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When you are choosing which pressure washers to purchase when you start a pressure washing business, the decision between cold water pressure washers and hot water pressure washers is somewhat complex. You need to consider what you plan to offer in terms of services and you need to consider how much you want/need to spend n cleaners and cleaning chemicals. For instance, as you no doubt know, hot water is a natural emulsifier, which means it doesn't need a lot of additional chemical help to off grime and other stubborn and sticky substances. Hot water/steam's natural cleaning power will reduce your dependence on cleansing agents, which will save you money. Unlike cold water machines, Hot/Steam water machines can take care of business in cold weather. You can use Hot/Steam water machines in fleet washing, flat work, environmental cleaning, and house washing. You don't want to use Hot/Steam water on wood surfaces. The wood fibers soften and swell. (Sort of like your skin when it's been in a hot tub too long.)
In order to be better equipped for success in your brand new pressure washing business, you need to be well informed and well trained in every aspect of the operation. There are several sources of information that you may find useful.
1. First of all, talk to other business owners in your area and become familiar with the market.
2. Talk to other operators of pressure washing businesses and to your future power washing equipment suppliers and power washing chemicals.
3. Go to your local Chamber of Commerce and Small Business Association to obtain information on business management and operation, taxes, legal issues, marketing and advertising.
4. Consult industry associations for information on market trends and environmental regulations pertaining to the power washing industry.
There are a variety of books, CD-ROMs and industry periodicals that can also help you identify potential pitfalls and potential sources of revenue that you may be overlooking.
As demands on people's lives increases, more and more homeowners are delegating their household cleaning jobs to professional contractors. The pressure washing business is ideal for someone wishing to start a business from the ground up as the entry level investment is relatively inexpensive.
Consult your local Small Business Association and Chamber of Commerce for potential sources of financing. There are special small business grants and loans available for minorities and women owned businesses that can help you get a foot in the door.
It is critical for your chances of success that you are able to sustain at least a year and a half of operation before breaking even, so make sure to include this in your business planning when you are calculating your required pressure washing start up capital.
When selecting a pressure washer for a start up business you need to factor in a few things. What is my business going to be? A couple niches to consider. Fleet Washing, Store Front Cleaning, Graffiti Removal, Concrete Cleaning. When you decide on what your cleaning it will make your shopping a bit easier.
You don't want to undersize your equipment if possible. A few things to consider when choosing a pressure washer.
1. Hot water units clean better. A cold water system is great for the homeowner but for any industrial type work, you're going to want hot water. Ask yourself this, do I clean my dishes with cold water? Yes they are more expensive but you can do so much more with a heated unit. The work you do will also look better and you will be able to clean faster. Faster work means more money.
2. Get a unit with at least 18HP . The V-twin motors will last longer and can be used for full work days. The lower horsepower units just don't hold up in the long run. Remember your starting a business. Think of your purchase as an investment.
3. Get an alternated or generated unit. When shopping you will see many systems out there that are 12V systems. These pull the electicity directly off the motor to fire the burner system. These tend to be problematic and will need service sooner than a better engineered unit.
4. Get a pressure washer system with a warranty and get it in writing. Without a warranty you will incure all repair costs if and when they happen.
5. The cheapest price is not always the best unit to buy. If you buy from an internet only operation more than likely you will have a much harder time finding someone to talk to to answer even the most basic question. Pressure washers that you can buy at most home improvement warehouses are not designed for commercial work. You will probably spend more time fixing than washing if you go that route.
6. Make sure you have good gallons per minute or GPM. A good pump will push around 4 to 5 gallons per minute.
7. Make sure you have good pressure or PSI ( Pounds Per Square Inch) A good PSI rating is about 3500 PSI.
Don't hesitate to ask a professional there advice. Look at what the competition is using to do there work. These few things will safe you a lot of effort and grief in the long run.
