How to start a pressure washing business (from home, with no experience)

I interviewed 3 people who own profitable pressure washing businesses. They explain how you can get started in the business, and what you'll need.

Updated September 21, 2021

Written by

Benjamin Davis


Experts interviewed:

Ed Leigh - Owner, Under Pressure Power Washing in Garner NC

Jim Hinrichs – Owner, Carolina Kleeners in Columbia SC

Michael McDonnell, Owner, Shingle Clean Columbia in Columbia SC

NOTICE: This article is long. You can skip directly to the guide if you prefer.

Starting a pressure washing business is an excellent way to supplement or replace your income. Operating as a side-hustle, you can easily earn an extra $1-2k per month, and if you're running it full time as your main source of income, you could expect your pressure washing business to smash through the 6-figure-per-year mark quite quickly.

I interviewed three people who have been in the pressure washing business for a long time, and asked them what you should know about how to get started in the business, and how to run and grow your pressure washing business.

First, I wanted to know what background they came from – do people usually work in the industry first, before starting a business? Or is it common to just get started and learn as you go?

So I asked my three founders – how did you get started in the pressure washing business?

How did you get started in the pressure washing business?

did you work with someone doing pressure washing before? or did you just get started on your own?

Ed: I’ve been doing commercial and residential power washing for 21 years right here in North Carolina. Before I started my pressure washing business, I was working for Northern Telecom – and when they took a downturn, I decided to go out on my own and do something where I knew people were really going to be happy with the results when I left. When I worked in Northern Telecom, I did hardware and software support. So, everybody I went to was always upset because their machines weren't working. So that's how I started a pressure washing business, 21 years ago.

Jim: We can go back a long way. I’ve been in business for 54 years – I'm 81 years old! I owned a janitorial business in Florida, and my sister lived here in South Carolina – and we really got tired of Florida, it was too crowded then and it's really crowded now. I got started in this basically because I like pressure washing. When I started this business in 1983, there were very few people doing pressure washing in this area.

Michael: My dad had a pressure washing business down at Hilton Head and I’ve been working with him in the business for a number of years while I was younger just on the weekends to make some extra cash. So, kind of learning the tricks to trade. And then since I do marketing professionally, I was able to leverage and utilize and implement the tactics and strategies I learned by being a marketing consultant for a number of industries into this business to jumpstart and expedite my growth here in the Columbia area.

Tip: You don't need to have years of experience – the best way to learn this business is to do it. Plenty of people have used a pressure washer at some point – and if you feel like you want more practice, an ad on Facebook that offers 'free pressure washing' will give you as much practice as you want!

I wondered if there is a specific set of skills you need to operate in the pressure washing business, or, is it as simple as it sounds?

What training, what skill, and what experience is needed? Could you hire experienced people to help you?

I asked the three successful pressure washing business owners:

Do you need experience in pressure washing to start a pressure washing business? Can you start with no experience?

can you start a pressure washing business with no experience? can you learn everything as you go?

Ed: Well, I think it's better to come in with experience. What I did when I first started was I went and actually took a course with a friend of mine that they offered down in Florida and they give you the ins and outs of pressure washing. And then I adapted it to the way I wanted to use it. A lot of places teach you to feed the chemicals through your hose from the pump end – it's called down-streaming. Well, I think downstream chemical is a waste of time because you have to wait for all your chemicals to clear through however much hose you use. Like in our case, we use 300-foot hose. So, once you start sucking up soap, you have to change nozzles and finish getting all that soap out before you can start rinsing. So, we use a X-jet and a drop hose into a 5-gallon bucket and just carry the 5-gallon bucket around.

Jim: Well, again, going back from my experience, I’ve always been a pretty hands-on kind of guy. So, basically, I adapt. In other words, if I need to do something, I can figure out how to fix it or whatever. And not everybody's like that. I mean, there's some websites out there which you can join and there's a lot of guys in the business on there with questions and answers, but there are some stupid questions like “Oh, my hose broke. What should I do?” You fix it! You know what I mean? Some of these people are a little stupid.

If you're going to be in business for yourself you've got to be able to quickly figure out what needs to be done to get you moving.

Now, some people will buy a franchise. And it's great when you first start because you don't really have a lot of experience but then once – and I’ve heard this from different people in different kind of businesses – once you're into it for two or three years, you don't need them anymore but you're still paying your 10%.

