So you want to start your own pressure washing business? Congratulations on taking the leap to becoming your own boss. Running a service business is challenging yet rewarding work, but it all goes much more smoothly when you know what you need to do to get started on the right foot.
Steps like choosing the right business structure, ensuring your business is fully licensed, buying the right materials and tools, promoting your business online and offline, and setting up streamlined operational processes are all vital for starting a pressure washing business that can grow successfully. In this article, we’ll tell you how to start a pressure washing business that will thrive and be profitable.
Choosing a business structure for your pressure washing company
When starting a pressure washing business, one of the first things you’ll need to decide is how to structure your company. The two most common options for small businesses are a sole proprietorship, or a single-member LLC (Limited Liability Company).
A sole proprietorship is the simplest structure, where you and your business are considered the same entity. While easy to set up, you have unlimited personal liability for business debts and obligations. This may put your personal assets at risk.
Forming an LLC, even with just one owner (you!), helps establish your business as a separate legal entity and can protect your personal assets. An LLC offers flexibility in management and pass-through taxation. Single-member LLC formation does require more paperwork and fees than a sole proprietorship, but the liability protection is worth it for most business owners.
Obtaining the licenses and permits you need to legally operate your business
Before you can get your pressure washing business up and running, you’ll need to make sure you can legally operate in your area. The requirements vary from state to state, so make sure you check with your state’s business licensing website or local Chamber of Commerce. Some cities have specific regulations too. Here are the requirements you’ll probably need to meet:
- A business license. Most states require you to register for a general business license, which is sometimes called an occupational business license. Fees range from $50 up to over $500.
- An environmental permit. In some states, like Michigan, you’ll need a license that confirms that you’ll dispose of wastewater in a responsible manner.
- A contractors’ license. California, for example, requires pressure washers to get a contractors’ license, which calls for at least 4 years of journeyman experience.
- A specialist pressure washers license. Some states have a specific license for pressure washers.
- Adequate business insurance. You’ll need general liability insurance; vehicle insurance; equipment insurance; and workers comp if you have any employees. This can cost anywhere from $40 to several hundred dollars a month, depending on where you live and the size of your business.
- Sales tax registration. Federal law requires you to register your business with the IRS to report income tax and other business taxes.
It’s a good idea to also get professional certifications before you start, to boost your credentials. The PWNA offers certification for residential and commercial pressure washers for a few hundred dollars.
Following these steps will ensure your pressure washing business operates legally. Then you can focus on finding new clients and growing your company.
Investing in pressure washing equipment and supplies
You’ll need high-quality equipment and supplies to be able to complete all your jobs successfully and grow a base of loyal and happy customers. The most important items are:
A pressure washer
This is the core of your work, so make sure that it can deliver on your promises. Pressure washers can cost anything from under $100 up to around $10,000, depending on its cleaning power and type of fuel. Electric pressure washers are the lowest cost, running at an average of under $200, while a gas-powered unit costs $350-400 on average.
You’ll need a more powerful washer if you’re planning on tackling commercial cleaning, but a medium-power washer is enough for most residential jobs. Look for a washer that can produce 1,500 to 4,000 PSI and 2-4 GPM.
Cleaning detergents and chemicals
You’ll want an assortment of detergents for different surfaces like houses, decks, concrete, and vehicles. Stock up on bleach, degreasers, and soap, and be sure to get environmentally-friendly and biodegradable options.
You should also invest in:
- Hoses. You’ll want hoses that are at least 50 feet long for most residential jobs.
- Nozzles. You need a variety of spray nozzles for different applications.
- Protective gear. Gloves, eye protection, and rubber boots keep you and your workers safe.
- Additional tools. Scrub brushes, buckets, and sprayers round out your toolkit.
Business management tools
As well as the actual tools you need to clean surfaces, you also need ways to manage your business efficiently. An all-in-one business management solution like vcita that includes an online booking system, CRM, marketing tools, invoicing capabilities, and payment processing will help you handle admin tasks quickly and easily.
Marketing your new pressure washing business effectively
Once you’ve established your pressure washing business, it’s time to start attracting clients. An effective marketing strategy is key to acquiring customers and building your new company, so take the time to think about how you’ll promote your business and plan a marketing campaign. Here are the most important steps to include when marketing your new business.
Build a website
A professional website lets potential customers know about your services and tells them the information they need to make a booking. Add details on the different types of pressure washing services you offer, like house washing, deck cleaning, driveway cleaning, and roof cleaning. Include a booking widget to allow customers to easily schedule estimates and appointments.
Utilize social media
Promote your business on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to spread awareness of your business and connect with potential new customers. Post photos of your work, share positive reviews from happy clients, and provide useful cleaning tips and information. Engage with followers by replying to their comments and messages to build a relationship.
Send email newsletters
Start an email newsletter to stay in touch with clients, spread the word about your pressure washing services, and offer special deals. You can send a monthly newsletter with seasonal cleaning tips, before and after photos of your work, and any current specials emails, and encourage people to sign up by offering an incentive like 10% off for new subscribers.
Implement search engine optimization
Small business SEO helps your site rank higher in search engine results when someone’s looking for a pressure washing business, so include keywords like “pressure washing,” “house washing,” and “deck restoration” into your website content. Offering related services, such as window cleaning, house cleaning or pool cleaning, can also help boost your search rankings and bring in more clients.
Leverage traditional offline advertising
Word-of-mouth referrals from happy customers is the oldest type of advertising, and still one of the best ways to grow your pressure washing business. Ask clients to leave online reviews and refer your services to friends and neighbors. You can also place ads in local newspapers, coupon mailers, and home service directories, and sponsor local events or sports teams to increase visibility.
Managing operations efficiently with business management software
When you start a new pressure washing business, you want to set up business operations in a way that allows you to focus on satisfying your customers instead of wasting time on admin. It’s also important to begin in a way that allows your business to grow effectively, so establish a system to handle bookings, billing, and similar tasks without stress.
The best solution is to use a cloud-based all-in-one business management platform like vcita, which provides online booking, scheduling, invoicing, payment processing, email marketing, and more, all in a single location. The business management platform is designed specifically for service professionals like pressure washers, so you can concentrate on your work.
Here are the main features that help pressure washing business owners to keep organized and grow their businesses.
Online booking system
An online booking system like vcita allows customers to schedule appointments through your website at any time, 24/7. Embed the booking widget directly into your site to invite customers to pick the service they need, select an available date and time, and book instantly. You’ll get notified of the new appointment right away — no more playing phone tag or managing a messy calendar by hand.
vcita’s built-in cloud CRM (customer relationship management) system helps you keep track of your customers and their service history in one place. Log details like when their house was last pressure washed or if they need gutter cleaning in the fall, then set up automated reminders so you provide the best service and keep people coming back.
Invoicing and payment processing
Use vcita to send digital invoices, estimates, and receipts, share documents through a secure client portal, and accept payments online or in person. The software automatically fills invoices with details pulled from your CRM, helping save time and reduce mistakes. Online payment processing makes it easier for clients to pay and cuts the risks of late payments.
Running a successful service business requires efficiency and organization. vcita’s suite of professional tools is designed to simplify your daily operations so you can spend less time managing the details, and more time pressure washing.
Make your pressure washing business a success
Now you know everything you need to start your own pressure washing business and be your own boss, you’re ready to get going. With the right tools, efficient business operations, and plenty of determination, you can enjoy the rewards of being your own boss and build a stable income. Before you know it, you’ll be booking jobs, hiring help, and watching your company thrive.