Growing a Pressure Washing Biz - What are the main challenges and problems?

Hey pressure washing community,

I’m starting my pressure washing biz soon and wanted to prepare myself by learning from those already in the industry.

What are the main challenges, problems, and fears you guys have with your pressure washing biz? What are the daily frustrations? What’s going to keep me up at night?

What are the main challenges when it comes to getting more customers?

Also, what are the best types of jobs?

I know this is a lot and I’m sorry for all these questions - I just want to get a good understanding and hopefully, this will be a good resource for those like me!

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Welcome to the forum Mac. I see you also introduced yourself as well. I’m new as well and I can say there is so much good information here it’s amazing. I’ve been reading for over 6 months straight (4 months with an account) and I learn something new everyday. I know a lot of people don’t have that time but searching for stuff here is great. I’ve read the sales and marketing topics a LOT. I bookmark things, I’ve reached out to members with specific questions, networked, and read some more.

Good luck! You’ve asked a lot of really wide ranging questions.

File for your LLC
Insurance for LLC
Business license if required by your state
Logo for business
Business Plan
Budget/Accounting
SH supplier found before starting
Website
Trailer/Truck Build

Through it all read and ask questions. Like any service if you do quality work and are honest people will tell their friends and family about you.

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That’s awesome - thank you so much! Yes I just found this forum a few days and have been consuming as much as I can! I will definitely look into the sales and marketing topics.

I’ve been a window cleaner for 25 years, and I gotta say pressure washing scares me way more than window cleaning ever did…except the days when I used to take external storms out of second story windows. Well, ladder work too.

Bottom line, you can really screw up someone’s property if you don’t know exactly what that particular surface can take. Concrete, vinyl, stucco, limestone, soffits, roofs, wood decks etc. I’ve been at it only a year and already screwed up a door handle with bleach, killed some decorative plants and blew a glass oil lamp off a chandelier.

Just be careful and think about what you are doing.

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Employees, weather, customers last minute requests, equipment breaking at the worst possible time, not enough calls, no time for family, working late, mechanical problems with truck, wife :laughing: and the high pressure hose that I would murder out frustration sometimes…

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those second story storms are something else

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Oh another frustration…

Washing a house for an hour by myself and making $175, doing the same window cleaning and making half that. Now that’s frustrating.:flushed::laughing:

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This is my first year but so far I’ve found the best homes are those 2000-2500 square foot all vinyl cookie cutter homes. Specifically the ones that are shaped like a straight up box. Also if you want to maximize your rate per hour, don’t do window cleaning unless you are getting a water-fed pole and only doing them after a house wash. Get the customers to remove the screens before. Thats the only way you can match the rate per hour window cleaning vs house washing.

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I think @Clean_Blue summed it up pretty well, don’t be surprised if all that he mentioned happens in the same day, you’ll get it a few times a year no matter how long you’ve been doing it or systems you have in place. It’s a wonderful thing this business ownership lol.

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Long post warning
I’ve been pressure washing for a couple years but decided to go all out this year and become officially licensed and insured and bla bla bla. Under the table money was good but not smart. So I guess you can say i officially started my buisness this year.

To answer all your specific questions, getting your DBA, logo, buisness license, insurance, LLC, the documents basically wasn’t the hard part for me, it was getting those first 5 star reviews, getting my image and name out there in my area, and building a customer database and a solid foundation of trust with my area. To do that it involved countless hours of handing out hundreds of flyers door to door. Many yard signs (look up city laws on yard signs near public roadways). I made a page on every social media platform, also Thumbtack, Yelp, and Google (thumbtack got me lots of first jobs) I started building those pages with likes, follows, posts ect. I posted daily on all of them. Still do! Lots of work.