Michael: Really depends on the person. It depends on if they have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. Depends on if they are willing to get dirty and get in the trenches. So, the answer simplistically would be you can absolutely start this business without really learning a trade. There's enough resources out there in the age of 2021 to be able to self-educate and to rely on a network to understand both from a tactical standpoint how to do the technical cleaning and understand what kind of tools and equipment you need.

And the sales, the operational process, that's kind of based upon you, your attitude, your ability to connect and network with other people. The customer service is kind of predicated upon how well someone is able to speak and connect with customers.

Tip: In my step-by-step guide on How to Start a Pressure Washing Business, I explain how you can get industry experts to teach you everything you need to know, 1-on-1, completely free of charge. You can check it out >here<.

So my three founders confirmed what I suspected – you can mostly learn everything as you go, without the need to have years and years of industry experience beforehand.

You just need your pressure washing equipment, and then you need to make the phone ring.

I asked my three experts how much money you need to get started in this business, and what you need to buy.

How much money – and what equipment – do you need to start a pressure washing business?

is it an expensive business to start? what equipment do you need as a minimum, to start earning money?

Ed: A good hot water pressure washer is probably $10,000 to $12,000. And then you've got to already have a truck to put it on, or you got to have a trailer to put it on or you can buy a trailer package which makes it go up to maybe 15 grand. So, it just depends on how you want to do it, and also depends if you have something to pull the trailer or you have to buy a vehicle.

I would say at minimum you'd need at least a 3,000 PSI, 5½-gallon-a-minute machine. And if you want to do any kind of commercial work or winter work, you need to make sure you have a hot water unit.

Jim: If you're going to buy a piece of equipment to go in business and make money with, you want to get something that's going to be reliable and it's going to do the job.

I’m saying something like a 5-gallon-a-minute machine. You want to get a hot water machine just because on a lot of jobs – cleaning concrete, getting gum off, grease, etc – you got to use hot water.

You should have at least one hot water machine. I just bought one a year and a half ago for $6,000, but I got a big one, I got 8-gallon-a-minute. This thing's a horse, let me tell you. So, 8 gallons a minute at 4000 PSI. So, you're looking probably about $10,000 or so with all the equipment. And then you need a trailer. You're either going to get a pickup truck or you're going to get a trailer – almost everybody starts out with a trailer. So, $2,500 bucks for that. I had a trailer stolen two years ago with all my good stuff on and it cost about $14,000 in total to replace everything.

Michael: You can get started for $100, or whatever the cheapest pressure washer may be. Start by cleaning people's cars, save up some of that cash, go get a nicer pressure washer. Then you can start cleaning people's exteriors. Then you can get a soft wash system and then you can start doing roofs, driveways, exteriors, windows, that sort of stuff. So, in a long-winded answer, you can start really, really cheap.

It depends on how complex or how rudimentary you want to run. Again, you can just go buy a simple pressure washer, start with cars – it'll cost you like a hundred bucks. If you start with a nice pressure washer, it costs you maybe $500. You really want to start and you say “Hey, this is something I’m going to do. I’m going to put my time, effort, energy and money into it.” You're going to be able to begin then with a full soft wash setup. I think you can do that for little as $2,000 but I’ve seen people start with as much as $20,000. I would say, a real healthy balance for yourself is about a $10,000 worth of equipment. That's chemical, that's everything you would need to begin running – plus your truck unless you're just sticking it in the back of your sedan. And you can even rent a truck if you really needed or you can borrow someone else's to haul that thing around for the few days that you have the job. Then you need marketing. You need to generate leads. Then you can start building a brand once you have some profitability rolling and flowing. So, I’d say $10,000 is really healthy startup budget.

Tip: Buying good equipment brand new is going to make you more confident in your capabilities, and it's going to get the job done faster, which will boost your daily earning potential. Buying cheap and slow equipment might be attractive because it costs less at the beginning, but you'll be earning less than half of what you could with proper gear.

Once you get the equipment you need – the hot-water pressure washer (with a good flow rate!), some water tanks, and a vehicle or trailer, you're all set to start getting some work done.

I asked the three successful pressure washing operators how much you could expect to earn as you get started in this business, and as you get more established.