Are contract cleaners liable for damage behind siding? You'd better believe it, bubba, unless you get yourself a damage waiver. You are the professional contracted cleaner. As such you
must be aware of the potential for causing or creating damage involved in pressure washing a house. The best practice is to tell the home owner about potential damage risk. If they still want to have you pressure wash thier house, ask them to sign a waiver attesting to the fact. This should protect you from any problems should any damage occur during the power washing process.
Some home related uses are traditional sources of income, such as deck pressure washing or power washing residential exteriors. There are many more areas, however, where a power washing business can establish dynamic streams of income such as automobile detailing, commercial awnings, gutters, entranceways and driveways.
From residential to commercial and industrial applications, high-pressure washing has a surprising number of uses and its growing popularity will result in even wider opportunities for the power washing business.
While rates can vary according to region, here are some averages for the industry that you can use to gauge the price of your own services.
$100 - $300 flat price
$0.50 - $2.00 per linear foot.
$0.10 - $.20 per Sq. Ft.
Driveways & Sidewalks
$75 - $200 flat price
$.08 - $.15 per Sq. Roofs
Cedar Shake Roofs - $.60 - $.90 per Sq Ft.
Composition Roofs - $.10 - $.30 per Sq Ft.
Single Wide - $40 - $55
Double Wide - $50 - $65
Remove Mortar Tags from New Brick - $.18 - $.30 per Sq. Ft.
Surface cleanup (wand spray down) - $.02 - .03 Sq. Ft.
Parking Lots, Sidewalks & Drive-Thrus
Banks / Restaurant Drive-Thurs - $8 - $30 per lane.
Parking Lots, Garage Floors - $.03 - $.20 per Sq Ft.
Parking Spaces - $8 - $20 each
Besides the obvious pressure washers, here are some basic items that you should have to start in the biz.
* Truck or Van - (Duh!) Your equipment has to stay somewhere. You didn't think you were going to use your grandma's Yugo, did you?
* Water Hoses - (Double Duh!) Good grade low pressure water hoses.
* High Pressure Hoses - 50 feet should do you, even with a portable unit.
* Tips - 0 Degree, 15 Degree, 25 Degree, 40 Degree and a Chemical Tip.
* Turbo Nozzle - You'll need this one for cleaning concrete, just don't use it on wood.
* Surface cleaner - Comes in several sizes and a couple of styles.
* X-Jet - This is one item you must have. Can't do houses or other buildings without it.
* Chemicals and Soaps -- What you are cleaning determines what chemicals you should use, but there are many great things on the market. For standard residential services three cleaners you should keep handy are a house wash, gutter cleaner and concrete cleaner. Jobs like new construction cleanup, commercial building restoration, graffitti removal and deck restorations are going to each require specialized chemicals which are discussed in great detail on (website address).
When talking to a prospective client about costs, don't be wishy-washy. You want to come across as a pro, not a shmo. So be as specific and as unsquishy about your rates as you can be.
This will make your potential customer feel more confident in you as a professional. Don't give the impression that you are making it up as you go along, by saying things like,"Uh, How does x sound?
Instead, be concrete: Say, "for the basic house wash we charge X per square foot", so a house your size is going to be X." Of course, if need be, you can always adjust your per square foot rate.
As the saying goes, excrement occurs, and when it does, it's gotta be flushed. That's where power washer sewer jetters come in. They typically produce pressures ranging from 2500 PSI to 4000 PSI, with high water flow rated to flush away debris of all kinds. Their high thrust capabilities are just what the doctor ordered for pulling the jetting hose long distances. All nozzles are custom drilled based on pump's flow and pressure specifications to do a first-rate cleaning job. These powerful drain jetters are perfect for using a power washer in removing soap scum residue, grease, hair and food blockages in drains as well as for maintaining and cleaning product conveyance lines. They are also great for cutting roots, removing mineral deposits and corrosion, industrial pipe and tube cleaning. Because they are portable and easy to use, these power washers are an excellent choice for scheduled drain cleanings as part of a preventive maintenance program.
One common mistake of new business owners is to underprice the jobs in order to get their first clients. This will not only hurt your competition, but it will come back to haunt you.
