Did my first commercial job this morning. Actually, my first job ever of any sort. I was a little nervous, but I think the outcome is really nice. I used a 4200 PSI 4 GPM machine with 18" GP surface cleaner. I have 50 feet of high pressure hose and 75 feet of Flexzilla Pro (SOOOO much more easy to deal with than regular hose). I also fit all this in my Prius and my wife tagged along with me to help set up and tear down before and after. Yes, the SC handle goes all the way up through the center console and nearly touches the radio. And yes, I have to disassemble the frame handles from the pressure washer to slide in up through the hatch and onto the back seats so that hatch can close. It’s a bit of a production, but I can do it quickly and I’m able to fit everything I need, which is all that matters to me right now.
I learned a few things by doing my first job. I realize now I’d like to do the ball valve and swivel fitting. It was a pain in the butt to turn off my machine and water supply each time I needed to switch between SC and wand. I probably switched more than I needed to because I’m learning, but still. Not efficient.
Also, I look forward to getting a small trailer that I can attach hose reels to. Winding up hoses by hand is not pleasant, they get twisted, and it’s impossible to wipe them or clean them as you wrap them up. I will note though that the Flexzilla is so much easier to work with and feels like half the weight of the NeverKink hose from Home Depot.
I thought that I wouldn’t be able to get any gum off without hot water, but that wasn’t true. After surface cleaning, I went back with my wand and green tip and was able to get off all of the gum. It took a lot of effort and time, but it turned out really nice and the customer is very happy with it. I was really excited to figure out that gum will come off with cold water, even though the process is super slow. I was able to get off fresh gum and much older gum as well. I noticed that it tended to peel and fly away in a solid piece though, whereas it seems from youtube that hot water more or less disintegrates / vaporizes the gum which definitely seems like the preferred option. One day…
Here are some before and after photos, including my Prius all loaded up.
Here’s the last before/after photo. I forgot to take an after photo of this spot this morning so I went back this afternoon and snapped one. It was an area beyond what the customer asked me to clean, but I wanted to go a little above and beyond in hopes of getting recurring cleaning with this guy. When he signed my quote for service this past Friday, he said he had just been promoted and would be moving to a high position manager at another local restaurant and if he was happy when I cleaned this location, he’d keep me as his contractor for cleaning the new locations he’ll be responsible for.
I’m sure I’m not doing as well as some of you guys can, but I’m excited for the new experience and looking forward to getting more work soon hopefully.
Just one other thing. Several of you have mentioned that it didn’t look very dirty. I probably need to work on my picture taking, and I apologize for that. The sidewalk and storefront as a whole was filthy and covered in gum, spilled soda, smashed and dried hard candies, old silly string, and all sorts of other weird things that kids drop coming and going from Chuck E. Cheese’s. I got this job by going into the store and asking to speak to a manager and handing him my business card and telling him I wanted to clean his storefront. While going to other businesses in the plaza, business owners mentioned that their customers would sometimes complain to them because of how filthy and gross the Chuck E. Cheese’s sidewalk and storefront was. I’m sure you guys see much worse than I have in my 50+ businesses that I’ve walked into to ask for work, but I personally thought it was gross and think it looks a lot better now. I really appreciated the feedback so far and for the next time, I’ll try to make sure I document how dirty everything looks before I start cleaning instead of in the middle of cleaning.
Thanks for the tips on EBC. I keep seeing that so I searched it (wasn’t sure what it was). I’ll look into it more to figure out why you guys keep saying I should have used that.
The other thing is that I did this for $125. When measured out at $0.10 per square foot, I think the work was worth closer to $225 than $125. In my opinion, from what I’ve learned, I did the work for much less than I should have. So even if I had EBC, I’m not sure I would have wanted to use any chemicals for the price I did the job for. Thoughts or advice on this?
After speaking to my wife this morning about all the fun I had and how I learned more about the labor and time involved, I don’t think I’ll agree to under sell a job again. But at the same time, I’m looking for the opportunity to get more experience and if a person will only hire me for $100 less than what I think it’s worth, then maybe it’s worth it. I’m open to any thoughts on this. Keep in mind I’m a full time electrical engineer and looking to start this as a way to get away from a desk and hopefully one day just work for myself and no longer be deskie. My point being that “losing” $100 for a job opportunity isn’t hurting me at all.
Could be worse. Neighbors on either side of me got hit by thieves this past week. The neighbor to my right woke up at 4 AM when his truck started, however, he was lucky that he had his transmission linkage disassembled for some kind of repair. Thieves skipped town and left the truck running.
I spent the last two days buying a camera system and installing battery cut off switches in the vehicles. Had to use two of my game cams in the garage just in case and I’ve been running and splicing wires for the outdoor security cameras. Oh and Google’s regular, nothing new, $5 monthly charge triggered a fraud alert for some strange reason and my business debit card is frozen for the long weekend.
I purposely took this weekend off since I have overnights for commercial work the next week and a half which I dread… said I’d never do again, but the bright side is the money is good and I haven’t had anything stolen. Now I’m off to knock on the biggest oak tree I can find.
Yes, I soap when I shower. I use real toothpaste, keep my nails trimmed, shave my head, trim my beard, and I forgot sunscreen last week in Mexico when we went to the pool for several hours and I had major severe burns from my waist up. It was not fun. I’m still peeling and it’s been 10 days.
Thanks for the honest grading guys. It feels a little insulting to be straight, but I’ll take it as constructive. If you guys didn’t mind, particularly @Racer, what suggestions would you guys have for “practicing?”