How much does a pressure washing business earn? Can you build a six figure pressure washing business?

is it a profitable business to run? can you expect to earn a good income right away?

Ed: I would say, it depends if you want to just do things by yourself. If you want to do things by yourself, after cost, you can make as much as 75,000 to 80,000 dollars a year but you've got to stay busy. And I mean that's 5-6 days a week. And if you're wanting to make more than that, then you have to bring on people, get extra equipment, pay for the extra equipment, train guys to do the job the way you want it done. And at that point, your company can do $200,000 to $250,000 a year.

Jim: It depends what you're doing and how busy you are – because you can be busy a couple days and and then have nothing on.

We are doing about a quarter million a year in our business here. Some days you'll do a thousand-dollar job, some days you'll do 200-dollar job. The houses are good to have because you can make some pretty good money off of houses and driveways and pool decks and up-sells and that kind of stuff.

So, I try to figure $600-700 a day per person and but then on a commercial job it goes much higher – we just got a check from one, it was cleaning a restaurant and it took about three hours to do, and we made $950.

So, you can make some pretty good money with it but remember that you need insurance. That's very important. Now, if you go to a company to do work, the first thing they want is a COI. They want to see a certificate of insurance. If you don't have it, you're not going to work for them. And that will run you $250 to

$400 a month. And then if you’ve got employees, then you got to have Worker’s Comp. So, my insurance runs me between $300 and $500 a month. You need that stuff.

Michael: I’d say the average pressure washer brings in $500 to $2,000 a day and – depending on the size of your crew and how elaborate and complex your system is, what chemicals you're using – you should be running no less than 50% to 60% margins. If you run real lean, you can run 80%, 90% margins. So, you can easily clear a thousand dollars a day.

Pressure washing is a good, profitable business, with not very much overhead expense.

Generally, the experts seem to agree – $1,000 a day is a good number to aim for – depending on how much you want to work, and what you're charging for your services.

But getting clients is half the business.

I asked my three successful pressure washing operators:

How do you get your first pressure washing clients?

what works to get started in the business, before you have lots to spend on marketing?

Ed: What I did was I got all different colored paper – rainbow paper – and printed up my own logo and put on there “We offer power washing. Please call us. Locally owned and operated" etc etc. And I’d fold them in half and put them behind the flags on people's mailboxes as I’d drive around. If I didn't have any work that day, I’d drive around all day. I’d hand out 3000 or 4000 flyers. I just started picking different neighborhoods near my house. I gradually just expanded out into different areas. And I tried the telephone book. That didn't work. None of that worked. The best thing I ever did was I went to a thing called BNI, Business Network International. Any networking you can do, the better off you are. I’ve been in BNI for 19 years. That was what really, really worked for me. I mean, that took my business from probably 30,000 to 35,000 dollars a year up over 100,000, easy.

Jim: There was a guy in West Columbia that sold chemicals and pressure washers. Super nice guy. And so, he helped me. First thing he said “Hey,” he said “The State Fair is opening up, in about a month. You should go over there and clean the rides” which I did. I made a thousand bucks cleaning the rides. That was my first customer.

And then I started doing trucks. I was looking for regular income. It's nice to clean a house or something like that but what you're looking for is something stead so you've got X number of dollars coming in every month and then you've got your extra work on top of that.

So, I started soliciting trucking companies, and I get two or three trucking companies. We'd do them on a Saturday, and I got my son to help me wash trucks. And so, that's kind of how we got in the truck pressure washing business. And then I got into cleaning sidewalks and super marts, cleaned the buggies, stuff like that. And it just kind of feeds on that then – but that was really the two things, trucking companies and sidewalk cleaning in shopping centers. You should try to get in with property management companies. I was in with one for quite a few years and we cleaned about 30 or 40 different shopping centers all around the state. So, that's what you got to – go out and try to get business, but try to find steady business, something that you're doing once a month, twice a month and it can be shopping centers and restaurants, that kind of stuff.

Michael: Leverage social media. That's exactly what I did. You can post on buy and sell pages, local groups where people provide services, and you just reach out about what you're doing and the service that you provide. You can either get flat rates or you can say “Inbox me for free quotes” and then you can begin like that.

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Customers usually consider at least two or three service providers before they decide which one they'll hire.