It is likely that in your pressure washing business you will rely on repeat business for a large percentage of your revenue. Once you have underpriced a job for a client, they will expect the same pricing level for all future jobs. This will reduce your profit margins and extend the period of time to break even.
In the long term, if you don't price your jobs correctly you will not be able to sustain your maintenance and equipment replacement costs, and the quality of your services will suffer, as well as your reputation.
To begin with, you needn't feel ashamed if you have to use a dual lance. It happens to the best pressure washer pros whenever they have to switch back and forth between two types of nozzles. For example, one nozzle could be 15 degree angle, and the other a soap nozzle. There are probably as many combinations as there are applications. The dual lance is equipped with a rollover valve that makes it easy to switch between the two nozzles. Just release the trigger and tilt the gun in the direction of the desired nozzle. When you hear the ball change pipes, you're ready to pull the trigger. Some dual lances have a pressure adjustment knob so you can regulate the pressure as needed. There is a type of dual lance that does not have a valve between the two lances. This unit fires both nozzles at once, so to speak, and cleans a wider path by allowing full flow through both pipes simultaneously.
No doubt about it, the humble hose is key to your pressure-washing operation. If you have a worn or defective hose, you will have trouble taking care of business. You can save yourself a lot of grief by selecting the right hose, knowing the limitations of your washer, and taking the time to maintain it. Just follow these common-sense guidleines.
* Select a hose that operates within the temperature range of your pressure washer. If a hose runs with water that is too hot, the hose core can become brittle and crack.
* The same holds true for the external walls. A hose should never be dragged over a hot surface or allowed to lay on a surface that is above its temperature rating.
* If cleaning by chemical injection, use a chemical-resistant hose.
* Choose an appropriate length of hose and allow for "pulse shortening" or sufficient slack to accommodate the change in hose length when operating at full pressure.
* If coupling more then one hose, consider spring guards to protect the hose from bursting where coupling and flexing can weaken the hose.
* Follow manufacturer's specifications on hose selection, and never substitute a hose that is intended for another purpose.
* Make a visual inspection of the hose, checking the whole length for abrasions, cuts and damage that could be caused by improper storage, chemical deterioration or extreme temperature exposures. Pay close attention to coupled joints or damage from kinks.
* If the inspection reveals any damage, replacing the hose is the surest way to avoid potential failure and injury. Destroy worn out or damaged hoses so they won't be used by mistake.
* Drain hoses after each use and flush hoses that have been used for chemical cleaning thoroughly.
* Wind hoses carefully and loosely. Careless or tight winding of hoses can cause kinks or flat spots.
* Leave nails, pegs and hooks for tasks other than hanging your hose. Always store your hose on a reel to avoid cuts or flat spots.
* Avoid storing your hoses in temperatures below freezing. To avoid possible cracking or bursting, always let a cold hose warm up before using it.
Pressure washers are designed to run at specific pressures. Use a hose that has a rating above the maximum operating pressure of the washer. Never override the safety controls on a pressure washer. Overriding the flow, temperature, vacuum or pressure switches can create a hazardous situation. Following manufacturer's guidelines and paying close attention to proper storage and maintenance will let you start your next pressure washing task without fear of getting "hosed."
Your best bet before you jump into your new venture is to conduct as much research as you can. Talk to other people in the pressure washing business, suppliers and potential clients to determine the market and what your position in it will be.
Assess the type of applications that are in demand and what type of services you will be able to offer. Assess the costs of the equipment you need. Make sure you are buying the right pressure washers, cleaners and attachments for the jobs you take on.
At the start up level, you are likely to be wearing many hats at the same time. Managing a pressure washing business will require of you a wide set of skills including marketing, sales, record keeping, equipment selection, employee relations, and pricing of projects. It will require a great deal of dedication and time.
If you have a family, make sure everyone is onboard and understands the demands that you are about to face and that they share your vision for a prosperous future. The more you know before you start the better your chances of making it through the first tender years of a new business.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|