I photoshopped a business card design and had them printed at Office Depot cus it’s cheaper than vistaprint (use Fiverr for your designs if you are incapable and starting out, cheap guys still do good work, my logo cost me $10). I handed these out to every customer I did work for, and gave them an extra one to give to a friend. I also made a review business card strictly for reviews with a QR code that they just scanned with their camera app that went to my review pages only for customers I did work for (so it’s easier to leave a review. Ease is everything for customers, it takes them effort to leave a review, make it easy).

Those first couple of customers that you get from all that basic advertising are so so important. So I priced low, over cleaned whatever they asked me to clean, cleaned something for free, basically kissed up to them and asked them to give me a review as I’m starting out and it means a lot. They did.

Then I started paying for Facebook ads, google ads, and I got a website. I decided to try and build my own, which after about 40 plus hours of actively working on it, and another 20 hours of YouTube videos, I created a pretty good one I think.

The reason I made one myself vs having someone else make it, is because I wanted complete control over my site. I didn’t want to have to call or email a guy every time I wanted a photo added or something changed. That is something I am thankful for although it was stressful, no worries, you can make a website without any coding involved.

I went with Wordpress. Got hosting through Bluehost, found the theme i wanted and took off!

My website is DJsPressureWashingServices.com
If you would like some ideas.

For reviews though, I highly suggest every review go to your google page. Everyone uses it to find work unless they just know you via word of mouth.

The daily frustrations I have currently is wanting to expand outside my truck. When you build up equipment, chemicals, and tools that you realize you need as you get more work, you just can’t carry it all! That’s why everyone gets a trailer of some sort. Also I want to be smart and only buy things for the business with money I earn from the business. I have the means to spend my personal money to buy a whole setup like the veterans out here, and I want to do that so badly, but that’s a way to get in debt if you fail at the buisness. Building slow is worth it. Trust me on that

Another thing, learn your chemicals for every stain out there. Read this forum ! Seriously go back to 2012 and read even, so much awesome knowledge it should be illegal! Also learn your mix ratios, don’t go spraying straight bleach on someone’s home and run. You damage things. The chems we use are powerful as can not only hurt you but your wallet if a customer comes after you for damaging their home.

What fears do I have ? That a customer is going to try a pull a fast one on me and say I damaged something I didn’t for free insurance money( that’s why you always take TONS of before and after pics), give me anything other than a 5 star review and write terribly about my business for customers to see, or I accidentally damage someone’s property myself. But this isn’t likely to happen as I have gained lots of safe practice knowledge from here, I’m very careful, and my customer service is very important to me as the customers money is my money once I’m done lol.

What keeps me up at night? Wondering if all the hard work I put into this buisness is going to pay off. I currently am air force full time so balancing both is difficult at times with scheduling jobs. I do plan to get out in 2 years, and I want this to be able to sustain my future family.

For me, the best types of jobs for residential are house washes as they are enjoyable, driveways and concrete come second because there isn’t much physical labor involved, It’s like vacuuming! If I did roofs, which I plan to soon, I’m sure that would be high ranking.
I’ll do it, but I’m not a fan of decks personally.

Things I wish I did?
I wish I would have gotten a belt driven instead of a direct drive. Many positives if belt drive. Water suction is the main one, helps if you plan to use a tank with ur washer so you don’t have to try to make your setup gravity fed ect ect ect. I wish I would have gotten a full size truck instead of midsized (bed room and towing weight capability). I can still tow a setup but I have to be careful with how much I plan to haul, especially water tanks. Water is heavy!

I wish I would have discovered a J rod / quad rod sooner then later. I used a pump up sprayer for applying solution and couldn’t do 2 stories. Then went to x jet which was great because I could do 2 stories but had to carry a bucket around and it was a pain. Then got connected to some pros and got a quad rod and started DSing. So wonderful. no bucket, can reach 3 stories, and can simply rotate my tip around so I can switch from soap to clean water on the fly.

Also I wish I tracked receipts, miles between jobs, and expenses. I highly suggest using quick books self employed to start and link it to your bank acccount. You will track all you need for your first tax return. Speaking of that, get a CPA.