I asked my three industry experts – how do customers a pressure washing business?

How to make sure a client chooses YOUR pressure washing business?

what do clients really care about? what are they looking for in a pressure washing service provider?

Ed: I think it depends on the client you're working with. I’ve had some commercial clients tell me that they always drop out the highest price and the lowest price and then look at the rest. And I’ve had some tell me that “It's going to the person with the lowest bid because we have to do this every year. We don't even really care how good it looks just as long as it gets done.” So, it just depends on what kind of company you're working for. And then you have some companies, they want it super nice, they do background checks on you, they check all your references, they check everything.

Those are the ones I like working for because you know that they expect quality and that's what you want to give. You don't want to ever get in with somebody that just wants to rush you along and then next thing you know your name's catching bad words because it wasn't done right because you were pushed through it in a hurry just so that they want it done.

Jim: I think, number one, you have to be a good salesperson. You've got to be friendly. You've got to be able to know what you're doing, have an idea of what it's going to cost, and just a kind of salesmanship about you. And the more people you do, you get more referrals. And now you can say “Well, I do this place over there. We cleaned their sidewalks” or “we cleaned their trucks.” So, it kind of slowly builds but I’ve never been really good at going out to get business. I have my brother-in-law. That's what he's done all his life and he's made million bucks. But if someone calls me, I can sell the job. I’ve just never been a good cold call person but if they call me, I'll get the job.

Michael: It's a weighted average of reviews, reputation, price, and availability. And those weighted averages are going to depend upon the customer. One person, they're selling their house. Well, they're going to pay premium because they need to get that thing done in the next three days. If you're available, you can make it happen, you can slide other clients around or work after hours, work longer than normal or work earlier than normal, you can win that bid even if you're twice the amount. Other people like convenience. If you have an ability to speak to people in an effective way that resonates and connects with them, you can charge a premium but at the end of the day you need credibility and you also need the ability to then take action and execute on what you're saying. When you talk to somebody and you know what you're doing, you've read and studied the industry, you've been in the industry, you can educate the person. That builds credibility and trust. And then you execute upon that. If you let them know throughout the process as you're cleaning things that you're seeing “Hey, your paint is oxidizing. Are you sure you want to continue? Yes? Okay. Well, if we are, then this is going to be the result.” – “I still want you to continue.” – “Okay, no problem.” You're educating and you're teaching. You're able to provide them clarity of what the results will be going through. So, I think most importantly it's your ability to explain the process and the results they can expect.

Tip: The worst thing you can do long term is offer a 'cheap' pressure washing service. It's ok if you're starting out and need to get some reviews, but after you have 10 or 20 good reviews, bring your prices up to where they should be. I've dedicated a whole chapter in my guide (available for sale, or for free here) to the topic of setting your prices properly.

As soon as you get a website online, you're going to start getting marketing calls and emails from people wanting to sell you all sorts of advertising services.

Some are worthwhile, and some are rubbish.

I asked my three successful founders what their experiences were with methods of generating new business. I wanted to know what had worked well for them, and what had been a waste of money.

What is the best way to build your pressure washing business?

regular advertising? door hangers? online advertising? what works, and what doesnt?

Ed: I would say the pay-per-lead stuff has just really been a waste of time because with most of those platforms, they're selling that same customer lead to five or six people in your area. So, you go out and you're doing a bid with four or five other guys. The lead platform is making $120 dollars every time they send people out, but it's a waste of my time.

For me, most of the success is from networking – chamber of commerce, open business events where you can go meet. I mean, for power washers, it's realtors, property management companies, restaurants, shopping centers. It's that kind of stuff. The biggest thing is property management companies and homeowners’ associations, that type of thing, just getting out there networking and meeting these people and talking to them and getting your logo in front of them and don't stop. You don't just go to one person every 6-7 months. Go back again and again, drop off something with your logo again. I mean, I’ve gone to a place with realtors when they are having their morning meetings. And maybe once a month I’ll go there and drop off a whole bunch of donuts and coffee, and a stack my business cards. Then if I find out another time they're having a lunch, I might have Dominoes drop off like 20 pizzas, just something like that.