It may not count for much, but a month or so ago, when I first purchased my equipment, I emailed and called several local (but not in my direct area…like within an hour or so drive) pressure washing operations and left messages asking if I could work for free for them for a weekend or even a couple of weekends so that I could learn techniques and tips of the industry. I thought free labor for them and knowledge and guided work for me would benefit both of us. But no one ever called or emailed me back. I was a little disappointed actually. Not sure if maybe there are legal implications to having someone “tag along” for a day or something, but yeah. Got nothing
@618Pressure, can you give me your thoughts on this? I quoted the customer much higher than $125, but he said that’s the most he would pay for the service. Just starting out, I wanted to get my foot in the door (or any door, just hoping to get things started). Since he didn’t want to pay what I thought it was worth, I didn’t see the point in applying any chemical. Is that the right way to come at this, or could you recommend a better approach I could take next time? I was planning to DS 12.5% bleach with some dawn (I have read that all over the place) but figured why put the extra cost on myself when I’m doing the work for quite a bit less than what I’d hoped to do it for?
You guys are being really helpful. I’d have to say not very encouraging lol, but I’m getting the picture. I’ll be able to do better on the next job from all this for sure.
Trust me, you’re not the first one on here to underbid a job, including yours truly more than once. But even if I do, I’m going to do the best job possible because it reflects on me and my company, whether I underbid or charged too much, the outcome is going to look the same. You never know who is going to see your work. Maybe another tenant in the center you were at, maybe a regional guy in charge of a lot of stores, maybe some dude who owns a million sq ft of warehouses in your area bringing his kid there. Every job you do should be the best you can do it. But that’s just me.
I appreciate your efforts to learn and you have. Some things you learn on the job, but cleaning concrete, I bet you can look out your window and see dirty concrete everywhere. Even if just a couple of sections of your drive, a relative, parents, friends or just some curbs. Someone’s got to have dirty concrete. You live in Southern CA, there’s a trillion feet of dirty concrete out there.You’re welcome to come down here and I’ll give you all the training you want.
You got some good advice before you did the job but you decided not to follow it or even try it as far as I can tell. And though the rec weren’t what I would have used, they would have definitely helped and it would have cost you less than $10. You missed a great opportunity to see if the products recommended worked for you… Intro and Concrete Question - Commercial - Pressure Washing Resource
So yeah, the results are ok, but do you want that to be representative of the best work you can do? And I have no problem with you under bidding a job to get some experience and exposure starting out, but use it as a showcase for you and your business. Don’t cheap out on the customer or give it your best because you made the decision to accept the job.
LOL, look at it this way - that Prius probably worth more than Innocent’s and my truck combined, so I don’t think maybe $5 worth of soap in your mix would have killed you.
And I did give you kudos for going out and hustling up the job. Just keep learning, you’ll be fine.
Read, read, read. There are charts I can point you too, but I won’t for a couple different reasons. First, if differs in every area in the country. What someone will pay and what it will cost you to do will always vary from job to location, to time of day, to the temperature. Second, that’s why I say read. You’ll learn all of that while just trying to figure out pricing. I know I did. It’s all here on this site to find. Not to mention some YouTube videos to clarify. But you’ll be fine, in the long run. You’re new and I am too. I’ve just done countless hours of research. Read, read, read.
@Racer, thank you for your response. I see your point in spending a little bit in chemicals to do a better job. That seems like good advice and I’ll do that next time. In fact I’ll do that on the next maintenance cleaning if they hire me to do that regularly.
I see what you’re saying by thinking I didn’t take the previous provided advice, but I actually did. When it was recommended to try Zep Purple, I did a little more research on it and then went to Home Depot and purchased a single galling of it. Then that even I went to the customer site after they closed with a broom and water hose and a pump sprayer. I tried two test spots on the heavy stains by the yellow safer pads. @squidskc had said he really thought it looked like greased that had been tracked in and out. So I pump sprayed a 50/50 mix on one spot and poured it straight on another small spot. Agitated it with the broom, let it work for around 12 minutes, then rinsed it off. I read the directions and searched the internet and watched YouTube prior to doing this to make sure I was using it properly.
When I rinsed it off, the stains didn’t lighten in either the 50/50 or straight spots. It was late, so I went by the following morning in daylight to look at the drier test spots and noticed that the degreaser had actually whitened the yellow safety pads where it had touched those parts prior to rinsing while I was agitating the chemical into the stain.
It was a small spot so I didn’t worry to much about it, but I was certain I didn’t want to lighten spots along the yellow pads the whole length of the storefront.
I did this when the customer asked for a demo several days before I actually did the job yesterday.
Do you have experiences like this with degreaser and yellow safer pads? Would downstreaming 12.5% bleach with soap on my next visit help clean the concrete more without leaving lightened stains on the yellow?
And @Racer, are you in southern ca? If you were within driving distance, I would love the opportunity to spend some time with you.
Again, I’m really appreciating all the help and advice. I want to provide the best quality with that I can.
I’m in SC, about 3000 miles from you. Typically, you don’t use much if any bleach in commercial work, since it doesn’t do squat as far as cleaning grease and dirt. I add about 2 gal in my 15gal commercial container and then about 5ozs of EBC per gal and that’s downstreamed, so bleach component basically nil. Out there you don’t have much mildew or mold relatively. You just need to find a good degreaser you like. If it’s really bad like at the door or a dumpster pad I’ll pump spray a sodium Hydroxide mix and let dwell for a little while, and maybe even brush it a little, 10-15min and then put my regular mix over and then clean. All the distributors have various levels of products. I keep 4-5 on hand that I use, depending on situation. But day in and day out, EBC is my goto for commercial. But I have EBC, BD200, Terra Wash, a local made sodium hydroxide chem, Dragon Juice, concentrated Purple Power(excellent degreaser, but makes fair amount of suds, ie takes longer to rinse) and prob a couple more that I keep in stock.