Small Business Advice

How to start a pressure washing business

Learn everything that goes into starting your own pressure washing business in our handy step-by-step guide.

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How much can you make with a pressure washing business?

With low start-up costs and high profit margins, a pressure washing business is a great fit for many entrepreneurs. Typically, you’ll charge $0.10 to $0.50 per square foot of area cleaned, depending on the size of the job. On average, pressure washing jobs cost between $192 and $402. For vehicles, you might charge between $50 and $100 per job. With the high margins, you should easily be able to make a profit after accounting for equipment leases and insurance. If you invest in equipment, you can net even more profit in the long-run.

Start-up costs for a pressure washing business

1. Pressure washing equipment

A pressure washer is your main piece of equipment and, thus, essential to purchase or lease before starting the company. There are different models on the market, so read reviews and find out which model looks best for your intended uses. There are lower-end commercial pressure washers that cost $300, while high-end commercial pressure washers may cost upwards of $6,000.

2. Truck/van

A truck or van is necessary to get you from one customer’s home to the next. You can opt for a brand new van, or reduce costs by seeking out a used vehicle for your business. You can expect a new truck or van to cost at least $20,000-$40,000. Note, however, that you can also lease commercial vehicles. Finally, you may consider adding your company logo to your vehicle, so that every time you drive it you’re marketing your business. A logo decal should run you about $200 or less.

3. Advertising budget

As the owner of a new business, it’s essential to perform some marketing to make sure that potential customers learn about your services. You’ll want to use platforms that can reach a wide audience to help ensure a steady stream of customers. These days, online advertising is especially important for any business owner. You may want to allocate some money each month to advertise via Google and Facebook Ads, in addition to starting your own Facebook page and making sure your business is visible on Google Maps.

4. Other start-up expenses

Aside from at least one power washer, you’ll need a few other pieces of equipment. Accessories like high-pressure hoses and nozzles, brushes and brooms will help you perform a range of tasks, whether you’re cleaning a driveway, deck or yacht. There are also different types of chemical cleaners suited for different jobs– degreasers, graffiti removers, and deck stain, for example. Finally, a ladder will help you get to hard-to-reach areas to clean. You can get a sense for these costs by looking at any pressure washing equipment and supplies website.

In addition to the costs for equipment, you will need to pay certain fees to register your business with the state. These costs will vary based on the type of business entity you choose and whether you use incorporation services. Other expenses to consider include liability insurance and local business licenses and permits.

Step-by-step instructions to start a power washer business

1. Learning how to pressure wash

You’ll need to be skilled in pressure washing different surfaces to successfully start your business. Familiarize yourself with each piece of equipment and practice on your own home to get a feel for how to use your pressure washer effectively. 

As a beginner in the industry, the quality of service you provide to your first clients will influence the success of the business. You’ll have to take care, for example, that the power of your pressure washer is correct for the job at hand– you don’t want to be responsible for destroying any of your customers’ personal property. If you don’t have the skills, or don’t see yourself performing the services, you can opt to hire employees1.

Finally, make sure you have all the necessary equipment for each job you take on. In addition to a pressure washer you’ll need specific accessories to tackle different items and surfaces, as well as the right cleaning fluids for each job. You want to show up prepared to handle whatever task your client has hired you to take on.

2. Create a business plan

You can seek professional assistance to write a business plan for your pressure washing business, or give it a try yourself using online resources. Having a business plan helps you stay on track by outlining the steps you need to take for your business to succeed, as well as short- and long-term objectives. 

Your business plan should include the services you plan to provide and prices for each service2. You may consider adding on non-pressure-washing services as well, based on what your customers need. For instance, many homeowners who need pressure washing done also need cleaning or landscaping services. 

3. Choose a business entity

Before you register your business with the state, you will have to choose a business structure. Your options include a sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC or corporation. To choose between them, consider what ownership and taxation structure best suits your business. You likely will not have shareholders, so a corporate structure is not necessary. You will probably want to choose a sole proprietorship or an LLC based on your preferences. If you hire employees, you will also need to register for an Employee Identification Number (EIN).

Consider the pros and cons of each business type before choosing which to register with the state:

  1. Sole proprietorship: The easiest business structure, since it does not need to be registered. As a sole proprietorship, your business will not be separate from you as an individual. As such, your company’s profits will be taxed on your personal tax return.
  2. Limited liability company (LLC): Like a sole proprietorship, your LLC’s profits will pass through to your personal income tax return. However, you will also benefit from limited liability protection, meaning that any legal claims against your business will not touch you as an individual. Also, you can elect to be taxed as a corporation should you prefer.
  3. Partnership: If your company has more than one owner, it will be considered a partnership by the IRS. Like a sole proprietorship or single-member LLC, profits will pass through to you and your partner(s)’ personal tax returns.
  4. Corporation: A corporation has a different management structure, with a board of directors and shareholders. As such, it is also subject to different taxation rules.