Jim: There was one lead platform that used to cost me $12 or $13 whenever someone would contact me from their platform, even if I didn't get the job. But I couldn't continue with that because whenever I called the person up they already had somebody. And then I did Angie's List for a year and a half. And I sat down one day and figured out I'd actually made about a thousand bucks for a year of Angie's List.

Then there was Groupon – I got 135 houses from that and I did really good for the summer, and that's what I was looking for – but then in the winter, I didn't get that much. And then the next spring was my busiest time of the year with normal stuff and I got all the rest of the Groupon customers redeeming their deals, right during my busy time.

Now, I would say at least 50% to 60% of my business is referrals or repeats. I clean the same people every year.

They're not looking for price. They're looking for the job well done. So, basically, that makes a big difference. If you can do a really good job for a person, you show up when you're supposed to, you give them a fair price, they're going to call you back.

Michael: Search engine marketing is the number one thing – where you're running an ad on Google. That's a very bottom funnel person. That's someone that types in “pressure washing near me,” “have my house pressure washed”, or whatever. That’s pay-per-click or cost-per-click, CPC, PPC. Those are the ways that you run those ads and it costs you $4 to $10 per click. Well, if ten people click it at $5, it costs you 50 bucks. Five people go to your website, three get a quote, one hires you and you're charging $300 dollars. You paid $50 to make $300, in a business with 80% margins. That's a pretty good day.

The worst thing by far, and I hear this not just for me but from every pressure washer that I talk to, is the Angie’s List, Home Advisor, Thumbtack type platforms. The reason being is these people are price shoppers and they're typically going for the lowest bid. The platform is going to send the lead out to you as well as some other people and you're going to pay the highest lead cost for them. So, now you're paying 20, 30, 40, 50 bucks and so is 5, 10 other people. And the customer is probably going to go with the lowest bid unless you're really good at sales and customer service.

With a strong demand for pressure washing, in all different parts of the country, getting your web presence alive and getting the initial reviews should be your top focus.

Once you start making some money, you might be tempted to start buying new pieces of equipment, or perhaps services from service providers.

I asked my three founders whether there was

What is the biggest waste of money when starting a new pressure washing business?

is there something that sounds like a good idea, but is actually a bad purchase?

Ed: I would have to say, in my case, when I was coming along 20 some years ago, it was telephone books. Wasting money for advertising in the phone books. But there's not a whole lot of that that goes on now, so people don't have to deal with that, mostly it's social media now.

Jim: We've tried different things. We have tried dry ice blasting which cost me $10,000. We tried ceiling cleaning. That was probably the worst one. That cost me $15,000. And we got into it right about the time no one smoked anymore in the building. So, the ceilings never got dirty from the smoke anymore. Then, we spent 15 grand, and we bought a carpet and tile and grout cleaner. You can make some pretty good money on that but, again, we bought a lot of this stuff with the idea of doing it in the winter time or when it's colder. So I did spend a lot of money on equipment in trying new things.

Michael: I don't want to name the name of the aggregator but I’d say 80% of pressure washers that have used aggregators, the Angie's List, the Home Advisors, the Thumbtacks, they don't like them or they get better results with one than the other but the cost per conversion really isn't that good at the end of the day and you'd be better driving traffic to your home page rather than paying for a lead on another page.

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All three founders in the pressure washing business that I spoke to stressed the importance of learning the skills of good communication and dealing with customers.

Sometimes, though, you should just reject a customer outright. Some customers are impossible to please, and doing business with them is a lose/lose scenario,

I asked my three founders – how can you avoid bad customers?

How can you avoid bad customers in the pressure washing business?

is there something to look out for? or are all customers pretty good?

Ed: I would say usually you can identify them when they want to start trying to bid you down on your price. And right off the bat, I just tell the people, I say “I’ve been doing this for a long time. This is the price that we charge. We treat all of our customers the same.” I say “I’ll just step out and you can barter with somebody else because I can't give you a break on your job and then have to start giving everybody else a break because I heard I gave you a break.” It's not my type of thing. And I’ve had some people get really mad about that and other people go “You know what, I can understand that.”

Jim: I mean, you do get some that are kind of bitchy. Now, I really don't have much of a problem with that. I mean, I really don't most. Again, it depends if you're talking about commercial stuff or you're talking residential.

