How to Start a Pressure Washing Business

welcomia/iStock/GettyImages

Pressure washing has emerged as a popular cleaning method for driveways, patios, outdoor furniture and even cars. These devices remove stains effortlessly without damaging the materials on which they're being used. If you're looking for affordable business ideas, consider starting your own pressure washing company. It's a simple, convenient way to supplement your income without losing your freedom. All you need is some free space and quality pressure washing equipment.

Pressure Washing Industry Overview

Before starting a pressure washing business, make sure you know what to expect. Assess the market and your competition. Research the different types of pressure washers available so you can choose one that best suits your needs.

The global pressure washer market is expected to reach $4.4 billion by 2021. Nilfisk Group, Briggs & Stratton, Alfred Kärcher and Robert Bosch are some of the key players in this niche. Some provide cleaning services, while others sell or rent power washers. Leading manufacturers include Bosch, Makita, Clearforce, TTI and Stihl. If you want to start a pressure washing company, it's recommended to purchase equipment from a trusted supplier. This requires market research.

Most consumers use pressure washers for just about any cleaning job of which one could think, from pool cleaning to window washing. Therefore, you need to decide on the services you're going to offer. For example, you can provide power washing services for cars only or offer a complete package that includes driveway cleaning, patio cleaning and so on. This will help determine your rates and space requirements.

Check the prices of pressure washing services in your area. Go online and research your competitors or give them a call to request a quote. The costs vary depending on the location, square footage and type of job. Most contractors in the U.S. charge about $281 for pressure washing exterior surfaces. The typical range is between $183 and $380.

Decide whether you're going to charge per hour or per job. Consider the time and costs involved in performing your services. If you charge too little, you won't be able to make it through. Charge too much and you'll drive customers away. Since you're just starting out, you may offer lower rates and increase them as your business grows.

Estimate the Costs Involved

A pressure washing business involves lower startup costs compared to other ventures. However, you still need to invest in quality equipment, which isn't exactly cheap. Consider using a high-end pressure washer and premium cleaning supplies to gain a competitive advantage. At a minimum, you will need the following:

  • A pressure washer
  • Nozzles
  • Water tanks
  • Van, truck or trailer
  • High- and low-pressure water hoses
  • Generators
  • Telescoping extension wands
  • Cleaning products
  • Hydrostatic line testers

If you don't have a van, you'll need to purchase one. If you decide to offer pressure washing services for cars only, you can use your garage. Apart from that, your biggest investment will be the pressure washer.

Depending on your budget, you can choose from various types of devices. Some are gas powered, while others use electricity. Gas models boast 2,000 to 2,800 PSI (pounds per square inch) and tend to weigh more. Electric-powered devices generate up to 1,700 PSI, making them ideal for smaller jobs.

Both can be further broken down into several categories, including cold water pressure washers, hot water pressure washers and light-duty, medium-duty and heavy-duty machines. You can also opt for hydraulic models, which require less fuel to work and can be used in areas where electric power is not available. Decide whether you want to purchase a standing unit or one with wheels.

Beware that pressure washers and power washers are basically the same. The difference lies in the temperature of the water used. This means that if you wish to start a power washing business, you can use the machines and accessories listed above.

Register Your Pressure Washing Business

To set up your pressure washing business, it's necessary to register it with the state. Decide on a legal structure, such as a sole proprietorship or an LLC. Choose a name for your company and apply for a federal tax ID number. You will also need a bank account and business insurance.

Whether you plan to start a pressure washing or power washing company, you must first obtain certain licenses and permits. These requirements vary from one state to another. Depending on where you live, you may need to get an occupational license. For example, general contractors who operate in the city of Smithville, Missouri are legally required to carry a Blanket Occupation license, which must be renewed annually.

If you live in California, apply for a Sand and Water Blasting Contractor's license. This category includes contractors who use compressed air with water or abrasive substances to clean surfaces. You may request this license from the Contractors State License Board. The application form can be filled out online and then sent by mail to the CSLB.

Some states, such as Michigan, require contractors who work in this industry to apply for environmental permits. Others require them to purchase a business bond in order to receive licensing. These bonds assure officials and clients that the company in question intends to comply with the laws.

Also, decide what type of insurance is needed for your power washing business. You may opt for liability insurance, building coverage, auto coverage, workers' compensation insurance, business interruption insurance and more. For example, if you accidentally damage a customer's car while pressure washing, your insurance policy will pay for the repairs. If you plan to hire employees, workers' compensation insurance is a must.

Write a Business Plan

Draft a business plan for your pressure washing company. Include an executive summary, an overview of your business and a strategy to meet your goals. Describe the services you're going to offer and how much you'll charge. Your business plan should also define your target audience and outline your marketing strategy.

Assess your competitors, identify their strengths and weaknesses and then come up with a better service or business model. Estimate your potential expenses and profits as well. Set realistic goals for the next few years. A well-crafted business plan will help you make sound decisions and will serve as a marketing road map.

Promote Your Pressure Washing Company

As a new business owner, it's important to make a name for yourself. Distribute flyers and brochures, post ads in local newspapers and stay active in your community. Team up with construction companies, home decorators, auto repair shops and other businesses that can recommend your services to their clientele.

Consider offering discounts to loyal customers. For instance, you can create service packages that include weekly, monthly or quarterly pressure washing services. Set discounted rates for customers who purchase weekly plans.

Build your online presence to spread the word about your pressure washing business. Create a Facebook page and a LinkedIn profile. Join local Facebook groups to engage with potential customers who live in your area. Answer any questions they may have about pressure washing and offer your help.

Set up a website or blog that describes your services. Post how-to videos, power washing tips and cleaning hacks. Share them on social media too. This will not only help you increase traffic but also get your business to the top of local search results pages.

References

Resources

About the Author

Andra Picincu is a digital marketing consultant with over 10 years of experience. She works closely with small businesses and large organizations alike to help them grow and increase brand awareness. She holds a BA in Marketing and International Business and a BA in Psychology. Over the past decade, she has turned her passion for marketing and writing into a successful business with an international audience. Current and former clients include The HOTH, Bisnode Sverige, Nutracelle, CLICK - The Coffee Lover's Protein Drink, InstaCuppa, Marketgoo, GoHarvey, Internet Brands, and more. In her daily life, Ms. Picincu provides digital marketing consulting and copywriting services. Her goal is to help businesses understand and reach their target audience in new, creative ways.