4. Register your business

After you’ve chosen which business entity is right for you, you will need to register your business with the state. If you go with a sole proprietorship, you will not need to register your business as a separate legal entity, but you may need to register your business name and obtain local business licenses. 

If you opt for an LLC or corporate structure, you will need to register your business through the Secretary of State for the state where you plan to operate. You will need to conduct a name search to make sure your business name is available, file articles of organization, choose a registered agent if applicable, create an operating agreement, obtain any other permits and licenses, and obtain an Employer Identification Number (EIN) as necessary. 

5. Get an EIN number

An Employer Identification Number (EIN) is necessary if you are going to hire employees. However, you may want to get one even if you are the sole owner and worker for your business. This is because an EIN number keeps your Social Security Number (SSN) separate from your business dealings. An EIN can help you open a business bank account, file your tax return, and seek funding. Plus, acquiring an EIN is completely free.

6. Obtain business licenses and insurance

There are specific legal requirements to operate any business. As the owner of a pressure washing company, you will need to look into local regulations and find out which licenses and permits are needed. You may need to obtain an environmental permit due to the nature of the work which involves ensuring waste water is disposed of correctly. 

In addition to licenses and permits, you will need to seek insurance for your business.

Types of insurance for your business include:

  • Equipment insurance that covers damage or theft.
  • Liability insurance to cover damages that may be caused during pressure washing, such as breaking windows due to the water pressure. 
  • Worker’s compensation covers injuries to workers and other staff members while at work. 

7. Open a business account

A business bank account allows you to separate your personal and business finances. This is important for keeping your accounting easier come tax season. You may also want to get a business credit card to help track of your business purchases. To open a bank account, you’ll need a US address and, in some cases, an EIN number.

8. Market your business

You will need to reach homeowners and other potential clients to make them aware of the existence of your business. You can use a combination of social media and word-of-mouth marketing strategies to get the word out. You may also want to invest in Google and Facebook ads to increase your marketing reach. Finally, a simple business website will help clients find you and add credibility to your business.

Frequently asked questions

What is a good pressure washer to start a business?

A good pressure washer is one that is the right price for your budget with a high-quality build. The Simpson Mini-brute Electric Powered Pump is one of the more affordable, popular pressure washers on the market.

A good pressure washer contains a burner that supplies heat at 250F. Also, it is important to consider the burner fuel tank size. A bigger size will require less refilling. The heating coil, the gas used to power the pump, and the pushcart should also be considered when purchasing a pressure washer. The better the quality of the machine, the longer it will last, so plan your budget accordingly.

Where can I find a pressure washing starter kit?

Instead of purchasing a pressure washer and accessories separately, you may opt for a pressure washer starter kit. Such a kit is available from Amazon, Home Depot, and pressure washing retailers.

Do I need a license to start a pressure washing business?

To start a pressure washing business, you will likely need a local license. Specific requirements depend on the city and state in which you are registering, so it is important to check your area’s requirements. In most cases, it is easy to acquire the appropriate license.4

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a pressure washing business?

Advantages

  • The business requires minimal start-up costs that are more affordable than other businesses. 
  • Pressure washing has a higher customer retention rate if the customers are satisfied with the services provided.
  • As a business owner, there is unlimited income potential due to the ability to retain customers and the high profit margins available.
  • A pressure washing business benefits from a simple business model.

Disadvantages

  • If you don’t already have the skills to pressure wash different items and surfaces, it will require some time to practice using your equipment.
  • If you damage your customer’s property due to inaccurate technique, you or your business will be liable for the damages.
  • Given the nature of the business, you will likely need to purchase more than one type of insurance.
  • If you don’t live in a highly populated area, you may find it difficult to find a steady stream of customers.

References

  1. Crazyegg: https://www.crazyegg.com/blog/how-to-start-a-pressure-washing-business/
  2. Pressure Washr: https://pressurewashr.com/pressure-washing-business-how-to-start/
  3. Vortex: https://vortexxpressurewashers.com/pressure-washing-business/#:~:text=One%20of%20the%20best%20pressure,with%20Vortexx%20COOLFLO%E2%84%A2%20technology.
  4. Connecteam: https://connecteam.com/starting-a-pressure-washing-business/#:~:text=Get%20a%20Business%20License%3A%20To,state%2Dsanctioned%20small%20business%20license
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