Step 1. Getting Started: Establish a Business Structure
The first step in starting a business is choosing a business structure and filing the appropriate paperwork to offer services in your area legally. There are three business structures that you can choose from: a sole proprietorship, an LLC or a corporation. A sole proprietorship uses your own Social Security number with a “doing business as” (DBA) name. This structure can leave you with personal liability in your business, and legal experts don’t recommend it.
Most people will choose an LLC or a corporation as their business entity to limit personal liability. You’ll start with a name search with the secretary of state’s office to see that there are no competing business names with what you want to use. Then you’ll file the appropriate paperwork with the state that lists the owners of the entity, the business name and pertinent contact information. Depending on the state that you live in, expect to pay anywhere from $200 to $700 to establish your business entity.
Step 2. Buy Your Equipment and Supplies
You’ll need to get the right equipment and supplies to start your business. First, choose between a gas or electric pressure washer. Keep in mind that if you choose an electric pressure washer, you’ll need clients to supply the energy to run it. Also, select the type of pressure washer you want to get: light duty, medium duty or heavy duty.
A heavy-duty pressure washer might cost you $400, while a light-duty washer will run less than $200. Rather than buy all the washers at the onset, think about renting the equipment when you first start to save on costs and ensure you have what you need when you need it.
Recommended equipment and supplies other than the pressure washer include:
- Surface cleaners
Don’t forget about transportation; you need to get your gear to and from jobs every day. Think about leasing a work van or truck to keep everything in. It might be good advertising to have your company name and phone number listed on the truck so that people can call while they see you moving about neighborhoods. Expect to pay at least $350 per month for a truck lease.
Step 3. Set Your Rates
You’ll need to set rates before you market to potential customers. With most jobs costing consumers between $192 and $401, you’ll want to think about whether you choose the high end of the range or the low end. It might be easier to get a lot of clients with lower prices, but you need to determine if that is worth your time and effort. It’s a good idea to do some secret shopping and see what other pressure washers in your area are charging so that you are competitive.
When determining your pricing, think about whether you will charge hourly or per project. Keep in mind that if you charge per project, you have to know how much time any particular project will take. Practice your craft to see how long it takes to pressure wash:
- A driveway
- Windows on an average size home
- Fences and walls
When setting rates, think about the gas needed to run the pressure washer as well as the number of supplies necessary to do a job. Make sure that you are charging enough to cover all of it and still make a profit.
Step 4. Set Up Your Banking
You’re in this to turn a profit, and that means being able to take payments to deposit funds into a bank account. With your LLC or corporation details, contact the IRS to complete Form W-7 and get a Tax Identification Number (TIN). This is similar to a Social Security number, but for your business. You’ll then be able to go to the bank with your company documents to get a bank account.
The bank account will let you deposit cash and checks, but you’ll need a payment gateway to take credit card payments. There are many payment gateway options available. Expect to pay up to 3% of the charge as a fee for using the gateway, so be sure to factor that into your pricing. Connect the payment gateway to the bank so that you can run all income and expense transactions from your business bank account.
Step 5. Establish Marketing Channels
Your marketing is everything from word of mouth conversations to online listings. Get business cards made that have your business name and contact information on them. You can use these as you go door-to-door, introducing yourself and your new business. You may also want to set up a website that shows some of your work with “before and after” pictures.
Even if you don’t establish a website, get listed on online service listing pages such as Google business pages, Yelp and Facebook. Some businesses have also found success by posting on Instagram Reels or TikTok, where users enjoy the satisfying process of watching a dirty facade become beautiful again.
Start talking to everyone about your new business. This includes participating in community groups online where you can promote your pressure washing business. Think about running some ads with an introductory special to help you drum up business fast. Facebook has made it easy to target homeowners with a small budget; start an ad with a $10 a day budget and test different ads to see which works best. As you grow, you can scale your budget to target more people.