Starting a buisness is hard. It requires a lot of time, patience, consistency, and a good amount of startup money for the legal side of things, equipment, chems, website building, and advertising costs. Not to mention some handyman tools and supplies like o-rings, towels, WD-40, ect.

My advice to you ? Just start. List out all that you need, make a goal every day to reach, work at it, and always always always keep marketing yourself to your area. You will never stop growing and always be improving.

Good luck

My fingers hurt.

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For me, the situation is a little different than you folks. I’m not in the US and so here the very idea that you can soft wash a home is totally unheard of. I’ve had a few house washing jobs, which are the most lucrative as you all know, but mostly pavers and decks so far. Therefore the top challenge for me is getting info on this service out to people, which is why I focus on advertising house washes and only mention other things in passing in the flyer I’ve been handing out.

Y’all have it so easy over there. Almost everyone seems to have vinyl, which is incredibly easy to clean. :smiley:

No doubt. I enjoy window cleaning but there’s no way to earn the same money on windows. I hate to even get a window cleaning job in our busy season, but the thing I like about windows is all the upselling I do when I get to the house and it needs PRESSURE WASHER. It’s an easy upgrade to explain to the customer that if considering a PRESSURE WASHER job in the next year, this is the time… that is unless you want to have to clean those windows again.

Nice post DJ. Giving and helping others makes us better people. I’d like to suggest , however, that your website needs a LOT more attention. You haven’t put any time in it since you set it up and there’s absolutely no content. There’s no Gallery, no BLOG, no About US explaining who you are and why they should get to know you better, NOTHING. The page loads slowly because of the pics on the front end, and I feel quite comfortable that you have new before/afters that display your work more impressively.

Don’t mean to step on your toes but abandoned websites are next to useless and will never attract a high rank with Google. Show some discipline and spend a couple of hours a week building your site. You’ll learn a lot about WordPress AND get more traffic.

Good luckl!

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That’s strange ? I have an about page, a full gallery, services page, and a contact page! The website functions on my end. Try looking at it again? It might only be on your end @MrSparkleVA. Is anyone else having the same problem?

NICE, I’m glad I was wrong. I had apparently gone to a page where those things weren’t at the top, so you might want to look at that. Yess Sir, that’s not bad. NOW, update and expand. There may be no task that we procrastinate more that has a greater ill effect on our incomes I have FINALLY invested on a recent college graduate that knows his way around WordPress and I hire him for 10 hours a week at $200 to update, improve, alter, and make more efficient. Best $200 a week I’ve added to my payroll yet.

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You made me nervous there for a second! I’ll check on my pages to make sure I don’t have a straggler that needs improvement :slight_smile: Glad you like it !

The fact your active duty and have time to run a power washing business is impressive. I barely had time to do my laundry and take a crap lol

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The struggle is real. My military boss just sent out a new schedule for this upcoming week and we can’t see it until tomorrow and I have about $3,000 worth of house washes, concrete driveways, and wood restoration work that I need to schedule and its all on hold! But these customers are understanding fine waiting till Monday to hear from me as I’ve explained my situation to them. People have a soft spot for a younger guy balancing a buisness while serving the country full time I guess :us:

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Different branches, missions and commands. My last submarine I never had free time and barely slept. This shore duty I worked 2-3 hours a day M-F before COVID.

@DJPWS glad to hear they’re understanding and that you communicate well with them. Most people are flexible if you communicate up front I find.

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@MrSparkleVA I know you’re probably busy, especially at this time of year, but learning WordPress and getting a feel for the back end of your site is fairly simple. There’s tons of short videos out there that can help.

$800/month is a lot of money to pay someone to make changes, edits, and add/delete content. An hour or two studying it can save you almost 10k a year. Just trying to help and if you’re too busy then disregard my comment but I’d at least look at outsourcing it to someone much cheaper.

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