high school get’s ridiculous expensive. Just a few tip’s that helped me succeed and build business.

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A few things I’ve learned doing the few commercial jobs I’ve done.

  1. Subcontract the parts you’re not comfortable doing to another pressure washing company.
  2. Subcontract the window washing. There’s a guy in our area who does windows for $15-20 per typical strip mall unit. I charge $60 per unit and end up just splitting it with the guy because he does a darn fine job and I’d like to stay on his good side. He’s earned it. And it’s a fantastic feeling knowing at the end of the day I don’t still have windows to do. I’ve even won a contract by offering free window washing and just priced it in anyway.
  3. Whatever you think it’s going to cost to do the job double it.
  4. Don’t count on the check to for 30 days for commercial and 60 days for municipal.
  5. Send your W-9 and your insurance certificate with your estimate and it will expedite the approval process.
  6. If you think you need a 30 foot scissor lift get the 40.

In my area, I compete with a commercial property management company that has a pressure washing and window washing division with a fleet of vehicles and army of $10/hour employees bigger than I’d ever even want to have. They have the ability to bid jobs lower than I do. I often come in 2nd place in jobs we bid together, but I can wash 3 houses or 5 driveways or multiple whatevers in a day typically and put $600-$1000 in my pocket right away. I don’t do quite that well on commercial jobs due to longer timelines, higher overhead, paying subcontractors, renting equipment, etc, etc, etc, but I do less work.

Sometimes I think I’d be better off just doing residential. There’s always a tradeoff.

I have gotten all but one commercial job through my website’s inquiry form after (and only after) my kid brother, who is an SEO guy, added commercial terms to the description of my website that I guess only google or search engines can see.

Gum removal
EIFS cleaning
Dryvit cleaning
customer entrance
commercial window washing
Grease removal
Food stain removal
Oil stain removal

I can’t remember all the terms off the top of my head, but I’ll try to get the full list. Fix your SEO and be prepared to set your goal higher.

The other lead, which will be the biggest, a 24 unit apartment complex, came via HomeAdvisor of all strange places.

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IF you at going to do commercial you have to have good equipment. One of the biggest downfalls of many pressure washing companies is not having a separate delivery system for your bleach mixture. I’ve never done down streaming or used an X-Jet but from what I hear you can’t manage your mixture very well. I started out with a water dragon and a mix tank. I could run 100% bleach if I wanted to. I could reach 2 stories with no problem. About 6 months ago I switched to an air pump. I bought a 150 psi/18cfm air compressor with a 30 gallon tank and mounted it in the back of my truck and ran air lines to my trailer. With the air pump I can reach the top of a tall (with 12’ ceilings) 3 story building and many 4 story building (with no wind) and I can apply any bleach strength I want. Right now we are doing a 40 building, 2 story apartment complex with the dirtiest brick I have ever seen. The little air pump produces up to 17 gpm at 90 psi and we are able to run 2 hoses off of the one pump and still reach over 2 stories with both hoses running at the same time. For this job we are running 15 gallons of 10% bleach in a 50 gallon mix tank with about a quart of roof snot. This mixture cleans the brick with no problem. We also have a 30" surface cleaner and at getting ready to but a 48" and a new 10gpm cold water pressure washier for large parking lot jobs. We have spent a lot of money on equipment but in the last 3 weeks I’ve done 2 apartment complexes worth over $32,000 and have probably another $20,000+ in bids out. Once you get the right equipment, add words like “apartments, hotels, office buildings, shopping centers” to your advertising. Also, build a Commercial page for your web site and fill it with pictures of some of your jobs. Once you get to this level, the competition thins out and you don’t have to worry about all those guys who went to Home Depot or Harbor Freight and bought a pressure washer and now they be a “pressure washing company” and will do you driveway for $99! Another thing to consider is going to a school. When I first started I went to Doug Rucker’s Pressure Washing School. (https://www.pressurecleaningschool.com) It is a hands on 2 day course that is excellent. Doug has been in the pressure washing business in the Houston area for 30 years and knows his stuff. The best part of it is that as a student you can call or text him anytime with a question about anything and get an answer. I still ask him questions when I run into a problem I don’t know how to handle.
Robbie Miller
Quality Pressure Washing of Houston
832-792-5420

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