Every so often we get someone that complains or whatever but they never call me to complain anyway. And then we got one just now – it was six condominium buildings and they have decks on the back and they wanted the decks cleaned and resealed. Then afterwards he said “Well, I thought you're going to paint the decks.” Now, we'd put in the bid that we're putting a sealer on. There's a big difference, painting and sealer. And then he was all mad because “we didn't put painting in there". So, you do get that kind of stuff but not very often.

Michael: I basically expect maybe one or two a year just by the nature of how people are. 5% of people are never going to be happy no matter what you do. It's just a personality, unfortunately. That being said, you can ask questions and you can premise conversations to try to mitigate that risk. Or you get a perception of the sentiment within their voice and they are very, very picky. That's not something I’m going to end up working with. Why? Because I want to make the situation better for them. I don't want to make it worse.

So, how do you mitigate against that? Asking questions to the customer. That's how we gain knowledge by asking questions. So, I can gain knowledge about someone's expectations by asking the right question, by educating them and checking in that they're understanding and that they're good with that process, proactively.

Some industries – especially when there's a low barrier to entry – tend to attract more than their fair share of dodgy operators, which can lead to bad experiences for the customer.

I asked my three pressure-washing experts:

What sort of CRAZY things happen in the pressure washing industry?

are there shady operators doing things the wrong way? or is the industry mostly full of professionals?

Ed: It's The new guys that come out, they think they can just wash houses for $99 or $109 no matter how big the house is. They're not thinking it through – because once they pay for their insurance, their gasoline, their time, their chemicals, it's like they're hardly making anything but the way they look at it, they can get so much more work that way. But then when winter comes, all the work dies down and usually the only people left are the ones that have been doing it right for a while and they want to charge and have jobs that repeat and repeat and those new guys don't. So, they have a hard time, and if you don't make it through the first three years, you're not going to make it. So, what they need to do is they need to learn to try to stay on board with pricing around where everybody else is. 90% of the power washers out there charge about the same price for their services.

Michael: Yeah, of course. And the common person probably doesn’t know but you should never take a pressure washer to a roof. That algae that's black – it’s an airborne fungus that eats off the limestone of the shingle. And so, some people don't know what they're doing. They'll pressure wash that off. Well, the whole reason you don't want that fungus on there is because it's causing granular loss. When you use pressure against the shingles, it’s causing granular loss. Roofs should only be soft washed. They should never be pressure washed. I’ve seen people do that. When you use pressure on an older home, it can leak into the inside, it can start to blow off some of the siding, cause discoloration, and it can cause aggressive deterioration of the concrete. You'd never use high pressure on a shingle but I’ve seen people do it.

In the pressure washing business – the same as most businesses – it's always easier to get more spend from your existing customers than it is to find new customers.

I asked my three experts what other services they can offer, in addition to just pressure washing, to increase revenue?

What additional services can a pressure washing business offer to customers?

are there extras and add-ons? what do customers often request?

Ed: You'll find that a few of the power washers out there, they want to paint or they want to stain decks. We did that the first couple years and it ended up being more trouble than it was worth, because I was just doing everything by myself the first five years and it was hard for me to stop and paint a whole house and paint a garage and that kind of stuff. It was taking away from what I really wanted to do, I wanted to wash, and I knew I wasn't charging the right prices because I didn't understand that profession. I just understood the power washing profession. One of the things we like to do now is seal driveways because that's quick, that's easy, you wash it, you seal it, you let it dry, you roll on.

Jim: Just add more things to the list. So, you go give them a price to clean their house. If the driveway is dirty, you want to get your driveway cleaned. Yeah, okay. How much is that? 150 bucks. And the sidewalk, that’s 20 bucks. So, now, it's up another $170. They got a pool deck. Clean the pool deck. So that's probably the biggest add-on in house washing – all the extra things around the home. Now, we have people who have got rental units where you need your carpet cleaned. Okay, we can clean the carpet. We can do your tile and grout, stuff like that. So, in this kind of business, that's really kind of what you're looking at. You're not in the construction business or anything like – not even painting. We've done things like some really nasty carpets and people have really been happy with what we did with that. So, we do little carpet cleaning and tile and grout too.

Michael: I believe if you truly want to be an expert in your craft, you need to go narrow and deep and not shallow and wide. So, if you try to be everything to everyone, you'll be nothing to no one. So, I do soft washing. I do it very well. That's what I do. I do gutter cleaning because, well, I’m going to be up with a ladder on your house. And if you need it cleaned? Too easy. That'll take me 30 minutes. That's 100% gain because there's no cost involved with pulling a ladder up and putting it on your gutter line. So, I would say any pressure washer should do gutter cleaning. I would also say window washing but I don't want to do it too elaborately. I want to do it in the way where as a byproduct of my service the windows get cleaned anyway. So, those are the two things I would recommend that essentially get done by the nature of your primary service.

The two other things you can layer on top of that is either deck or fence staining and sealing and then concrete painting or sealing. It's a similar system. It's a similar setup and you have the natural customer funnel for it anyway. You clean it. Now you seal it.

Tip: Knowing exactly when and how to offer an extra, an add-on, or an up-sell can mean the difference between almost nobody saying yes, and almost EVERYBODY saying yes. I have dedicated an entire section in my guide to the topic of selling the easy way – you can check it out >here<.

Advice for starting a pressure washing business, from people who've done it:

the three successful founders share their keys to success in this industry, based on their own experiences

Ed: I would say, number one and foremost, do the job like you were doing it at your own home, the way you would want it done. That's why my tagline is “We clean it like we own it.” I want everything to look just like it would if I was at my own house and that's what I expect all my guys to do. You wouldn't let it slide at your house. Don't let it slide out here.

Second thing I would say is networking, networking, networking, networking. You have to build a network, you have to know people, you have to get out there and mingle with people, you got to get out there and talk. That is the number two thing.

And the number three thing is – no matter how bad a customer is, you go back, you talk to them, you try to find out the problem and resolve it. Sometimes you'll find people you just can't resolve it. They just want something for nothing. I had one person like that and I just told him, I said “Fine, you don't owe us anything. Please never call our business again” and I still have his name and his address on my wall in my office – “If this person ever calls, you do not work for him.” There's just some people like that, unfortunately.

Jim: When you're starting a business, you're not bringing any money in. I mean, normally, you start with zero. So, if you're going to go into business, you better have some backup money. Some people maybe start part-time. They'll basically have another full-time job and they do this on the side. That's another way of doing it but if you're starting from scratch, you better have some money. You probably need almost a year's worth or at least a good six months and then you can taper off, but you just can't instantly be in business and be making money. So, that's one thing.

Another thing, if you're going to buy the equipment, buy what you need. Don't be cheap, because in any kind of a service business, time is money. So, if you have a chintzy machine and it takes you three hours to clean a house and you say “Well, I’m not getting my 75 or 80 or 90 dollars an hour” because the machine you got is not putting it out. So, you need to get the equipment and you have to research it, you need to get the right equipment. I mean, that's the two big things is to make sure you have the right equipment to begin with and have money in the bank that you can live on because you're not guaranteed you're going to be making money the first year.

And then you got to think about the fact that in the winter time, you're going to have to have a place for your machine if it does freeze where you are. You can heat a garage or something like that to have a place to store your equipment and your soap and all the rest of this stuff.

Michael: First, start small, then dial up. Get a proof of concept. Don't put all your eggs into one basket. That's why you split test things.

Two, don't be afraid to invest. You don't want to get the 99-dollar pressure washer and then become the 99-dollar guy. I started with about 2000 dollars of equipment. So, get the right stuff. You don't have to go get the Rolls Royce but you shouldn't go get a 30-year-old Jalopy type of situation.

The third thing I would recommend is you need to have a website and a marketing strategy. That is your business plan. That is how you are going to grow your business and generate leads and establish a brand. It’s the difference between somebody that wants to be an entrepreneur and be self-employed. If you want to be self-employed, you can make a six-figure job out of that. If you want to become an entrepreneur and build a business that you can scale and then sell, then you need to be an entrepreneur and you need to invest in your business with the right equipment, the right website, the right marketing plan.

The pressure washing business is easy to start, and the equipment can be as cheap or as expensive as you need it to be, and in most places around the country the demand for services is higher than it's ever been.

I have spent over 100 hours learning everything there is to know about the pressure washing business, by talking to industry experts and pressure washing operators. I have compiled it into the worlds most useful guide, How to Start a Pressure Washing Business. You can check it out here.

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